The Sandy Hook hoax conspiracy theory has unfortunately been around since about a month after the shootings occurred, thanks in part to a hugely popular YouTube video and sites like InfoWars.
The truth of the matter is that 20 children, six adults, and the shooter’s own mother died that day in December 2012, but that’s not what the theories would have you to believe.
About a month after the Newtown shootings, the YouTube piece was viewed 10 million times. In the nearly two years since Slate debunked that piece, it has picked up an additional 1.5 million views.
I thought we as a society were about rid of it until earlier this week when a friend on my Facebook list shared it from Political Ears, one of the numerous conspiracy sites polluting the web.
“FBI REPORT: NO DEATHS AT SANDY HOOK,” the headline screamed in all-caps. “WAS EXERCISE, MISREPORTED, CREATED CRISIS.”
Normally, I would shake my head and move on, but this was someone close to me, a female family member whom I thought had enough sense to check out something so outrageous before dumping it onto her feed.
To say my respect level for her dropped a few points would be an understatement. Sandy Hook was not a hoax, and suggesting that to be the case is beyond irresponsible. In fact, it’s downright offensive.
Unfortunately, it isn’t alone. Birth certificate truthers, 9/11 truthers, Holocaust truthers — if there is something that can be exploited for political gain, the reassurance of one’s personal beliefs, or even mere attention and shock value, it will be.
That’s why I’m writing to you, good reader, with some suggestions for how you can quickly and effectively put a stop to it, even if you at first are taken off-guard and half-believe what you are reading.