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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Meet the Newtown Truthers

I'm a little stuck as to how to start this thing, so I'll just throw the whole bunch of crazy at you right off the bat:

Sun Sentinel, Florida:

A communication professor known for conspiracy theories has stirred controversy at Florida Atlantic University with claims that last month's Newtown, Conn., school shootings did not happen as reported — or may not have happened at all.

Moreover, James Tracy asserts in radio interviews and on his that trained "crisis actors" may have been employed by the Obama administration in an effort to shape public opinion in favor of the event's true purpose: gun control.

"As documents relating to the Sandy Hook shooting continue to be assessed and interpreted by independent researchers, there is a growing awareness that the media coverage of the massacre of 26 children and adults was intended primarily for public consumption to further larger political ends," writes Tracy, a tenured associate professor of media history at FAU and a former union leader.

In another post, he says, "While it sounds like an outrageous claim, one is left to inquire whether the Sandy Hook shooting ever took place — at least in the way law enforcement authorities and the nation's news media have described."


You can understand why I'm so flabbergasted. I suppose it's to be expected -- the ability of some to deny obvious reality is proven again and again to be endless. The University has disavowed Tracy's views, but apparently he's still got a job teaching. In fact, he's teaching exactly this sort of lunacy to his students. His class is called "Culture of Conspiracy."

That's disturbing enough. But what's more disturbing is online poll posted with the story. It asks, "Does FAU prof James Tracy make the case that last month's Sandy Hook school shootings may not have been the massacre as reported?" Here are the results, as they appeared when I visited at 9:00 am central:

61 percent of respondents believe the shooting is a hoax

Yes, it says the results aren't scientific right there on the graphic, but still... WTF?

Over at No More Mister Nice Blog, Steve M. notes that this whole conspiracy theory seems amazingly well fleshed-out.

And I know I ought to resist nutpicking, but I'm struck not so much by the percentage of commenters who think the professor is on to something (not quite half in the Fox thread, an apparent majority in the Sun-Sentinel thread), but by how well developed Newtown trutherism is already...

In other words, all these conspiracy nuts seem to be on the same page. Steve would like a pollster to see how widespread this "Newtown trutherism" actually is -- so would I.

But I wanted to know where this is coming from. Do conspiracy theorists' minds all just work alike or is all this coming from some source I'm unaware of? It turns out, it's the latter.

Talking Points Memo:

Like many traumatic national events, the Newtown shooting has already spawned its share of wild conspiracy theories that draw in everything from British finance to the Hunger Games.

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.

Add to those, the white supremacist site, where a discussion of Tracy's theorizing was started on the message board back in December. I won't link to it, because I refuse to drive traffic there. If you absolutely need proof, google "Evidence of Newtown Crime Scene" Otherwise, just take my word for it.

And that's what strikes me; how the paranoid ravings of the Tea Party right so often mirror the paranoid ravings of the racist right. For people who claim not to be racist, they sure share a lot of ideas with racists. In fact, these parallels are so often the case that it's impossible to believe there isn't some crossover here -- maybe a lot. At the very least, it's proof positive that Tea Party chunkheads are exactly as gullible as neo-nazi chunkheads.

It would be interesting to see how many Republican voters believe this newest conspiracy theory. After all, we know an astounding percentage of them are birthers, we know they were mostly poll truthers, and nearly half believe that Obama stole the 2012 election -- why wouldn't they be Newtown truthers?


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