There’s a riddle from Greek antiquity that asks ” Which came first, the chicken or the Egg”. It’s a question that has vexed scientists and philosophers alike since the time of Plato and Aristotle. Its underlying premise can also be applied in innumerable other contexts, such as good and evil, marriage and happiness (or lack thereof), and now, in more modern times, mental illness and conspiracy theories.
Conspiracy theories emerged soon after the formation of societies. In 68AD, there was a widespread theory about the death of Roman Emporer Nero.
Until quite recently in the timeline of Man, these theories were typically considered the product of hyper-paranoid members of society and largely, not taken seriously by rational folks. For years, the pop-culture cliche has been that of an unstable individual, wallpapering their home with random news clippings and feverishly scrawling their manifesto in notebooks.
Hyper-paranoid politics have fed this beast, creating two distinct, yet similar sub-cultures. They are identical in nearly every way, save for ideology. They are more commonly known as right and left wing extremists. I like to think of them as nutbar loonies.
It’s widely accepted among the conservative right that liberalism is tantamount to mental illness, so I’ll not flog that dead horse here. Rather, I’d like to discuss their alter-ego. That of the conservative whack-job.
It’s important to shed light on this, and face the fact they exist. You see, their presence on social media platforms has a very real, and unfortunate impact on rational conservatives, and when these nutcases post tweets that are widely popular amongst the tinfoil hat crowd, the liberal left picks up on it. They feed on the lunacy. The lunacy paints all conservatives undeservedly with the same insane brush. In other words, they make us all look as stupid as they do.
Further, the drek they put forth is not only embarrassingly illogical, in a climate where we are all affected by and raging against “fake news”, this nonsense only makes us look hypocritical when we promote it.
Here are but a few examples:
Of particular interest is the remarkable similarities between these tweets, and the fake news stories we rail against daily.
The complete lack of verifiable source, the presentation of opinion for hard fact, and the ever popular anonymous source.
So, here are a few tips to identify a loony nutbar.
1. The use of the term “military tribunal” in contexts that don’t mock the lunacy. Military tribunals are criminal court proceedings held by our military when the defendant is a foreign enemy combatant. They don’t apply to civilians. Nor do they apply to politicians just because they’re sketchy as hell and we don’t like them.
2. Gross and ignorant use of the word “treason”. Traitorous behavior can be treasonous in nature. This is not the same as treason in a legal sense. The elements necessary to meet the definition of treason in our legal system are so narrow and unwavering, it’s nearly impossible to successfully charge treason in the United States. It’s important to note that violating the Espionage Act is very different from Treason. Treason applies only during wartime.
3. Any belief in the idiotic notion that the 9/11 attacks were a government conspiracy or missile attack.
Lastly, it’s safe to say that those who view the notorious “Q drop” with Messianic reverence, hanging onto every byte of electronic information, without any difference or thought to how absurd it may appear, or the almost inevitable lack of sources beyond the 4chan feed….qualify as loony nutbars.
Everyone is most certainly entitled to their opinion, and to share them as they will. However, as intelligent, rational people equipped for critical analysis, can we please admit that just because the puzzle pieces seem to fit, they don’t necessarily render the “big picture”.