Thursday, November 5, 2015

Sandy Hook, Madeleine McCann, "Quantico" and the Difference between Fiction and Reality

Everyone is a Suspect in this Show
I have been watching "Quantico", the new series starring Indian actress Priyanka Chopra...well, up until last week when I couldn't take it any more. It is just plain dreadful in every way and the convoluted plot about a terrorist hidden within an FBI class of new agents make me want to poke my eyes out. Now, I understand, that for a fictional story to be interesting, there have to be some surprises and plot twists and turns but when it gets to the point of incredibly far-fetched, where each and every person (recruits and teachers) has a huge secret, when everything that happens is not what it seems, when the conspiracty gets so big and complicated it goes off the rails, that is when I, quite frankly, find the whole thing so silly I just have to give up paying attention.

And this happens in real life as well. Someone just emailed me and asked me to take a look at the many videos and blogs about what "really happened" at Sandy Hook, a horrible mass murder in the United States in which a young psychopath murdered his mother and then went into an elementary school and mowed down twenty little children and six teachers before taking his own life. But, there is a growing number of people who are investing a lot of time trying to prove that what happened at Sandy Hook was a government operation to influence gun control, an staged event so horrifying to the American public that it would cause the citizens to finally accept a law that will remove guns from the hands of lawabiding citizens once and for all.

If you start watching the videos on Youtube and reading all the analysis by those who think Sandy Hook was not a real mass murder, some of the stuff is pretty fascinating and convincing..if you take each  piece of "evidence" alone and don't look at the whole picture. You start to think, "Wow, maybe they are right! Maybe there is way more to this story than a disaffected youth committing a random, horrific act. Maybe there IS a big secret behind all of this, an unusual but possible scenario that could be the 'truth' behind what happened."

Defense attorneys use this exact same method of cherry-picking pieces of "evidence" and stringing them together to create a story of "what may have happened";  you start thinking, "Hmm....maybe there IS something that the prosecution is hiding from us...maybe the defendent is being railroaded....maybe this is why there are some pieces  of "evidence" which don't make sense, which the prosecution is misleading us about...maybe the defendent is innocent." This is exactly what the attorneys for Casey Anthony and O.J. Simpson did and it worked. Even though the evidence was overwhelming and painted a pretty complete picture of what actually happened and the motive was quite clear when all the evidence was pulled together, the attorneys found this piece of "evidence" and that piece of "evidence" which they concocted a story about, sowed seeds of doubt in an untrained jury's mind, and that was all that was needed to make them believe something else might have happened indeed, a shadow of doubt then clouded their judgment.

Same with Sandy Hook. With hours and hours of searching and analyzing, people have come up with "really interesting stuff" that they have compiled into a huge plot fulled of twists and turns and amazing scenarios. The narrative is that the US government actually staged a fake mass murder, that no children actually died, that those who supposedly died are actually alive and well, that every one of the parents and children and witnesses seen on television are hired actors and actresses. There are videos showing the parents smiling and laughing right after the deaths of their children, the children who died are seen again in more recent photos and videos, the crime scene does not look proper, there are many inconsistenies in police and media statements, and on and on.

It IS all quite fascinating and captivating, but there are very tell-tale signs which help us understand that the theory of a staged government op is something conjured up in overactive imaginations - much like the ones conjured up by defense attorneys to confuse the jurors - and not a proper analysis of the case. We see the same thing happening in the Madeleine McCann case ( although, in that case, I do find there is no evidence of abduction and the parents are involved in Maddie's disappearance); a group of well-meaning people have overanalyzed the case to the point of an ever more deep and wide conspiracy of actors and actions...that does not actually represent what likely happened.

In real life, crimes are rarely that clever or complicated because they a) don't have to be, and b) the criminals aren't all that smart, and c) they don't usually have that much time to waste, and d) complicated stuff actually leads more often to getting caught because there are more parts of the crime to screw up and more people involved which  means more people who have to stay quiet.

Quantico is fiction because if that many young recruits have a secret, this means the FBI has no vetting process. This means a whole bunch of people have to be incredibly clever to cover up their secrets and get into the FBI and then continue covering up their secrets and participate in some very complex crimes. The complexity of the crimes requires a major mastermind, totally competent players, all the evidence being difficult to analyze, and all the dominos to fall exactly at the right time with none going askew. That this can hold water for an entire season requires us to ignore major plot holes and suspend our disbelief week after week after week. Even fiction has a hard time making such massive conspiratorial plots work; in real life such plots are pretty much nonexistant simply because they don't work or make sense.

The theory that Sandy Hook is a government operation requires that an entire fake school be constructed, that actors and actresses of all ages be hired to play the parts of future dead people and never be seen alive again, never talk...what? The fake crime scene must be kept hidden from all local law enforcement and the press, forever. None of this is plausible and what is more telling, none of this makes sense. The US has enough real mass murders with guns to do the job of showing citizens the dangers of gun availability that such a staged government op is totally unnecessary. Furthermore, if the US government thought it was this important to make a point about gun ownership, they could simply hire people (yes, that is another theory) to go in and kill a bunch of kids and teachers for the good of the country.

Three of the biggest flags that a theory about a crime is extremely unlikely is that the theory requires a mountain of questionable evidence, too many players involved who need to keep quiet, and a motive that is a huge deep, dark secret.

In the Madeleine McCann case, the evidence points to an overdose of the young child that led to her death in the apartment on the evening of May 3, 2007, panic by the parents, and the removal and disposal of her body, likely by the father of the victim. The parents statements are conflicting, the dogs hit on cadaver and blood in the apartment and rental car, and there is zero evidence of a stranger entering the apartment. There is a possibility that one or two of the friends know what happened and have remained quiet. That's it.

But, over time, the case has theories that grow more and more convoluted. More and more people are involved in some dastardly crime, the child was dead days before it was reported requiring forged daycare documents, photos being photoshopped, a whole gaggle of people carrying around a fake Madeleine and staging a complicated crime, yet staging the crime so badly that they become suspects! I long ago stopped looking at the massive pile of "evidence" that supposedly supports such a complicated and convoluted crime theory of what happened to Madeleine McCann.

In reality, either criminals plan a crime that is as easy as possible to get away with or people become criminals because they commit a crime due to carelessness and then desperately try to cover it up. Sometimes luck, the weather, other people screw up enough of the crime scene to make "evidence" that isn't really part of the original crime or confuses the crime scene. This is the stuff that causes police detectives to follow wrong leads and ignore the right suspects, this is what allows defense attorneys to create an alternative scenario to win over the jury and free their client, and this is what inspires people to create conspiracy theories and complicated plots about crimes that then grow bigger and bigger and bigger to the point of ludicrosy.

The FBI instructor in "Quantico" stated, "Evidence can lie." No, evidence doesn't lie, but evidence and stuff that looks to some like evidence can be misunderstood and this is what turns a simple real life crime into a tale of fiction that any network executive would love to put on screen.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

November 5, 2016


trustmeigetit said...

Regarding the Sandy Hook conspiracy theories, I heard similar theories about 9-11. That it was done by the govt so we could go to war.

While there have been horrible things done by the government, I don't think for a moment those cases were done by our own government.

GingerGIrl1975 said...

LOVE Quantico, but I have NEVER presumed that it bears any resemblance whatsoever to the actual FBI. If I thought FBI agents were that good looking and charming I'd take bank robbery as hobby.

As for those who believe that Sandy Hook (and many other awful, tragic, & senseless acts of violence), I read an interesting theory. Conspiracy theories are the work of people who are so naive that they can't bring themselves to believe that these thing really do happen. Not sure I buy it, but it's an interesting thought nonetheless.