When is it a deluded conspiracy theory?

It’s difficult to get alternative perspectives and unique outlooks on events, especially on the internet. From the moment “Loose Change” erupted on Youtube, serving to ask more questions about 9/11 than answer anything, the moment that anyone outlines that they don’t buy the official story they are immediately lumped into a hole with the deranged lunatics.

I attempted to watch Loose Change. All I saw was a whole bunch of allusions and a big fat wad of fuck-all. When it comes to 9/11, I find that when someone claims to me that the buildings were downed in a “controlled demolition”, they are often stumped by the question, “Why?”

Why demolish in a controlled manner when the mere vision of crashing planes would be enough to kick off a war?

But this post isn’t to engage in a search for the truth around 9/11. I am merely wanting to ask when does a crazy theory transfer from being a genuine possible explanation into deluded conspiracy theory? Let’s look a little closer to today as well, and ponder over Trump and the possible Russian collusion.

The rumblings of Russian involvement in the election have been simmering away since November 2016, but nothing of any substance seems to have come to surface. The media keeps trumpeting the story, but even the most “damning” of evidence seems to prove very little.

Donald Trump Junior once met with a Russian person who might have had ties to the Russian Government. He was searching for dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Questionable? Yes. Collusion? I remain unconvinced, especially when the likes of GQ pleads with foreign countries for dirt on Trump. My concerns with Trump Jnr lie more with his ethics than with any kind of political espionage.

Time and time again we expect to see some great revelation about Trump colluding with Russia, and each time it results in nothing but allusion and yet more speculation. I don’t mean this post to suggest that Trump is innocent, but at one point or another, if nothing seems to come of it, then we need to accept that the Russia collusion story will fall into the realm of the Truther and Birther movements. Something concocted from nothing which many people got wrong.

The thing is, many mainstream media outlets have wed themselves to the Russia collusion story. They have gone all-in and it will take some time before they admit to have gotten it wrong (if they ever do).

Tell you what, Mainstream Media. If you treasure your relationship with your audience (who is increasingly distrusting you), it would go a long, long way with people if you just eventually said, “Our bad. We kept pushing this, but we were wrong.” Such an act of humility would certainly earn some trust back from me.

On the flip side of this, let’s assume that Russia did meddle in the US election. Sure, I’m willing to entertain the notion. Considering how Clinton was ready to go to conflict with the Russians, are we surprised they preferred Trump?

 

Let’s not forget that as far back as 2014, Clinton was comparing Putin to Hitler. If I were a leader of a nation, I would be concerned about any politician who was comparing me to history’s greatest villain, and I wouldn’t mind if they weren’t at the helm of the planet’s largest military.

Besides, it’s not like meddling in foreign elections is something that only rogue states do.

“The secret story of how American advisers helped Yeltsin win”

Censorship semantics

It’s long been my own personal lament that news online seems to only pass a wandering eye over an issue before moving onto the more important aspect. I am, of course, talking about How Social Media Reacted.

In the face of something even remotely controversial, or something which happens to challenge current popular convention, news stories (at least in this country) mention the issue in passing before opening another paragraph with “Users on Twitter…”, followed by descriptors of how they lost their collective shit.

I’ve long held the view that Twitter posts are not news, however it seems that news organisations largely disagree. Something odd happens, or Trump utters a sentence, and news stories emerge with celebrity comments, sharp barbs and randomly picked nonsense that seems funny to those whom lean a certain direction.

Okay, so I am clearly on the outer with regards to Twitter comments being non-news. Fine. Sure. Let’s run with that. If people want to have their voices heard, then Twitter is often where you go to have people listen.

Except, Twitter now controls who and what is said. They control what is trending. Same as Facebook, who will bury something which could have grown completely organically. Youtube (ie the premier platform for viral videos, political punditry, peanut galleries and cooking shows) is also rigging their system to shaft those who publish “controversial” content, or as others would suggest, “Views That Are Problematic”.

So, on one side you have people complaining about censorship. On the other, people claim that Youtube, Twitter et al can do whatever they like. It’s their platform. They don’t have to host it.

I’m firmly in the middle of most issues, but I can’t help but lean toward the former than the latter. Are Facebook, Twitter and Youtube private companies? Yes. But they also have in their possession a place that multiple news sources lift news from, and are the go-to for most people to obtain their information. At some point, the dominance of a platform (or in this case, platforms) requires a certain level of responsibility.

