I suppose there have always been conspiracists who believe everything is a plot, perpetrated either by the government or a shadowy band of powerful schemers bent on manipulating us for their own nefarious purposes (are those two groups redundant?).
I’ve written about the phenomenon before, here and here, as well as the fact that I think it really got going with the Kennedy assassination. But I think the tendency has proliferated in recent years, particularly as the internet grows, because now conspiracists have an easier way to disseminate information and feed into each others’ paranoia.
A man who found six children in his driveway in Newtown, Conn., after their teacher had been shot and killed in last month’s school massacre has become the target of conspiracy theorists who believe the shootings were staged.
“I don’t know what to do,” Gene Rosen told Salon.com. “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?’”
Rosen, a 69-year-old retired psychologist who lives near Sandy Hook Elementary School where the shootings took place, says his inbox is filled with emails like this one:
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?
“The quantity of the material is overwhelming,” Rosen said, adding that he’s sought the advice of a retired state police officer and plans to alert the FBI.
Talk to the media and identify yourself at your peril.
Neither right nor left is immune to these conspiracy theorists; I’d be hard-pressed to say which side has less and which more, but both have plenty. They just specialize in different things. In the case of Newtown, my guess is that it’s the fringe of the right who are overrepresented.
As for the “arguments”:
Most revolve around the idea that the shooting was a “false flag” operation, designed to, among other things, dupe Americans into accepting a United Nations weapons treaty that will rob them of their gun rights. Who would want such a thing to pass? Depending on who you believe, it’s the global banking industry, the Freemasons, and Barack Obama (who is also the anti-christ) acting on behalf of “his Illuminati Jewish handlers like Mayor Bloomberg of NY and Dianne Feinstein.” Again, anti-Semitism finds a way in.
In an earlier post about conspiracy theorists, I wrote that a significant driver of anti-Semitism is the conspiracy theory and humans’ propensity for it. I have seen nothing since to change my mind.
[NOTE: This is not to say that conspiracies do not exist. Some do; for example, I believe that this one did and does, as does this one. One of the difficult thing about differentiating between founded and unfounded conspiracy theories is that the crazy far-fetched ones can taint the sane ones, and the sane ones can give credence to the crazy ones.]