Two bombs went off in Boston on Monday, April 15.
On Tuesday, someone bought out the domain name bostonmarathonconpiracy.com, posting a simple message on the homepage: "I bought this domain to keep some conspiracy theory kook from owning it. Please keep the victims of this event and their families in your thoughts."
It's ridiculous that anyone would have to pre-emptively buy out a web address to ensure some sense of decorum in the wake of the Boston bombing. Yet it might be a necessary - and compassionate - gesture, a response to fringe wing-nuts like Alex Jones (and Alex Jones specifically) who seem determined to turn the tragedy of Boston inside out, designating it as a "false-flag" manoeuvre perpetrated by some level of the U.S. government.
Jones, a syndicated radio host based in Austin, tweeted: "Our hearts go out to those that are hurt or killed but this thing stinks to high heaven."
You're probably going to hear a lot of about false flags in the coming days/weeks/forever, as certain types teeming at the borders of American paleo-conservatism struggle to use the Boston Marathon bombs as ammo in their armchair struggle against a federal government they believe is hell-bent on systematically dismantling the Constitutional right to bear arms of every loud, white, gun-owning American male.
On Monday, Dan Bidondi, a "reporter" for Jones's Infowars website, flat-out asked if the Boston bombing was "another false-flag staged attack to take our civil liberties and promote homeland security," to which Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick flat-out responded, "No."
The term "false flag" comes from naval warfare, where it's totally okay to run a friendly flag on your ship to lure in enemies, then blast them away - provided you switch to your real national insignia at the last second, adding insult to injury.
"False flag" is now used to describe more or less any action taken by one party or agency posing as another in order to obscure the source of an attack or military action.
In this context, maybe the most famous example is the burning of the German Reichstag in 1933, which led to the suspension of much of the German constitution and the resulting rise of the Nazi party. The Nazis blamed the fire on Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe, who was summarily beheaded. There's still considerable debate regarding how the Nazis piggybacked on the event for political gain - by suggesting that van der Lubbe, believed by many to be an unhinged pyromaniac, was part of a more elaborate communist conspiracy, or by actively enlisting him to set the fire.
The Reichstag fire is a popular example for the American right of a fairly explicit governmental false-flag operation whose purported goal was a drastic restriction of civil rights. It allows anyone so inclined to draw a parallel between Hitler and the sitting U.S. president, a reductio ad Hitlerum supported (kind of) by historical precedent.
Many, like Alex Jones and the Infowars set, would have you believe that Boston - like Sandy Hook, 9/11 and Oklahoma City - was a staged government operation designed to build public support for radically curtailing American citizens' constitutionally protected right to... what? Hide explosives and ball bearings inside pressure cookers?
There's a certain quaintness to this kind of inversely rational thinking. Conspiracy theories hold a busted mirror to reason. It's comforting and convenient, but maybe most of all deeply old-fashioned, to believe that 9/11 was a false flag designed by the Bush administration to justify the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in order to secure a relatively short-term gain like control of foreign oil.
It's easy to believe that Sandy Hook and Aurora were ops crafted to curtail Second Amendment rights. It's truly difficult, and maybe even brave, to confront the more troubling reality that Adam Lanza and James Holmes are intensely troubled individuals, the detritus of a culture that stigmatizes mental illness.
Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, Dan Bidondi and all the other truther, false-flagger, joker self-promoters who say (and probably believe) they're the only voices of enlightenment in America are the perfect avatars for this era. For worse, ours is a world where the clowns regard themselves as tragic Yoricks, deluding the easily deluded with their gibes and gambols.