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Conspiracy Theory: What’s in a Word? More Than We Think

The fact that the word “conspiracy theorist” has become such a mainstream term of derision is either a good sign in the doublespeak of 2011 which would have left Orwell’s head spinning, or it’s another indicator that alternative theories of how the world is run are breaking down.  But as we take a look at a few items from this past week, does it actually paint a picture of a vast conspiracy?  Or are we only now finding the right word for the vast amount of corruption that has gone on in all administrations since time immemorial?

Those who suggest we are at the end of the line and quickly heading toward complete control over our lives are suggesting that the term conspiracy theorist has been purposefully stigmatized to be unacceptable by all but the most dramatic of standards.  When we think of the word we see the JFK assassination, Area 51, and the much feared New World Order.  But why are there more conspiracies (or at least conspiracy theories) than ever before?  And why is this term so attached to any alternative interpretation of world events that diverges from the carefully crafted narrative laid out by the mainstream press?

First, let’s take a look at one article brought to our attention from -as so many news items do these days- the unfiltered medium of Youtube user uploaded videos.  The video shows a woman being escorted from a council meeting in clear violation of her inalienable right to free speech.  Not only that, but the mayor of the city immediately begins proclaiming that this is an illegal action and they have no authority to remove her from the floor while she is recognized.  The woman does not appear to be violating any law, and is instead just talking on the floor when the council sets into action proposing that she be removed from the meeting by force as she is speaking.  Though the details of what the meeting was about are unclear, the woman made it a point to outline the rules and demonstrate before the crowd that she is not breaking them.

And the average viewer can plainly see that something strange is going on here.  And yet we would have never seen this episode of local politics if it hadn’t been for social media and video sharing sites.  It is unfiltered and uncontrolled.  Immediately it’s apparent why the term conspiracy theorist and others like it will become a vitriolic term when the filtered media we are fed becomes threatened.  Just as the woman in this video is taken by force from her stand so her words will not be heard, alternative news outlets facing the already Herculean task of suggesting something outside of the norm is going on in the world run into another roadblock – the very suggestion that things may be different from standard perception of world affairs is immediately labeled a conspiracy theory.  The nature of the word and their meaning are completely different, and so are the perfect vehicle for the same doublespeak to continue.

In part two of this coverage, I’ll be covering the meaning behind the words conspiracy theory as they relate to the broader spectrum of national politics.