Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Truther": Just Another Made-Up Word for "Crazy"

The three guns used by the Newtown shooter
Last month, while trying to come up for air during my fight with depression, I had the occasional "uptick" in my mood. One of the brightest days was when I went on a "Behind the Scenes" tour at the Zoo and had the opportunity to feed, touch and actually stroke a lovely Indian rhino named Ashakiran. I came home that day full of wonder and incredibly moved by the experience; my spirits were buoyed to the point that I thought I might possibly break my "blog jam" and write about the encounter that evening. But the feeling did not last the afternoon, unfortunately. In the elevator on my way up from the car to my apartment I shared the ride with an older couple who asked me if I had heard about the shooting (they phrased it as a singular) that day. I replied that I had not; they were unable to fill in many details so I turned on CNN the moment I got home. And there I sat for much of the rest of that day, Friday, December 14, 2012, unable to do anything other than stare in agony as report after report came in regarding the horrific events in Newtown, Connecticut. I've remarked, elsewhere, about how odd it was that the reporters got almost every fact about the tragedy wrong at first blush—including the shooter's real name—except for the actual body count which never wavered from the moment I turned my television on that awful, awful afternoon.

But now there is a growing movement that insists that even the number of dead that day is not accurate. They are called the "Sandy Hook Truthers." And they absolutely disgust and sicken me, a born skeptic.

Barely lost to Romney
Now, the mental defects who belong to this group are not to be confused with the usual repugnant mouthbreathers that, right on cue, came out of the woodwork after the massacre: rocket scientists such as Mike Huckabee who first blamed the shootings on the separation of church and state but later decided it was actually the fault of the gays (Huckabee also once thought Canada had its own "National Igloo"), or the cartoonish Newt Gingrich who blamed the Godless government and courts. You know these kinds of idiotic comments are coming after every major tragedy; hey, it's all part of what makes living in our part of the world so special! The insane followers of the Westboro Baptist Church were heard from, of course, along with the NRA, Pat Robertson and many other nutters that, while annoying and potentially dangerous, are most certainly not news. They're just, unfortunately, part of the cost of "freedom" south of the border.

Alex Jones, sociopath
No, this is something completely different. This is a frightening syndrome that has taken hold of a shockingly large portion of the American population: nothing is real and everything is a conspiracy perpetrated upon the unwitting "sheep" of the US populace. Perhaps you're familiar with the old medical adage, "If you hear hoofbeats, don't look for zebras?" Well, these geniuses take it to a whole new level: they look for unicorns. Led by the self-aggrandizing paranoiac, Alex Jones, these witless wonders are convinced that the Sandy Hook shootings are a government conspiracy to drum up support to "take our guns away". Jones himself did a memorable—to put it mildly—turn on the Piers Morgan show on CNN earlier this month, after Jones had launched a "Deport Piers Morgan" petition against the latter's fairly sane views on gun control. Jones is a positively certifiable basket case, ranting on Twitter, his website and a nationally syndicated radio show about the Second Amendment, tyranny, government conspiracies and cover-ups, and—an oldie but a goodie—the fluoridation in the water supply being used to "control" the citizens of the United States. Yes, really. Other than being a poster child for what Americans hold up as "Freedom of Speech", he's pretty much a tempest in a teapot....if it were to stop with him.

But it does not.

O, what a tangled web...
All over the web there are videos claiming to have "absolute proof" that the events were "staged"; websites devoted to "debunking" the "hoax"; claims that one of the victims, Emilie Parker, is actually still alive. This mind-numblingly stupid theory came about because there is video of her sister sitting with President Obama when he came to Newtown but, since this sister is—gasp!—dressed in the same clothes as Emilie was wearing in the picture her parents offered to the press to circulate then it must be Emilie herself....because who ever heard of a younger sister wearing her older sister's clothes? There is also the positively egregious and loathsome story of a Newtown resident, Gene Rosen, who brought six children into his home when they fled the school during the shootings and ended up at the foot of his driveway, and who is now being harassed by people who claim that he was just an actor brought out to cry on television and make his whole story up. There are myriad other examples of the lunacy being brought about by this intellectually damaged faction; I don't encourage you to seek them out any more than I encourage you to click on any of the links I have presented here unless you are truly ready for the depravity with which you will be greeted.

9/11 Conspiracy Theory flowchart
This sort of thing is by no means new. There are 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists. There are large groups of people—albeit, mainly the same people over and over again—who believe that the shootings at Aurora, Virginia Tech and other massacre sites were similarly staged to fool the American public into disarmament, ostensibly so they can be easy prey for when their government comes calling to take away the rest of their rights. I don't think these people realize that even their huge glut of assault weapons would be no match if their government really wanted to persecute their citizenry: as far as I know, no private citizen has access to nuclear weapons. Well, yet, anyhow. There are also people who are 100% sure that the US government ordered the Oklahoma City bombing all the way back in 1995. I don't know exactly when this propensity to blame the government for the nation's greatest violent acts began; certainly you can trace some of the roots back to the Kennedy assassination, the granddaddy of all conspiracies. By the time Tricky Dick Nixon was through with the nation, it's a wonder anyone believed anyone else about anything down there. It seems like they simply cannot elect anyone who won't lie to them on some level; Clinton lied about sex, both Bushes lied about their reasons for invading Iraq, Reagan lied about being competent enough to serve as President. (I'm not saying we're any better in that regard up here, but we're light years behind in the conspiracy theory super-group department.) So maybe they come by it honestly, up to a point.

President Obama signs executive orders for gun control laws
credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
It just feels different this time, though. It feels dirtier, harsher, more evil somehow—and likely because the Newtown tragedy involved such young children. It's one thing to drag the names of grown men and women through the mud; it's despicable, but we become more and more inured to it every day. But the "Sandy Hook Truthers" (and I really hate that fake word) are attacking children. Or maybe they're not: it's so hard to tell. Some of them seem to be implying that the kids did not actually die. Others seem convinced that the kids are dead, but that the government killed them. Or their parents. Or the actors playing their parents. It's so damned hard to keep up. In any event, after so many of us sat there for hours last December 14 and watched the events of that evening unfold, knowing that twenty very young children had been ripped apart by the multitude of bullets spitting from the assault rifle of one deranged young man, it seems particularly disgusting this time around to have to come face to face with a whole force of barely-sentient beings mocking the pain of the parents and, indeed, the nation with their ridiculous and hateful theories. The shock of the event itself—and all of the five- and six-year-olds that died that day—has proven to be a catalyst in another way as well, though. It does seem on some visceral level that this finally pushed the right button and that maybe—just maybe—enough is finally enough. Today, President Obama signed some executive orders to begin the push for new gun laws in the States. With no re-election to have to worry about, perhaps he is free to spend his next four years making this his legacy. It's a nice thing to think about, but it's painfully clear at this juncture that there is a long, long way to go.

The "Audacity of Hope" indeed.


  1. I'd like to think Obama will do something useful, but I recently read on a cp24 blurb that he intends to start another research wing into video games causing violence. Because guns don't kill people - Mario does.

    1. I agree to a point, but I don't mind any studies being commissioned that might: a) placate the gun lobby to any degree whatsoever; and b) potentially lay to rest any idea of a link between the two things.


I've kept my comments open and moderation-free for many years, but I've been forced to now review them before they post due to the actions of one member of my family. I apologize for having to take this stance, but that's the way the world is headed, sad to say. Thank you for your understanding.

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