if there is anything worse than losing a child, it is losing a child and having people taunt you over the loss.
That is what happened to the family of Noah Pozner, a 6-year-old with tousled brown hair and lollipop-red lips, the youngest of the 26 children and staff members gunned down in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
In the years since the massacre that shook the country and opened new anxiety over gun violence, the family has received hate-filled calls and violent emails from people who say they know the shooting was a hoax. Photos of their son — some with pornographic and anti-Semitic content — have been distributed on websites.
These outlandish theories, which hold that the Newtown school shooting was a staged mass murder engineered by gun control advocates, have lived until now in the dark corners of the Internet.
But they have gained fresh momentum in the last several months, residents here say, at a time when conspiracy theorists across the country have attained the status of celebrities, and the nation as a whole is engaged in a contentious debate over the nature of truth.
President Donald Trump and his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, have been open enthusiasts of Alex Jones’ Infowars, a web-based radio and video network that has relentlessly pushed the theory that Sandy Hook was staged by Democrats to advance a gun control agenda.
An unabashed Trump supporter during the campaign, Jones says he received a personal call of thanks from the president-elect days after the election.