America isn’t the only place with conspiracy theorists. It’s a function of human psychology, not of location or wealth. As evidence: the Port Arthur massacre.
The facts of the case are fairly simple. Martin Bryant, a 28 year old man from Hobart, Australia, filled his car with guns and ammunition and drove to the Port Arthur historic site. He took a room at the Seaside Cottage, and killed the inn’s owners. Afterward he went to the tourist area; there he ate a quiet meal at a cafe, then pulled a handgun and began systematically shooting everyone in sight. After killing twenty, he drove off and continued his spree, at one point stealing a new car (killing its occupants first), then killed some more people before being caught by police following an overnight standoff .
At the end he’d murdered 35 people, including small children, and injured at least 18 others. He is currently serving a sentence of more than 1000 years without the possibility of parole.
The breadth of the crime, with so many deaths caused by one man, energized the gun control lobby in Australia and led to severe restrictions on firearms throughout the country.
As with any noteworthy event, conspiracies were created to explain the “holes” in the events. They are as follows:
“One person could not have caused all of that violence. He needed help.” – After the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in Las Vegas, or the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Florida, or even the Happy Land arson that killed 89 people in New York City – the notion of one person committing mass slaughter should be understood as possible. All it takes is the correct circumstances… such as a crowd of unarmed people or some easily-blocked doorways… to facilitate it. Yes, one person can cause that much violence; it’s one reason we try to maintain a functioning, civilized society. It helps to keep most people from ever wanting to cause violence.
“There was no open trial.” This is often matched with “There was no ballistic evidence supporting the police assertions.”
The flaw in this argument was aptly presented during a discussion between Paul Moder – an actor/writer/director who is attempting to make a film which would present Bryant as a pawn – and an Australian television host, Waleed Aly. From the Sydney Morning Herald in 2016:
Moder referred to “discrepancies” in the case, and suggested the opposition to his film gave him the distinct impression there was an “agenda” to “suppress all this stuff”.
“There is so much misinformation, so much controversy, conspiracy, and spurious agenda that it is very hard to separate the wheat from the chaff,” Moder told The Project on Monday.
“There are things like, because there was no open trial, there were never any fingerprints taken from the scene that proves that Martin was there, there was never any ballistic evidence matching the firearms to the crime scene or Bryant to the firearms,” he said.
Aly pointed out this evidence was not presented before a court because Bryant confessed to the crime.
“Of course it hasn’t been presented publicly, that’s the way the system works. If there was a defensible case, in this case, it would have run to trial,” Aly said.
Of course, the major villain in this conspiracy drama is the anti-gun lobby. In reality, the anti-gun lobby absolutely took advantage of the shift in public mood after the tragedy, which is no different from the pro-gun lobby taking advantage in shifts in public mood every time a physically weaker person defends the innocent by holding a person until the police arrive. Very few people on either side would be amenable to the deaths of dozens of random citizens just to further their agenda… particularly when there’s no certainty that the agenda would be successfully enacted. People who are pushing for their legislation are not above spin or even lying about events; as evidence, the common firearms misreporting that happens after many major shootings and the extra attention some story editors give to events which strengthen their position. That is a far cry from helping to facilitate a single death, much less more than thirty.
There’s power in being able to say that you’re smarter than everyone else, that you know “The TRUTH.” But with some of these conspiracies, there is a human element and the denial of them is heartless. In this case, as with the Sandy Hook school massacre, there are victims beyond the dead.
From an article about the victims, in a piece by Ray Martin of Australia’s News.Com:
Two days after Bryant killed 35 people I spoke to Walter Mikac — husband, father and local chemist.
In a lifetime of interviews it was the most agonising.
With an army of journalists and photographers camped outside his high front gates, Walter sat in his dead babies’ sandpit sobbing, wishing he’d been killed along with them. He cried and laughed and cried as he fondly remembered them.
“How am I going to live without my three girls?” he pleaded.
It is inhuman to deny that pain for the sake of an illusory self-importance.