You’ll be listening to some guy, you say, “This guy is fucking stupid!” Then, then there are some people, they’re not stupid, they’re full of shit. That doesn’t take very long to spot either, does it? Take you about the same amount of time. You’ll be listening to some guy, and saying, “Well, he’s fairly intelligent … ahht, he’s full of shit!” — George Carlin
I was astonished when a well know blogger wrote that people who doubt Donald Trump was sincere in his campaign promises are ‘conspiracy theorists’ and ‘paranoid.’
Obviously the term ‘conspiracy theory’ is a loaded term and it’s always negative. But any ‘conspiracy theory’ needs a conspiracy which necessarily includes more than one person, and a theory about what the conspirators are doing.
If someone says, “Donald Trump is a huckster and a liar, he will say anything to get elected,” that is not a ‘conspiracy theory’ nor are they a ‘conspiracy theorist’.
First, there’s no ‘conspiracy’ because there is just the one guy, Donald Trump. Second, it’s really more of an “opinion” than a “theory,” isn’t it?
If you believe “most politicians are crooks” does that make you a “conspiracy theorist?” Because if so, that’s quite likely the majority opinion.
One supposes it would be a “conspiracy theory” to believe “Politician X and Politician Y are working together to do crooked things.”
But one might have to concede that if you believe “most politicians are crooks” and also believe, at the same time, “these particular politicians, X, Y, and Z, are working together to do crooked things” that makes you not just a conspiracy theorist but also perhaps “paranoid.”
But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that most politicians are honest, does it?
Obviously politicians work together, but no one calls that a “conspiracy” so what makes it a “conspiracy” is the crookedness. So, if you believe all politicians are honest and do not break the law, or act unethically, in concert, then you are not a “conspiracy theorist.”
Someone who believes that all people, or even most people, on earth, are always acting in bad faith might very well be paranoid. But no one suggested that – clearly, the issue is “politicians” and by extension, perhaps, other members of the ruling class. The sentiment is more related to the job specifically, an assumption about the nature of the job.
What is ironic though, about this specific politician, Donald Trump, and bloggers who suggest people who believes that Trump is a liar, or just generally “fully of shit” are “paranoid conspiracy theorists” is that Donald Trump himself was both a “reality TV” star as well as a “professional wrestling personality.”
Acknowledging that Donald Trump “performed” professional wrestling “performances” is to acknowledge that Donald Trump conspired with other performers. Obviously, we don’t consider this nefarious – as adults, that is, who understand they are witnessing a “performance.” The young boy audience of professional wrestling, however, may find it slightly nefarious, at least at first, when they find out they have been tricked.
Similarly, it would be a stretch to believe that knowing the fact that Donald Trump’s TV show, “The Apprentice,” was “scripted” hardly makes one a “conspiracy theorist” nor “paranoid.” We call these “reality TV shows” but of course understand that they are more-or-less scripted. We assume that “winners and losers” in these reality TV shows are chosen for ratings and entertainment as opposed to some sort of “neutral” set of rules.
So what makes it a “conspiracy theory” is that “President” is obviously very different from an “actor.” Reagan and Trump excepted.
When an actor reads from a script, he’s “playing a character.” But when that same actor is reading a speech as a politician, written by a scriptwriter, we don’t call that “playing a character” nor “reading a script” because we assume that the President ultimately writes the script – he hires the speechwriter to add flourish and edit, we presume that the general sentiment of the speech is a sincere opinion by the President.
Wait – do we?
Do we assume that Donald Trump more or less wrote those speeches and that they ultimately represented his own sincere opinions? Did we believe that about Obama? Or Bush?
Certainly that is not the impression I get from consuming “political news content.” Nor is it the impression I get from consuming “alternative political new content” like all the blogs I read that haven’t already been banned yet.
Everyone pretty much acknowledges that politicians say things to get votes. Everyone comments on a political speech or rally or appearances, and always critiques the “performance” – not just the content, but the politician’s style, etc. Everyone always assumes the politician is putting his best foot forward, focusing on the positives, trying to ignore the negatives, and to make himself and his side look good.
Obviously, believing that people act in their own self-interest is not a “conspiracy theory.” It can’t be a “conspiracy theory” to believe that many people in positions of power would lie, cheat and steal for self-gain.
Virtually everyone who comments on American politics – fringe right-wing bloggers included – assume a great deal of bad faith on the part of politicians they oppose. In fact, most “mainstream” political discourse is more-or-less accusations from both sides that their opponents are acting in bad faith.
If you suggest “the political party I oppose is full of crooks doing crooked things together” technically that makes you a conspiracy theorist, even though you won’t call yourself that. You will, however, call the people who think the party you support is full of crooks doing crooked things together a “conspiracy theorist.”
Perhaps a more nuanced understanding is a belief that everyone – including politicians – sees themselves as more-or-less “good” and “well-intentioned,” and even if they are not, they often deceive themselves into believing so.
If politics is just the continuation of war by other means, what would it even mean to assume good faith? Does a solider being shot at assume “good faith” from the soldier shooting at him? Does he assume the soldier trying to kill him wouldn’t lie, deceive, or use trickery because that would be in “bad faith?”
Everything said about politicians can be said about bloggers – and blog commenters.
Why assume good faith over the internet?
I’ve never met Trump, I’ve only seen him on TV – and once in Times Square, sort of, from a distance.
Do I have to assume “good faith” from Donald Trump when I see him on TV?
Personally, this writer assumes something between a “conflict of interest” and “bad faith” from any and all political actors, economic actors, and bloggers and blog commenters.
And when politicians, economic actors, and bloggers and blog commenters tell me that there is no conflict of interest and no one acting in bad faith, I pretty much automatically assume that they are acting in bad faith, and more to the point, are full of shit.
I’ll enjoy it while is lasts. Because increasingly, more and more opinions are considered “conspiracy theories” and “hate speech” and are being banned from the Internet. Already, it’s toeing the line to discuss Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell (“QANON conspiracy theory”) or even – ironically – supporting Donald Trump (“hate speech and disinformation.”)
Right now it’s banning hate speech. Next is demanding love speech.
I love Big Brother, etc., and I believe he has my best interests at heart. His interest are my interests. He would never deceive me.
People who don’t love Big Brother are haters, and those who doubt His sincerity are conspiracy theorists.