More than a year and a half after Adam Lanza brutally murdered 26 women and children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, parents, and relatives of the victims still relive the terror of that fateful day along with the daily anguish and torment they suffer over the loss of their loved ones. Worse, they have to suffer the onslaught of delusional conspiracy theorists, commonly called hoaxers, who claim Sandy Hook was a “false flag” event concocted by the government as a pretext for gun confiscation.
As a parent of one of the murdered students, Noah Pozner, I have worked to debunk and stop the cruel and hateful hoaxers who use the Internet to spread their lies. Recently, some hoaxers have stepped up the intensity of their twisted campaign in an effort to draw more people into this destructive tale of misinformation and continue to disrupt the lives of victims’ families.
In the immediate aftermath of the senseless atrocity, the hoaxers labeled virtually everyone in Newtown as involved in the alleged plot to fake the shootings, including police, medical personnel and — most egregiously — the parents whose young children had just been slaughtered. Bloggers and YouTubers from across the Internet accused these grief-stricken parents of being paid actors and told them that their children never existed. Emergency responders and school staff, whose acts of heroism saved lives and helped mitigate the tragedy, were likewise scoffed at and accused of playing parts in this so-called scripted event.
Fortunately, saner minds generally have prevailed in this war of fact over fiction. Diligent researchers pored through mountains of evidence from multiple sources, including the voluminous final report submitted by the state of Connecticut, and thoroughly debunked the multiple false theories and claims proffered by the hoaxer community. As a result, much of the hysteria died down and many former skeptics were relieved to learn that their suspicions were unfounded.
Unfortunately, there still exists a small but obsessive faction of hoaxers who are either unable or unwilling to objectively discern the hard facts from among the fleeting hunches and groundless accusations. Others are well aware of the truth but exploit the tragedy for their own aggrandizement. Regardless of their motivation, all have one thing in common: They persist in stalking and harassing the Sandy Hook parents and others intimately connected to the tragedy.
Among their most active leaders is Tony Mead, apparently a resident of Florida. For several months, this serial cyber stalker has hosted a Facebook page where he has amassed a cult following of like-minded hoaxers who ravenously feed off each other’s paranoia and hatred for anyone who was affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy.