USA Today, November 2021
As a result of Monday’s ruling by a Connecticut judge, InfoWars founder and right-wing commentator Alex Jones must pay damages to the families of victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre for his unsupported claims that the shooting was a “giant hoax.” Whatever the size of the yet-to-be-determined award, it is an important victory for the plaintiffs – but also for opponents of conspiracy theories that stifle our ability to understand and prevent such tragedies.
There is a long history of dubious, half-baked conspiracies related to mass shootings. The “false flag” theory, which suggests that these incidents are staged or perpetrated by government operatives, has been linked to large-scale massacres in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio and Boulder, Colorado.
Students who survived the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have been called “crisis actors” after they became vocal proponents for gun control.