Like Charlie, he’s close to his grandfather and, like Linus, he quotes the Old Testament. His father was in Vietnam and, most of all, Franklin has a good heart. Nowhere was that more evident than in a 1969 strip in which Peppermint Patty cries because of shoes she’s required to wear to school. Franklin says, “All I know is any rule that makes a little girl cry has to be a bad rule.”
So I quit there, shaking its dust off of my shoes, so to speak (New Testament reference), seething with fury at the ignorance, blinkered thinking, hypocrisy and their smug self-satisfaction. They might not be the majority, but neither is UKIP and I wouldn’t go near them either.
To spare you the full-on rant, which would probably descend into profanities and thus would do nothing for my views, to sum it up I parted ways with the UK Labour Party. Whereas the nationalisation, the increases in taxation and public funding are my dream and I don’t really dislike any of its leadership, do not have faith in them, but that’s different. No, it is the selective view of the world and the venom which pours out of a body of supporters when you disagree with them. Constructive debate? Ha! Nope let’s all follow Intolerance!
Having them whinge about the BBC being against them is one thing, since the Government supporters do the same thing. Stop following them on FB and I am spared that. What exactly the Royal Family have done to them is a mystery to me, but there is me not caring. For over a year I gave them leeway over Israel and hoping they would wise up and tone down the notion that all Jews are for the Israeli govt and if they really cared they’d read up on the Arab-Israeli Da’am Socialist Party…..nope, more important to huff ‘n puff on FB and play at who is the more outraged. Denial over the Poison Attacks and Selective anger over one part of the violence in Syria…predictable, pull their strings and they twitch.
The final straw was the outbursts against The White Hats in Syria; folk who risk their lives trying to expose the regime, the willingness to assume these are funded by the CIA and who knows who. Anything but facing the reality of the Torment of that land. I could have been reading a watered down conspiracist account of Sandy Hook
I guess for three days I fumed, going through every insult, profanity (there it is again), and posts I was very tempted to put up on FB; then it occurred to me….What is the point? I may as well go onto a USA Alt-Right site and plea for a rational approach to responsible gun-control. It is a bit of a shock when you realise your neck of the political woods is filled with as much bigotry, narrow-minded thinking, ignorance, and paranoia as your average Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones’ or Nigel Farage fan-base.
It was definitely time to get out of that cess-pit pond and walk my path back to WP and indulge in visiting posts where folk discuss Writing for Writing’s sake; there’s a freshness and a sunshine here. To be back amongst people who have something constructive to say. To share ideas and views on the valuable art of writing stories, novels, blogs. Accounts of their experiences, their hopes, plans, and strategies. Would I was still not so simmering that I could be more eloquent in praise of The Writer, The Author, and even more so those who can Write and Edit for others. (How do they find the time?).
There is a such a joy to witness creativity instead of stale bitterness. To read of folk who are doing something useful with their time, pouring out into the world their visions, their stories for the thrill of writing and the intention to entertain or invoke. To see a blog which has book covers displayed brings a smile to my face; OK they may not be to my tastes, but this is not the point; here is another person who have invested time and effort in producing something which is available to all the world, if it so cares. There is nothing which declaims ‘YOU’ can’t read this unless I say so! There is honesty, there is hope, there is effort.
So I will stick to my writing and read of other’s efforts. There are political blogs I respect I will stick with, but no more mindless hate, no more foul-mouthed vilification, and the attendant excuses. Conservatives (UK Party), Labour (UK Party), until you put them in order and get your rabble factions under control a plague on both your houses! At least I finally understand why some folk were Pacifists in WWI & WWII.
I’m with the WP Writers’ Party.
Well we all know about the FaceBook controversy, I mean in this Age of Social Media it’s one of those subjects which isn’t going to be missed.
Many people are closing their accounts or limiting their activity and their reasonings are understandable. No one likes to be pried on and having someone trying to use the information for questionable purposes.
Those reasons didn’t trouble me to much, not because of apathy, ignorance or because I think my senses are heightened to such any extent that I can detect any manipulations. No, it’s just that being so cussedly contrary and being of such a low social media profile….it’s…. ‘So what they going to do with the bits they have on me? Good luck with that dust people! And at 66 I’m so set in my ways like I’m ready to listen to anything I’ve not known about already?’ (that kind of cussedness, takes practice y’know).
At this juncture, yes we all sound off and we all write out our annoyances. But there’s limitations to expressing in our opinions, and if the other person comes in, well listen you never know what you’ll learn about them. And don’t hate them. Let’s keep a sense of proportion in this…..