Sure, Youtubers can go to other platforms such as Dailymotion or Vid.me, but with that they lose a lot of eyes. Those disillusioned with Twitter can go somewhere else as well, but I cannot recall any time when something went viral from Gab.

Many people would surely disagree with me on this, however my immediate response (as always) would be “What if it was stuff that you were saying being demonetised?” At this point the silencing is happening to those who disagree with a lot of what The Left says, but what if these platforms were built by those from The Other Side? Would the gimping of revenue streams for Leftist creators be accepted with a shrug and a forlorn trudge to an alternative network?

I sincerely doubt it.

My other response would be, “What about deplatforming?” A number of conservative speakers have attempted to talk at college campuses, or on television shows, and the reaction from social media has been to pressure the venues for hosting such hateful figures. When Milo Yiannopoulos was booked to appear on Real Time with Bill Maher, there was much gnashing of teeth, insults at Maher and a panelist dropped out.

But Maher can book whoever he wants, right?

 

Fake victories and real losses

I loathe that I need to write a preamble such as this, but it’s the only way to reinforce that I care not for the gender politics that surrounded this issue. In fact, my thoughts on the matter of the new female Doctor Who is neatly explained far better, by a far better writer than I in this article by Helen Razer.

I could not give fewer shits about the direction that the BBC is taking with Doctor Who. I was never a watcher of the series, and the attempts I made to invest in it were simply met with a hearty shrug from my shoulders. Friends were avid watchers, and did make a little attempt to get me on board the good ship Who, but I abandoned ship before the cheesy special effects first grated onto the screen.

There are some who would tout that a new female Doctor Who whom represents a non-male gender sends a message to girls everywhere that they too can be a (name profession here). But this is a message that I don’t necessarily agree with. Not because I don’t believe women need role models.

Because I feel the barriers that many face to their reach their dreams is governed by their access to resources rather than any kind of internal belief in oneself. I feel that those who are genuinely interested in a certain field will do everything they can to forge a career in that field.

The notion that someone sees a person on TV who resembles them superficially, and they immediately decide that their true passions lie in that field being portrayed, is a scenario that I have trouble believing. It’s a simplistic reasoning for the human mind, which is a complex thing.

Anecdotally, when I was growing up in working-class conditions, seeing people who were doctors, lawyers, actors and any other highly-paid profession was to view people who were of another level. Those people were learned, clever, and brilliant. I was none of those things, or at least I considered myself none of those things.

Even those movies in where the poor underdog rose above their level to challenge a wealthy authority, I viewed them with an astonishment of brilliant people who weren’t me.

Where I was, people got a job and earned to put food on the table. There were no career ambitions beyond being asked as a child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” to which the answer was some ideal that only very few people could attain. Seeing men or women on TV sent me no message other than, “There are better people than you.”

As pointed out in the comments of the Helen Razer article I link above, someone made the very astute observation of “Fake victories so we can’t see the actual losses”. The victory of a female Doctor Who does very little for girls and women who work a job instead of a career. Women who face uncertainty in a dwindling job market.

For those women who have made it in their field, they might offer a platitude of “I did it, therefore anyone can!”

To this, I reply with a “bollocks”. Not everyone is afforded the opportunity or means to dedicate years to a craft when the likelihood of failure would result in their destitution and homelessness. Some people put certainty and security over dreams, and they do it because they have to.

No amount of portrayal on television or movies is going to change that. This is a fleeting victory, when the real losses are to the reduction in services to those working in jobs they got because they had to.

Further to CNN Blackmailing

The last post I wrote expressed my disbelief that CNN would threaten a user for daring to create a wrestling gif that mocked them. Since publishing that post, more information has come to light about the character of the individual who created the gif, namely that because they had posted racist things in the past that they were somehow deserving of the threats levelled at them.

Despite vehemently condemning racism, I cannot help but disagree, for reasons I’ll outline below.

1)  Today it’s the racists. Tomorrow it’s you.

Sure, you might think you’re the pillar of benevolence, and that nothing in your past could stand to ruin you. Firstly, I would say that’s bullshit. Name me one person who has professed to have said not one ignorant thing in their entire span on this planet, and I will show a liar. Secondly, in the below video from Razorfist, you can see how a media organisation will report on your history.

