COLUMN: Talk down the 'Sandy Hook truthers'
'Sandy Hook Truthers'
Those dedicated to the belief that the Sandy Hook shooting was actually staged have created videos attempting to prove their theories. This is one of the wackiest videos on the subject.
I hate to admit this, but several of my friends are “Sandy Hook truthers.” They believe the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was scripted, a hoax or a “false flag” attack designed to scare the public and make it easier to pass more stringent gun control measures or to repeal the Second Amendment all together.
These ideas and conspiracy theories easily are dismissed and are patently ridiculous for the most part. Worse still, the theories and the circus that goes with them are insults to the victims of the school shooting.
Yet, to my surprise, a number of otherwise intelligent and rational people have fallen for these sensational claims – hook, line and sinker. With every new wrinkle or YouTube video claiming to reveal newly-discovered facts from the shooting, I get an email or Facebook message proclaiming there is “compelling new evidence” and “absolute proof” of a ploy or a cover-up entwined in the shooting.
Many people seem to have an innate need to project order from chaos, even if they have to turn on their “suspension of disbelief” mechanism to do so, like when they are watching a science fiction film. Researchers say conspirators simply are looking for control. “It seems likely that conspiratorial beliefs serve a similar psychological function to superstitious, paranormal and, more controversially, religious beliefs, as they help some people to gain a sense of control over an unpredictable world,” according to Christopher French, a psychologist at Goldsmiths, University of London.
The Sandy Hook shooting is attractive to conspiracy theorizers because, at present, the U.S. is not united. The country is strongly divided along socio-political lines, and the atmosphere is charged with mistrust and disillusionment. People are desperate to feel secure and autonomous again instead of buffered by fear and doubt.
There is also a fairly sizable contingent in this country whose members apparently really believe President Obama is the next Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler. It is no coincidence many of the same people who believe the president was not born on U.S. soil and who think he is a secret Muslim mole out to purposefully destroy the country from within are also “Sandy Hook truthers.”
The “Sandy Hook truther” population’s inconsistent skepticism is particularly puzzling. They distrust the mainstream media and the academic or scientific complex, but fail to apply the same skepticism to the people making wild claims on YouTube or Facebook — who, after all, could be mistaken, delusional or simply lying to them just as easily as the “puppet masters” controlling the mainstream outlets of news and politics.
As a Cherokee and a Native American studies major, you don’t have to convince me the U.S. federal government or any politician or journalism outlet is capable of dishonesty or a lack of critical analysis, but wild speculation and sensationalism never should replace reason and consistent skepticism.
Do us all a favor if you have friends, family members or acquaintances who promote or defend the “Sandy Hook truther” movement. Make sure they aren’t armed or dangerous. Laugh at them or try to talk some sense into them. They are indeed insulting the Sandy Hook victims as well as the American public’s intelligence.
Scott Starr is a Native American studies senior.