No, the reason why I am cutting back my ‘FB’ to family alone comes from a different quarter, one where there is a toxicity, an absence of discourse and exchange of views. Where the ignorant and the bigoted reside, feeding off of each other’s fears, prejudices and self-congratulatory delusions. I alluded to this in a previous post. Now Here is a Thought About Writer’s Block (aka Log-Jam)
Anyways my new laptop was really cool with FB, enjoyed putting words down. Must be innocent, and my old one must have known something because it was never happy there, always claiming the connection had gone, taking one minute to type one letter and never navigating well, But you know it goes, something new, something different.
So there I was sifting along and amongst the various threads, sort of drawn towards those on the UK Remain side of the Brexit argument, putting in my pro-Remain six pennies worth, trying to avoid the folk who suggested Brexit folk should be rounded up and incarnated. Then on Friday and Saturday I chanced upon a thread which was doing a common theme railing that the BBC was pro-Brexit and a tool of the Government.
Yeah, we all reckon we all get mis-represented by someone or another don’t we? Someone doesn’t understand our side of the story. Tell me about it. 45 years working in the UK Civil Service, man. But these folk were taking their venom to a whole new level. And what did I do, I went in and said I wasn’t buying their line. It’s my opinion, right? The BBC is not perfect, it’s dumbed down some of its outlets, but it’s still as trustworthy as any. WELL, I could just as soon have suggested we have a ‘Let’s Beat Puppies To Death With Kittens’ week. It didn’t take more than two exchanges before I was:
Not capable of having an intelligent debate.
A Putin Troll (can’t figure that one out……)
A click-baiter (what the frib’ is a click-baiter? More to the point do I care?)
That was not much really, I’d paid my dues on 9/11 sites being told I was a CIA shill and on religious ‘discussion’ (ha!) sites that I was an ignorant superstitious closed-minded fool for daring to believe in God. Yeh…yak-yak-yak.
No, the one which pulled me up short was the one who was complaining about the BBC not reporting a Remain March (gee that’s tough) but about news from America. So when I suggested the latest shootings were more important, they came back with the response that ‘The World (ie them) didn’t care about Americans killing Americans’. Imagine…. your march is more important than the death of a person, no words of regret or compassion. That is a very sour mind-set.
So I gave that person short-shrift over deaths in the USA and South Sudan (which the BBC reports from time to time), irritated another by telling them I had better things to do and some folks would love to hear the accusations then said ‘bye-bye’ (they hate that, they hate being treated frivolously, for they are so important and have such a BIG message).
I was FB done.
There’s other stuff I’ve come across, but you get the general gist.
The worse thing about it all is me being Far-Left you kind of get it into your head this sort of stuff comes from the Right-Wing. You grow up with the idea that The Left is Tolerant and Inclusive. Is educated and socially aware. Of course there are hot-heads, but everywhere you go you find those. Sorry, all wrong. The Left can be just as bigoted and narrow-minded as any fringe Right-Group. And if there is one thing I am Intolerant over it is Intolerance.
And so thus, I no longer bother with FB, unless my wife who inhabits saner regions tells me about something she or my family have posted up.
And this is something I have dallied with over the past couple of years too, I am done with what used to be The Labour Party in the UK. If it cannot get its virulent parts under control or kicked out, then it’s not my scene anymore. What my grandson will make of that I do not know, he being a member, that’s going to be tricky next time we get talking politics.
I’ll just stick with being Catholic Christian(because that suits me), writing and breathing the fresh air of the Word Press. Because you folk have perspective, generosity and openness. You folk deal in realties and creativity. You folk, do things.
As for the Brexit issue, right now ‘A Plague on Both Your Houses’.
Barcelona and Cambrlis. The brothers-in-hate of the Charlottesville murder struck.
Irrespective of race, gender, religion, age or social grouping. Striking down folk just out to enjoy and bustle, struck down. For what? A ceremony from the altar of Hate, preached out of the same book which has been used for centuries by the deluded and the inadequate of every nation, every group, every culture. The toxicity we must all guard against, because it lurks, in the shadows, ready to embrace you, and me. The filthy brew will feed on our anger at the slaughter of innocents, it will whisper lies.
Oh they will try and justify themselves. They will take religious works and seek out of context selective passages. They will take a nations law and documentation and twist the meanings. They will ignore the truth of History and go scampering off to seek out some wretched collection of spoutings from some fool and in their desperation insist this is out it is. But what they cannot run from, is the fact they are taking lives, or condone the taking of lives. They are murderers by deed or by consent.
I can take you down the nightmare passages and show you the twisted logic and the reasonings for the perversions which lead to these events. For these are not the acts of random lunatics. These have roots, deep into the soil of Humanity. But they are not justifications. Anyone who takes up violence against another solely because of race, creed, religion, social grouping or gender is wrong and a betrayer.
As always we sit on an edge where violence is ever present, where the urge to vent our anger upon an apparent representative of our target is all too tempting. Where in our secret, murky little corners we tip a wink to those who use the self-same methods against those we hate, and thus do we give way to the whisperings.
Mourn then for the victims in Spain, in Syria, in South Sudan, in Venezuela, in Yemen, in Israel & Palestine, in Mynamar, in The Philippines, The Congo, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Libya, Egypt, Ukraine to name but a few. Reach out to the vulnerable folk in our own communities who are victimised by craven cowardly groups. Rage against the victims of twisted beliefs in their own communities
Never give up to the fact that the vast majority of the population of this world are your brothers and sisters and that each and every child growing and learning is your responsibility.
Judge your fellow man or woman by their capacity for Compassion, Respect and Tolerance.
And if the anger is still uncontainable, then break up your household rubbish to fit into a bin, or smash up rocks to make a rockery, or chop up wood into something ornamental. But not hate.
If you have been reading this blog for a while you’ll be used to this sort of diversion…..If you are new, don’t worry it’s not you…..It’s me that’s tilted …….
Ah me. Would that the scales of distraction fall from this eye of my mind. Oh to feel the fresh breezes of inspiration upon this torpid soul sunk deep in the mire of this field of lassitude. Dear sweet muses alight upon me and transport me from this place of discordant voices with their bitter and sterile litanies of hate and discord…..
Oh hi there! Err….. you caught me there in one of my proto-Shakespeare modes. If I had a gloomy stage with view props I would be stalking up and down with a troubled expression, and handful of meaningful pauses, a vocal range from low baritone, and making the audience feel I had a nasty cold to high tenor which would wake them or wonder I had stubbed my toe. I should also have at least one gaze into middle distance.
Oh no gentle reader, do not take concern or trouble yourself, I am just in between re-righting the re-write.
This has been quite an interesting journey because I reached the stage where the plot lurched sideways in a storm caused by the sudden perception that the book was going to be too long. You see one of the challenges when you are writing fantasy is to see if you can encapsulate at least one major plot, a few sub-plots, say three or four major characters, a dozen or so minor characters at least three separate nations or other notions and a whole world of your making into less than 150,000 words. Not easy y’know, not when you are not an A NAME, or when you’ve NOT been doing all that sensible spade work on various social media sites encouraging folk to look forward to the final book OR working on a cover OR….oh I dunno…whatever mature and focused authors do. Anyway I broke through that barrier, sort of as I commit the possible cardinal sin of fantasy writing and try and fit in a feel-good ending.
(Pause to switch on the lights, illuminating the stage, and kicking away the ostentatiously sparse props)
I mean, what is wrong with a feel-good ending? Don’t we have enough misery and unhappiness out there being force fed to us in a sensational way? Are there not enough folk on both sides of the political divide who are screaming that those opposing (or deemed to be opposing) them should be cast(eth) out into the Darkness, in the name of Free Speech, while not ‘digging’ the fact that they are both actually on the same page?….Oh frib’ now I durn lost m’way with a distraction…..so where wuz I?
Oh yeh. So what was really wrong with ‘The Ridiculous 6’? So the critics didn’t like it, well boo-hooo! I mean I know it’s not High Wit and…..
Errr…???..No..ummm…………….. that wasn’t what I was talking about was it???
Hold on folks, just check that thing on Wikipedia you’ve been meaning to, I’ll be back in a minute or so…..
Ah-ha, yes! The Feel-Good Factor. That’s what we were talking about wasn’t it? Yes, whereas I tip my hat to the various Giants of Fantasy, is it necessary to have a rippinggood tale without a high body count (ignoring background folk who haven’t got a line much less a name and some of the lesser villains who really don’t deserve a free-ride out). So it’s down to working out the final escape and the reasonably happy end of this episode, and then it’s down to the next re-write, which will have to be the last one too; ‘because I will be safe in the knowledge that no professional critic will ever get to know about the book, which of course will belong to History and to be discovered by later generations- I play the long game.
(This has been a lesson in one possible strategy in filling up a blog space when you are not really focused but feel you have to say something. AND as always in the keeping of the spirit of this blog, here is another lesson in how you SHOULD NOT be doing things; unless of course you are over 65 and don’t really give a frib’*)
(shameless plug: Read how to use this* and other alternative words in the upcoming fantasy novel…… THE PATCHWORK WARRIORS…..impress your friends with a whole new range of profanities and odd sayings )
Oh My Sainted Aunt!!! There’s always some idiot, see…this is what I’m talking about! Now we’ll have to get to some serious imaging…… Ahhh, my ideal holiday home site!!
