It never fails. Every time something ghastly happens, from the Wisconsin Sikh temple massacre to the Oslo terror attacks to the Fort Hood Shootings to (d'oh!) 9-11, lugubrious conspiranoids have got to descend like ravenous vultures with bogus theories about how it was a "false flag" job perpetrated by a "Manchurian Candidate." The horrific bloodletting at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn., is, alas, no exception. And in this case, the theory has simply no basis in reality—it isn't even a distortion, contortion, embellishment or obfuscation—it is a simple invention, straight up. Yet animated partisans are plastering posts about it on my Facebook wall right and left—seemingly in all earnestness. Big ups to Talking Points Memo for rising to the tiresome ocassion of shooting down this jive:
A false rumor spreading rapidly on fringe sites like Infowars and assorted Ron Paul messageboards ties the school murders to an existing hoax surrounding the Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting. After that attack, conspiracy theorists fixated on the accused shooter's father, Robert Holmes, pointing to media reports that he worked as an anti-fraud scientist for credit scoring company FICO.
Somehow, a rumor surfaced online that Holmes was scheduled to testify before the Senate on the Libor banking scandal before the theater shooting. It wasn’t true: no such hearing was ever scheduled to take place, nor is there even an obvious connection between FICO and the Libor scandal, which involved a number of high-profile banks misreporting interest rates on transactions. But imaginative commenters across dozens of sites exploited the phony connection anyway, concocting a theory in which the hearing was set to reveal a massive new fraud scheme before being deliberately derailed…
In the case of Newtown, Peter Lanza, the alleged shooter’s father, reportedly also worked in finance as vice president of taxes at GE Financial Services. Within hours, the same online forums were asserting as fact — again, 100 percent without evidence — that he too was supposed to testify before the Senate regarding Libor. Like FICO, GE has no obvious connection to the investigation, which has roped in various other financial institutions. And once again, there is no “witness list” that includes Lanza because there isn’t even a hearing on the issue.
"This rumor is 100% false," a Senate Banking Committee aide, who asked not to be named, told TPM by email. "The Senate Banking Committee does not have any LIBOR hearings currently scheduled, and has never considered either of these men as potential witnesses."
Evidence? Hey, who needs evidence in the wacky world of conspiranoia? If you question this nonsense, you're a dupe of the conspiracy! (Or perhaps a "cognitive infiltrator.") Alas, this fanciful detritus has appeared not only on blatantly wacky sites like Info Wars and Ron Paul Forums, but also Examiner.com, which actually aspires to a pretense of mainstream credibility. The apparently non-ironic website Aircrap.org adds a "chemtrails" twist, sporting photos of contrails over the school on the day of the shooting and intimating that this is somehow related to the mind-control manipulation of the shooter.
We should also give a shout-out to Occupy Corporatism for calling out this BS, although, like almost everyone today, they use the word "corporatism" incorrectly.
Invariably, the conspiranoia is a distraction from the vital questions that need to be raised about why our culture is manifesting such routine atrocities. Leave it to Britain's Daily Mail and The Telegraph to note the cultural context: Adam Lanza's mom was part of the "Prepper" survivalist movement, which explains why she had so many guns on hand.
"She prepared for the worst," her sister-in-law Marsha Lanza told reporters. "Last time we visited her in person, we talked about prepping – are you ready for what could happen down the line, when the economy collapses?"
"Prepared for the worst," eh? Talk about creating what you fear. Maybe she should have read Alan Watts' The Wisdom of Insecurity. This says volumes about the perverse logic of gun culture. Just before Yugoslavia imploded 20 years ago, the Croats, Serbs and Muslims each started arming in anticipaiton of the collapse. Would the collapse have happened—or would it have been so ghastly—if they hadn't done so? Unknowable, of course, but still worth considering.
The more universal (if almost equally kneejerk) response of framing the issue in terms of gun control also avoids asking the profound questions about our culture by focusing exclusively on the means rather than reasons behind this horror. And to the extent that anyone talks about the reasons, it is framed in the problematic meme of "mental illness"—which is a social construct. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but the question of why people who are "wired" differently become psychopaths instead of saints, mystics or shamans confronts us once again with the question of cultural context. Blaming "mental illness" begs the question of why such attacks have increased dramatically over the past generation. It also paves the way for an authoritarian therapeutic state. We had to make this same point after the Sikh temple massacre.
