Tuesday, 3 May 2011


In the modern information overload society, you
only have two choices – to be a dupe or a crank

by Colin Liddell
"God bless America! That evil, murdering scumbag Osama Bin Laden has been sent to meet his maker, Allah, and get his 72 virgin goats to fuck. May he rot/ burn/ boil/ marinade in hell, etc., etc., etc."
But before we get too carried away, a couple of points:
  1. Were you there? And even if you were the hired help paid to dance around in a balaclava and shoot off blanks, do you actually know what was going on?
  2. Does the American government ever lie about, twist, or distort the truth?
Without going into the numerous inconsistencies of the 9/11 story and the oddities of this case, like the fact that the body was quickly dumped in the sea, past instances of blatant deceit, like the WMD farrago that preceded the invasion of Iraq and more recent lies about Libya, should at least make us wary of swallowing anything originating from the U.S. government.

The fact is that unless you’re in the loop of whatever is going on, you simply can’t know the full story. Legitimate trust in the U.S. government and every other Western government in recent decades has been so badly eroded as to be non-existent, leaving only two possible choices for average members of the public: to be a "dupe" or a "crank."

Both of these options stem from a position of ignorance that is unavoidable in a post IT-revolution world, where the exponential rise in data and information sees an inverse diminution of verifiable truth. A dupe foolishly chooses to believe what he’s supposed to believe. A crank chooses not to, and, in the absence of insider knowledge, tries to construct or imbibe an outsider explanation.

But whether Bin Laden was a real “terroristic” bad guy or a pawn in some elaborate global conspiracy, or something in between, is not one of those tangible things that directly impact on you, like buying a new car, choosing a place to live, or trusting someone with your money. In these cases you have to rigorously think things through to the best of your ability, avoiding excesses of imagination, and come to a solid, pared-down, rational conclusion. Choosing to believe or disbelieve the official version of the Bin Laden story, however, will have as much impact on your ability to function in the world as believing that Harry Potter is a very good wizard indeed. For this reason none of us should be rushed into accepting the story that is now being pedalled by the media.

Yes, it may be true and it would in some way be psychologically satisfying to “know” this. But from your position in the much-lied-to ranks of Joe Public, you can’t know. You can only pretend to "know" and, if you do so, there is always the chance that you are simply being duped again, as past generations were in 1941, when Roosevelt steered them into war under false pretences, or 2003, when Bush and Blair did the same.

If I am to operate from a basis of ignorance, I much prefer to be a crank. This is defined by Miriam-Webster as “an eccentric person, especially one obsessed by a particular subject or theory.” While a dupe is a naïve, trusting fool, a crank carries a connotation of obsession and slight insanity, but the important point about him is that he is someone who is intellectually autonomous and decides on the truth for himself, in the process resisting socially-imposed ‘truth’ and official versions.

Typical paranoid image favoured by the cranky.
Of course, in a perfect world with honest and trustworthy governments, a crank would be a reprehensible figure and there would be no such thing as a public dupe. But in the present state of affairs, while a crank may often be wrong and will sometimes get lumped together with believers in the lizard people, he will also be free, and may even hit the jackpot and actually stumble upon the real truth.

A dupe, by contrast, may be allowed a modicum of respectability by our society and may even enjoy the flattery that comes from the Prez addressing him with a quaver in his voice as he stares dog-eyed into the above camera autocue, but the bottom line is that the dupe has a funnel inserted into his brain through which the government and the media can dump any lies they choose to tell.

For this reason, rather than celebrating the death of Bin Laden, I much prefer to look behind the stage scenery and see what lies in the wings. Why did they decide to produce this corpse now? Surely they could have killed Bin Laden at any time in the last few years. Was the cadaver kept in refrigeration, a dead tramp from rent-a-corpse, or just the actor used to play Bin Laden in previous CIA-sponsored productions bumped off or made up for his final performance?

Also, while we’re at it, why not speculate as rashly as we wish about the hidden purpose this act may have had. Is this some way to shore up a failing presidency/ economy/ global system? (I see the stock market has reacted favourably!) Is the US about to pull out of Afghanistan, or is this related somehow to what is going on in Libya?

Possibly it is all part of another conspiracy. I mean, if Obama happened to get knocked off some time later this year, we would all suck air through our collective teeth and shake our heads knowingly. No questions would be asked. It would just be chalked up as “the revenge of Bin Laden.”

OK, I’m raving now. I admit it. But this is only because, along with almost everybody else, I am not in the loop. But at least by being a crank, my mistakes help set me free. Those of a dupe only conspire to enslave him.

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