An Open Letter To Whoever Stole a Sandy Hook Victim’s Memorial Sign
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You Know Who You Are,
I have a five-year-old daughter. She has blond hair that falls in little ringlets and a smile that feels as if it radiates warm sunshine against my soul. She remembers anything she’s ever said to me that I laughed at and every once in a while she’ll remind me of it, never worrying that the joke might have gotten old, maybe because she understands that it never has and never will. If she makes herself laugh, I laugh.
When she’s with me I go to sleep each night content in the knowledge that in the morning her bedroom door will open and she’ll quietly shuffle out in her Hello Kitty pajamas — her purple blanket clutched in her hands and pulled up to her face, her eyes still glossy with receding sleep — and then rest her head against me as I make her breakfast. She’s the center of my universe. My sine qua non. I can’t even begin to imagine how I could find the strength and the will to go on if anything happened to her.
Lynn and Chris McDonnell without question felt the same way about their own daughter, Gracie. She was the light of their lives, a little girl who always wore pink bows in her hair, who loved to draw and paint, and whom they considered an inspiring force within their small family. But Grace McDonnell was taken from them, from the parents who loved her and who hoped to always be able to protect her. She was taken in an almost unfathomable act of violence, along with 19 of her young classmates and six of their caregivers at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. She was killed in cold blood by a madman armed with an assault rifle and driven by a headful of demons that had long since put asunder any better angels of his nature.
This is a fact. It isn’t up for debate. It isn’t up for discussion. There’s no controversy in stating it. It is the truth — pure, simple and exquisite. But you don’t believe that, do you? You don’t believe that the Sandy Hook shooting ever actually happened. You deny the existence of provable reality, setting aside all that your eyes try to show you and your ears allow you to hear in favor of submitting to the relentless chaos of the paranoid fantasy world you inhabit. You believe you’re privy to some great secret the rest of us can’t or won’t see and that this makes you better than everyone. But it doesn’t make you better. It just makes you crazy.
This wouldn’t be a problem were it not for the fact that you aren’t locked safely away from enlightened society. You’re free not only to believe things for which you have no proof — spinning entire worlds out of the illusions you’re convinced are real — but to use modern technology to commune with, find strength in, and be further influenced by those who are equally arrogant and equally deluded. You’ve found people just like you and you realize you’re not alone anymore. Perhaps even this wouldn’t be a problem, except that you’re also free to act on this insanity, to do what the Sandy Hook killer himself did and force your paranoid hallucinations on the rest of us, regardless of the cost in human suffering.
And that’s what you did to the parents of Grace McDonnell. When you stole the sign marking their murdered child’s memorial playground and then callously called them and told them that it didn’t matter because they never had a daughter in the first place — because the Sandy Hook massacre never happened and what we all witnessed was nothing more than an elaborate hoax — you brought your personal insanity to their doorstep. You tortured them, even more than they’ve already been tortured. And that makes you something well beyond crazy, something much less forgivable. That makes you a fucking monster.
My default position is to mercilessly mock people like you, to laugh in their faces because there’s little doubt that attempting to reason with them will only be an exercise in futility and frustration. You can’t reason with someone without a common frame of reference that you can both agree upon. But you and I have none. I live in the real world, while you live within a detailed, self-constructed hallucination that you’ve convinced yourself is real. I want to mock you, but I can’t. I want to feel sorry for you, but I won’t. Because, again, you’re a fucking monster. A impenitent sociopath perhaps deserving of being put down like a rabid dog.
What you’ve done to the McDonnell family and to the memory of Grace McDonnell, and why you’ve done it, fills me with the kind of rage decent society wisely doesn’t condone. I want to see violence and terror visited upon you like none you could ever conceive. I want you to experience what Grace McDonnell experienced in the final moments of her young life. That, I think, would be a fitting punishment for the anguish you so blithely caused a family that can’t take one more drop of anguish, a family that’s suffered enough due to an act you claim never occurred.
But save for that, there’s little anyone can do. Asking, “Have you no shame?” is worthless, because of course you don’t. Asking, “Have you no soul?” is equally worthless, because you don’t have that either. Appealing to humanity and decency where there is none — where there’s nothing more than laughably misplaced intellectual certitude — will get people like me nowhere. There’s so little I or anyone else can do with mere words and that in and of itself is infuriating given that, if I could, I would utter whatever magic incantation would cause either the psychosis to leave you once and for all or you — and those like you — to just vanish from the face of the earth.
But what I suppose I can say to you is this: show yourself, you coward. If you believe so strongly that the truth about the Sandy Hook massacre is that there was no Sandy Hook massacre, and you can prove this, then you have nothing to fear, right? If you have hard evidence that there was no Grace McDonnell, then surely your transgression will be vastly outweighed by one of the most insidious crimes and cover-ups in American history, right? Sure, except that you can’t. Because you have no proof. You have nothing other than the crazed cacophony on the internet that you’ve immersed yourself in and allowed to fuel the virulent madness that now consumes you. You have nothing for the simple reason that the Sandy Hook massacre happened. Grace McDonnell died in it. Her parents live with that every day of their lives. And you just made their agony worse.
Because you’re a fucking monster.
I say that as a parent. And as a human being. I can’t imagine you’re the former. I know you’re not the latter.
With Unrestrained Fury,