Grief Ghouls on Parade: Debunking Parkland Shooting Conspiracy Theories

In the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, LA Times correspondent Matt Pearce made an observation about the inevitable churn of conspiracy theories that now follow every such event:

As soon as the shooting in Parkland became public, so too did the un-evidenced claims that “something wasn’t right” about the “official story.” Usually, the accusation is that the shooting was a “false flag” planned by the authorities to either restrict gun rights or instill fear in the population.

As “evidence” that the shooting was “fishy,” conspiracy theorists almost always amplify early reports that a second shooter was involved. A second gunman increase the body count and create more fear, and exposing them instantly puts a lie to the “official story.”

Sure enough, the right wing grief ghouls and professional conspiracy grifters instantly found a video of a traumatized student saying she spoke to the shooter, and also heard shots coming from another part of the school.

Digging deeper into tweets about the student involved, we find all sorts of claims that she’s an actress (and not a very good one, because she was smiling during the interview), that she doesn’t even exist, and that she inadvertently blew the whole false flag wide open and will be the next one to die.

However, nothing in her interview actually is that alarming when you study mass shootings. Her smiling can be explained by the varied responses to trauma that people have. People smile when recounting awful stories, tell jokes at funerals and make chit-chat over death watches at hospitals. It’s not like a movie.

Beyond that, her insistence that there was a second shooter hasn’t been corroborated by evidence, but it also doesn’t mean she was lying or accidentally revealing a hidden truth.

During the investigation into the breakup of TWA Flight 800, numerous witnesses claimed they heard an explosion, then turned to see the streak left by a missile hitting the plane – despite such a series of events being impossible due to light traveling faster than sound. The sound of a plane exploding would have reached their ears at least a minute (and likely more) after the plane actually blew up. So nobody who claims they heard then saw the explosion is correct, because of the laws of physics.

Are they lying? Are they disinfo agents sent out to spread false rumors? No, they’re just people who saw something and thought it was something that their brain told them it was. What did Alexa Miednik hear? Did she hear anything at all? Who knows, but we don’t have evidence thus far that what she heard were gunshots.

Finally, we know that the shooter attempted to escape by blending in with other high school students fleeing the building. So Alexa talking to him during the chaos tracks perfectly with established facts.

Putting aside this one video, nothing that’s come out regarding the Parkland shooting disproves the “official story.” Rote claims that the shooter was antifa, a DACA recipient, or affiliated with ISIS, accusations made about numerous different incidents and accidents, were almost immediately revealed as hoaxes. The next day, news broke that he was actually affiliated with a white nationalist militia called Republic of Florida. (2/16 edit: this claim also appears to be untrue, and a product of right wing fever swamp 4chan.)

Likewise, followers of the online conspiracy theory QAnon claimed that the shooting was part of some larger military operation, and that hasn’t come to pass either – just like all of the fantastical claims made by the supposed “insider” and his followers.

Another QAnon conspiracy theory, this one originating in a YouTube video that somehow has almost 100,000 views, is that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High was chosen for the “false flag” because of its namesake. The half-hour ramble claims that Douglas was a conservationist who fought to preserve the Everglades, and was against “draining the swamp,” which, of course, was Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. (how’s that going, by the way?) She also wrote a play called “Storm Warnings” which is obviously a reference to a phrase Trump would use nearly 20 years after Douglas died.

There’s also some rambling about the Rothschild family, Bill Clinton and the Philadelphia Eagles, working in concert to…do something. Hey, don’t look at me, I’m not the one making it up.

Finally, some of President Trump’s more vociferous defenders have blamed not ISIS or antifa for the shooting, but the FBI itself, claiming that the law enforcement agency was too distracted by trying to take down Trump on behalf of the deep state to stop the shooting from happening.

While the shooter was reported to the FBI, the agency didn’t have enough identifying information or evidence to take any action against him. Beyond that, the FBI is a big agency with a lot of divisions, not one overworked temp at a desk with an ever-increasing backlog of cases to ignore. This starts to veer away from conspiracy theory and into cult of personality.

There’s another aspect to mass shooting conspiracy theories, and if anyone was talking about it, there wouldn’t be any conspiracy theories in the first place.

That aspect is that there’s absolutely no motive to perpetrate a false flag mass shooting.

These shootings are usually posited as excuses to take away gun rights. But no American mass shooting has had any major impact on gun laws in America. Nobody’s right to own an AR-15 was infringed after Orlando, nor was your precious bump stock confiscated after Las Vegas.

Gun laws don’t change, and gun access doesn’t get curtailed, no matter how many die and how young they are.

Sandy Hook led to a few new minor state-level gun laws, but no federal legislation was passed, despite numerous attempts. They were all blocked by GOP legislators who have received millions of dollars in campaign donations from the NRA.

If false flag shootings are a government excuse to get gun laws passed, the government is failing miserably. No conspiracy is required, only the complicity of politicians terrifying of biting the hands that feed them.

So the mass shooting conspiracy theories will continue, pushed by people trying to profit from human misery, and believed by those unable to think critically.

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2 thoughts on “Grief Ghouls on Parade: Debunking Parkland Shooting Conspiracy Theories

  1. I was watching TV the evening of the downing of TWA 800. The very first on air TV interviewees stated that they saw a rocket heading toward the airliner and then a massive explosion. It was a warm summer evening on Long Island Sound, a relatively highly populated area. There were lots of witnesses explicitly disagreeing with the official story. But hey it was 1996 and there was an election to rig, I mean, win. The truth had to be buried.

  2. The plane was already nine miles offshore when it blew up. Nobody would have been able to see a missile hit it. There was never any evidence of a missile being fired or hitting the plane, nor were there any military assets in the area equipped to fire such a missile. Other than that, sure, missile.

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