Friday, March 02, 2007


I was planning to write something about the advent of the Fox Network's 'answer' to the Daily Show, a sort of continuation of my earlier rantings about right wing satire. However, that bloody Charlie Brooker got there first in his Guardian TV column the other week. I was also going to do something about conspiracy theories, in response to the BBC documentary about the Twin Towers. Guess what? That Brooker bastard got there first again. Undeterred, I'm going to stick to my guns and have a little tirade on the subject of conspiracy theories, but concentrating on the second episode of the BBC series, about Dr David Kelly. So, did Dr Kelly really commit suicide, or was he really assassinated? Well, when a man is found dead in a pool of blood with a slit wrist and an overdose of prescription drugs in his body, I'd say it was pretty near certain he'd taken his own life. But apparently, that's what they want you to think. Exactly who they are varied according to which nut job was being interviewed.

Some, including a Lib Dem MP, argued that British Intelligence had him done in to stop him embarrassing the government further over the 'sexing up' of the so-called 'dodgy dossier' which had been used to justify the UK's entry into the invasion of Iraq. The problem with this scenario is that Kelly had already done the damage - killing him would surely only draw more attention to the issue. Also, wouldn't it have been less suspicious to make his death look like an accident, rather than suicide? The other popular theory seemed to be that he'd been offed by the Iraqis, as revenge for his activities as a UN weapons inspector. Apparently they had a 'hit list' of former inspectors, which featured Kelly at number four, or something. The flaw with this one was that no other UN inspectors have died under suspicious circumstances, which one would surely expect if there was a secret Iraqi hit squad on the loose. Furthermore, surely it would have been easier to assassinate him several months earlier when he was actually in Iraq?

However, it wasn't so much the warped fantasies looked at in this programme, as the actual conspiracy theorists themselves who fascinated me. These were people so desperate to convince themselves that they were doing something important that they were even willing to subscribe to such crackpot ideas. Their capacity for self-delusion was incredible. I especially liked the lawyer who claimed to have all the contacts in the intelligence community. His claim that his 'red' phone was the line on which the great and the good could call him at any time was priceless. Apparently the likes of Henry Kissinger had contacted him. "When it rings, it could be the White House on the other end," he told the film makers, with a commendably straight face. Yeah, sure. The fact is that the next time my phone rings it could be Bill Clinton on the other end. It is highly unlikely. But it could be. At the end of the day, these were typical conspiracy nuts - the core of their creed is that they, and they alone, know the 'truth'. Like Magi, shaman or even priests, they are the keepers of arcane knowledge, therefore they must be special.

The most frustrating thing about these people is their inability to view anything outside of their own narrow terms of reference. They seem completely devoid of any objectivity or critical faculties. It is impossible to argue with them because they simply cannot conceive of any world view other than their own. Everything is twisted to fit in with it. A few days after watching the Kelly programme, I caught part of the Daily Show where a right wing fruit cake was being interviewed about his book which claims that global warming doesn't exist. Apparently all of the proposals to stem climate change are part of a vast communist conspiracy to destroy capitalism by burdening its industries with additional costs. His evidence for this? Well, all of the countries advocating these measures have 'socialist' governments. Of course, to him even Mrs Thatcher would have been a socialist... Anyway, it's all ludicrous cobblers, which even the nuts advocating these theories could see if only they were capable of just stepping outside of their own mind set for a few minutes and observing the facts objectively. Having said that, it is obvious that there are some genuine conspiracies out there. For instance, there's this Guardian writer who keeps tapping into my subconscious mind while I'm sleeping to steal all my ideas for his own column...



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