There has been an avalanche of conspiracy theories regarding the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. Many revolve around concepts like false flags and crisis actors – terms that are familiar to those who study and write about fringe culture, but are new to the populace at large.
This can lead to an air of authoritative knowledge by those who decidedly do not have it. And unfortunately, they seem to come up for every tragedy – be it a shooting, terror attack, or even a deadly accident.
In the case of Parkland, Douglas High School student David Hogg has been described as a “crisis actor” paid to espouse gun control views. The whole thing has been called a government-perpetrated “false flag” by prominent conspiracy theorists and conservative infotainment figures. Rumors are flying that the shooting was covered up by an active shooter drill that “went live.”
But what does any of that mean? Are these real concepts? Have these things been done before – and could the shooting in Parkland be the next iteration?
While these concepts are mostly unknown to the public (who are then appalled to hear them), I’ve been writing about them for years. On Skeptoid Blog, I wrote posts diving into each one of these ideas, and am extremely familiar with how they work – and don’t work.
This piece summarizes what I wrote there, and if you want more information, feel free to read the original posts. They have crazy comments!
“Crisis Actor” – Conspiracy theorists refer to a crisis actor as the survivor of a tragedy actually being a paid actor, who gets on camera to give interviews and testimony to advance the narrative of that tragedy – usually gun control.
The fact is that crisis actors are used in staged tragedies..
They’ve been used in disaster preparedness drills for decades, to create simulations of some of the scenarios they might encounter, complete with victims. With crisis actors, police, fire departments, and medical personnel can practice caring for and evacuating victims of a disaster or attack.
But to conspiracy theorists, they’re actually actors paid to pretend to be victims in shootings that were staged by the government. The crisis actors depict injuries consistent with an attack, but the attack itself was fake or carried out by the government. And the fake victims are then used to bolster the fakery.
Until recently, the idea of actors playing pretend roles in real tragedies was a small corner of the 9/11 truth movement. But Sandy Hook proved to be a breeding ground for allegations that the attack was a hoax, and that the grieving parents were actors – and bad actors, at that.
Without any real supporting evidence, the meme took hold. Since then, the Boston Marathon bombing, Las Vegas shooting, Manchester attack, Aurora theater shooting, and now Parkland have all said to be infested with crisis actors. The accusations take the form of slapdash memes, crude YouTube videos, and “chart brut” pictures of circles and arrows pointing at things that “don’t make sense.”
To be sure, there has never been any compelling evidence that paid “crisis actors” have been deployed to advance a narrative, much less that they’re deployed every time a narrative arises. The accusations against David Hogg are incredibly thin, and were debunked almost instantly. The same is true of other crisis actor accusations. They fall apart at the slightest touch.
The crisis actor meme demands that governments hire tens of thousands of people, stage shootings that kill people, and leave no evidence of their fakery behind. And paradoxically, it demands the government hire the same crisis actors over and over and hope nobody notices.
To sum up: if the government really faked the Parkland shooting, would it hire a”victim” whose identity could be so easily sussed out?
“False Flag” – like crisis actor, the term “false flag” is a real concept, twisted into something unreal by conspiracy theorists.
In military terms, a false flag is any act of deception designed to make your opponent think you’re someone else. The term originated with naval warfare, when a ship would run up a flag other than its designated battle ensign for the purposes of drawing an enemy ship closer, then firing on it. They’re mostly legal, and have been used in almost every recent war.
They also have a political purpose. Japan kicked off its 1931 invasion of Manchuria with a false flag, a staged (and ineffective) railroad bombing. Likewise, the German invasion of Poland was “justified” by a series of staged incidents of violence and vandalism.
Major major historical events like the bombing of the USS Maine, the Reichstag Fire, the Pearl Harbor attack, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, the Liberty Incident, and the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings have all been called false flags. In some of these cases, there’s evidence that they might actually have been. Others have just been the subject of endless (often baseless) speculation.
