Saturday, December 1, 2007

Just Say No to Conspiracy Theories

The hostage situation at a New Hampshire campaign office for Hillary Clinton ended, thankfully, non-violently and the hostage taker is in custody. But even before the standoff was over, something so sad occurred. Without knowing much hard information, people were already claiming the hostage taker was a Republican. Then, Republicans chimed in and said it had to be a Hillary supporter trying to divert attention from her campaign planting supporters at Wednesday's Republican debate.

But here's the truth. The guy was a nutjob whose sanity went south on him a while ago and didn't leave a forwarding address. Not as sexy as the conspiracy theories being tossed about, but a lot closer to the truth.

These days, it seems more and more people are willing to suspend disbelief and put their faith in conspiracy theories. There are a number of reasons why people do this, but the one I think hits closest to home is that it helps to explain those things we can't get our heads around. Think back to all the conspiracy theories that surround 9/11. On a single day, our national psyche was altered, and not everyone was or is prepared to handle it. People search for answers that make sense to them, even if it's to believe some fantastic story about secret shadowy forces setting pawns into motion. As odd as it is to say, conspiracy theories become our security blankets at times. And just like with Linus from "Peanuts," getting us to let go of that security blanket and move on can be a monumental task.

Lately, though, conspiracy theories have gone beyond the usual crackpot notions and into the realm of political rhetoric. Now, anything that happens has the potential to be turned into a conspiracy theory linking groups of people that more often than not don't really go together. Seriously, would the Hillary campaign go out and find a raving lunatic to hold a campaign office hostage? Probably not. Would the Republicans do it? Probably not. Not to mention, there's the time factor to consider. Finding a crazy person in New Hampshire who would be willing to pull off a stunt like that all in around 48 hours' time would be a big feat in and of itself. Plus, there's a huge possibility that it could backfire because the mentally unstable don't think like the rest of us do and, thus, they may not be too keen on following directions.

It may be fun to spin a tale of conspiracy, but remember there are people out there willing to believe anything. What you take as fun, some people will take as gospel. (Case in point: Michael Moore's followers.) And as fun as it is to use conspiracy theories to take jabs at someone from the other side of the political aisle, we need to be careful that it doesn't replace reasoned thought, especially in situations where there are innocent lives at stake. At those points in time, politics should be the last thing on people's minds.

So, take a cue from your ole pal Thomas Lindaman and just say no to conspiracy theories.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

BAGHDAD - Five bodies were found in different areas of Baghdad on Saturday, police said.

MOSUL - Gunmen killed a policeman in front of his house in eastern Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL - Three bodies were found in different areas of Mosul, police said.

GHALBIYA - Four tribal sheikhs were wounded in a roadside bomb attack in Ghalbiya near Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. The attack targeted the convoy of the Khalis police chief but he was unhurt.

RAMADI - Iraqi police detained 15 suspected gunmen south of Ramadi, 110 km (70 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD - U.S. forces detained two men they described as "special groups weapons facilitators" during operations in Baghdad on Friday, the U.S. military said. The military uses the term "special groups" to describe Shi'ite militiamen it accuses of links with Iran.

NEAR BAQUBA - Suspected al Qaeda militants killed 12 civilians and abducted 35 in an attack on a Shi'ite Muslim village north of Baghdad early on Saturday, police said.

BAQUBA - One U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb which struck his patrol near the city of Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, on Friday, the U.S. military said.

BAGHDAD - A bomb left in a taxi wounded the driver and another person in the New Baghdad district of the capital, police said.

BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb wounded three police commandos when it targeted their patrol in the Shaab district of northern Baghdad, police said.

SALMAN PAK - A suicide attack killed one civilian and wounded five others in Salman Pak, 45 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.