Newtown: It Was Obama. No, it was Iran! Israel! Batman!

Gunplay. Photo by Deadpool46 (CC)


Following our previous roundup of insane conspiracy theories regarding the mass murder, Michael Moynihan reports for the Daily Beast on the paranoiacs who variously claim that “the government was behind the school massacre. Wait, it was Obama, in a ruse to take our guns away. No, it was Iran! Israel! Batman!”:

In the mid-1990s, during the infancy of the World Wide Web, a visit to my local university library demonstrated that the Internet would be both a great tool of liberation and a megaphone for the fantastically mad. That small bank of Internet-connected computer terminals was reliably occupied by a few student researchers and an army of honking, snorting, flaky-skinned cranks, furiously posting to Internet bulletin boards. (I frequently traded pleasantries with one twitchy local who wore homemade body armor, claiming that it shielded his organs from computer smog while browsing the Internet.)

Almost 20 years later, behold how Tim Berners-Lee liberated the crackpot from his world of Manichean newsletters, how he freed the basement-dwelling “researcher” to hawk bad ideas to the undereducated and paranoid (think of the 9/11 “truth” movement). Indeed, the Internet allows us curious observers to view the creation of conspiracy theories in real time. For instance, while initial news reports of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., were plagued with dubious and false information—as is frequently the case with major tragedies—such “inconsistencies” precipitated a hunt for the real truth.

While ignoring the generic rantings that circulate via email and Facebook, I spent the past week browsing the websites and YouTube channels of the Internet’s most popular fear peddlers—those who almost, but not quite, trespass upon the mainstream—to witness the paranoid mind create an “alternative” explanation of the Newtown massacre.

It started with this story on BET.com. Def Jam rapper Gunplay, who currently is under house arrest on charges relating to an armed robbery, informed his 100,000 Twitter followers that the “Government killed dem [sic] kids to take our guns away. Another 9/11. Dont [sic] get it twisted.” It’s a surprisingly common belief among conspiracy theorists, I discovered, who claim not that the president seized upon the tragedy to push through onerous gun legislation—too simple—but that he engineered the tragedy.

Cui bono, ad absurdum.

Gunplay’s semi-literate tweet was later deleted, only to be replaced by a vague warning that President Obama had perpetrated a “gun hoax”—with a link to a febrile rant by talk-radio host Alex Jones. Jones, proprietor of the website Infowars.com and host of a wildly popular syndicated radio program, has acted as a clearing house for Sandy Hook conspiracies…

[continues in the Daily Beast]

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  • echar

    The idea of the Illuminati is the best thing that has happened to many of these fear peddlers.

  • Tchoutoye

    The Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth organization consists of 1,700+ qualified architects and structural engineers. To label them “undereducated” simply for questioning the official 9-11 conspiracy version constitutes slander.

    • echar

      Do you mean libel?

    • kowalityjesus

      truth in advertising on this page, ya dig?

  • http://twitter.com/HongPong Dan Feidt~hongpong

    keep in mind that Newsweek, the ‘more legit’ branch of DailyBeast, just shut down paper publication, in part because Newsweek has peddled ridiculous centrist piffle for many years – material which turned out in many cases to be as silly as any other goofy writing out there. And of course Fareed Zakaria is a serious plagiarist. There has been plenty of silly material about Sandy Hook of course, but how do you know with such certitude what happened there? (especially since there were such odd conflicting witness statements etc)..
    The annoying thing is that everyone piles on to an alternative narrative or an official narrative when the truth is probably neither early ‘plot line’. Then we get DailyBeast articles like this taking ad hominem shots at people because it’s important to buttress those awesome official narratives. (isn’t this the same crew that relentlessly promoted the discredited Gerald Posner, who made a career from these kinds of attacks? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/17/gerald-posner-plagiarism-_0_n_502499.html )

    Speculation is easy, but why not do the hard work and evaluate all the witness statements instead?

  • echar

    I just listened to some gunplay. It’s worse than I expected. Not only is irresponsible, but also lacking in talent. No wonder he made a comment, it got him mentioned.

  • BuzzCoastin

    “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    In this particular case…I have to agree. It’s not that I don’t accept some theories as having merit…but this one emerged whole cloth within days…and involves claims that repeatedly ignore the few measurable facts we actually have access to. The day of the shooting was a flashfire of media horseshit…with wild speculation and false info flooding the media landscape by the minute…including the wrong name for the killer…with the brother who was at work at the time having to announce to the world that he was at work and could not have committed the massacre. Twisting the incompetence of the media purveyors into some kind of coherent plan on behalf of the government to ban all guns is batshit lunacy at its finest (ignoring that no one has suggested such an extreme move…the closest so far is discussion of a return to the ban on assault weapons that lasted through the Bush admin and was allowed to lapse only in Obama’s first term…not that gun lovers cheered him for it. A good look is being given at closing some of the sales loopholes and registry lapses as well as ending the use of ‘superclips’…this is not the end of the world.) The hysterical rambling is reaching epic proportions…and to be honest…as a fan of gun rights for traditional household weapons for personal use (ie: rifles, shotguns, pistols etc)…these clown shoes are making the rest of us look bad.