The political logic (if we may so flatter it) behind the Newtown conspiracy theories is that the attack was intended to grease a crackdown on guns. And indeed gun sales have (paradoxically!) soared since the massacre—not only nationally but even within Newtown, Sky News notes. We acknowledge that there is a pathology at work on both sides of the gun control debate, but the Gun Lobby's silence in the wake of Newtown is perverse, as is its baseless scare-mongering. (Dig this priceless performance from the NRA's Wayne LaPierre.) The Gun Lobby also takes no responsibility for the massive arms trafficking to the Mexican cartels. Its propaganda always portrays a nation of yeoman farmers ready to protect home and family against either maruading criminals or jack-booted government thugs. The reality is considerably more complicated.
Alex Jones: Help! Help! I’m being repressed!
Info Wars carries a piece claiming:
We want to be clear that we forthrightly oppose censorship, even of irresponsible, paranoid malarky. But we want to be equally clear that just because it is being censored doesn’t mean that it is anything other than irresponsible, paranoid malarky.
Newtown reveals dangers of therapeutic state?
We’ve already noted above how the “Prepper” mentality seems to have paradoxically helped create the massacre at Newtown—providing the shooter with access to guns, a belief that their use is the answer to problems, and (probably) an apocalyptic zeitgeist. Now it appears this horrific case may also point to the dangers of a therapeutic state predicated on the notion of pre-emptive restraint on the liberties of those deemed a threat for “psychiatric” reasons. From Fox News:
Again, a case of actions creating what was feared…
NRA breaks silence on Newtown
CBS notes that the NRA has announced it will hold a “major news conference” on Friday, pledging “meaningful contributions” to address what happened at Newtown. Meanwhile, they say:
We will withhold comment until Friday—other than to say that use of the word “heartbroken” is utterly condescending. Nobody who was not personally affected by the massacre is heartbroken. Shocked, saddened, even despairing—yes. But not heartbroken. Use of that word sounds like cheap lip service. Obama has done it too. Just saying.
Religious right “exploits” Newtown?
Bill Berkowitz on TruthOut takes aim at “Religious Right’s Shameful Exploitation of Newtown Massacre.” His foremost offendor is Mike Huckabee…
OK, Huckabee is dead wrong here and needs to be opposed. But is he “exploiting” the massacre, or merely calling it as he (wrongly) sees it? Our opposite numbers on the right accuse liberals of “exploiting” the massacre to push for gun control. See this exhibit from Examiner.com; the right-wing Washington Times gloats that Rep. Jerrold Nadler indiscreetly called for Obama to “exploit” the massacre.
We have to point this out.
Mossad behind Newtown (of course)
Well, this one was inevitble. From Iran’s Press TV, Dec. 18:
Et cetera. Incorrect use of quotation marks in original. Max Fisher in the Washington Post makes note of this wackiness, and links to an Aug. 25, 2009 report in the Phoenix New Times informing us that this charming Mike Harris appeared in an anti-Obama video with veteran neo-Nazi JT Ready.
Israel did Newtown: video version
This is really special.
So comforting to know that anti-Semitism is all in the imagination of us paranoid Jews.
Wonderfully and uniquely sane!
The perfect antidote to the reflexive ‘blame the gun’ mantra and gushing of emotionalism which seems the only permitted response to the Sandy Hook tragedy at the moment.
Yes, why ARE these mad crimes increasing in frequency?
At the time the architecture student at the University of Texas murdered a bunch of passers by in Austin (I,965) one didn’t even have to sign for a rifle or shotgun in Texas.
Guns were still available by MAIL at that time.
The student shooter began his spree by killing his mother at the home they shared.
He left a note reading that he thought there was something wrong in his head.
An autopsy later showed he had a large brain tumor.
Years went by before another such rampage took place in America.
Since then guns have become considerable harder to get – especially pistols.
