The Smith Mountain Lake Conspiracy?

55de8801cef18.previewLast night, several of my Facebook friends were sharing several posts about yesterday’s shooting at Smith Mountain Lake.  Some declared that the event must be a hoax as the boyfriend of the reporter tweeted about the tragedy supposedly before it took place.  Curious for the truth, I explored Twitter to see for myself.  Here’s what I found:


The important factor for this article is the time stamp, 6:34 AM.  According to news reports, as the graphic above (from The Roanoke Times) shows, the shooting took place at about 6:45 AM.  Therefore, if Christ Hurst tweeted about the event before it took place, obviously it must have been pre-planned or didn’t actually happen.  What a conspiracy, huh?

To test Twitter, at 11:20 PM, I tweeted a message to my followers wishing them a good night.  However, I have to say that I was confused when the time stamp on my message was 8:20 PM.  I assure you that I posted it at 11:20.  Although I live in the Eastern Time Zone, it was 8:20 elsewhere, the Pacific Time Zone.

Going through my Twitter settings, I found that, apparently by default, they were set to the wrong time zone.  I therefore changed it and checked on Mr. Hurst’s tweet again.  This time I found this:

ch2Note that the time stamp now reads 9:34 AM, several hours after the shooting.

Although I don’t think I would be quick to express my grief on Twitter after losing the love of my life, I suppose we all cope with tragedy in different ways.

So I guess just that little bit of research shoots a hole in the grand “Smith Mountain Lake Conspiracy.”

Friends, I encourage you to constantly check the validity of your information before spreading it to social media or anywhere else.  Are there some conspiracies afoot?  Quite possibly.  However, to assume that everyone is lying and that all tragedies are the result of some secret plan is just plain stupid and makes you appear exceedingly foolish and cold-hearted.

Pray for those affected by this tragedy, don’t mindlessly spread gross misinformation or immediately try to use this horrid event to advance your political agenda.

Thanks for reading and have a pleasant weekend!

Tucson Rhetoric

Since the tragic events in Tucson on Saturday, political rhetoric continues to flare.  Everyone is looking for someone to hold responsible.  Some people on the far left fault Sarah Palin, the tea party movement, and private gun ownership for the calamity while some on the far right see it as justice for Representative Giffords’ support of liberal policies or punishment from God for increasing immorality in our nation.  In their mad rush to play the blame game, these groups have missed the point.  As far as I can tell, the fault for this terrible deed rests solely with the gunman, Jared Loughner.  No one else pulled the trigger, no one else handed him the gun, and no one else urged him to enact his plan.  It wasn’t the natural result of having too many freedoms…or too few.  It was not some grand political statement, but the act of a single coward.

Unfortunately, some political groups in the nation try to use any misfortune, be they natural or man-made, to push their agenda.  For them, the end justifies the means and they will exploit any opportunity.  I call upon all Americans to resist this temptation and rebuke any person or organization that seeks to profit from this terrible moment.

As they are similar to many of my own thoughts, I’d like to share with the words of Representative Steve Israel, the new Chairman of the DCCC:

Friend —

In the wake of last Saturday’s tragic shooting in Tucson, the thoughts and prayers of the DCCC remain with our colleague, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, her staff, the other victims of this horrifying attack, their families, and the people of Southern Arizona.

Today, the House of Representatives formally honored them with a resolution expressing the condolences of our entire nation. But since Congresswoman Giffords is both a colleague and a close friend, I wanted to share some additional thoughts.

Congresswoman Giffords is a rising star and I am always touched by her compassion and drive. She was simply doing what she loves to do – talking with and serving her constituents.

We mourn and honor the lives of nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, her congressional outreach director Gabe Zimmerman, her friend and Chief United States District Court Judge John Roll, and the other people who were senselessly murdered while simply meeting their representative in their neighborhood.

In Gabby’s spirit of thinking about others, I wanted to pass along the suggestion of her husband, Captain Mark Kelly who encouraged people to pray for the victims and their families, and for those who want to do more, consider making a contribution to two organizations that she has long valued: Tucson’s Community Food Bank or the Southern Arizona chapter of the American Red Cross.

Please join the DCCC in continuing to send your thoughts and prayers to the victims of this horrific attack and your wishes for Gabby’s recovery and return to the House of Representatives.

Thank you,

Steve Israel
Rep. Steve Israel
DCCC Chairman

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I too ask that you please remember the dead, the families of the victims, and Representative Giffords.  There is a time and a place for politics, but it is not right here and it is not right now.