Namely, they will simply report that you “deleted your racist history”, knowing full well that Johnny and Jane Mainstream will lap it up and move on. Don’t think for a moment (and to nab a popular phrase) that the media will let the facts get in the way of a good story.

I’m not disputing whether the victim of CNN’s threat is a racist or not. I’m saying that allowing it for them allows it for you, which leads me to my next point.

2) Shaming doesn’t change the extremists

“We must extinguish racism in all its forms!” goes the call as they cheer on the punishment for the scumbag who got their dues, “We must expose it and punish it!”

That’s all well and good, except what this will do is take your online racists and make them silent while still harbouring resentment, which they then pass down to their children. You might think that this is a solution, but what happens when you discover the unapologetic racist? The racist who proudly wears it on their sleeve? The shame tactic will not work there, and if anything their public humiliation will draw more eyes to them, and they then become a beacon for like-minded people.

In fact, humiliating the self-loathing racist only emboldens the unapologetic one. They’re the ones you might find gathering in groups that want to inflict actual bodily harm, or abusing people in the street the deem as inferior.

You might be thinking here that I am protecting or defending a racist, when I am not. Put broadly, I am protecting their right, and in effect your right, to express yourself. CNN is not the arbiter of whom should be able to express themselves, and CNN is not the executioner of those they deem as not fully compliant with their right-think.

By protecting a racist for their speech, I am protecting your for your speech. Many may like to deride the call for free speech as the braying defence of those who wish to spread ignorance, except I am not. As I outlined in an earlier post on Kathy Griffin’s photo, she has every right to express her thoughts without worry of their livelihood being jeopardised.

CNN can eat the biggest bag of dicks for trying to justify their horrendous behaviour, and to those who would agree with them, I pray to whatever deity occupies their soul that they never trip the path of an enormous and powerful party with a line to toe.

CNN can go die in a hole

It’s all I hear people talking about today, but rather than recap things wholesale, the below video captures the sentiment I currently feel – courtesy of Mister Metokur

Note that this particular Youtuber is not one I endorse, but I am only posting their video because they seem to share how fucking angry I am about this.

So, Trump posts a gif on Twitter that someone from reddit created. CNN flip out about how it encourages violence, even though;

  1. It’s a gif
  2. It’s a gif of wrestling
  3. It’s a gif of wrestling which has been amended, or features some poor sod born with a CNN logo for a face.
  4. It’s a gif of fucking wrestling

Not content with constructing that particular mountain out of an anthill, CNN decides to further shit through the cracks by actively tracking down the individual who made the gif of wrestling, and extract an apology from them under threat that they will reveal his identity – even though he fears that he will be victim to real violence should he be found out.

How can a company as large and far-reaching as CNN openly display hypocrisy on this level, and in such quick turnaround? People sometimes takes ages to have their double-standards exposed as they are gradually found to exhibit behaviours to which they had previously doth protested too much.

But CNN has expressed their hypocrisy in one sentence. “This thing that is harmful, I am totally doing to you now.”

This is not fucking okay, CNN. In no universe is this acceptable. Do not try to minimise this action or in any way try to explain it away. Go on and tell me about the individual that CNN threatened and say that this is justified. I don’t care. If you support CNN doing this, then as I’ve said before, then you support the same treatment for yourself – no matter how benevolent you think you are.

This is unreserved and naked blackmail. CNN are happy to dig up your details and expose you publicly if you dare poke fun at them. Yes, even with a fucking gif of wrestling.

With the President announcing to all and sundry how “Fake” CNN is (and it still astounds me that people seem to think that he’s the creator of the phrase), I was willing to discount his words as the sounds of a spoiled brat who got shitty because the cool kids didn’t like him. However, given this event today, I care not for the demise of CNN. I could not give fewer shits if their organisation implodes under the weight of their bullshit.

They are not the exposers of truth and reason. They are peddlers of sensationalism, drama and bullshit in search of a target to stick to. They encompass everything that is wrong with establishment media, and they (and anyone who emulates them) need to shut down and fuck off.

Or maybe just grow a thicker skin.

A gif as violence.

Really.

ffs.