Yet the rampages continue to increase in frequency.
And not only in America.
They happen in oppressive countries such as China, where school children are the usual targets and the weapons of choice are knives.
They happen in comfortable and relatively free countries such as Norway.
They happen in Canada, Britain, Australia, and Germany.
I’d say the poorer countries are not showing such rampages because violence is so normal in many of them that there’s no easy distinguishing between psychopathic and warlord, drug lord, paramilitary, political terrorist, religious terrorist, and civil war violence.
If guns really become hard to obtain (hard to imagine since there are already 2OO millions of guns in private hands in this country), then the rampage killers would just turn to other methods.
Remember that the greatest terrorist attack up til 9-II was the Oklahoma City bombing – which was done by two conspiracy obsessed right-wingers using fertilizer and diesel oil.
The twon teenagers who shot up their fellow classmates at Columbine, CO, brougtht a propane tank into the school with the intention of blowing it up as the climax of their assault.
Had they had no or fewer guns and ammmunition, they probably would have focussed their full attention on setting of the propane, perhaps resulting in even more casualties than occurred.
Why are these madmen proliferating?
I don’ tknow.
They are almost always single men who feel isolated and rejected, who haven’t been able to mate or establish themselves socially.
I’d start there if I were looking for an explanation.
Unfortunately, no one in public view (except our crack journalist, Bill W. , seems even interesting in doing any thinking about this matter, let alone research.
Thanks, but use of word “sane” is ironic
I share your frustration (even despair) at the universal uninterest in looking for root causes in this carnage. However, I reject use of the words “sane” and “madmen.” Insanity (like sanity) is a social construct. The therapeutic meme is no less a distraction than the gun-control response. And perhaps a more dangerous one.
Also, given that the assault weapon ban has sunset and the background-check law is full of loopholes, gun laws are not particularly harsher today than they were in 1965. NRA alarmism notwithstanding.
Newtown: another case against therapeutic state?
Hmmm. The slightly conspiranoid Business Insider notes a report in New York Magazine entitled “Asperger’s Is a Red Herring to Explain the Newtown Massacre” which in turn cites a report in the NY Daily News that quotes Adam Lanza’s uncle as saying he was taking an anti-psychotic drug called Fanapt. Business Insider also notes that Fanapt was the subject of a Bloomberg report when it passed regulators in 2009, after previously getting the “nonapproval” stamp. And it finally notes reports indicating Fanapt could actually trigger psychotic episodes, with potential side-effects including aggression, delusion, hostility, paranoia, anorgasmia, confusional state, mania, catatonia, mood swings, panic attack, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia nervosa, delirium, polydipsia psychogenic, impulse-control disorder, and major depression. Cute, eh?
However, Business Insider fails to mention an editorial note that has been added to the end of the New York Magazine story, stating that the Daily News had removed the reference to Fanapt from its own story, and: “It is now unclear whether Lanza was taking Fanapt.”
Psych drug link in Newtown?
Lawrence Hunter writes in Forbes Jan. 14: “Psychiatric Drugs, Not A Lack Of Gun Control, Are The Common Denominator In Murderous Violence.” He notes a New York state senate bill introduced in 200 that would have required police to report when such pharmaceutical use is indicated in a violent crime perp. The legislated cited “a large body of scientific research establishing a connection between violence and suicide and the use of psychotropic drugs.” It didn’t pass, but we congratulate Hunter for saving this nugget from the Memory Hole (even if he is using it for a pro-gun agenda).
But the conspiranoids have jumped on this too, natch. The lovely website USA Hitman luridly notes that a gun manufacturer named John Noveske was “mysteriously” killed in a car crash days fter he posted a blog about a possible psych-drug link to Newtown.
Urban paranoia over suburban phenomenon
The New York Times makes note of a panic sparked at PS 79 in East Harlem after a “drill” was mistaken for the real thing and the cops were sent in. When I was a kid, back in the Cold War, we did “air raid drills” (as if hiding in the halls could save us from nuclear attack). Ah, progress. But the irony is that this happened in Harlem. Have you ever heard of a school massacre in the inner city? No. With the possible partial exception of Newtown (which the last time I was there some 20 years ago still had a small-town feel), it seems to be an entirely suburban phenomenon. As we have pointed out.