Anyway…..You know how it goes, you might be feeling unhappy for some reason, you may have a cold which has upgraded itself to a STUPID Cold, and so forth. Anyway you are not feeling sunny AND you switch on the tv or the radio or laptop
There you encounter one, or even worse a clutch of folk grinning as if they’ve had their common sense surgically removed. And is the cause of this unfettered joy? Oh, they’ve all purchased something, or being seemingly free of the normal responsibilities of life such as family or employment have all gaggled together and set off to a sun drenched place where they can all display their perfectly formed teeth to each other.
Or you hope to glean some news items, instead you are confronted by two or more also perfectly formed human beings who appear to find everything funny, especially each other, unless of course you are in time to view a Weather Presenter who presumably is not near any severe weather themselves because they talk about it like it was a spectator sport.
Then while you think your intelligence has been thoroughly insulted sufficiently for one day, you happen across some LifeStyle pundit who explains to you that if think positive (and have made a fortune out of telling other members of the public this), then everything will be fine.
Once you have escaped this onslaughtyou encounter people who appear to have been infected by these inane blights. They display symptoms by wearing T-shirts with puerile statements which they think are funny or insisting in playing badly organised versions of sports in public places, playing loud noises which they think is music, sounding off car horns for no particularly logical reason or if they are too old for these activities gathering in small social herds in supermarkets and chatting away in of the most widely used aisles oblivious to desperate shoppers.
Then there are of course, Personalities and Politicians and Lesser Entertainers who smile for a living by having their ‘fizz-oggs’ plastered over some pointless tome they’ve just had published. And we have Public Holidays or as they are known now National Eat and Drink Too Much Then Act Like an Idiot Day. And there are those who are just plain annoying…
(Although admitting to manslaughter the defendants were let off with a caution)
It is time dear readers that us normal folk took a stand against these waves of inanity and shallowness and campaigned for the one true and honest holiday National Grumpy Day!
Now the purpose of this holiday is not to be rude or offensive to people in general. It will simply be an affirmation of a person inalienable right to go around normally not having to caper and smirk as if the world was a funny place to be in. People would be entitled to go about with serious and dour expressions, civility will be encouraged, but no smiling! One would be expected to be polite and acknowledge this with a brief nod of the head ‘You’re welcome ‘being the correct response.
Folk who go about in frivolous manner will expect to have normal people come up to them and say ‘idiot’ then walk off. Anyone who appears on the media with anything less than a grave expression will be criticised, although abuse will be limited to e-mails, txts or tweet with the simple message ‘What’s so damn funny?’. Adverts which suggest anything can be made wonderful and cause for celebration will be banned for that day. DJs will simply give the name of the artist and title of the song, and play the blasted thing. Being intoxicated or otherwise under an influence in public will result in the person or persons being loaded into trucks and driven off to remote and inhospitable terrain, left with sufficient water and bread and told to make their own way back. Comedians will be allowed only to tell sardonic jokes which cause grim laughter and nods of the head. Other entertainers may perform sombre and reflective works, the more castigating folly the better. Book Shops will be asked to respect the holiday by removing from public display those books having covers of grinning celebrities. Supermarkets will remove all magazines. Your local politician should be lobbied for possible new legal codes against extreme merriment or……
Of course, families can have picnics, but these will be solemn affairs of basic foods and where folk will read out commentaries extoling the virtues of sobriety and frugality, while children will be encouraged to draw pictures or write essays on who they thought was the stupidest person they saw on TV last week and how they plan not grow up like them.
People should visit museums which should ensure there is nothing trendily happy on display. Theme parks will be closed for the day. Staff of fast food outlets will be allowed to wear non-regulation sober clothing, greeting the customer with ‘Yes sir/madam. You may sit down. Your frugality will be with you shortly,’
Marches will be organised in which people will walk slowly and silently bearing banners will slogans such as:
‘Let’s Face It. Reality Is Unavoidable’
‘You Might Think You’re Funny But You’re Not Looking From Where I Am’
‘Too Much Laughter Suggests Tax Avoidance’
‘Being Cheerful Too Often Is Just Asking For Trouble’
‘With This Lot In Charge You’re Still Happy?’
‘Take That Stupid Mask Off!….What Do Mean You’re not Wearing One?’
‘Restrict Public Joviality To Children and Adults With A Valid Permit’
‘Smiling Once in Morning, Afternoon and Night Time is Quite Enough,’
‘Be Grumpy and Avoid Disappointment’
‘If You Don’t Like Today, What Are You Doing Here?’
‘Be Honest. What Is The Point of New Year’s Celebrations?’
