Have you hugged a pirate today?
Perhaps some of you have read The Rock Creek Free Press, an alternative monthly newspaper published in Maryland. I don’t know how, but a stack of them ended up in the possession of the Significant Other via one of his Truther associates, and I had the *privilege* of reading the May edition this evening.
While certainly not as cranky as Nexus magazine or as paranoid as Paranoia, I couldn’t find a single page of this paper that didn’t contain multiple column inches of concentrated hooey:
page 1: “Scientists Find Explosives in World Trade Center Dust” discusses the findings of Niels Harrit and Jeffrey Farrer. A more accurate headline might read “Scientists Find Non-Explosive Material in Dust Sent to Steven E. Jones by a Complete Stranger Who Claims It Came From Her Manhattan Apartment Near the World Trade Center”, but I realize that’s not very pithy.
page 2: Mostly hemp. Hemp is OK, but I don’t know if it really “Could Be the Key to Zero-Carbon Houses”. In fact, I don’t think there could ever be such an animal.
page 3: By a weird coincidence, William F. Pepper is the author of one of the editorials on this page, and I’m currently reading his book An Act of State. In it, Pepper argues that the CIA and/or FBI and/or Mafia and/or Memphis police killed Dr. Martin Luther King and that a black man may have been the real shooter.
Pepper represented the King family in a lawsuit against Loyd Jowers, the proprieter of Jim’s Grill (the restaurant below the flophouse from which James Ray insists he didn’t shoot Dr. King). Jowers stepped forward in the early ’90s to reveal that he was privy to a police-FBI assassination plot, but Pepper and the Kings are convinced Jowers was actually a key player and that Ray was framed. Even though no one has ever found any trace of the mysterious “Raul” or “Raoul” who lured Ray into the plot, and there are major discrepancies between the accounts in Pepper’s book and the account in Ray’s book Who Killed Martin Luther Kng, Jr.?.
In his editorial, Pepper throws support behind the 9/11 Truth Movement and urges readers to support the NYC CAN petition. I don’t have any problem with this. If New Yorkers want a fresh investigation, they should get one. But I wonder, why is it that belief in one conspiracy seems to drag people into a neverending vortex of conspiracy theories? And can you ever reach dry land once you’ve been in it?
Also on page 3, there’s a short article asking the question, “Is it just coincidental that so many of the School of the Americas’ star pupils graduate to become mass murderers?”
I think the problem runs a little deeper than that. A better question might be “How does one school manage to attract or recruit so many sociopaths?”.
page 4: A continuation of the global currency article on page 1.
page 5: Almost entirely devoted to that non-explosive dust.
page 6: Johann Hari tries to convince us that pirates are, and always have been, generous and gentle humanitarians concerned with social equality. A prime example of the reactionary mindset that says, “If the mainstream media doesn’t like it, then it must be good”. What next, Mr. Hari? Carjackers are valiant environmentalists striving to decrease our dependence on oil?
page 7: Continuations of articles on banksters and those lovable pirates.
page 8: More on the global currency and the School of the Americas, followed by a slew of ads for Truther merchandise.
Sorry, but I’ll stick with the Washington Post, or as Wayne Madsen calls it, “the stenography pool for the Pentagon”.
But I wonder, why is it that belief in one conspiracy seems to drag people into a neverending vortex of conspiracy theories?Gravity. Has to be.So, if you add the magazine to a stack of conspiracy books, does it create its own gravity such that paranoia can no longer reach escape velocity and the whole lot appears to be a stack of normal books and magazines?Or do you just get a big stack of crazy? And can you ever reach dry land once you've been in it?I grew up believing in JFK conspiracies. And watching the X-files, which as a teen kinda influenced my thoughts. But I don't think I was that conspiracy minded. I suspect it has to do with how long the beliefs are held, how deeply, and how emotionally invested someone is in the conspiracy world view. And if you make a living from it, or have lost your career over it, I would think it's all the harder to ever pull back. And then there are other people constantly reaffirming and sharing those beliefs. It would take a lot to come up with a whole new way of understanding the world and the things that happen in it. I hope it is possible. I imagine the world is a lot more interesting without the paranoia glasses eliminating every shade of gray.
I'm actually quite surprised at Johann Hari here. He's usually quite a sensible and critical writer. More importantly he's very often the skeptic. It wasn't this article was it? It doesn't seem to be too bad and he does point out that they are some of the pirates are "clearly just gangsters". Fair enough, it's not a particularly well balanced piece ever ("We don't consider ourselves sea bandits." is just laughable and he should have been critical of such remarks) but it's hardly the conspiracy driven nonsense of Alex Jones.
Until a couple of years ago, I honestly believed that people indulged in conspiracy theories only on an intellectual level, aside from a handful of hardcore folks who were perhaps delusional. I had no idea there were vast numbers of people who arrange their lives around conspiracy theories and live in what is essentially an alternate reality, or that this worldview can be every bit as dogmatic as fundamentalist religion. But there is hope for those who are just going through a phase, and for those who might eventually realize "the world is a lot more interesting without the paranoia glasses eliminating every shade of gray."
Anon – the nuclear waste part of Hari's article was good. I would've elaborated on that, rather than trying to rebrand pirates as crusaders of social justice. It's definitely not as nutty as anything you'll hear from Jones et al, but it is kinda silly. Hari partly buys into the romantic myth that all captains were monsters, all seamen were oppressed, and violent mutiny/piracy was almost always justified.