NRA calls for therapeutic police state
In his press conference today, in addittion to calling for further militarization of our schools with more armed guards (gee, thanks), Wayne LaPierre also called for a “national database of the mentally ill.” What does he mean by this? There already is one, sort of. The Gun Control Act of 1968 barred gun sales to the “mentally ill,” and the 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act instated a criminal background database that includes a list (although some states opt out of it) of the “dangerously mentally ill”—the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). And the NRA, of course, opposed both these laws! (WP, Dec. 21) So what exactly does LaPierre mean? A general database of the “mentally ill”—not to prevent them from buying guns but to track them through the population, for purposes of pre-emptive restraint?
There are extremely totalitarian ideas being legitimized in the post-Newtown climate. Why are we not hearing a fraction of the outrage about these calls for a therapeutic police state as about the (so far non-existent) threat the Second Amendment?
Therapeutic police state advances in New York
Well the newly passed New York state “gun-control” law includes draconian provisions for mandatory monitoring and restraint of the “mentally ill”—including a toughening of the totalitarian “Kendra’s Law,” extending mandatory “treatment programs.” See reports on YNN, CNN, WSJ and WNYC. How telling that both sides of this deabte, the “liberals” and the NRA, both have complete contempt for the freedom of the “mentally ill” (sic).
New low on Newtown: “no massacre” theory
Have the conspiranoids hit bottom yet? How low can they go? Some self-important idiot on Daily Paul (a forum for enthusiasts of right-wing huckster Ron Paul) notes that some fool on the Internet (no shortage!) found a random photo of a little girl and passed it off as a Newtown victim. This is somehow taken as evidence of—what exactly? The poster seems to be alluding to what we might call “No Massacre Theory.” The notion that the shooter was a “Manchurian Candidate” apparently isn’t wacky enough for some people, the latest conspiracy theory is that the massacre didn’t even happen! Reminds us of the joke about 9-11 “No Buildings Theory”–not only did the planes not exist, the Towers never existed either!
This is the most lugubrious masturbation imaginable, and a perverse insult to the families of Newtown.
Snopes takes on “no massacre” theory
The urban legend-busters as Snopes.com trace the “no massacre” theory back to a website called WellAware1, filled with all sorts of outer-orbit conspiranoia about how virtually every face in the public media is really an actor, playing upon superficial resemblances, e.g. accused Aurora shooter James Eagan Holmes (why always three names for these loons?) and rock star Jack White of the White Stripes.
Why was Emily Parkers Facebook account was set up five hours after the shootings. With bank account already set up to receive charitable donations. Before her parents even knew she was DEAD! No media will report this. This is not a negative comment about the deaths of innocent people, but a question of how this could be possible. Questions about this will be removed from the page by the 24/7 monitor, will be removed from twitter, ect. Where is the freedom of speech. Where is the Media.
Why no media will report this
Probably because it’s total bullshit.
Newtown conspiranoia makes MSM
How depressing. Even this Jan. 16 account in the Candian Press—the first mainstream account we’ve seen calling out the lugubrious Newtown-was-a-hoax sickos—has got to lead with a gratuitous diss of the “mentally ill.”
And that’s even more depressing. But, hey, it gets worse. Yahoo News reports:
Utterly sick. It challenges the imagination.
The Forward sees anti-Semitic angle in Newtown conspiranoia
The Forward on Jan. 18 of course notes that Gene Rosen has an obviously Jewish name. And some of the conspiranoid comments leave little room for doubt as to whether this is mere coincidence.
More Newtown conspiranoia deconstructed
Benjamin Radford, LiveScience “Bad Science Columnist,” writes on Yahoo News, Jan. 16:
Greg Palast is a freaking idiot
We’ve always suspected it, but now we know for sure. In his latest spew, he shamelessly fawns over Alex Jones as a man of the people, as opposed to the effete media snob Piers Morgan.