If your route should take you past a TV or Radio Station, place of Entertainment or the principal building of Civic Administration marchers may break the silence with a minute’s worth of….
All participating in the march should sign a solemn and binding pledge that they will refuse to participate in the public celebration of at least two public holidays every year. (Parents of children will be discouraged from selecting Christmas. Do you really want the poor mites being called weird by their peers?).
Finally, anyone planning to be away on National Grumpy Day will be expected to select very, very remote and windswept places guaranteed to upset the socialable noisy set. be fair; it’s worth repeating
In conclusion celebrants should not harass quietly happy people who are just getting on with their own lives and keeping themselves to themselves. If these are identified you should approach them, give a stiff little bow and say ‘Thank you for your sense of proportion,’ And above all a celebrant should never criticise a fellow WP blogger whose themes are ones of happiness and determination. These are folk who have found the right balance and when you visit their site you know what to except and in that there is much value; these sites will probably be places where you can rest your tired and media saturated soul. Cherish them.
As for the rest of the world.Organise now. You obviously know it makes sense
I suppose most of us worry about our health from time to time, be it physical, mental, artistic or spiritual and at times feel as my dad used to say ‘feel at the bottom of the wheel’.
The question can arise if or when something should be done about whatever it is not just for your own well-being but for those close to you in the fall-out area. How much does your state affect them?
You see my demons have got a hold at the present and this will not do. They come sneaking up on the blind side every time. The side that loathes Intolerance, Ignorance and the Plain Stupid. Using those they can pump that up pretty good and they’ve had plenty to work with.
The prejudice and self-delusory short-sightedness of a large number of the Brexit voters.
The fashionable and thus self-judged clean-conscienced anti-Semitic of the junior wing of the Labour Party and the indulgent self-denying response by the leadership, thus allowing the opposition to have a field-day with ‘The Nasty Party’ label
The sheer bile and venom arising from the last US presidential Election, and the subsequent amateurish way this administration has started off.
The Islamophobic response to the London terror attack.
And the recent insight into the Sandy Hook conspiracy creatures.
Yes, you might say, you have good cause to be angry at them all.
Yes, but not the thundering venomous abusive response I have problems keeping in check, not the sort of remarks I have bouncing around in my head, which are not being released. For once they are released then more follow and then suddenly you are in a whole new way of life. You are looking to be offended, you don’t really spend much time thinking about the victims, you just want to hurt and humiliated the preps, the more damage you cause, the better; the urge to break one.
That is not healthy.
It is hypocrisy rampant.
My wife has to put up with this imitation of an Old Testament character striding about the place.
Because I like to write in a light and slightly flippant style the muse gets scared off
Now I can’t shift the blame onto the sources, nice though that would be. I should be above this instead of sinking into their mire. But currently I am in their depths, and it’s not fair that I should sully the WP with the sort of stuff currently going through my head; it might seep out onto my replies to others post and that will certainly not do! (Particularly if the subject matter of the post has only the most tenuous link to whatever I will be snarling about)
So I’m putting myself in quarantine for a while, work on the Patchwork novel and maybe start on another volume of the History. No reading of news either. This is a sort of retreat. Clean out the toxicity, and take some time to work out how I can up-grade my blog too; it’s been two years I should be able to have learnt something by now.
I wish you all the very best and secure in the knowledge that you will all keep on with your good works; interesting, entertaining, captivating and challenging.
Give me a couple of months, there’s no way I could ever truly leave WP.
Presidents of the USA have a great deal written about them. If they did nothing, that would be naturally cause for volumes. If they managed to please everyone that would also be cause of much discussion and opinion. And the current president, well he’s a bit of an easy one isn’t he? All you need to do is to go on social media write ‘Trump’ followed by an emjoi, just sit back add the occasional different emjoi and your profile goes through the roof.
Now The US constitution does have written into its many words parts which limit the powers of a president and even the most experienced politician has to learn that all over again, so President Trump with an amateur’s background might have a lot of catching up to do.
But this is not a call-out for the more subtle and nuanced arts of politics; this is more basic, this matter is directly within the scope of not The President but Donald Trump the person.
This story relates to the tragedy at Sandy Hook and the unbelievable activities of the Conspiracy Creatures (folk I never gave ANY time to, now they have reached a Defcon 1 in my book).
I am not going to relate the activities in my own words because these will lapse into profanities, aspects which taken out of selective context could not read well, and a very long discourse on why an authoritarian state is a good idea; all of which would show a complete lack of balanced judgement and would eventually serve only to nullify my argument.
