The Newest Conspiracy Theory: The Tucson Shootings Never Actually Happened

It’s somewhat appropriate that, on the same day that Jared Lee Loughner was found mentally incompetent to stand trial, The New York Times would run this story:

TUCSON — Television images of the chaotic scene after the Jan. 8 shootings here do not convince them. Neither do the funerals for the deceased, the scars of the wounded or the federal prosecution of the man accused of being the gunman.

Some conspiracy Web sites are claiming that the shootings that nearly killed Representative Gabrielle Giffords and did end the lives of a federal judge, a 9-year-old girl and four others never actually took place. One particularly bizarre site, run by a Texas man, says it was all a government hoax that used actors.

Such obviously fantastic claims would usually not merit the attention of law enforcement, but they have in this instance because some believers have been confronting, and alarming, some of the people associated with the case in recent weeks.

Richard Kastigar, investigative chief of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, said he passed information about the Web site to his intelligence unit. He reacted angrily to those denying the shootings. “There were bodies sent to the morgue, people’s loved ones,” Mr. Kastigar said.

Manuel J. Johnson, a spokesman for the F.B.I., said the bureau was aware of the site, but he declined to say whether an investigation was under way. One shooting victim said he notified the F.B.I. recently after two men showed up at his Tucson home claiming to be investigators and saying they were trying to determine whether the shooting was a hoax.

“They tried to get into my home,” said the victim, who asked that he not be identified because it might attract more such visitors. “They wanted to know if I had any pictures. They said they didn’t believe the event took place.”

The victim said that when he pressed the visitors for identification, one of them presented a business card that listed the Texas conspiracy site, which describes the shooting as an exercise conducted by the Department of Homeland Security. Other people connected to the case, including hospital personnel, victims’ relatives and possible trial witnesses, have received similar visits or seen their images on the Web site, officials said.

The site, which solicits donations from visitors to help with its “investigation,” shows pictures of people who appeared on television after the shooting — including the suspect, Jared L. Loughner — and claims they resemble photographs of Tucson-area actors found on the Internet.

“We are only trying to uncover the truth and give the information to the Citizens,” the site says. “We would love nothing more than to debunk our own theory.”

What evidence would convince these people? A dead body? A piece of Gabrielle Giffords skull? The videotape of the shooting (scratch that, the videotape would obviously feature the aforementioned actors, wouldn’t it)?

What this proves, of course, is that people will believe anything. We’ve had 9/11 Truthers, Birthers, Transcripters, Deathers. And, now, what shall we call these people? Personally, I would choose idiots but I guess that’s overly inclusive. So, I am open to suggestions.

Photo via Tucson television station KGUN

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. onique says:

    These are the same people who insist that President Obama was not born in America. There is nothing you can say to convince them.

  2. Southern Hoosier says:

    onique says:
    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 20:19

    These are the same people who insist that President Obama was not born in America. There is nothing you can say to convince them.

    Not quite the same.

  3. Chad S says:

    27%ers. 27% of americans believe that Dubya was behind 9-11, that Obama still isn’t a citizen, etc etc etc. 27% of america is retarded.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    I think I agree with Southern Hoosier on this, at least to this extent: The vast majority of birthers were not like this. The vast majority probably broke into two camps. First were people who simply disliked Obama and would pick up and spread anything negative about him. The truth or falsehood of it didn’t matter, didn’t even register. If it made Obama supporters mad, then it was worth repeating. The second group was comprised of the type of people that watch those ghost hunter shows on TV, or the specials about aliens probing random people, or Sasquatch living in the woods. They figure there are lots of weird things that happen, and since someone said this out loud there must be at least something to it. The more something is repeated, the truer it must be.

    I think these people fall into a third category (and some birthers fall into this too). Unable to see the difference between fact and speculation they latch onto some startling, world changing theory and can’t let go of it. They goad each other on until the only people willing to spend time with them are others with the same obsession. Since they hold the theory that any idea that can’t be disproved must be true, nothing will ever satisfy them, since someone’s always got another idea.

  5. An Interested Party says:

    Not quite the same.

    Not so, Grand Dragon Southern Hoosier…it is exactly the same…

  6. John Burgess says:

    Maybe replacing the fluorine in drinking water with lithium isn’t such a bad idea…

  7. Rob Prather says:

    The fact that these nuts are willing to approach and harass victims suggests to me that they are dangerous and possibly mentally unstable. The Birthers might have been unstable, but I never considered them dangerous.

  8. MM says:

    I assume WND will be sponsoring “Show Us the Bullet Holes” billboards any day now.

  9. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    Unfortunately there’s no effective cure for abject stupidity.

  10. Southern Hoosier says:

    Not quite the same. People made a lot of money off of truthers birthers, and the grassy knoll. But the Gabrielle Giffords shooting is a hoax, is not going to get much traction. I don’t see the deathers getting much play either.

  11. george says:

    Not quite the same. People made a lot of money off of truthers birthers, and the grassy knoll. But the Gabrielle Giffords shooting is a hoax, is not going to get much traction. I don’t see the deathers getting much play either.

    Kind of agree – this one is going to be limited to the truly nuts crowd – the type that probably don’t believe Tuscon even exists in the first place.

  12. george says:

    And by ‘truly nuts’ I mean totally stark raving bonkers, as opposed to just unhinged nuts like the truthers, birthers, and fake moon landing types.

  13. David says:

    27%ers. 27% of americans believe that Dubya was behind 9-11, that Obama still isn’t a citizen, etc etc etc. 27% of america is retarded.

    Unfortunately, Chad, the 27% seems to shift around. So you can make a case that like 75% of the country is retarded to some degree. Comforting thought.

  14. cB says:

    And, now, what shall we call these people

    clowns.

  15. legion says:

    I’ve actually gotta agree with ‘Ol Southern on this one… these guys seem more deeply and aggressively nuts than the birthers. I mean, Trump supposedly sent “investigators” to HI to check on the birth certificate thing, but this crowd has a much more sinister, confrontational feel that just creeps me out like Taitz and Farah never have…

  16. Neil Hudelson says:

    Unfortunately, Chad, the 27% seems to shift around. So you can make a case that like 75% of the country is retarded to some degree. Comforting thought.

    It’s true. I try to be pretty sane on most fronts, but I can’t kick this feeling that my rice krispies really are the exoskeletal remains of a series of ultra pygmies, the caricatures of which can be seen in the mascots Snap, Crackle, and of course Pop. There are others like me out there.

    But we still aren’t as nuts as these people.