Leonard Pozner moves house a lot.
Sometimes, he says, he needs a ‘new start’. Other times, it’s because a picture of his home has been shared on the Internet. When that happens, the messages he so regularly receives – such as: “death is coming to you real soon and there’s nothing you can do about it” – seem much more real.
Leonard’s six-year-old son Noah was the youngest victim of the Sandy Hook massacre in the US in 2012. He was in the wrong classroom the morning Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot and killed 20 children as well as six adult staff members.
The 20-year-old murderer planned to move to the next classroom and the next – Noah’s two sisters would have been victims, too – but when police arrived Lanza shot himself in suicide.
Now, Leonard and his ex-wife – they are separated but remain close to raise their two daughters – are fighting, not only through their grief, but against the haters.
“I never imagined I’d have to fight for my child’s legacy. I never imagined life without any of the children at all,” Leonard told The Guardian.
The haters call themselves the “Sandy Hook Truthers”.
They believe the massacre was staged to create hysteria around gun laws. That no one really died and the people involved were all actors – employed by the Obama administration or anti-gun lobbyists.
Against social images of young victims like Noah, these “Truthers” will comment “Fake kid”, “Didn’t die” and “Fucking liar”.
They harbour violent hate and resentment for the families of the small children they say never died. They believe people like Leondard are part of the conspiracy.
“History books will refer to this period as a time of mass delusion,” Leonard said. “We thought the internet would bring all these wonderful things, such as research, medicine, science, an accelerated society of good. But all we did was hold up a mirror to society and we saw how angry, sick and hateful humans can be.”