Napkin-back Numbers – Politician pay rises

This is a subject that is often raised, but never really followed through upon. There’s typically a lot of noise as everyone bellows their outrage, but eventually after a couple weeks, people shrug with the resignation of “Politicians gonna politician”.

Politician pay rises. They come somewhat frequently, are seldom refused, and seem to not hinge upon any kind of merit or Key Performance Indicator. Just this past month, politicians in Australia snuck a very quiet pay rise to themselves.

This post is not the question whether they are deserving of pay rises. That’s the kind of bickering that happens every single time something like this happens. Every time, nothing occurs. The electorate has (and I cannot remember which politician said it) a memory of roughly two weeks. After this time, the public find something else to be outraged at.

The pay rise in this instance pushes MP pay above AU$200,000.

Let’s just unpack that a little bit.

Anyone who is paid $200,000 a year will earn (according to an old HR method I know), $7667.73 before tax. That person would, in Australia, pay around $2600 in tax, leaving a nett pay of around $5000.

So far, so humdrum, right? These people would pay more in tax a fortnight that many people earn outright for that same fortnight. Then consider the fairly generous perks that politicians also receive, and suddenly that sweet, sweet $5000 per fortnight looks all the more saccharine.

Then there are the extra benefits that more senior politicians enjoy, but are seldom declared, such as having meals and drinks offered for conferences they attend, or the access to cars to help them with their commute. Eventually you see a recipe in where those who can most afford to pay for things don’t actually need to – while the person who earns the same per fortnight that these people pay in tax, is left to cover their food, bills, commuting expenses and the like.

And that’s before you consider how much someone can put into tax deductions if they had a lazy $5000 to cover themselves for a fortnight.

To end, I don’t mean to say that people do or do not deserve the wages they are paid. Rather, look at how much that are paid per fortnight and compare it with your own. Remember that many of their expenses are covered even without delving into their $5000 per fortnight. Think of how you could provide for your family and children.

Then wonder why we aren’t up in arms about being trapped in a caste system.

Leftist or right wing nutjob?

If anyone meandered through the ether of the internet and somehow found themselves flushed down the pipes to land at this blog, they might wonder about my allegiance to either the left or right wing of politics.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t believe I am either, and I do try to look at issues with some degree of impartiality. Also, because I think that reductive labels do nothing to discourse, and serves only to pigeonhole people into two separate trays of “Who I should like” and “Who I should dislike”.

The follow up to this determining of my position is to wonder what it is that I hope to achieve here. If I support neither side, then what am I trying to impart to the reader of this hovel?

I don’t seek to convert people to any one ideology. Seeking converts is for religion and cults, and I don’t need people aligning with me by virtue of wearing the correct colours.

After being told over the past decade that right-wing people are deluded imbeciles with no attachment to reality, I did consider myself leaning toward the left. The moment of detachment from this was in 2013 when Wendy Davis filibustered a piece of legislation that would have consequences for abortion clinics in Texas.

It’s not that I agreed or disagreed with her stance, or her filibustering, but this part of the proceedings (from the story):

At about 11.45pm, Senator Leticia Van De Putte, who had arrived from her father’s funeral, felt she was being ignored by the presiding officer, the Republican Lt Gov David Dewhurst. She asked him: “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognised over her male colleagues?”

That sparked boisterous chanting from the public gallery which lasted until after midnight and threw proceedings into turmoil. Amid the din, no one was sure if a vote had taken place in time. Democrats claimed it happened a minute or two after the deadline, while Republicans said the vote should stand.

That a rukus caused by people can impact the democratic process did not clang well with me. I would detest it if these tactics were used for a piece of legislation I agreed with, and I could not celebrate the win for the filibuster using such means. It set a very dangerous precedent, and these tactics could be employed against the very people who cheered them from the gallery.

As I’ve said before, the tactics you employ are the tactics you endorse and allow to be used against you. Being an upstart might win you today, but tomorrow could bring a louder upstart from the other side.

In conclusion, I am not writing these things to convince people that one side of the debate is better than another. Rather, I am writing these things to hopefully have people realise that their own side is just as likely to do horrible things. Even moreso if they have had the reins of power for too long.

Blind support of a team makes you blind to their evils. Today, like any day, we must be able to recognise potential for evil within our team and within ourselves.