Yes, Alex Jones. You know, the blatant xenophobe who trumpets anti-immigrant bromides on his website and waxes paranoid about how the Mexicans are taking over the USA, the unpaid propagandist of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, purveyor of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in the Oslo bombings (and just about everything else), peddler of transparent malarky about 9-11 and lugubrious alarmism about an imminent nuclear “false flag” attack, and the shameless self-promoter who leads the vultures that have repeatedly attempted to crash the 9-11 commemoration in New York. Yeah that’s right, him.
Why do supposed “progressives” shill for such reactionaries?
NOTE: Alex Jones once invited me on to this program for a “debate,” then withdrew the invitation at last minute. It has since become so clear that he is a far-right racist that I no longer think it is worth “debating” him, but it is still worth noting for the historical record…
ANOTHER NOTE: Palast somehow tries to tie his penis into his gushing over Jones and demonization of Morgan. Whatever the supposed connection is, file it under “TMI.”
Lugubrious Newtown conspiracy theories debunked
Three wounded as another gun-crazed wacko shot up a school today, this time a college campus near Houston, Al Jazeera reports. Wow, the Illuminati must sure be busy, having to organize all these false-flag attacks. The "theories" (to use an all too flattering word) being purveyed by lugubrious sites like SandyHookHoax.com are deftly demolished by the rumor-busters at Snopes, who note one especially bad one: A photo of five Newtown children taken with Obama after the massacre, one of whom is said to be Emilie Parker, a six-year-old victim of the shooting spree. Note how the conspiranoids are unbothered by the blatant contradictions in their own theories.
Either a.) Emilie Parker is dead or b.) Obama and her parents are part of an elaborate conspiracy to trick the world into believing that she is dead—in which case, one wonders where the hell she actually is, what she is going to do for the rest of her life in hiding or under an assumed identity, and if the casket was really empty at the funeral, where her family did a very good job indeed of feigning grief. (See heart-wrenching coverage at the Daily Mail.) In either case, it makes ZERO sense that she would appear in a photo with Obama.
Yet the conspiranoids keep harping about the fact that there are three blonde girls in both pictures, one looking a lot like Emilie and wearing the same red dress Emilie wore in an earlier picture. Snopes tells us that the girl in the red dress in the shot with Obama is one of Emilie's two younger sisters (presumably wearing a dress that was handed down from Emilie). The theory that they are both Emilie defies any logical explanation.
Take a better look at the photo. Even the conspiracy-friendly God-Like Productions posts a version of it juxtaposed with another one of the three Parker girls that disproves this evil jive. In addition to the three blonde girls with Obama, there is a fourth girl (not blonde) and a little boy. So obviously these are children from more than one of the victims' families. The third blonde girl is presumably unrelated to the two Parker sisters. The Emilie Parker Fund website notes that there were only three Parker sisters—and makes no mention of a brother.
This claim has been 100% debunked. But in the dishonest "debating" style (again an all-too-flattering word) typical of the conspiranoids, they will not admit it. Without conceding defeat on this point, they will just happily move on to the next supposed smoking gun. They'd keep us rationalists running on this treadmill forever. It is a fool's game.
Newtown and the Misinformation Revolution
Another thing the conspioranoids keep harping on is the early erroneous account that the AR-15 was found in the shooter’s car, so couldn’t have been used in the massacre. Police later said this was wrong, and it was actually a shotgun that was found in the car. But this is conveniently ignored by the conspiranoids.
Early reportage is always going to be filled with inaccuracies and even simple non-events. (Remember the non-existent bombs that were reported at the George Washington Bridge and Supreme Court building on 9-11?) The Internet exacerbates this “fog of war” syndrome, because every outlet wants to be the first to get the story out in real-time, so they go with what they’ve got, fact-checking comes later… Then the conspiracy industry jumps on the inevitable inconsistencies and builds utterly improbable fantasies around them.
The poorly-named “information revolution” is actually a misinformation revolution, which abets a disinformation industry…
Boy, do I miss the days when I used to read a newspaper that was actually printed on paper with my morning coffee, and got yesterday’s news—but actual news, with a degree of fact-checking and editorial oversight. It was a better world then. Don’t tell me it wasn’t.