By Gene Lyons
Conceived in a dream of reason, what the Internet too often reveals is mass credulousness and fathomless irrationality. According to Salon’s Alex Seitz-Wald, a video depicting the Newtown, CT elementary school massacre as a government-sponsored hoax has drawn 8.5 million views on YouTube.
No doubt many viewers were drawn by idle curiosity or sheer incredulity. What would “evidence” for so transparently preposterous an allegation consist of? Nevertheless, there appear to be thousands of True Believers.
Try googling “Emilie Parker alive,” to sample the crazy.
Adepts claim that a photograph of a young girl sitting in President Obama’s lap reveals that six-year-old Emilie Parker was not murdered along with 19 classmates at Sandy Hook elementary as reported. Supposedly, the photo reveals a telltale blunder.
In reality, the child in the photograph is Emilie’s little sister, Madeline.
But why go on? There’s plenty more in the same dogged, delusional vein. Debunk one aspect of the conspiracy, and a dozen absurdities replace it. To anybody capable of imagining that staging the Sandy Hook tragedy would even be possible—requiring, as it would, the active cooperation of half the population of Connecticut—mere evidence and logic are beside the point.
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. Apart from religion, more Americans appear to be nuts on the subject of guns than all other topics. The National Rifle Association has raised and spent millions in recent years peddling scare stories about President Obama’s secret plan to abolish the Second Amendment, confiscate everybody’s deer rifles and set up a gun-free dictatorship.
Newtown conspiracy theories are only incrementally madder spinoffs of the NRA’s master narrative. Yet its leaders are treated as VIPs in newsrooms and TV studios. Why?
To Believers, guns have become fetish objects in American popular culture, having magical potency. Witness Bushmaster Firearms’ advertising its .223 caliber AR-15—Newtown killer Adam Lanza’s weapon—with the slogan: “Consider your Man Card reissued.”
Viagra ads are more subtle. …
Posted by Scott Clement on January 22, 2013 at 12:00 pm
In the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, there has been huge amounts of polling done that provides the clearest picture in years of where Americans stand on guns, gun violence and what the government should (or can) do to prevent incidents of large-scale gun violence.
We’ve sorted through the data to bring you seven key findings from eight national polls that asked a variety of gun-related questions. (Full details on each poll: Associated Press-GfK, CBS News-New York Times, CNN-Time-ORC, Fox News, Gallup, NBC News-Wall Street Journal, Pew Research Center and the Washington Post-ABC News.)
Here are the seven things you need to know about how the American public think when it thinks about guns:
1. Shootings spur spike in demand for stricter gun control laws
The latest CBS News-New York Times poll tracked a 15-point increase in the share of Americans saying gun control laws should be more “strict,” up to 54 percent from 39 percent in April. This matches a 14-point jump in desire for stricter laws in a December Gallup poll (from 44 to 58 percent). The NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll finds only a four-point rise from a year ago but arrives in a similar place as others with 56 percent saying laws should be stricter than they are now. …