In a year of so many untruths, she was just another believer.
Lucy Richards was arrested Monday for acting on her warped assumptions. Richards, indicted by a federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale, was a so-called Sandy Hook “truther,” subscribing to some freakish theory that the massacre of 20 elementary school children and six teachers on Dec. 14, 2012, was an elaborate hoax. That the killings never happened.
It hasn’t been enough for these truthers to deny that tragic reality of Sandy Hook. Since the murders, they’ve been haranguing the parents of those dead children with unspeakably cruel allegations that their kids never existed.
Richards was charged with emailing a series of death threats to one of those parents (now living in South Florida). “Death is coming to you real soon and there’s nothing you can do about it.” And, “You gonna die; death is coming to you real soon.” And, “Look behind you. It is death.”
Richards, 57, a Tampa resident, faces three felony counts for “transmitting threats through interstate communications.” Three Florida men who’ve been the nation’s leading promoters of this mendacious bunk face no such worries.
Ousted Florida Atlantic University professor James Tracy has used his academic credentials to bolster a contention that the U.S. government was behind the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing. And that Sandy Hook and San Bernardino were government-run theatrics contrived to dupe American citizens into accepting gun control. Apparently, Richards embraced Tracy’s worldview.
Florida can also claim Tony Mead, owner of a Hollywood moving company, who runs a Facebook site that’s a kind of clearinghouse for Sandy Hook conspiracy theories. Several visitors to his website this week have decided that Lucy Richards herself was a fake, invented by the feds to undermine the truther movement.
The third member of Florida’s truther triumvirate is Wolfgang Halbig from Lake County, who has become infamous around Newtown, Connecticut, for harassing local school and town officials who, of course, must have been party to this enormous coverup. Halbig has tried to crowd-fund his nefarious investigation.
The day before Richards was arrested, a North Carolina man named Edgar Welch walked into a neighborhood pizza joint in Washington, D.C., carrying an assault rife (the American madman’s weapon of choice). Welch had been inspired by another bizarre lie circulating on the internet.
Welch told police he was “self-investigating” a faux news story that cohorts of Hillary Clinton were operating a child sex ring in tunnels beneath the Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant. Welch barged in with his gun at the ready, terrifying customers and workers, expecting to rescue little sex slaves. He surrendered to police after he discovered no tunnels and no captive children. He later admitted to the New York Times, “The intel on this wasn’t 100 percent.” (Conspiracy theorists immediately decided that Welch was yet another false flag actor hired to mislead the pizzagate posse.)
Perhaps Welch could be excused for relying on bad intel, given that child sex ring allegations had been tweeted by Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the very person president-elect Donald Trump has chosen as his national security adviser. And by Flynn’s son, Michael Jr., who was working with the Trump transition until last week, until the uproar caused by these lying tweets led to Junior’s dismissal.
Gen. Flynn was already known for his embrace of paranoid conspiracy theories and unproven allegations. We used to call these lies, back when facts mattered. Of course, Flynn’s new boss rose to national political prominence himself by peddling the outrageous lie that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
Trump has also been a guest on a talk show hosted by Alex Jones, America’s leading propagator of insane conspiracy theories. “When I think about all the children Hillary Clinton has personally murdered and chopped up and raped, I have zero fear standing up against her,” Jones said in a YouTube video posted two days before the election. “Yeah, you heard me right. Hillary Clinton has personally murdered children. I just can’t hold back the truth anymore.”
Jones has also described blood-drinking Satanic rituals practiced by the Clinton team. Our birther-in-chief famously told Jones on an earlier podcast, “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.”
And this was the year fake news sites announced that evangelist Billy Graham and then the Pope himself had endorsed Donald Trump (both lies). That Hillary Clinton has been selling armaments to ISIS. That Mexico has built a wall, complete with guard towers, along its southern border to keep immigrants out. (Lie and lie.) Trump himself posited that millions of illegal immigrant voters gave Hillary Clinton her 2.5 million lead in the popular vote. And so much more. In the past year, Trump has twisted the truth so often that PolitiFact has nearly blown a gasket trying to keep up.
Last week, Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, explained to a Harvard University post-election forum that the literal truth no longer matters. According to the Washington Post, Lewandowski said, “This is the problem with the media. You guys took everything that Donald Trump said so literally. The American people didn’t.”
Of course, fake news isn’t such a novel concept down here in Miami, where Fidel Castro’s death has been celebrated numerous times over the years.
This last time, the facts seem to indicate Castro’s actual demise. Except facts no longer matter. Donald just might decide he needs to keep Fidel around for a few more years.