I give you the full horror
Sandy Hook to Trump: ‘Help us stop conspiracy theorists’
By Mike WendlingBBC Trending, Sandy Hook
It was one of the worst school shootings in American history, but some people insist that the Sandy Hook massacre never happened. They post YouTube videos and spread rumours online, and their false theories have been repeated by a media mogul conspiracy theorist who has been linked to Donald Trump. Now, after years of harassment, the families of the victims are fighting back online.
Lenny Pozner clicks on a YouTube video showing his street and the outside of his home. The camera zooms in on his balcony, and his address and a route to his door flash up on the screen.
There’s no narration on the video – but there doesn’t need to be. The message is clear: “We know where you live.”
Because of videos like this one – there are dozens on YouTube, and more appear ever day – Pozner doesn’t want to disclose the city where he now lives. He’s had death threats and has moved several times in recent years.
Lenny Pozner has been targeted because he’s fought back against trolls and conspiracy theorists who make sweeping and false allegations about the murder of his son.
“Noah was just a regular six-year-old child,” says Lenny. “I dropped him off that morning – it really was an ordinary day of getting the kids ready for school.
“Then an hour-and-a-half later it was just the worst nightmare. Worse than any nightmare I could have imagined.”
The nightmare began on 14 December 2012 when a young man named Adam Lanza killed his mother and then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School. In a matter of minutes, he shot dead 20 children and six adults, before taking his own life.
Even in a country where mass shootings are common, Sandy Hook stood out. The pupils were so young, and there were so many of them. Hundreds were traumatised – and many still are – after witnessing the carnage and its aftermath.
And yet despite extensive investigations and a report which determined that Lanza acted alone, conspiracy theorists have constructed a fake alternate reality in which the whole thing was an elaborate hoax, staged by the government to try to introduce strict gun control laws.
They seize on small inconsistencies between initial news reports from the chaotic scene and the facts. The more extreme among them have targeted the families of Sandy Hook victims. There have been at least two arrests linked to the hoax theories. On Wednesday, a warrant was issued for a Florida woman who is accused of harassing Lenny Pozner.
“We’re a luckier family,” says Hannah D’Avino, whose sister Rachel was a behavioural therapist at Sandy Hook Elementary School. “I personally will get about like three death threats a year because we don’t speak up that much.”
On a sunny, late winter’s day in New England, Hannah sits in the stately Newtown Public Library, down the road from where her sister was murdered. She recalls her sister’s spirit, her profound positive influence on her life, and her work with autistic children.
Her voice is subdued, but quivers with quiet determination.
“My sister was murdered 11 days before Christmas and I consider myself lucky because I don’t have a stalker,” she tells me. “That’s the situation I’m in right now.”
Some of the conspiracy theorists are regular visitors to this small hamlet in suburban Connecticut. In addition to the death threats and harassment directed at Lenny, Hannah and others, they’ve made videos of the school and local area and ask questions of locals and family members, and have posted the footage on YouTube.
And their theories have been picked up one of America’s most popular conspiracy theorists, a man who has been linked with President Donald Trump.
The online storm has prompted Lenny to form a volunteer network to track and take down the conspiracy theory videos and websites.
And other Sandy Hook residents are pleading with President Trump, asking him to speak out and help stop the madness.
Wolfgang Halbig lives in a big yellow house in a sunny, lavishly landscaped gated community in Florida. He’s a retired school administrator and safety advisor, and he says that when he first heard news of the Sandy Hook shootings, he was sitting in a chair in his living room, drinking coffee.
“My hairs stood up,” he says. “Because they’re not protected in the elementary schools.”
Halbig donated money to the Sandy Hook families. But he soon became both obsessed with the tragedy – and, somehow, convinced that it never happened.
“I think 14 Dec 2012 is an event that was in planning for a long, long time,” he tells me. “I think it probably took them two, two-and-a-half years to write the scripts for all the participants that were invited to participate in that exercise – or drill as I will call it.”
Halbig has since devoted years of his life to “exposing” what he thinks is a government plot. He started a website. He’s revealed personal information about the victims of his attacks, including names, addresses, legal documents and financial information. And he’s personally travelled to Sandy Hook a number of times.
“I call it an illusion. The biggest government illusion that’s ever been pulled off by [the US Department of] Homeland Security.”
In his office, ghoulish blown-up pictures of the crime scene mingle with pictures of his family and his days as an American football player. His so-called evidence consists of a string of tiny details, small anomalies which are for the most part easily explained by the inchoate nature of a horrific breaking news event.
“I’ll be honest with you,” he says, “if I’m wrong, I need to be institutionalised.”
Conspiracy theories are a perennial feature of American life. But now they can be picked up by extremists and spread virally through social media. And that process has been fuelled by America’s deeply partisan political environment.
