On Saturday, January 8, 2011 an exciting “Congress on your corner” event turned to tragedy as alleged gunman Lee Loughner shot US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at point blank range in the head and then proceeded to shoot 17 others. Many in the media have been wrongly accusing features like Sarah Palin for heated rhetoric following the healthcare and other debates. After studying the gunman’s own words in posts on the Internet I’ve come to the conclusion that mainstream politics was not his motive in drive.
Based on accounts by agencies of his is clear that he was not a talk radio listener or one who watched much cable news. Rather it seems as if he was more a product of Internet conspiracy. Many people are completely unaware of the dark political side of the Internet. Most people go to the Huffington Post, New York Times, or other mainstream news source when looking for Internet news. However, there is an entire segment of information delivery geared towards conspiracy theory dissemination.
Rather than write an article shedding light to the dark conspiracy blogosphere, I am writing about the effect a conspiracy theory has on the human psyche. I am a product of knowledge and logic. Everything I do is based on logic and understanding of evidence. This is in stark contrast to what goes into accepting a conspiracy. At the heart of every conspiracy theory is the idea that those in power have the ability to manipulate the evidence to cover up their actions. Make no mistake, there have been many conspiracies perpetrated by government officials to cover up events in history. However, those coverups usually see the light of day within a decade or so. In some cases conspiracies as small as three or four people have been uncovered within a few months.
The logic that goes into conspiracy theory is one of questioning evidence. One great example is the conspiracy theory that the September 11 attacks were an inside job. There is more than enough evidence out there in the Internet purporting to show how the original evidence supporting the mainstream understanding of the events was doctored in some way. The problem with this logic however, if you can claim that the original evidence was doctored without providing the undisputable original evidence, then I can turn around and argue that the evidence supporting your conspiracy was also doctored. This circular logic is easily applied to most conspiracy theories. The way to end this circular logic is to suspend logic completely. However, doing this opens up your mind into accepting dangerous mindsets.
There are many conspiracies dealing with the idea that the government is somehow poisoning us with condensation trails or vaccines. At this point you might be wondering what this has to do with the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. I believe that it has everything to do with the shooting. It is clearer that the gunman was a conspiracy theorist. Most people would agree that if the government was truly poisoning us in some way or otherwise attempting to cause harm to us or our children; we would be well within our right to cause acts of violence against the government. This is of course assuming that all judicial means would be fruitless because of some sort of corruption. However, combining this justification of self-defense with a conspiracy theory such as the vaccine conspiracy, it is easy to see how somebody driven by lies or unsubstantiated theories could easily find justification for violence against the government. It is for this reason that I hold the Internet conspiracy merchants personally responsible for acts like the Tucson Arizona shooting or other similar acts of violence.
Of course diagnosing the problem does nothing to solve it. I do however, offer a solution. The solution is not censorship or control of the Internet. The solution is to fight back and counter these conspiracies. Everyone can help simply by writing blog articles or uploading YouTube videos which help to lay out the case against these conspiracies. Perhaps if the shooter in Tucson came across a YouTube video dismantling some of his warped views he might have reconsidered acting out in violence. No one knows for sure. However, I do believe that he was not truly mentally ill. I do not believe that he had an actual mental disorder like schizophrenia. Rather, he was suffering from a manufactured dilution. His loner lifestyle helped to manufacture this mentality further. The deeper into this manufactured dilution, harder it is to pull yourself out of it.
This is similar to the manufactured delusions experienced by suicide bombers. He might be able to have logical debate and conversation with a suicide bomber on a wide range of issues. There is no evidence of mental illness or other issues. However, something drives them to take their lives in pursuit of political, religious, or social ends. Unlike the mentally ill, who may cause violence with no real logical thought process; many suffering from manufactured delusions can tell you exactly what their thought process was. In unlike mental illness which is obviously not contagious, a manufactured dilution can be passed from person to person. It is this that we must fight rather than uncivil rhetoric. We must fight back with the use of blogging and video posting. We need to be able to break down these manufactured delusions and conspiracy theories. This is the only way to prevent another tragedy like the one in Tucson Arizona.