In late 2015 I interviewed Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis. You probably don’t recognise her name. I didn’t but I knew her story before I talked to her.
She was the teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School who, when she heard gunshots coming from the hall, hid 15 first graders in a small bathroom within the classroom.
Outside the classroom was 20-year-old Adam Lanza. A loner who had already killed his mother at his home. He then drove to the small Connecticut school, stalking the halls and the first classrooms he came to, shooting dead 20 children between six and seven years old and six adult staff members.
All of Roig-DeBellis's first-graders survived. The then 29-year-old piled 15 children into one small bathroom. She put three on top of the cistern, she squashed them in, then she pulled a large storage cart in front of the door. As the gunfire came towards them and the children cried and asked for their mummies, when Roig-DeBellis thought they were all going to die, she said to the little children: “I need you to know that I love you all very much”.
Outside her classroom teachers were murdered as they tried to protect children. When Lanza shot a six-year-old autistic child in the classroom next door to Roig-DeBellis's room, he had to first shoot through the teacher's aide who was cradling the child. The principal, 47-year-old Dawn Hochsprung, all of five foot two, was shot charging at the gunman.
Years later Roig-DeBellis wrote a book about the deadliest US school shooting and that is when I interviewed her and this site ran a book extract.
That was also when I was welcomed into the vile and deluded world of "Sandy Hook truthers". They believe this massacre of innocent children, was a fake. A hoax, a conspiracy designed by anti-gun activists to dilute second amendment US gun laws.
These "truthers" have terrorised the Sandy Hook victims ever since. They have trolled them mercilessly online and called them actors and even threatened to kill them for their "lies". They have fake news websites they reference and counter reference. They are like a sub-species of trolls, drinking out of poisoned web troughs and then spewing back out their misinformation and bile - with righteousness - at real people.
These "truthers" lurk on websites and forums, they send long, frightful, crazy emails to "targets" with bizarre lists of "evidence".
The reason I know this is because they contacted me on numerous occasions after I spoke to Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis. An Australian journalist, far away from any US gun law battles. My Sandy Hook stories must pop up every now and again and when they do. Voosh ... in my email box they ride. Thinking what? They will change my mind? That their "evidence" will make me see the light?
Some try to be nice at the beginning of their emails. You probably are unaware of what is going on and your errors are understandable. I just want to make you aware... Some are downright abusive You stupid, ignorant fool to believe these LIES. You must be so stupid you still believe in Santa Claus...
No doubt more will now flow in. (FYI: you spell idiot with one d.)
Sandy Hook victims are back in the news this week due to US journalist, Fox turned NBC reporter Megyn Kelly, interviewing a far right conspiracy theorist for her Sunday night show. Alex Jones looks a lot like a potato in a suit but that's not the issue, this "truther" believes Sandy Hook was a hoax (same with Orlando and the Boston Marathon).
Listen: With everything that's happening in the world, do you have terrorism fatigue? (post continues after audio...)
The interview scheduled for her Sunday night show is yet to be aired but she, and NBC, have been widely condemned for giving this "commentator" with a radio show and website (infowars) a platform. Many see him as a loathsome carnival show, a hateful man who gets attention from selling "fake news to the gullible". Among some of his belief performances are that chemicals are put in juice boxes to "make children gay"; Hillary Clinton and senior Democrats were running a child sex ring out of a Washington basement; the government has a "weather weapon" that can create tornadoes (because global warming is a government conspiracy).
Of course these are not true but the frightening thing about Jones is that he has developed a kind of legitimacy in the US due to his relationship with President Trump. I'm not surprised they get on; it's a mutualistic relationship like clownfish and sea anemones - you decide which is which. Jones supported Trump through his Presidential campaign and as David Corn from MotherJones writes: "Trump has made a common cause with him."
Trump has appeared on Jones talk show. Repeat the President of the US has appeared on the talk show of a man who thinks chemicals are being put in juice to "make children gay".
"During his presidential campaign, Trump forged a bond with Jones," Corn writes. "In a way, that was inevitable. Trump first became a conservative darling by pressing the Obama-was-born-in-Kenya conspiracy theory. And throughout the campaign and afterward, he has shown a bent for conspiratorial and paranoid thinking."
Giving legitimacy to paranoid thinking, lighting the delusional fire with fake news, is not only dangerous for a society, it is hurtful and stressful to the families of these so called "hoaxes". The mums and dads, the sisters and brothers, friends and family.
Erica Lafferty, the daughter of Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, has condemned NBC and Kelly for interviewing Jones and giving him a platform. She wrote this week in Motto:
"There are some people who believe that my mom isn’t dead — or perhaps that she never lived. So-called 'Sandy Hook truthers' have terrorized my family, and all the families of Sandy Hook victims, since that December day. Truthers bully and taunt us online and threaten to kill us for our 'lies.' They’ve accused me of being an actor — not a 31-year-old woman who will never fully recover from knowing that my loving, sweet mom’s last moments were so terrifying and sad. It’s like they see our pain and want to double down on it."
In December 2016, one of these "truthers", 57-year-old Lucy Richards was charged with sending death threats to Lenny Pozner, the father of the youngest Sandy Hook victim, Noah, who was killed when he six years old as he sat learning to read and write in his classroom. She was later found guilty and sentenced to five months jail.
These "truthers" are not "harmless nutters" who have a funny fear of all electrical equipment in the house. Being a "truther" allows them to belong to something, it allows them to attach themselves to something bigger than their own lives, because their own lives are obviously so small.
I may sound hurtful or hateful, but the "truthers" will surely set me straight from their keyboards by the week's end. They will call me names and include a mountain of website links, next to an overflow of exclamation marks that prove their "theories".
Here are two examples of "evidence" supporting that Sandy Hook never happened:
- The school was closed down already (there's a "pile of dust" under a bullet hole as evidence)
- The disability parking signs that all the media showed in their coverage were painted in old colours, not blue and white
But I am feeling hateful because these lonely peddlers of lies cause real pain and suffering to those who have already been through unimaginable pain and suffering. I've only ever talked to one, Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis, and her suffering was real - unlike the hoax theories that should not be legitimised, particularly by a President, particularly by journalists.
No one should listen to them. No one should give them air-time. And when they email? Press delete.