Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists

This is a 25-minute "pissed-off rant" about Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists. And this guy is normally pretty mild-mannered and calm, too.

Hey, I understand it. These Sandy Hook conspiracies aren't just incredibly dumb, they're - as Steve Shives points out - ghoulish. These people are getting their jollies from the murder of six-year-old children!

That's what conspiracy theories are all about, you know. They're just entertainment. It doesn't make any difference if it's 'birthers' or 9/11 'truthers.' It doesn't matter if you think the Moon landings were a hoax or if you think NASA secretly discovered aliens up there. (I've encountered both beliefs. I'm serious, I really have).

Your conspiracy of choice, whatever it is, is like watching a fantasy movie, only writing yourself into the plot. You get to be one of the intrepid heroes, one of the brave few who know the Truth. Well play a fucking computer game if you want! (Seriously. Role-playing games are great fun, and you don't have to turn yourself into a complete idiot to enjoy them.)

To use a tragedy like the Sandy Hook shootings for your own enjoyment is just despicable. Getting a police scanner, so you can rush to the scene of serious car accidents and gawk at the victims, would be a better choice, if you're really that ghoulish.

I got a spam email pushing a loony Sandy Hook conspiracy theory (obviously, I don't mean "theory" in the scientific sense, but just the reverse). Yeah, it was just a "made for TV drama to try to ram through the gun control laws, because they want to kill the American people," huh? (That's a direct quote.)

That's not just one of the stupidest things I've ever heard, it's also using a horrible tragedy - the murder of twenty innocent children, and their teachers - for personal enjoyment and to push a particular political agenda.

I didn't plan to write about it, because I didn't want to give the crazies any attention. But, apparently, it's too late for that. In fact, it's even worse than I thought:
Retired psychologist Gene Rosen was hailed as a hero for taking six terrified first-graders into his home and giving them fruit juice during the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. ...

Now, Rosen and his wife are scared. He says he is being harassed by so-called Sandy Hook "truthers," conspiracy theorists who believe that facts about Newtown are being covered up by the media or other forces as part of a government or anti-gun plot.

“I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor,” Rosen told the online magazine Salon. A white supremacist message board, Salon said, had ridiculed the “emotional Jewish guy.”

A photo of Rosen's home was posted online and fake social network accounts have been created in his name, according to the report. Blog posts call him a fraud. “What is the going rate for getting involved in a gov’t sponsored hoax anyway?” said one message accusing him of acting, according to Salon.

“The quantity of the material is overwhelming,” Rosen said, adding that his wife is worried for their safety.

Rosen’s treatment is the outgrowth of Newtown shooting conspiracy theories expanding on the Internet. Such claims are even coming from sources that appear to be mainstream.

Yeah, unfortunately, it's not just internet users living in their parents' basement. Even though conspiracy theories like this are incredibly stupid, it's not just stupid people who believe them (although it's probably mostly stupid people).

There's apparently a real ego boost in believing something like this, in being one of the bold few who challenge authority and fight for a 'Truth' the majority can't see. I'm sure it's much like religious faith. And, just like religious true believers, you can find such thinking on the right and on the left.

The fact is, 9/11 'truthers' aren't any saner than 'birthers.' These people just pick the kind of conspiracy that matches their existing political beliefs. In this case, the Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists seem to be gun nuts and bigots, eager to blame the shooting on our federal government and/or Jews. (In some cases, they claim there wasn't a massacre, that it was all staged; in others, that Adam Lanza was just the innocent fall guy.)

Like Steve Shives, I'm enraged by this kind of stupidity and narcissism. Go ahead and believe in Area 51, if you want. Say what you like about the Kennedy assassination. At least that was 50 years ago. But don't use a tragedy that's fresh in everyone's mind - especially the people suffering the most from this - to get your ghoulish jollies or defend your precious assault rifle.

Play a video game, instead. I'm serious. They're lots of fun, and you can fantasize all you like, yet you're not harming real people.


Jim Harris said...

What a strange way to deny reality. And what paranoia. And aren't all these theories based on the idea that the government is controlling things or hiding things? It seems to me that believers in conspiracy theories are a new kind of madness. These people have a very limited grasp on reality, and they are using the internet to spread their crazy ideas.

WCG said...

Yup. But I think it's just entertainment, Jim, I really do. They enjoy feeling the hero in their own fantasy, one of the few who haven't been hoodwinked by authority.

That must give them a real rush - especially people who feel puny and powerless in everyday life. But using a tragedy for such purposes is just ghoulish and narcissistic, not to mention embarrassingly dumb.

Jim Harris said...

I find that hard to believe, although it's a good enough theory. Bill, you seem to assume everyone is rational and can be reasoned with. I tend to think there are lots of people beyond reason, who are neurotic or psychotic. I've known schizophrenic people who believe in wild paranoid beliefs like this.

If these people actually believe Sandy Hook was a fabrication of the government, and I find it hard to believe anyone could believe this, they would be psychotic.

If these people don't believe this but think they can convince other people to believe it for their own gain, whatever that might be, then I think these people are also psychotic.

Like our problem of insane people getting guns, I think we have a problem with insane people using the internet.

WCG said...

Jim, I went to reply to this, but my reply took on a life of its own. :) So I posted it here, instead.