Christchurch massacre conspiracy theories

March 17, 2021

Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Conspiracy

We’ve just had the second anniversary of the horrific Christchurch massacre, and as skeptics it’s sad to have seen over the last two years those in our country who have posted content denying that the attack was real, or claiming that it was a "false flag" operation. It’s been hard enough over the last 20 years watching high profile conspiracy theorists, such as Alex Jones, engage in denial in the US for events such as the Sandy Hook massacre and the 9/11 attacks. But to see this kind of wrong headed thinking at home somehow feels worse. I guess we’ve been able to rest on our laurels watching America suffer from a spread of the conspiracy mindset, and at least for me it seemed implausible that the problem would ever reach our fair shores. I guess I was just too naive.

For one of the people who has been spreading misinformation about the Christchurch attack, Vinny Eastwood, he at least accepted that people died, and didn’t try to tell family members of the deceased that their loved ones either never existed or were hiding from them as part of a government plot. Soon after the attack Vinny travelled down to Christchurch to interview people, subsequently appearing on several alternative media outlets in the US speaking about how he distrusted the "official narrative" of what had happened. My memory of the immediate aftermath of the events is that there was some confusion at first as police worked day and night to figure out what had happened, but that a coherent picture was built up fairly quickly showing that the attack was the work of a single gunman.

However, Vinny appears to have used the early confusion in the media as a way to sow doubt and claim that the truth was being suppressed - something that he continues to do to this day.

Vinny’s videos are fairly enraging, and it might feel like there’s not much that can be done about them. However a recent video (opens new window) posted to Vinny’s YouTube channel sees him talking about how he’s recently had complaints made against his YouTube channel (opens new window), and that he’s now received two out of three strikes from YouTube. A third strike would apparently involve removal of his channel, and the loss of his videos, and this would also take away a major source of his income. His secondary (opens new window) and tertiary (opens new window) YouTube accounts are also still active, for now - but who knows how long for.

Vinny says that he’s also had his Patreon account disabled, so he’s suggested that people subscribe to a "backup account (opens new window)" that he uses to raise money for his music endeavours. Thankfully that account is only receiving $19 per month, compared to $1,000 a month that Vinny says he was receiving through his main Patreon account until it was removed.

Vinny pleads with those who have been reporting his videos that spreading misinformation (or "truth content" as he calls it) is his livelihood, and that he has a small baby he needs to take care of. To me, this really shouldn’t factor into the equation. No matter what Vinny’s personal circumstances are, the spreading of dangerous misinformation is just not cricket. It doesn’t make it okay for Vinny to dupe people just because he depends on the spreading of misinformation to pay his bills every month.

As an aside, Vinny says that the attacks are making him feel unwell. So it’s lucky that he’s recently been sponsored by David Holden, a well known alternative medicine practitioner who is responsible for offering bogus cancer treatments to desperate sufferers. It seems like Vinny and David make good bedfellows.

Finally, like many of the people who post messages to Vinny’s live streams, I’m sending prayers his way. I think that’s as much as he deserves, and I can only hope that this funding crisis forces Vinny to seriously reconsider his life choices and maybe look for an honest, stable job that will allow him to care for his family while not damaging the stability of our country and leading people to believe in an erroneous, damaging worldview.