As an elementary school child in the 1950s, I was assigned My Weekly Reader. To this day I remember only one story from that publication and it gave me nightmares. It was about a large ape-like creature known as the Abominable Snowman that was purported to roam the Himalayan mountain range.
The illustrated image of the creature that accompanied the article stuck with me. Every time thereafter that it snowed I was petrified. I lived in a second-story flat in Newark, N.J. and imagined that it was tall enough to peer through my bedroom window, reach through the glass and grab me.
Merriam-Webster defines “boogeyman” as a “monstrous imaginary figure used in threatening children” or a “terrifying or dreaded person.” The Abominable Snowman was my childhood boogeyman.
About the same time, I learned about the Abominable Snowman, I started to hear the term: “missing link.” In the late 19th century, Dutch physician Dr. Eugène Dubois, an acolyte of Charles Darwin, referred to the missing link as “an intermediate species” or “transitional form” between humankind and the apes.
Although I never read Darwin’s “On the Origin of the Species” in any depth, I must confess that my first exposure to the missing link was an episode of The Three Stooges, my go-to television program that aired weekday afternoons after school.
In one unforgettable episode, Curly was deemed to be a dead ringer for the missing link. As a result, I started to conflate the Abominable Snowman with Curly Howard. Although I lived in fear of the Abominable Snowman, the beloved Curly was one of my childhood idols. I was so confused! Obviously, I had issues as a child.
I later learned that many missing link stories have been deemed hoaxes. For example, a 2010 Live Science report noted that “in 1912 a skull and jawbone found in a gravel pit in England were declared by scientists to be concrete proof of the connection between humans and apes.” The find, dubbed the “Piltdown Man,” was later determined to be a paleoanthropological fraud.
I hadn’t thought much about the Abominable Snowman or missing link for many years. That changed when I started to follow the defamation trial against Alex Jones, founder of Infowars, a far-right conspiracy theory and fake news website.
I’ve since come to believe that Alex Jones is the missing link.
He made the outrageous claim that the 2012 massacre of 20 children and 6 staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT was a false flag operation carried out by crisis actors. His incessant claims only served to compound the inconsolable and traumatic grief suffered by surviving family members, many of whom were later targeted by Jones’ deranged followers.
For example, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, one of the children slain at Sandy Hook, took the witness stand on August 2 in the first of three defamation trials against Jones. The Texas Tribune reported that Jesse’s mom Scarlett Lewis testified that she saw a photo “circulating of Sandy Hook’s choir, which had been invited to perform at the Super Bowl, a few weeks after the killings.
The image had the names of Jesse and other children who died at Sandy Hook superimposed over the choir members as if they were still alive.”
Jesse’s parents are suing Jones for his false claims that the 2012 mass shooting was a scam intended to remove guns from American citizens. During her testimony, Lewis fixed her gaze directly on Jones and told him: “Jesse was real. I am a real mom.”
The added pain and suffering that Alex Jones has delivered to the surviving loved ones of the Sandy Hook victims is unforgivable.
Despite his roly-poly exterior, Jones is neither an endearing Curly Howard kind of missing link nor has he descended from the great apes. There is nothing whatsoever that is great about Jones. He is more likely a descendent of soft-bodied, unsegmented burrowing invertebrates.
He is a modern-day boogeyman.
Just ask the surviving Sandy Hook family members.