Feelbad story of the day: Victims of Vegas massacre being harassed, threatened by conspiracy theorists

I have no deep thoughts or hot takes for you about this. I just wanted to call it to your attention as a reminder that you should be rooting for a nuclear war that eradicates us as a species, the sooner the better.

Maybe the mutant giraffes that eventually evolve higher consciousness and inherit the planet will do better. At least for a few million years, until they produce a giraffe strain of conspiracy theorists who run around tormenting wounded giraffes.

“You are a lying piece of shit and I hope someone truly shoots you in the head,” a commenter wrote to [Braden] Matejka on Facebook, one week after a gunman killed 58 people and injured hundreds more [and shot him in the head]. “Your soul is disgusting and dark! You will pay for the consequences!” said another. A Facebook meme quickly spread with a photo of him after the shooting, captioned: “I’m a lying cunt!”…

“You’ll pay on the other side,” said a user named Mach. Others called Braden a “LYING BASTARD”, “scumbag govt actor” and “fuckin FRAUD”, while one user named Josh wrote: “I hope someone comes after you and literally beats the living fuck outa you.”…

Mike Cronk, another Las Vegas survivor, was also widely targeted by conspiracy theorists after he did interviews with ABC and NBC news stations. So many users on YouTube have published videos calling him a fake that a search for his name autocompleted to “Mike Cronk crisis actor” and “Mike Cronk fake”. The top three search results for “Mike Cronk Las Vegas” were conspiracy videos, promoted higher than the ABC News segment.

Matejka has since deleted his social media accounts, a small but significant bit of collateral damage from the attack in cutting him off from friends in the aftermath of a life-changing horror. The fact that he’s gone dark is, of course, now itself being cited by conspiracy theorists as evidence that the conspiracy is real, not a perfectly natural reaction to having the trauma of what happened to him in Vegas compounded by ghoulish cranks.

But this is now par for the course after mass shootings. Many stories have been written about Truthers alighting on the Sandy Hook shooting and torturing the parents of the children murdered there by accusing them of participating in a government hoax. What the supposed hoax was designed to achieve isn’t clear. If the idea is that the shooting was a pretext for a federal gun grab, have a look at Congress’s track record in passing new gun-control bills over the last decade. (It’s particularly stupid to worry about a gun grab with Republicans in total control of government.) Even the most half-baked conspiracy should, you would think, involve a clear-cut motive on the shooter’s part that will supposedly be exploited by the government to persecute people who share his beliefs. Instead Stephen Paddock’s motive is still unknown. Worst. Conspiracy. Ever. But that doesn’t solve Matejka’s problem.

The predictable harassment campaigns against victims of mass shootings will eventually be used as part of the argument for having the government regulate tech platforms more aggressively. The core of that argument has nothing to do with harassment — it’s that behemoths like Google, Facebook, and Amazon increasingly have de facto monopoly power over commerce and communications and can crush or buy out any new firms that try to compete. But to galvanize public support for regulation, proponents will need failings they can point to that hit skeptics in the gut. The recurring practice of cretins using social media and YouTube videos to defame and harass shooting victims and their families, especially when children are involved, is as gut-churning as it gets. If Google and Facebook can’t protect these people as they’re recovering from near-murder, more Americans will be willing to let the feds try.

Exit question: Are we sure this is the feelbad story of the day? Or is it … this one? Like I say, root for nuclear war.

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