I am disappointed in Rachel Maddow and her guest tonight, Alice Hoagland, the mother of Mark Bingham, who was killed on Flight 93 on 9-11-2001, for using the term “conspiracy theorist” and for labeling people who hold to such theories as “kooks.”
I assume the 9-11 Truth activists they referred to in this dismissive manner know who the current president is, know what day it is and can probably hold down a job. However misguided, stubborn or misinformed Maddow and Hoagland consider these people to be, chances are they are no more or less mentally ill than any other sample of society.
The term “conspiracy theorist” bothers me because the way in which people use it is dangerously circular: If you believe in a “conspiracy theory,” you are crazy. Therefore, any explanation of a world event other than the official story espoused by elected officials is to be dismissed because only conspiracy theorists believe in such nonsense, and they are crazy.
How much actual wrongdoing goes uninvestigated and unreported by those who fear being shunned by society by being labeled “conspiracy theorists?”
What bothers me almost as much as people who label government skeptics conspiracy theorists are those at the other end of the conspiracy spectrum; that is, people who are never going to believe the official story simply because it is the official story, who believe that The Governnment is a monolithic Superpower that is always lying to us and is motivated only by the desire to deceive and enslave us, steal our money, harvest our organs, and poison whatever remains of our dessicated husks.
The Government is just people. It’s us. People who work in government, including elected officials, are motivated by the same forces that propel all behavior: ambition, compassion, duty, pity, lust, competitiveness, territoriality, fear, laziness, generosity, honor, spitefulness, love, resignation, compulsiveness, perfectionism, and habit. People in government commit noble, selfless acts at work. They also engage in petty, sometimes unscrupulous behavior. Sometimes the same person behaves both appallingly and heroically during the course of a government career.
Some of the biggest sins committed in government are sins of omission, such as the failure to blow the whistle on incompetent, illegal and immoral behavior. What is the primary cause of such failure to act? Fear. Fear of being fired, ostracized, labeled a crank, a cook, a Conspiracy Theorist.
Here is a web site with several conspiracies that really took place, including the Gunpowder Plot, the Tuskegee Experiments and, my favorite, the CIA’s horrifying MK-ULTRA project.