Don’t you think it’s just about time? He’s only been sitting there in your favorite coffee shop or at the end of the bar or in a lawn chair at your neighbor’s house for the the last twenty years, speaking in a nasal, smoky voice and using the word “man” a lot, drawing it out like a barnyard animal, trying to tell us that all of this was going to happen.
He’d say, “It’s the corporations, maaaaan. They’re takin’ over! All these laws get passed by Congress and we don’t even read ’em maaaaan. And it’s just the corporations, slicing the country up into tinier pieces, buying the votes outright from the guys supposed to representing us. In the end they’re going to own everything, maaaan. The government, the houses, the land – everything, and we’ll just be peasants.”
But we don’t listen to unkept guys in lawn chairs – you need to be a white person in business clothes, if you want this citizenry to take you seriously.
Even when we do listen to the Conspiracy Guy, we hold him to a much higher standard than the news. We say, “What’s your source? Where are you getting this? Where is your corraborating evidence?”
A wise policy, to be sure – so why don’t we ask those questions of our news reporters?
Also please notice – the conspiracy guy has very little to gain from convincing you that everything has gone to hell.
The news on the other hand, gets paid to tell you that everything is going to be fine. They get paid by the very same corporations and lobbyists that are currently eating us alive. This just in, factory farmed milk is awesome for you, sponsored by a bunch of factory farm lobbyists.
Instead we assessed The Conspiracy Guy’s appearance and dismissed him. We said, if you’re so smart then why is your hair long and why aren’t you on my television smiling?
A big chunk of us still dismiss anything unless it comes out of the mouth of a white guy in a suit, or a model sitting next to him.
That doesn’t match up with what’s on the news, sir, we’d tell The Conspiracy Guy. I’m watching the news right now, and I don’t see anything about corporations taking over or a New World Order or any evidence of an Orwellian Nightmare World happening for real.
At least that’s what we used to tell him. Now we all sit around talking just like The Conspiracy Guy, minus the nasal voice and the drawn-out “maaaaaaaaans.”
Now most of those things are common knowledge. It’s clear that corporate lobbying interests control our Congress, obvious that mainstream news is a gargantuan jukebox which takes million dollar bills, clear as day that the game is rigged and has been for years.
Any idiot can tell you that the news is skewed at best, a steaming pile of crap at worst. Now Fox News is coming out of the closet – seven or eight digit contributions to the Republican Party – and that’s just the cherry on the sundae.
All of them owe something to the inhuman. All of them owe corporations and lobbying firms and political parties. The only thing they to which they owe nothing is us.
You can’t develop an informed opinion of really anything remotely complicated, after hearing just ninety seconds of information about it, and yet that’s the length of an average news story. Little packets of nonsense – taken out of context by definition in such a short length of time.
One and a half minutes listening to a well-paid performer with corporate sponsors and no grasp on real economic problems. Does that sound like news to you, or a commercial?
What we do is we go about our day and we put on serious academic faces and we repeat our favorite parts of the ninety second clips we heard on television, preferably around people who agree with us, and then we all whack our flippers together and go ARP ARP ARP!
The weird thing is, for a bunch of trained seals, it’s pretty rare someone tosses us a fish. But we just know one’s coming though – this guy has a whole bucket of ’em up there!
Those of us who get all of our information from our televisions and mainstream news – we don’t know a damn thing, plain and simple. I could teach you how to claim that you speak French – just say “Je parle francais!”
Doesn’t mean you speak French though, and that’s the news. They teach you some soundbites and give you the gist of when you ought to throw them around. In this case, you want to throw that sentence around among those who do not speak French – you’ll be golden.
Meanwhile, dig deeper on any story – any story at all – and you’ll find that what you got the first time, what most people got, was an unbelievable oversimplification, or a stunning piece of non-information bred from laziness and possible stupidity, or an outright callous and malicious lie.
Meanwhile, digging is exactly what the Conspiracy Guy was doing the whole time. That’s why his hair is unkept and he doesn’t care – he spends all his time digging. Trust yourself to determine when he is full of it – he often is. He’s paranoid. Absolutely.
And certainly no need to assume he’s right about anything without checking it out. No doubt.
But given the fact that so many people in power have proven themselves untrustworthy, given the pervasive nature of corruption and greed among the powerful – isn’t suspicion a good thing? Isn’t that a perspective we need to value?
No, he didn’t turn out to be right about aliens or Bigfoot, that’s true. You can go ahead and pick and choose among your Conspiracy Pals, and just apologize to those who were right. But that’s not our current policy. Our current policy is to identify conspiracy theories and dismiss them out of hand.
Conspiracies don’t need to be particularly complicated. Sometimes they are more like secret general policies, and a million human beings clinging to the upper class for dear life. No one has to be evil to participate in a conspiracy – just toe the company line, and train yourself to believe it.
Some of the worst people in the world believe they’re saints. Some of the biggest liars believe they’re telling the truth. You don’t have to control what somes out of a reporter’s mouth, if you hire the right reporter in the first place.
At least the Conspiracy Guy was honest about his informal, selectively logical claims – he was just a guy in a bar. We should apologize to him for laughing at his conspiracies right up to the point that we found out the government really was listening to our phone calls.
And we should ask him if maybe there’s anything else we ought to be watching out for – really, it can’t hurt.