A movement of Sandy Hook truthers, people who believe the school shooting in Newtown either did not happen at all or did not happen in the way it was reported, has been growing on the internet since nearly the day of the shooting -- but it appears the tipping point for the certifiably insane conspiracy was reached earlier this week when it was revealed that Gene Rosen, the kindly gentleman who sheltered six refugees from Sandy Hook Elementary, had been on the receiving end of extensive harassment from those who buy into the strange theories.
To understand Sandy Hook truthers, you must first look back to September 11th and a strange narrative that also reached a tipping point in that era. Given the polarized response America had to the attacks, a bizarre cognitive dissonance became somewhat of a cottage industry after that watershed incident, and conspiracy theorists like the Sandy Hook truthers reached a new level of amplification. Once dismissed as tinfoil hat wearing freaks, those who compiled a list of objections to what is generally widely considered fact found a new and cohesive way to air their paranoia -- the internet.
But what seems to bind Sandy Hook truthers together is the response to the shootings in Newtown. Understandably, gun control has become a heated debate in America after the details of the shooting became known -- that the first-graders killed in the attack had been shot with what is often called an "assault rifle," sparking a national conversation about whether such weapons should be restricted among civilians.
Salon, who broke the story on Sandy Hook truthers harassing Gene Rosen, also did a piece on how the paranoia has broken into some mainstream reporting -- profiling Ben Swann, reporter with a local Fox affiliate in Cincinnati, who's claiming to "question this whole narrative" about the Newtown shootings.
Indeed, reporting from Newtown that day and in subsequent weeks was spotty at best. However, like 9/11, if the scene at Sandy Hook Elementary could be described in a single word, "chaotic" might be that word. And if we learned anything at all from the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center, it is (in regards to news) this -- we can have our information accurate, or we can have it quickly.
What Sandy Hook truthers seem to ignore is that from the moment the news hit -- The Inquisitr was one of the first sites to carry the report of shots fired at a Connecticut school -- the incident was nearly suppressed in the media. When the death toll was released early that afternoon, the unequivocal reason became horribly clear.
Twenty children dead. Twenty, in the first-grade, shot multiple times. Had this news broken along with the story, the effect on the families affected would have been unimaginable. Try to fathom, for a minute, pulling up Facebook on your mobile phone as you hurriedly rush back to your hometown from work because the school called and seeing a message that your child had been one of those murdered due to leaked information from the scene.
It seems all the conspiracy goes back to this single factor -- that the Connecticut State Police decided firmly and early on to inform families first and press second. In this void of information, the media relied on a stream of vague reports (one early tweet indicated whatever happened it was "really bad") as well as visual observations on the scene -- like an assault rifle being removed from the trunk of Adam Lanza's vehicle.
When examined, many assumed this meant police were not telling the truth -- but is it possible Lanza carried two assault rifles? This sort of Sandy Hook truther peek-a-boo (if I can't see it, it doesn't exist) is seemingly what's driving this insanity. But further, it seems that many Sandy Hook truthers are driven by a more selfish, crueler impetus, a narrative pushed forth by a style of reporting grown popular in recent years.
What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary was incomprehensible, but the incident also seems to finger guns as an issue perhaps requiring discussion. And given this very clear take-away, many have decided simply to deny what so very clearly happened happened -- choosing instead to believe a government conspiracy the likes of which could never be pulled off in actuality given the levels of complicity required by a cast of thousands is likelier than one lone, disturbed man did a horrible, horrible thing.
It defies comprehension that Sandy Hook truthers find a massive global cabal more believable than a day marked by horror relayed unevenly by a confused press -- but it's important this narrative of suspicion be halted by sane Americans with alacrity.
At the end of the day, 26 people walked into Sandy Hook Elementary and didn't walk out. 26 families were shattered forever, and the Sandy Hook truthers aren't just engaging in a harmless counter-narrative.
Below is a video that is apparently galvanizing the Sandy Hook truther movement -- but watched with even a mildly critically eye, every single bit has a quick and reasonable explanation. We know the "second shooter" was parent Chris Manfredonia, who tried to extract his daughter from the school while it was still locked down.
We know that Adam Lanza was initially misidentified as Ryan Lanza, potentially due to carrying the wrong ID. We know that a Bushmaster was said to be found both in the trunk as well as in the school, and that Nancy Lanza had a number of firearms.
We know that sometimes grieving people laugh and cry or both, and that emotion is not a predictable thing. And we know that behind this pop-culture analysis is a town full of real, grieving people who don't deserve to be called liars or crisis actors by half-baked investigators with no actual evidence of any deception.
If it's about guns, it's perfectly fine to say that despite the horror in Newtown, laws should stay the same. What's not fine is to harass a community that has experienced unimaginable pain, which is what Sandy Hook truthers are doing when they say things like grieving families have shed "no tears" in interviews.
Here are some Sandy Hook truther videos, but literally hundreds more exist and should be condemned by thinking people. Have you encountered Newtown conspiracy theorists on Facebook or in real life?