A much debated conspiracy theory in the media implies that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax, used by the government to fuel the debate on gun control regulations.
On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza of 20, murdered his mother and then proceeded to shoot and kill six more adults and twenty children from the ages of six and seven, at the local high school – Sandy Hook Elementary, in Newtown, Connecticut. As expected, the massacre was all over the news and TV coverage supplied spectators with a variety of conflicting and sometimes, imprecise information. These somewhat unclear or not fully explained facts of what really happened in Newtown led to the emergency of several conspiracy theories about the event. As Ted Goertzel explains in his work, The Conspiracy Meme: “Unconvincing answers are taken as proof of conspiratorial deception”.
On an article for the website beforeitsnews.com, Eddie Levin – the founder of Worldtruth.tv (an alternative news and documentaries source), states 10 “facts” justifying why the Sandy Hook shooting is a hoax. One of Eddie’s points is the existence of a second and perhaps of a third shooter present in the scene, who were supposedly “hidden” by the media. Several of his other arguments convey to the shocking disclosure that the parents and family members of the victims were actually hired actors. They can be found, Eddie claims, on a website called crisisactors.org. In this article, as well as on his website, Mr. Levin is very critical of the role of our current media, which deceptive and brainwashing. His view on the role of media can be closely linked to Susan Blackmore and her study on memes, presented in her work The Meme Machine. If that which we learn through imitation can be defined as a meme, than the information provided to us by the media, although maybe inaccurate, is a meme and it tends to propagate. As Blackmore highlights – “Memes spread themselves around indiscriminately without regard to whether they are useful, neutral, positive or harmful to us” (p.7).
But Eddie Levin is most definitely not alone in enforcing the Sandy Hook conspiracy, as a matter of fact, there is an entire website devoted to the topic, and its name could not be more suggestive – sandyhookhoax.com . The website was created by one of the name of Jay Johnson, aka “New Age Messiah”. On his website you will find several pages devoted to videos (rashly) questioning the “gaps” left out by media coverage. In fact, Jay’s extreme commentaries make it even hard to tell if he’s an actual conspiracy believer or whether the website is one big satire. If taking in consideration that both Levin and Johnson are fierce believers of the Sandy Hook Hoax, a big question remains to be answered – why would someone have forged the massacre?
As it turns out, they both believe this was all part of a larger scheme, thoroughly planned by the President and Congress to sparkle the debate on gun control and violate the second amendment by depriving Americans of their weapons. In more technical terms – the Sandy Hook Hoax meme is inserted in a larger memeplex, which evolves gun control and government tyranny. Following a link on gunowners.org (a non-profit lobbying organization formed in 1975 to preserve and defend the Second Amendment rights of gun owners), entitled ‘Gun control’: the ‘gateway to tyranny’ leads to the full article on the examiner.com, written by a former paratrooper and gun rights advocacy active, Kurt Hofmann. The article classifies gun regulations and disarmament as the completion of government control of our lives and moreover, as the gateway to tyranny. It is not a recent trait of Americans to be somewhat paranoid about government control, when concerning their private or public lives. As Richard Hofstadter puts it, in his work entitled The Paranoid Style in American Politics: “The paranoid style is an old and recurrent phenomenon in our public life which has been frequently linked with movements of suspicious discontent”.
Whether it’s paranoia or perhaps, the truth, conspiracy theories and memes will always exist whenever there is a disagreement or unclear answer to any questions concerning a major event or proposals, such as the Sandy Hook shooting and the Gun Control regulations.
Susan Blackmore (1999). The Meme Machine. London: Oxford University Press.
Ted Goertzel (2011) “The conspiracy meme,” Skeptical Inquirer, 35(1).
Richard Hofstadter (1964) “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Harper’s Magazine, November.