In a conversation with someone new, I’m often aware of an invisible barrier that arises between the speaker and me when I hear the word conspiracy. A friend from the Internet Writing Workshop captures my feelings when he says, “Conspiracy brings to mind UFO hunters, assassination debunkers, and novel writers who cashed in on everything from secret religious societies to the death of Natalie Wood.” Well, I’m not actually sure about the novel writers…
The word conspiracy denotes illegality, and the legal definition insists on the intention of conspiring parties to commit a crime. However, a Google search turns up endless lists of theories that seem less illegal than improbable. So what is a conspiracy theory? The Discovery Channel sums it up this way: Conspiracy theories tell us that a group of people or organizations have worked together to manipulate an event, or series of events, to get the outcome they want — then keep it quiet.
I perused lists of conspiracy theories.From Listverse, the top ten:
1. 9/11 was Planned by the US Government
2. UFO Recovered at Roswell
3. John F. Kennedy’s Assassination
4. Global Warming is a Fraud
5. Princess Diana was Murdered by the Royal Family
6. Jewish World Domination
7. Apollo Moon Landing Hoax
8. Pearl Harbor Was Allowed to Happen
9. The Third Secret of Fatima
10. The Philadelphia Experiment
Nothing new on that list. Ugly, but not new. I guess it would be fair to say that one could conceive of a conspiracy behind any event in history. Aren’t there always people who gain when others suffer?
In examining conspiracy theories, I found some that seemed almost reasonable. For example, under the category, Surveillance, espionage and intelligence agencies, one outlandish theory proposed that technologies are being developed by the government which are intended to, oh I don’t know, spy on, control, suppress people? I know, it’s preposterous.
Didn’t our president recently sign a bill authorizing indefinite detention of US citizens suspected of being terrorists? Haven’t police departments across the country acquired and proudly displayed the latest in riot gear? Coincidence, nothing more.
A piece I read in the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch made me wonder about our government and conspiracy. It turns out that certain members of the Supremes have been wooed by the American Legislative and Exchange Council, ALEC. For anyone who hasn’t heard of them, please read PR Watch’s ALEC Exposed, or this article in the Nation, linking ALEC to the nefarious Koch brothers.
These guys are scary, in a Marvel Comics kind of way. They’re a group of corporate interests and legislators, mostly Republican, who pursue world domination through legislation. Okay, that’s a stretch. They merely covet financial world domination. If I thought Obama was a darling of ALEC too, I’d be really scared. With only two branches of government working in the interests of corporate America, it’s not a conspiracy. Right?