“I don’t know what to do,” sighed Gene Rosen. “I’m getting hang up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘how much am I being paid’?” Someone posted a photo of his house online. There have been phony Google+ and YouTube accounts created in his name, messages on white supremacist message boards ridiculing the “emotional Jewish guy,” and dozens of blog posts and videos “exposing” him as a fraud. One email purporting to be a business inquiry taunted: “How are all those little students doing? You know, the ones that showed up at your house after the ‘shooting’. What is the going rate for getting involved in a gov’t sponsored hoax anyway?”
“The quantity of the material is overwhelming,” he said. So much so that a friend shields him from most of it by doing daily sweeps of the web so Rosen doesn’t have to. His wife is worried for their safety. He’s logged every email and every call, and consulted with a retired state police officer, who took the complaint seriously but said police probably can’t do anything at the moment, and he plans to do the same with the FBI.
What did Rosen do to deserve this? One month ago, he found six little children and a bus driver at the end of the driveway of his home in Newtown, Connecticut. “We can’t go back to school,” one little boy told Rosen. “Our teacher is dead.” He brought them inside and gave them food and juice and toys. He called their parents. He sat with them and listened to their shocked accounts of what had happened just down the street inside Sandy Hook Elementary, close enough that Rosen heard the gunshots.
In the hours and days that followed, Rosen did a lot of media interviews. “I wanted to speak about the bravery of the children, and it kind of helped me work through this,” he told Salon in an interview. “I guess I kind of opened myself up to this.”
The “this” in question is becoming a prime target of the burgeoning Sandy Hook Truther movement, which — like its precursor that denied the veracity of the 9/11 terror attacks — alleges that the entire shooting was a hoax of some kind. There were conspiracy theories surrounding the shooting from day one, but the movement has exploded into public view the past two weeks, and a Google Tends search suggests it’s just now picking up steam. It’s also beginning to earn the backing of presumably credible sources like a professor and a reporter.