When Conspiracy Theorists Become Bullies

by Bill Brenner on January 16, 2013

Conspiracy theorists usually don’t bother me. Hell, I even subscribe to the notion that Lee Harvey Oswald had help assassinating JFK. But a new breed of conspiracy theorist has emerged in recent years. They make threats and act like the schoolyard bully, and they make my skin crawl.

Mood music:

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The clowns who argued that 9/11 was an inside job are one example, though to my knowledge they never actually threatened anyone. Now there’s the Sandy Hook truther movement, a band of conspiracy theorists who believe the government secretly orchestrated the murder of 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, so the public would support efforts to gut the Second Amendment. They take things in a dangerous, cruel direction.

They are the bullies in the schoolyard, the thugs hiding in the alley waiting to pounce.

One of their victims is Gene Rosen, a man who took in six little survivors of Sandy Hook the morning of the massacre. Rosen lives close enough to the school that he heard the gunshots. He found the children at the end of his driveway, and they told him they couldn’t go back to school because their teacher was dead.

He took the children into his home, gave them food, juice and toys, and called their parents. He sat with them as they described the horrible events.

He became a target of the Sandy Hook truther gang because he had been interviewed by the media. The truther thugs believe the government is paying actors to pose as eyewitnesses.

The Salon website describes how Rosen has suffered at the hands of this group:

“I don’t know what to do,” sighed Gene Rosen. “I’m getting hang-up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘how much am I being paid?’” Someone posted a photo of his house online. There have been phony Google+ and YouTube accounts created in his name, messages on white supremacist message boards ridiculing the “emotional Jewish guy,” and dozens of blog posts and videos “exposing” him as a fraud. One email purporting to be a business inquiry taunted: “How are all those little students doing? You know, the ones that showed up at your house after the ‘shooting’. What is the going rate for getting involved in a gov’t sponsored hoax anyway?”

As I said, I generally have no problem with conspiracy theorists. Most share their beliefs without hurting anyone. And there’s no question that the US government has engaged in conspiracies and illegal activity. Did the government orchestrate this massacre? Although you never know, I think there are people out there who hate Obama so much that they’ll believe just about any theory where the president is cast as a brutal dictator.

If we ever see evidence that the truther gang is right, Americans will show the same outpouring of anger that has led to the downfall of many a government official.

But whether they’re right or wrong, conspiracy theorists have no right to threaten or harass anyone. If you think the government is behind something terrible, speak out and search for evidence. That’s your right as an American citizen.

But when you limit others’ rights in favor of your own, you become just as evil as the empire you’re fighting against.

Below: Gene Rosen (Credit: AP/Mary Altaffer)

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Cedric Katesby January 17, 2013 at 7:39 am

All conspiracy theories follow the same methodology.
One is just as bad as the other which is as bad as the next one.
There are no “good” or “harmless” conspiracy theories.
They all require fallacious thinking.
They all follow distinct, predictable patterns.
Only the subject material is different.
If someone is prepared to buy into one conspiracy theory then they have set a precedent for some other conspiracy theory.
It’s corrosive.

By that same logic, the way you dismantle one conspiracy theory is the way you dismantle another.

And there’s no question that the US government has engaged in conspiracies and illegal activity.

Yes but that’s no excuse for subscribing to conspiracy theories.
Cops are corrupt.
It doesn’t mean that cop “X” is corrupt.
The way you separate the two is with a genuinely skeptical methodology that makes allowances for the seductive nature of conspiracy thinking.
Identify how they work and the classic flawed arguments that conspiracy thinkers always use.

Create a society that recognises bad thinking instantly and calls it out each and every time and you drain the swamp where people like those anonymous callers fester.

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