So I ran across something horrible the other day. I was researching QAnon, the bizarre conspiracy theory-qua-cult which everyday seems more absurd, but which everyday seems to claim another victim. And, while I was doing that, I ran across a story on Vice. It was entitled, “I’m a Parkland Shooting Survivor. QAnon Convinced My Dad It Was All a Hoax.”
You read that right. The subject of the story was a young person who had been a student at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when an individual who I will not honor by naming, entered the school and opened fire, killing 17 people. The young man’s identity and story have, by the way, been confirmed by Vice. The person the writers spoke to was, in fact, exactly who and what he said he was.
That’s horrible enough. But, there’s more and its worse. Parkland has become a centerpiece for the mythology of the the lunatic right. It was, in their diseased imagination, a hoax, not unlike Covid. The dead were not dead. Merely crisis actors. And some sort of nefarious secret society was behind it all. (You will recall that Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, that grotesque excuse for a human being, was filmed abusing another survivor of the event, David Hogg, in 2019. Cruelty, stupidity, and ignorance seem to be linked in some people.)
Well, the student in the Vice article had a unique turn on this particular story. He survived the shooting. But, his father, apparently a man of limited sense and fragile sanity, subsequently became a QAnon convert…and decided that not only was the shooting a hoax, but that his own son was part of the plot.
Read that again: the man decided his own son …his own child…was part of the plot.
How is this possible? How is such madness possible? It is beyond me to answer that.
Yet, possible it seems to be. And the poor young man faces life, and his trauma, very much alone.
Now, all of this would be bad enough, but there’s more. The way that Vice found out about the young man and his situation was that he posted his story to a Reddit group, r/QAnonCasualties. This is an online community which is meant as a support group for those who have lost loved ones to the QAnon cult. The group’s self-description reads in part as follows, “Have a friend or loved one taken in by QAnon? Look here for support, resources and a place to vent. Peruse old posts, settle in and relax. Learn to heal…”
As of the time I’m writing this (August 2), the group has 178,000 members.
That is a terrifyingly large number.
Naturally, not everyone on the list has a story to tell, but many do. And they are heartbreaking — families divided, children alienated from their parents (the way the young Parkland survivor was), parents who have lost their children, marriages broken, lifelong friendships sundered…
And it makes you realize that, yes, there are thousands …maybe millions…of people out there who have been hurt by this insane fairy tale, this QAnon cult, which teaches nonsense and encourages hatred, fear, and violence.
Which, too, makes you understand that we are genuinely in the midst of a mental healthcare crisis. Many, many Americans have somehow abandoned reality for the make-believe QAnon universe…a nightmare world where the government is run by (here quoting Wikipedia) “Satanic, cannibalistic pedophiles” who, depending on the variant of the myth, may have links to Lizard Aliens and literal demons.
All of which is utter madness…
I have no idea what to do about it. But, clearly, the nation’s mental health professionals need to stand together, and to plan, and to be heard by the government and society’s leaders. We need to, somehow, deprogram a population of cultists, before they commit acts of violence against others (some of them have already done so), or, against themselves…that is, quite simply and perhaps literally, drink the poison Kool-Aid.
Which, come to think of it, many have also already done by refusing to mask or get vaccines during the Covid Pandemic…
But there is one more aspect to consider.
Somewhere out there in the world, somewhere on the Web, there is a man or woman, or a group, who called themselves “Q” and invented the whole lunatic endeavor.
Why, I wonder? Were they also insane? Or was it some act of simple mischief? Or did they think they could somehow profit from the madness? Was money involved? Or were they simply evil?
Or was it some combination of all those things?
Whatever…that person, the original Q, whether one or many, is guilty of many sins and has caused enormous pain. Therefore, let us hope that someday he is or she is or they are found, and stopped.
More, let us hope…let us pray…that someday, somehow, we will find a way to prevent such people from creating other Qs, other cults, other infectious insanities…
And in the process spare so many human beings…
So much agony.
Until next time…
Onward and Upward.
Copyright©2021 Michael Jay Tucker
“I’m a Parkland Shooting Survivor. QAnon Convinced My Dad It Was All a Hoax” by David Gilbert, Vice, July 26, 2021, 7:22am. https://www.vice.com/en/article/epnq84/im-a-parkland-shooting-survivor-qanon-convinced-my-dad-it-was-all-a-hoax?utm_source=vicenewstwitter
Other stories on the same subject include: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/parkland-survivor-qanon-dad_n_60fdf3b0e4b073351627eb6f, https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/parkland-shooting-survivor-says-dad-190752331.html, and https://www.huffpost.com/entry/parkland-survivor-qanon-dad_n_60fdf3b0e4b073351627eb6f
2. “Video surfaces of Marjorie Taylor Greene confronting Parkland shooting survivor with baseless claims” by Paul LeBlanc, CNN, Updated 10:32 AM EST, Thu January 28, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/27/politics/marjorie-taylor-greene-david-hogg-video/index.html