Lenny Pozner’s young son died in the Sandy Hook mass killing. Conspiracy theorists believe the killing was staged. Pozner’s efforts to educate them, to prove that his son died, only resulted in relentless trolling and harassment. Yet he keeps trying: “I’m going to have to protect Noah’s honor for the rest of my life,” he says.
To further his cause, Pozner has created an organization, called the HONR Network, whose goal is to “bring awareness to Hoaxer activity” and “prosecute those who wittingly and publicly defame, harass, and emotionally abuse the victims of high profile tragedies.” Since there is no criminal law that protects families like Pozner’s from the darker impulses of the Internet, he and his volunteers — folks he met virtually, when he began debunking — perform a slow and painful task. Whenever a video or a screed appears online attacking the victims of a horrible event, they alert venues like YouTube that their rules have been broken. The victories have been small. Though they’ve removed hundreds of links from the Internet, there are countless more like them.
“I know that the more garbage that is out there, the more it ages over time, the more the myth becomes accepted as a disgusting historical fact that tries to dismiss the existence of my child,” says Pozner. “I mean, damn it, his life had value. He existed. He was real. How dare they.”