Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Satire is defined as the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
I must say that I loved the recent satirical, yet controversial, cover of the New Yorker magazine the second I saw it because it mocks the absurd and exaggerated attempt by Fox News, in particular, to play off of people's fears by painting the Obamas as extremists. I have personally received emails from people I know informing me that Barack Hussein Obama attended a jihadist school in Indonesia as a child and would I please forward this email to as many friends as possible to prevent this radical from reaching the White House.
Is it the New Yorker magazine's fault that some people in our society choose not to filter out what the media and others feed them? When you refuse to question the environment around you, interpretation is easily manipulated. This is exactly the reason why the parents of JonBenet Ramsey, who were cleared last week of any wrong doing in the death of their daughter through DNA evidence, were convicted in the court of public opinion; and this is exactly why I feel that Barack Obama doesn't have a chance in hell of winning the presidency. Sound bites are accepted as fact; demagoguery is the new truth; and common sense, apparently, is the new code word for uppity, sophistication.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Conspiracy theories often thrive for years because all that is necessary to keep them going is reasonable doubt. For years, I was absolutely captivated by the "doubt" cast upon the JFK assassination - the undisputed king of conspiracy theories. Each year, as the anniversary of the events of November 22, 1963 approached, I would sit transfixed in front of the tv as the annual JFK conspiracy theory documentaries were rolled out, usually around the Thanksgiving holidays, as I remember. I also remember thinking to myself, at the time, that that blurry image, which looks like nothing more than a Rorschach test to me now, was actually the second shooter lurking behind the grassy knoll. And I was convinced, as well, that Lee Harvey Oswald was nothing more than a "patsy" when ballistics experts would declare that it was absolutely impossible for Oswald, a former Marine, to shoot the President in a moving vehicle, regardless of the fact that it was a slow-moving vehicle, from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. When I personally visited the site of the assassination for the first time last year, I was stunned, as I gazed upon the window where Oswald is alleged to have taken that fateful shot, to realize that you could have thrown a rock from the sixth floor of that building and hit the president and, yet, expert after expert has, for years, convinced people that Oswald, a man whom I'm quite sure had weapons training while in the military, couldn't have possibly shot the president from that distance. Yet, for all the flaws in the conspiracy case of the Kennedy assassination, it doesn't even come close to the inaccuracies involved in the latest conspiracy craze known as 9/11.
The basic theories behind that fateful day include:
(a) the collapse of the World Trade Center was the result of a controlled demolition
(b) United Airlines Flight 93 was shot down where it crashed in an open field in Pennsylvania. In the popular conspiracy film, Loose Change, there is even speculation that Flight 93 safely landed in Ohio, and a substituted plane was involved in the crash in Pennsylvania.
(c) The Pentagon was not hit by American Airlines Flight 77, but a missile launched by the American military. Loose Change bolsters this theory by asserting that there were no discernible pieces of debris from Flight 77.
And the insinuation that the events of September 11 were an "inside job" by the US government is supported by many high profile individuals such as film directors David Lynch and Michael Moore; actors Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, and Charlie Sheen; as well as many others including that icon of American icons, Willie Nelson...
As to Willie Nelson's concerns regarding the demolition-style manner in which the towers fell, what precedent is there to know how buildings fall once commercial airliners hit them? The fact that no steel-framed building structures had ever collapsed due to fire before or since 9/11 is often used as an argument in favor of the "controlled demolitions" theory but, again, how many of these steel-framed building structures were struck by a commercial airliner that weighs several tons and travels at a high rate of speed? It's a very rare occurrence and it needs to be taken into consideration when debating the science of collapsing buildings. And while the designers of the World Trade Center buildings created the towers to withstand the impact of a commercial airliner, it's still difficult to know how your design will succeed until you actually fly a plane into it to test the structural integrity of the buildings you created. The Titanic used some of the most advanced technology of its day to create what many believed was an unsinkable ship and look what happened.
And yet, the biggest question I have in regards to this whole 9/11 conspiracy nonsense is this - why would you need to detonate explosives in the World Trade Centers or fly a missile into the Pentagon when the justification to start a war was already validated once those two planes hit the twin towers? We're talking about the first foreign attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. You don't need to bring the towers down or fire a missile at the Pentagon; American public opinion would have fully supported retaliation against the perpetrators of this disaster regardless of whether the buildings fell or not. Almost every infamous tragedy is usually followed by a conspiracy theory. If only common sense could follow alongside it.