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Lenny Pozner

Families in grief have the right to do so in peace and dignity

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In an age of 'alternative facts,' a massacre of schoolchildren is called a hoax

April 25, 2017

If there is anything worse than losing a child, it is losing a child and having people taunt you over the loss.

That is what happened to the family of Noah Pozner, a 6-year-old with tousled brown hair and lollipop-red lips, the youngest of the 26 children and staff members gunned down in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

 

In the years since the massacre that shook the country and opened new anxiety over gun violence, the family has received hate-filled calls and violent emails from people who say they know the shooting was a hoax. Photos of their son — some with pornographic and anti-Semitic content — have been distributed on websites.

These outlandish theories, which hold that the Newtown school shooting was a staged mass murder engineered by gun control advocates, have lived until now in the dark corners of the Internet.

 

But they have gained fresh momentum in the last several months, residents here say, at a time when conspiracy theorists across the country have attained the status of celebrities, and the nation as a whole is engaged in a contentious debate over the nature of truth.

President Donald Trump and his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, have been open enthusiasts of Alex Jones’ Infowars, a web-based radio and video network that has relentlessly pushed the theory that Sandy Hook was staged by Democrats to advance a gun control agenda. 

 

An unabashed Trump supporter during the campaign, Jones says he received a personal call of thanks from the president-elect days after the election.

Although Trump has not spoken publicly about Sandy Hook, many residents here say he is nurturing the culture of exaggeration and paranoia on which conspiracy theorists thrive.

 

“Maybe it has nothing to do with Donald Trump, but somehow these hate creeps have been less shy about their beliefs,” said Noah’s father, Lenny Pozner, an information technology specialist. “They’ve been emboldened.”

Mark Fenster, a law professor at the University of Florida and author of a book about conspiracy theories in American politics, said the Sandy Hook hoax theory was a response to a Democratic-controlled White House of a kind that often shows up in political extremist circles.

 

“Conspiracy theories are pervasive in American politics, and they target whoever is in power,” Fenster said. “I think it won’t be long before the Alex Joneses of this world are saying that Trump is part of some conspiracy.’’

The town of Newtown is drafting an official letter to the White House demanding that Trump sever his ties to Jones.

 

Maybe it has nothing to do with Donald Trump, but somehow these hate creeps have been less shy about their beliefs. They've been emboldened.
Lenny Pozner, Noah's father

 

Read the full story here: http://www.latimes.com/nation/ct-newtown-massacre-alternative-facts-20170203-story.html

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