A recent, gruesome story from Virginia has gained a lot of national headlines for reasons beyond the tragedy itself.

If you missed it, a Virginia woman took her two dogs for a walk and never returned. Searchers found her badly maimed body the next day, being “guarded” by the dogs, as The Washington Post summarized it.

All forensic evidence at the scene, the autopsy, along with eyewitness accounts from at least four police officers who found her body, proved beyond any reasonable doubt (important word there: reasonable) that she was killed and later partially eaten by her own dogs.

Yet, even with oodles of scientific evidence and eyewitness accounts from trustworthy sources, it took no time for a wide-ranging conspiracy to be hatched, the Post reported.

“This is just pit-bull haters lying to slander the breed.” “The dogs were protecting her from the real attacker.” And my all-time favorite, the old standby used by those who know little but suspect much: “There’s something we’re not being told here … .”

No. There’s not. They weren’t guarding her to protect her from the “real” attacker. (What would that be? A werewolf?) They were, like any predators, protecting their next meal. And no, this wasn’t a conspiracy against pit bulls. What magical entity has endless time and money to waste weaving intricate plots against certain breeds of dog?

Is this collective state of willful ignorance the new American default setting? The especially repugnant Sandy Hook truthers. Flat earth-ers. Allegations of in-person voter fraud by the millions; pizza parlors as pedophilia headquarters, and climate change as a George Soros- and UCLA-conceived hoax to ruin the good times in Appalachian coal country …

How did so many people get this way, and more importantly, is there a way back? Or are we destined to be a society smothered under an endless heap of innuendo, silly gossip and delusion?

Jeremy Smith

Old Orchard Beach