Sandy Hook truthers are awful people

Steven here…

I’ve always had some sympathy for conspiracy theorists. I used to buy into a lot of these silly ideas about the government having secret contact with aliens and stuff. Even when I stopped believing in them, conspiracies like that were still interesting and exciting. And I have a measure of nostalgia looking back on those beliefs, not unlike a kid who has lost belief in Santa Claus and still loves Christmas.

I’ve taken my love of conspiracy theories and merged it with my love of comedy writing. It turns out that absurdity is a good resource for humor. But as I’ve gotten more involved in the skeptical movement, I’ve begun to see the worse parts of this “X-Files are totally real” approach to life. It started mild enough, such as when I lost interest in a woman I had a crush on because she started talking about how Barack Obama was part of the cabal that destroyed the World Trade Center. That was disappointing, but not rage inducing.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting however, a particularly awful conspiracy has begun floating around. Claims that the murders of that day never happened. That the grieving parents are in fact “crisis actors” paid by the government to play along with a charade. The supposed motive behind this conspiracy is that staging a horrific shooting will allow the Evil Empire to finally steal guns from law abiding citizens.

I’m not sure where I stand on gun control, but what kind of regulations you support is irrelevant to this issue. What I see with this conspiracy theory is that people are so enamored with their guns that they are willing to deny that the tragedy even took place, to insult parents who were forced to bury their children. If you have to invoke a conspiracy theory to bolster your political position, then your position is pretty goddamn weak.

Recently Salon highlighted some of these assholes’ actions against Gene Rosen, the retired psychologist who looked after six of the children who had fled the school. Rosen helped these kids at a time they desperately needed it. And this is the feedback he is getting from Sandy Hook Truthers:

“I don’t know what to do,” sighed Gene Rosen. “I’m getting hang-up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘how much am I being paid?’” Someone posted a photo of his house online. There have been phony Google+ and YouTube accounts created in his name, messages on white supremacist message boards ridiculing the “emotional Jewish guy,” and dozens of blog posts and videos “exposing” him as a fraud. One email purporting to be a business inquiry taunted: “How are all those little students doing? You know, the ones that showed up at your house after the ‘shooting’. What is the going rate for getting involved in a gov’t sponsored hoax anyway?”

I can’t tell you how upset this makes me. I have a 6 month old son, and when I heard the news about Sandy Hook, I had to fight back tears. I couldn’t read about it without thinking about myself in that position. The thought of anything like that happening to Marcus makes me sick to my stomach. I wasn’t numb to these sorts of events before I became a father, but they hit me a lot harder now.

We have a moral obligation to be rational. This gets brought up often with regards to religion and alternative medicine, because we all encounter that in our daily lives with regularity. We tend to think of conspiracy theories as mostly harmless comparatively. I don’t think that anymore. This conspiracy theory is not fun. It is not harmless. It is vile and I have no sympathy for it.

I write a lot of jokes. Some of them are in this book.
I also host the podcast of the Skepchick events team, Some Assembly Required, and cohost the WWJTD Podcast.
You can also follow me on Facebook or that bird thing.

  • John Horstman

    Word. I, too, find conspiracy theories fascinating, and I have a great love for fiction that draws from it (The X-Files, The Illuminatus! Trilogy, and Deus Ex are my top three, and I really enjoy a lot of speculation about ancient aliens, Roswell, and the Illuminati). However, I’ve always been deeply uncomfortable with the thread of anti-Semitism (and Orientalism) that is endemic to a lot of conspiracy mongering (most of the New World Order stuff or anything dealing with the Trilateral Commission), and I don’t actually believe the conspiracies (other than things like Iran-Contra, which are well-documented by the perpetrators). This – or the deeply racist Birtherism – is definitely not fun nor interesting, it’s just disgusting. I agree entirely.

    • Anonymous

      i disagree with you. Sandy hook saw staged.

      • Anonymous

        was staged*

      • Glodson

        Evidence?

  • http://skepticfreethought.com/tokenchristian Jaime Wise

    This is horrible. As if it isn’t enough for the community and parents to go through such an unthinkable tragedy, now they have people telling them that it never happened? And issuing harassment and threats? Are there any protective measures that can be taken for the community, or some other way of showing support?

  • http://yourownrisk.wordpress.com Squiddhartha

    I don’t think those are even the same people in those two photographs.

  • UsingReason

    There really aren’t words for how disturbing this is, we need to invent a new word that goes beyond despicable. As a parent I don’t even want to imagine what people in that community are going through, it breaks my heart. If I personally heard someone making the kind of statements these truthers are making I’m afraid there would be a very violent reaction upon their person. As much as violence would not solve anything I’m not sure I would be able to stop myself. I sure as fuck wouldn’t feel sorry after the fact.

  • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    Because this is so much more likely than a lunatic with a gun on a rampage.

    • Adam

      That’s the mentality of conspiracy theorists. Make up some grandiose scheme and then try to sell it to the gullible masses. And of course, try to find “holes” in the “official story.”

  • unbound

    An article about the conspiracy theory which includes a podcast Anderson Cooper did a few days ago – http://www.inquisitr.com/483547/crisis-actors-address-sandy-hook-truthers-after-florida-professors-claims/

  • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    So the claim is “OBAMA IS EVIL ENOUGH TO FAKE A MASS SHOOTING BUT NOT QUITE EVIL ENOUGH TO HAVE A REAL ONE CARRIED OUT!!!”

    • Silent Service

      Yeah, that sounds about right.

  • http://ripeningreason.com/ Rachel Marcy (Bix)

    I just don’t understand why people do things like this. Do they really believe it? Are they just bored, terrible people who think this is amusing? Why? Why would someone do this?

    Also, Zinc Avenger, you make a good point. I think someone denying that your child was murdered–denying their existence in the first place–is probably worse than hearing someone say their murder was a government conspiracy. So yeah…these people are terrible.

  • Brad1990

    I actually feel a bit sick. Some people really are fucking disgusting.

  • http://www.examiner.com/article/texas-education-expert-barton-s-book-recalled MESkeptic

    “I just don’t understand why people do things like this.”

    I honestly think there’s a conservative meme out there that says “believing it hard enough makes it true.” When you mix that in with the terror that conservatives seem to wallow in constantly, and a popular culture equates “conservative” with “strong,” you’ve got fertile ground for conspiracy theories that would have been laughed at 20 years ago.

  • ecolt

    I share your feeling, Steven. My youngest stepson is in 1st grade, and the week of the shootings all I could think about was that those kids were all his age. I can’t even imagine what those families have gone through, to lose a child like that and now be called liars while still dealing with so much grief.

    I honestly can’t understand the logic behind this conspiracy theory. To claim that literally hundreds of actors were hired just to, ultimately, start a discussion about strengthening our existing gun laws. Not only the parents, but children who talked about what they had seen. And how about those hundreds of firefighters who lined up for the funeral, or the psychologists who have gone to try to help, are they all actors too? Is the entire town of Newton in on the plot?

    It’s pathetic and disgusting that people will go to such great lengths in their own denial of reality.


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