Hundreds of videos online are pushing false Sandy Hook narratives. Collectively, they have millions of views. Falsehoods are repeated by Twitter accounts and on Facebook.
Still, the theories might have stayed quarantined in some of the darker corners of the internet, were they not picked up and amplified by one of America’s most popular conspiracy theorists.
Alex Jones is a talk show host and the founder of the multimedia portal Infowars. Regular listeners and readers are used to his rants on everything from 9/11 to attacks across Europe. And on several broadcasts he embraced the Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists. Less than two years after the attacks, he welcomed Halbig on his programme and talked about an Infowars story headlined “FBI says no one killed at Sandy Hook“.
“Internet sleuths immediately took to the web to stitch together clues indicating the shooting could be a carefully-scripted false flag event, similar to the 9/11 terror attacks, the central tenet being that the event would be used to galvanize future support for gun control legislation,” the story stated.
He returned to the theme several months later on his radio show: “I’ve had the investigators on, the state police have gone public, you name it – the whole thing is a giant hoax. And the problem is, how do you deal with a total hoax? How do you even convince the public something’s a total hoax?”
Later he said: “Sandy Hook is a synthetic, completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured. I couldn’t believe it at first. I knew they had actors there clearly but I thought they killed some real kids, and it just shows how bold they are, that they clearly used actors.”
The liberal think tank Media Matters for America has listed other instances of Jones accusing the parents of murdered children being actors or casting doubt on the Sandy Hook investigation. Matt Gertz of Media Matters says that online and on air, Jones has an audience of about 8 million.
“It’s kind of remarkable, but believing that Sandy Hook was a hoax is actually fairly small ball for an Alex Jones conspiracy,” Gertz says. “He thinks that a set of global elites are planning to murder 80% of the world populace and enslave the rest of them. He has claimed that the federal government has a weather machine that they use to target tornado strikes on unfriendly populaces.
“He is sort of the nexus for what’s really a distributed network of conspiracy theorists who are on Facebook or on Twitter or using sites like Reddit or 4Chan or 8Chan.”
Jones, who did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, has also been linked to President Trump. In late 2015, Trump appeared on Jones’s radio programme. At the end of a half-hour interview, the candidate told the host: “I just want to finish by saying your reputation’s amazing. I will not let you down, you will be very very impressed I hope.
“And I think we’ll be speaking a lot… a year into office, you’ll be saying ‘Wow, I remember that interview, he said he was going to do it, and he did a great job.’ You’ll be very proud of our country.”
Trump has retweeted Infowars reporters and stories (for example here and here) and stories of dubious provenance that first appeared on the site have regularly shown up in Trump speeches and tweets.
To take just one example: in November 2016, Trump tweeted: “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
Trump has not endorsed the Sandy Hook conspiracy theory, nor has he spoken about Jones’s claims that the massacre was a hoax. The White House did not respond to a number of requests for comment, including a series of questions about the relationship between the president and Jones.
Jones himself has tried to make the most of his connections to Trump. He claims the president called him shortly after winning the election and has spoken to him since, although the the New York Times reported that a Trump aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, “played down the frequency of their contact”.
Gertz, from Media Matters for America, says that there is evidence that Jones does talk with the president. But he cautions that both men have had a history of pushing conspiracy theories and presenting “alternative facts”.
“So trying to nail down for sure what their relationship is, based on the statements that they say about each other, is pretty dicey,” he says.
Less than two weeks after the 2016 presidential election, Jones posted a video which he declared was his “final statement” on Sandy Hook. In it, he claimed he had been unfairly treated by the media.
“I’ve always said I’m not sure what really happened, but there’s a lot of anomalies and there has been a cover-up of what did happen there,” he said.
“There is some evidence that people died there,” he said. “I don’t know what the truth is, all I know is the official story of Sandy Hook has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.”
He then played a montage of news clips and material from his Sandy Hook programmes over the years, including footage of Wolfgang Halbig. He did not include his “Sandy Hook is a synthetic, completely fake with actors” quote. In signing off, he took another swipe at parents of murdered children who spoke to the media in the aftermath of the attacks.
“If children were lost in Sandy Hook, my heart goes out to each and every one of those parents and the people who say they’re parents that I see on the news. The only problem is, I’ve seen a lot of soap operas, and I’ve seen actors before, and I know when I’m watching a movie and when I’m watching something real. Let’s look into Sandy Hook.”
In front of his computer screen in his undisclosed location, Lenny Pozner is taking on the conspiracy theorists. He flicks through a YouTube page and points out a new video.
“Look – this was just posted,” he says. “It’s a hoaxer type video – it’s insulting, it has images of people who were connected to the tragedy.”
