December 14 marks the anniversary of the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School four years ago. It is a wound that will not heal: there are so many little children to remember who were cut down even as they were awakening to life. There are the educators, too, who gave their lives trying to protect those children. We remember the mothers and fathers who wake every morning to live in a world where their dearest love and their brightest hope have died.
There is the nagging awareness that, if one mentally ill young man had received the care he needed, this might be just another day. Instead, he fell through the gaping chasms in our threadbare social safety net, and so December 14 is a day of mourning.
We mourn, but not all of us. Last week, Lucy Richards was arrested in Florida for repeatedly threatening to kill the parents of one of the children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary four years ago. Unlike Edgar Welch, who is more ignorant than malignant, Richards can rightly be described as deplorable. Dull wits and poor judgment do not excuse threatening anyone’s life; but to show such spiteful malice towards grieving parents of a slain child is beyond the pale.
Lucy Richards and Edgar Welch do have more in common than gullibility and violent tendencies, though. Both of them were duped by the same genuinely evil set of people: those who, fully cognizant of the truth, spread outrageous lies for personal gain and with no regard whatsoever for the lives they endanger and destroy. The personal consequences for Richards may include imprisonment and a lifetime branded as a criminal: death threats constitute a third-degree felony in Florida. Needless to say, Lucy Richards’ intended targets could have fared much worse. This time, the real deplorable bearing false witness was not Michael Flynn but Alex Jones, a notorious liar, hatemonger and staunch Trump supporter. Jones, like Steve Bannon, deals in half-truths and outright lies calculated to provoke outrage and desperation among the weak-minded. These cowards incite others to violence, hiding behind the same freedom of press that they seek to deny real news reporters. They enrich themselves on the destruction of lives like those of Lucy Richards and Edgar Welch – two lives ruined in the last two weeks, and many more placed in mortal danger. One can only hope they reap the harvest they have sown, abundantly and soon.