Fox’s ‘Accused’ is an anthology crime series that takes place from the perspective of a person accused of a heinous crime. Its eighth episode focuses on the story of a woman named Laura Broder, who lost her son in a school shooting. While the Broder family processes their grief, Laura actively pursues an amendment in the law regarding the possession of firearms. But she faces pushback from a group of conspiracy theorists who claim that the school shooting never took place and her son never really existed. Created by Howard Gordon, the show creates a realistic portrayal of the Border family’s struggles, reflecting on the issues that plague today’s society. If you are wondering whether ‘Laura’s Story’ is inspired by a true set of characters and events, here’s what you need to know about it.
Fiction Inspired by Reality: The Essence of ‘Laura’s Story’
No, ‘Laura’s Story’ is not based on a true story. It is, however, like every other episode of ‘Accused,’ inspired by actual events. The episode’s premise focuses on the aftermath of a school shooting and the conflict created by conspiracy theorists like Joanna Pierce. In real life, a number of people have challenged the authenticity of the school shooting. The cycle began with the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, following the death of 26 people, 20 of them children.
The tragedy forced the nation to pay another look at the Second Amendment act and the lapse in regulations while issuing firearms. This opened a debate between people who want stricter gun control laws and the advocates who believe there are other ways to control the situation. While this debate continues, some people believe the shooting never occurred. The person who was most vocal about his opinions on the matter was Alex Jones.
The far-right conspiracy theorist expressed his views on his radio show, ‘Infowars.’ He claimed that the whole thing was “completely false” and had been staged by the government because they wanted to “go after our guns” and “start a civil war.” He called the parents “crisis actors” who had been hired by the government conspiring to take away their firearms and maybe even get rid of the Second Amendment. Calling the shooting, the deaths, and the grief of the people who lost their loved ones “as phony as a $3 bill”, he stirred up a faction of people who have held on to the theory despite multiple school shootings that have claimed many lives.
Jones’s ideas were shared through videos and spread through retweets by common people and media and political establishments. One month after the shooting, a video about the conspiracy was said to have received more than ten million views. Things escalated for the grieving family members harassed by people who shared Jones’ ideas. The families received death threats and had to take strict measures to ensure their safety. The survivors of the shooting were also cruelly treated online as well as in real life.
Alex Jones, who was sued by nine families and was ordered to pay over $1.4 billion in damages to the victims’ families, called it his right to exercise free speech. “If questioning public events and free speech is banned because it might hurt somebody’s feelings, we are not in America anymore. They can change the channel. They can come out and say I’m wrong. They have free speech,” he said. In August 2022, he confessed he had been irresponsible to call the Sandy Hook shooting a hoax and that it was “100 percent real.”
While it might look like Jones has paid the price for his words, the damage has been done. A study conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University in April 2013 showed that 1 in 4 Americans believed that the shooting might have something to do with the government’s agenda and the truth was being kept from the public. Over the years, with almost every school shooting, conspiracy theorists have launched misinformation campaigns that, according to the US Department of Homeland Security, could incite more violence.
In 2018, following the shooting in a school in Parkland, Florida, which led to the death of seventeen people, people called it an act to push the anti-gun agenda. In 2022, after a fatal shooting killed 22 people (including the shooter) at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, people were quick to take to social media and make claims about the shooter’s identity, calling them an illegal immigrant and transgender. Both claims were revealed to be false.
‘Laura’s Story’ might not be based on real people, but it highlights the experience of the people targeted in the aftermath of an unfathomable tragedy. Through the Broder family, we experience the heartbreak and the horror of losing a child and then have people claim their loss is not real. Through a fictional lens, this episode of ‘Accused’ shows us the mirror, revealing society’s fractured nature and state of mind.