Wednesday, March 17, 2004

I noticed this ad in the local weekly the SF Bay Guardian. It was a full page ad for a 3 day symposium into whether 9-11 was an "inside" job or not. Here's the link: 911 Inquiry Near as I can tell it's a bunch of people who are fervently convinced that the attacks on 9-11 were committed (either tacitly or explicitly) by the Bush Administration. As I followed the various links sending me to various articles on everything from the Bush-Bin Laden conspiracy to suspicious circumstances including but certainly not limited to why airforce jets were never scrambled once the first tower was struck to how a hijackers passport miraculously survived the attacks, I was reminded of a conversation I had in a sports book in Las Vegas.

Not too long ago my wife and I went to Las Vegas for the weekend. It was a little get away without the kid and we had a blast. On our last day there we ended up in the Sportsbook @ Ballys drinking beer and having a good old time betting on the ponies (I also wagered $20 on the Warriors winning the NBA title, they were 65-1 which seemed generous at the time and absurd now). We made the mistake of striking up a conversation with a couple of locals who were spending the day betting on baseball. What started out as innocent conversations about the "system" that they used to bet on football and baseball turned into a lecture on the evils of the Bush Administration, what secrets numerology reveals to us about said administration and a host of convoluted ways of arriving at the conclusion that Bush is Satan. Now these guys were normal appearing, middle age, white guys but when they sunk their claws into a captive audience they wouldn't let go. It wasn't a conversation as much as a lecture. There was no give and take and no response to questions, only the reiteration of points made. I ended up being presented with a handmade flyer the likes of which would've made even the most untalented high school 'zine maker ashamed. I may still have it at home and should scan so you guys have a more insightful perspective into what I'm talking about. I'm prepared to listen to most conspiracy theory and I'm inclined to be distrustful of Bush and his neo-con Christian motives but these guys came off so half-cocked/borderline nuts that even the most open minded person would've had trouble believing what they were saying.

This bring me back to the 911 Inquiry symposium. I imagine that much of what will be said during the 3 days will be interesting, astute, probably truthful and eye opening. But how does a group such as this disassociate itself with the high number of nut jobs that will invariably attend? It will be interesting to see what kind of coverage the local media gives the event.

The other aspect of the symposium is that many of the sponsors run fee based websites and small publishing houses that have a financial interest in selling books, information, videos, etc. to people. I'm not making an undue accusations here, just pointing it out.

One of the interesting things about the folks who market in this kind of conspiracy theory is that their end message is, to a certain degree, very similar to the goverments. The government shrugs the theorists off, counting on people not to believe what is being said. Conversely those trying to prove the government corrupt see those who believe the "company line" as being unwitting sheep, blind to the truth. Those of us in the middle end-up being alienated by both, our distrust neither doused nor inflamed. Myself, I'm inclined to believe that the Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft goverment will do anything to further their vision, however if I'm ever caught handing out xeroxed flyers about how Bush's birth date numbers magically transform into 666 while I'm betting on the Red Sox-Yankees game somebody stop me.
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