Newtown, Aurora and Columbine: Mass shootings, gun hysteria...and MK Ultra?

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One woman who called me about the Unruh piece said she's writing a book about Jared Loughner, the Arizona shooter who killed six people and wounded fourteen, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords. She informed me that Loughner, a schizophrenic obsessed with conspiracy theories himself, was also programmed to kill by the MKUltra boogeymen.

The truly sad thing here is that this isn't a new phenomenon. Nearly thirteen years ago, a similar wave of paranoia flowed around the edges of the Columbine investigation. There were rumors of a third shooter, of black helicopters, of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold having been subject to mind control, and so on. None of it had any basis in reality.

That's not to say there weren't government coverups of Columbine. We reported on plenty of them, efforts to hide law enforcement's failure to investigate complaints about Harris a year prior to the attack and to conceal the breakdown in command among the responding forces. But that's not exactly the same thing as a government conspiracy to commit murder. Yet some people would rather believe in a conspiracy than, say, the terrifying commonplace of severe, untreated mental illness.

I attended one meeting of the conspiracy crowd around the time of the first anniversary of Columbine, organized by an MKUltra devotee named Doug Millar, and was told that the government is, yes, actually a private corporation. The account I wrote then, "None Dare Call It Travesty," could have been written to my recent e-mail pal, as proof of my everlasting dupedness:

...The whole loopy story comes down to this: Harris and Klebold, Millar says, were programmed by the United States government, which is really a corporation, to attack their school and kill their classmates and themselves.

You ponder this. You ask why the United States government, which is really a corporation, would want to do such a thing.

Millar seems distressed by your naiveté. He answers your question with a question. "Does the government want our guns?" he asks.

You ponder this, too. Angry parents are filing lawsuits against the sheriff's office and various elected officials, claiming that the government failed to protect their kids at Columbine. Yet here is a man saying that the government did exactly what it set out to do, with the kind of ruthless efficiency governments scarcely ever achieve.

You consider the alternatives. On one hand, a scenario of senseless death and horror, a slaughter devised and executed by two adolescents, prompted by nothing more than their own rage and madness. On the other, a government plot concocted by devious men in dark suits, designed to provoke mass hysteria and demands for gun control.

One possibility offers no clear course of action, nothing but grief and loss. The other gives you an enemy to fight against, an enemy right out of a stinkeroo Mel Gibson movie.

Given a choice between horror and absurdity, you begin to see why some people would choose the latter. You begin to see why, in a country afflicted by spectacular eruptions of terror and bloodshed, absurdity might seem attractive, even plausible.

More from our News archive: "Columbine to Newtown: A tragic list of school shootings since 1999."

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