Let’s give people a free-to-use tool to publish whatever they want, whenever they want, to an audience worldwide in real-time. What could possibly go wrong? In this extended conversation, Richard Gutjahr talks to Lenny Pozner, founder of honr.com, how he became a target of conspiracy theorists and what he learned in his five-year fight against Google, YouTube, and the so-called hoaxers.
Noah Pozner was reluctant to go to school that day. A mischievous little boy, who had celebrated his sixth birthday three weeks earlier, he stayed in bed too long and dragged his feet getting ready. “I said to him: ‘Come on, Noah, we gotta get moving,” his father, Leonard (also known as Lenny) recalls, having thought about the morning of 14 December 2012 so often he can almost talk about it mechanically. But the drive was fun: Noah, his twin sister, Arielle, and older sister, Sophia, listened to Gangnam Style, one of Noah’s favourite songs. Noah always sat in the back seat and Leonard tickled his ankle as he drove along. At school, Noah jumped out, his backpack in one hand, his jacket in the other. He was wearing a Batman shirt and Spider-Man trainers. “I said: ‘I love you, have a great day,’ and that was the last thing I ever said to him,” says Pozner. After all, he adds, “Not even Batman could have stopped an AR-15.”
Noah was the youngest victim of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, murdered about half an hour after his father dropped him off. A sweet-faced, big-eyed, brown-haired boy, his tiny body took multiple bullets. His jaw was blown off, as was his left hand, and his beloved Batman shirt was soaked with blood. For his funeral, his mother, Veronique, insisted he have an open casket.
“I want the world to see what they did to my baby,” she said at the time.
Today, Pozner tries to look on the bright side. “I could have lost three kids that day because the other two were in rooms adjacent to Noah’s classroom. They were all in the shooter’s footprint.”
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.”
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A Florida woman has been charged with making death threats against the parent of a child who died in the Sandy Hook school shooting massacre because she thought the attack was a hoax, federal authorities announced on Wednesday.
Lucy Richards, 57, of Tampa was arrested Monday after a grand jury indictment on four felony counts of transmitting threats, the US justice department said in a statement.
The threats were made 10 January, according to authorities, and included messages that said, “you gonna die, death is coming to you real soon,” and “LOOK BEHIND YOU IT IS DEATH.”
Another threat said, “there’s nothing you can do about it,” according to court documents.
The indictment said the threats were made in Palm Beach County to a person identified only by the initials “LP”. Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Schall wouldn’t say how the threats were delivered or provide more details, nor would she provide further details about why federal authorities said Richards thought the attack was a hoax.
IT’s been three years since we last embraced our precious little boy, Noah. At six-years-old, he was the youngest child murdered at the. While our family may have managed to live through this tragedy, the passage of time has nowhere near dimmed the vivid memory of that day nor made it any less difficult for us to cope with the pain and anguish of losing our only son.
The heartache of burying a child is a sorrow we would not wish upon anyone. Yet to our horror, we have found that there are some in this society who lack empathy for the suffering of others. Among them are the conspiracy theorists that deny our tragedy was real. They seek us out and accuse us of being government agents who are faking our grief and lying about our loss.
Each new high-profile act of violence inspires more conspiracies and creates new victims of harassment and defamation, whether it be the Boston Bombing, the terrorist attacks in Paris or the most recent massacre in San Bernardino, CA. In that instance, a lawyer for the family of the shooters said Sandy Hook did not happen. And don’t get us started on Donald Trump and his rantings on the Alex Jones radio show. It is obvious by the demographics of the show’s audience that Trump appeared as a guest looking for votes from the conspiracy crowd.
The loss of a child is a pain few parents can imagine. For those whose children were brutally murdered at the Sandy Hook Elementary School (SHES) on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, that incalculable grief has been made worse by a group of conspiracy theorists who have accused them of being actors in an elaborately staged hoax.
Among the few surviving family members who have spoken out against these accusations is Lenny Pozner, whose son, Noah, was among the 26 women and children killed that fateful morning. In an exclusive interview with this AMERICAN FREE PRESS reporter, Lenny opened up about his ongoing struggle to address the myths and falsehoods surrounding the SHES tragedy, his attempts to meet with the so-called “truth seekers” who have been spreading those lies and the resistance he’s faced at every turn.
“I used to entertain conspiracy theories until I found myself at the center of one,” said Lenny. “That’s when I really woke up and realized that some are more interested in propagating fear than getting at the truth.” Although these hoax theories primarily flourished on obscure websites and YouTube videos in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, Lenny said they attracted a much larger audience after radio host Alex Jones virtually endorsed them in a video segment posted on his website.