But to modern conspiracy theorists, 9/11 was the ur-false flag. To them, it was an incident staged to get the US into war with Iraq and turn the country into a pseudo police state. Since then, false flag accusations have dogged every shooting, bombing, truck attack, and anything that can be blamed on a government hell-bent on sapping your rights.
This is not the classical use of the term. And it’s not a particularly accurate one.
While there are some disturbing unanswered questions about the historical incidents above (particularly Tonkin and the Moscow bombings), there’s little question about who perpetrated the terrorist attacks. No credible evidence (ie, things that aren’t YouTube videos and tweets) ties the culprits to a government conspiracy. Most are found to be mentally unbalanced loners with few ties to their community and easy access to guns, rather than government assassins with a secret mission.
If there was any proof to begin with, it’s scrubbed so well that nobody ever finds it – while at the same time, the perpetrators fail to scrub the evidence they hired crisis actors.
A perpetrator displaying selective incompetence is the hallmark of the conspiracy movement. The government can do everything, yet can’t do anything.
Another reason we know these terrorist attacks aren’t politically motivated false flags is that nothing happens afterward.
If Sandy Hook was supposed to be a false flag used to justify the stripping of Second Amendment rights, it failed miserably. In its wake, every attempt by the Obama administration to bolster federal gun laws was blocked. Presumably, if Sandy Hook had been a false flag, it would have accomplished some sort of goal.
“Live Drills” – A third instance where reality is turned into unreality. There is a long history of drills being carried out right around the time terrorist attacks take place.
And in a chilling, real twist, many recent terrorist incidents actually have had military exercises or response drills going on at the same exact time as terror attacks. This includes military exercises during the 9/11 attacks, 2004 Madrid bombings, 2005 London bombings, and Boston Marathon bombing; as well as close “active shooter” drills taking place right before the Aurora shooting, and Sandy Hook. Rumors have flown that Parkland is the same thing.
However, for every drill and exercise we hear about, there are dozens we never hear of, that pass without incident.
To start, military forces and civilian responders train constantly to be prepared for any kind of scenario. Sometimes it’s large scale strategic exercises. Other times, it’s a simulated mass shooting. These drills are how our armed forces, police, and medical personnel stay sharp and hone their skills. We wouldn’t want them thrown into a situation they hadn’t trained for – that’s how people die.
When one of these drills and a real incident overlap, it becomes fodder for the conspiracy that inevitably arises around such attacks. After all, the authorities are conveniently there to run the attack, people aren’t expecting it to take place and fake victims are standing by to pretend to be wounded.
It’s important to remember that coincidence is not conspiracy.
Numerous training exercises take place all over the world, and it’s not surprising that some were running in some of the biggest cities in the world at the same time they were attacked. The Madrid bombing is a perfect example. It happened during a massive, continent-wide training mission called “Crisis Management Exercise 04.” None of the other cities involved in the exercise were bombed. Why Madrid? Was it singled out by the globalists? Or was it just the wrong place at the wrong time?
For Douglas High School, the rumors that the shooting took place the same day as a shooting drill are actually wrong. The school had an active shooter drill the month before, and regularly held them – as most schools around the country do.
Moreover, why would the Douglas High shooter pick the day of an active shooter drill to carry out the shooting? If the attack was a false flag, why would his handlers pick that day?
It makes no logical sense to plan a massive attack on a school or city, and also arrange for emergency response teams to be standing by. Why bother? If these tragedies were part of some master plan, wouldn’t the plotters want the maximum number of casualties to be inflicted? And if the attacks were faked, doesn’t more people “in on it” mean more chance that the fraud will be revealed?
The overwhelming majority of drills and exercises pass without incident, and usually leave only conspiracy theories in their wake (remember the furor over military exercise Jade Helm 15?)
In contrast, real terrorist attacks and shootings leave real victims, real holes in families, and real anguish. The anger and revulsion of the survivors of the Parkland shooting isn’t some government plot or carefully choreographed military op – it’s very real. And it’s not going away any time soon.