Members of the Tin Foil Hat Club (Bushmaster Branch) believe the government faked the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School to scare Americans into turning in their guns.
When I was a kid, the Beatles released what I think is their best album, Abbey Road. It has an iconic cover you will recognize instantly; the fab four walking single file, crossing a London street that is striped with white paint. That cover photo sparked a wild rumor that Paul was dead, and that the Beatles, or the shady businessmen who profited from their music, were hiding that fact to keep the money pouring in.
It seems ridiculous, looking back, that we believed someone put hints to Paul’s passing on the Abbey Road album cover, but we had some cockeyed theory that made sense to us at the time. I can attest that in the fall of 1969, America teenagers gathered in bedrooms and basements and college dorms, passing joints and pointing out to each other all the clever clues some unknown whistle-blower left for us to find. Clues we thought absolutely proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Paul McCartney was dead, dead, dead.
I can’t remember, so many years later, what all the album clues were, but I know Paul being barefoot was supposed to be important. The cigarette in his hand signified he died of lung cancer, and the license plate on the VW Bug parked behind them reads “28 IF,” which signified Paul would be 28 years old “if” he were still among the living.
John led the way, wearing white, which we were told is the color of death in Eastern culture. There was no Internet back then, so no one really knew if that were true, but it felt true. Ringo, dressed like an undertaker, preceded Paul, and George came last, dressed like a gravedigger. We positively gave ourselves goose bumps.
A radio station that held a Paul McCartney look-alike contest was accused of using it to cover up the search for a replacement Paul. And most famously, if you played a certain cut on the album backwards, it was supposed to say, “Paul is dead.” Yes, I tried it. I will admit now that I never really heard “Paul is dead,” but I remember pretending I did. Must have been some kind of group hysteria.
It seems a ludicrous premise, all these years later. Paul is a unique musical genius. No doppelganger could have replaced him. But the rumor spread like chicken pox, until Paul felt compelled to make an official announcement. He was not newly departed. Everyone should stop scratching immediately. No true conspiracy theorist believed him, of course. They just found clues that proved it was not the real Paul making that announcement.
I hadn’t thought about Paul McCartney’s rumored demise in years, until this week, when I ran across a group of conspiracy theorists who seem to have invented an alternate reality every bit as crazy as ours was in 1969. Just as we did with Paul McCartney, this group is now frantically reinforcing their invented history, by gleefully pointing out to one another, all the clues that prove their theory right. Of course, in 2013, conspiracy theorists don’t sit in joint circles in somebody’s basement. Modern conspiracy circles create websites. They call in to radio talk shows. They post on message boards and discussion forums. They incite one another to ever greater states of orgasmic paranoia with the “clues” they have found that “absolutely prove” the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School never happened.
It seems obscene just to say those words out loud. Who would make a mockery of the pain of those grieving families? The answer is gun people. Not hand gun owners. Assault weapon hoarders. They have convinced themselves that the government staged the Sandy Hook shooting, and the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, and who knows how many other shootings, in order to convince the American people to voluntarily turn in their guns.
The “Sandy Hook Deniers” trade clues that “absolutely prove” no one was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, with the samedelusional zeal we traded clues that “absolutely proved” Paul McCartney was dead. And just as it was in 1969, the genesis of the Sandy Hook conspiracy accusation seems to have been a photo. The parents of one of the victims, six-year-old angel-faced, golden-haired, Emilie Parker, released to the press a photo of themselves with Emilie and her two younger, angel-faced, golden-haired sisters. When the Parker family met President Obama at the memorial he attended in Newtown, one of Emilie’s sisters was photographed with him wearing the same dress Emilie had worn in that earlier family portrait. That was enough to launch the conspiracy. Emily was alive! They saw it with their own eyes. What else could it be but a government plot to take away America’s guns?
Once the plot was written, everyone with a tinfoil hat and an Internet connection went to work embellishing the story line and inventing proof that Americans are targets of a psy-ops plot.
- The sheriff took down a Facebook page claiming it was giving out false information. Proof.
- A newspaper quoted the principal describing the shooting, even though she was reported to be among those killed. Proof.
- The Batman movie has a map of the Newtown, Connecticut, attack site in it, and the movie’s prop master died and was buried in Newtown. Proof.
- A mother of one of the murder victims talked about her child without crying. Proof.
In fact, the dry-eyed mother led to the idea “crisis actors” were being employed. Some of the grieving families in Newtown looked, at least to the skeptics, like some of the grieving family members in Aurora. Proof. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt! Bottom line, the Sandy Hook Deniers are convinced our government has a traveling road show of actors staging shootouts, funerals, press conferences and police investigations, in a covert effort to scare people into giving up their guns.
Are you amused by the absurdity of the story they have invented? I was too, especially when I heard Orly Taitz, mother of all birthers, is a Sandy Hook Denier. So is Alex Jones, the radio talk show host who famously had an on-air temper tantrum on CNN’s Piers Morgan this week, at the prospect of losing his arsenal. As conspiracy theories go, the Sandy Hook Deniers’ version of events certainly rivals the tale of intrigue we concocted about Paul McCartney’s early demise. But here’s what’s not amusing about the Sandy Hook Deniers’ Internet joint circle:
We have confirmation of our worst fear; hundreds, perhaps thousands of delusional people have stockpiles of automatic weapons.
We have yet to solve the practical problem of the NRA murder lobby which protects the “right” of guns on demand, over the right of the majority to establish a peaceful society.
And most of all, what isn’t amusing is the pain these gun-fixated, Sandy Hook Deniers have caused the grieving families of Newtown, especially little Emilie Parker’s. They deserve better.