The thumbnail picture has a photo of his son Noah’s tombstone. There’s text on the picture which reads: “empty grave”. In the video, there’s a picture of Lenny himself.
“Here’s a photo of me taken two days after my child was killed and I’m being called a liar fraud and terrorist,” he says. “That’s how they vilify people.”
Lenny used to be a casual Infowars listener – he liked to listen to conspiracy theories as entertainment. That’s how he initially found out that his son’s murder was being denied by the conspiracy theorists.
At first he tried to engage with them through a Facebook group. But soon the mood among the hard-core hoaxers hardened.
“The only people that would come into the groups were trolls,” he says. “They were just coming in for their own amusement… after that I decided that the most important thing would be to start taking down content that’s spreading this information,” he says.
Every day, Lenny scrolls though reams of conspiracy minded content, complaining to social networks and attempting to get videos and posts taken down using network rules about copyright, decency and harassment.
After four years of pain, compounded by the harassers and the conspiracy mongers, people in Sandy Hook are tired – and some of them are asking the president to step in.
I meet Eric Paradis, a local Democratic Party official, in a bar down the road from Sandy Hook. One of Paradis’s daughters was at Sandy Hook Elementary on the day of the shooting – she survived.
Although Alex Jones has not been involved in the harassment of the families, Paradis says the president could use his influence to push Jones and the conspiracy theorists to the fringes, and help stop the harassment of Sandy Hook victims.
“The town committee wanted to put a letter together asking the president to denounce these hoaxers and tell them look… these are real children who died,” he says.
His letter is still under consideration by local officials. It reads:
“[Jones] continues to spread hate and lies towards our town, towards the people and organizations who came to help us through those darkest days. Jones repeatedly tells his listeners and viewers that he has your ears and your respect. He brags about how you called him after your victory in November. Emboldened by your victory, he continues to hurt the memories of those lost, the ability of those left behind to heal.”
The letter goes on to ask Trump to “intervene and stop Jones and others hoaxers like him”. Paradis says he and other Democrats tried to avoid making the letter about Trump’s larger political agenda.
“I really do think he can help us put a stop to it, because he does have a unique position with these hoaxers,” he says. “If he can help us out then that’s fantastic and a Democrat [like me] would be very grateful if he could.”
Lenny Pozner continues to take action against the trolls. He’s filed a lawsuit against Halbig, alleging invasion of privacy. Halbig is fighting the suit, which is just getting underway, and says that if he loses, he’ll check himself into a mental institution.
Lenny turns back to his computer, where he spots more conspiracy theory videos. So will he ever stop trying to fight the hoaxers?
He takes a deep breath and a long pause.
“I don’t know,” he says. “I would like not to have to do this. I would like to just leave it alone and feel the memory of my child is sacred and other people are also treating it that way,” he says, “but as long as they’re not – I feel I need to defend that memory.”
I would ask you to consider the parents. If President Trump does not about this then by that lack of action alone he is not worthy of the title.
I would ask citizens of the USA keep a very close watch on the activities of President Trump and let us know if he is mature and compassionate enough to distance himself from these creatures. And I would ask all WP folk to keep writing your own uplifting posts, share with the world and put an end to these creatures.
Sorry I’m late folks. I really should have been writing up a post about the experiences when going through your first draft you find a big bit of the plot stinks and you have an experience similar to the crew of a big ocean going ship trying to steer it around too quickly. Anyway another day maybe.
No, I have been out and about mis-behaving on a Social Media site. The mother of that fool who killed and maimed folk on London bridge. The dear lady was expressing her grief at what he had done.
You would not believe the spiteful, nasty, bigoted and ignorant comments directed at her and Muslims in general…..or sadly maybe you would.
So yours truly posted out a comment condemning them and telling the bozos they were great recruiters for IS, then I made a few personal attacks on some of the very most objectionable attacks (see how they like it) an praised one dear lady who supported the woman. I then posted up a faux-set of awards for the ‘best’ stupid comments so far and am hoping to upset a few folk.
But it brings out the ravage/Punisher in me, and being Lent I shouldn’t be doing such things. (I fall for it every time). Thus I return to the clear air of WP. Even though I strongly disagree with them all, even the acts of the current Administration seem tolerable in comparison. (Just rich folk getting richer? Or finding ways to dismantle govt to get even richer?)
I embrace you all. I embrace those I agree with. I embrace those I disagree with, because here on WP at least the latter are eloquent and put forward arguments in an understandable and sometimes witty way.
Oooh, it’s good to be back in WP.
Keep the lights shining and keep on writing folks.
And take care of you and yours
Here to make other writers feel good about their work