CONSPIRACY THEORY AS PROTECTED SPEECH
MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
It is becoming obvious to me that many people have become overconfident with the information they receive which reinforces their cognitive bias. President Trump gave a speech stating that among many things like video games, mental illness plagues this country and this is why you get mass shootings like in El Paso and Ohio.
However, while mental illness may contribute to some of the violence in this country, it can be said that one of other contributing factors to the major problems in this country is mental hygiene.
Over the last few years, Americans seem to have convinced themselves that not speaking to people who hold different moral and political beliefs makes us better people even on college campuses where intellectual sparring has historically been part of the curricula. It does not. However, it does make us less likely to revise our beliefs and more likely to convince ourselves that others should believe as we do.
Over time, failure to have conversations across divides cultivates a belief myopia that strengthens our views and deepens our divisions.
Forget about healing political divides, overcoming polarization or the dangers of mischaracterizing people who hold different beliefs. Reaching out and speaking with someone who has different ideas is beneficial, not for utopian social reasons, but for your own good; for your “belief hygiene.”
I remember when I first started on talk radio, I was given great advice from my mentors. I was told two important things – one, no matter what you say on the air you will never change the way the world goes and two, you should never fall in love with your opinions because eventually, you will fall into the trap of thinking they are fact.
I have tried to keep these two things in mind when I do my shows and while I admit that sometimes I can go off track, I try to keep those two rules as the basis for most of my broadcasts.
If you engage with people who have differing beliefs you start reflecting on what you truly believe. It’s an opportunity to reflect upon what you believe and why you believe it.
A mentally healthy person will not attack a person’s beliefs — most who wish to be teachable or want to learn about others will ask “Why do you believe that?” and then listen.
Figure out their reasons for their belief by asking questions. Then ask yourself if their conclusions are justified by the rationale they provided.
You can let people be wrong – I sometimes do that because I don’t want to steer away from major points in conversations.
While being aware of other people’s beliefs are good for your mental hygiene – it is also healthy to call out those who are extremists. If you can’t figure out how your side or another side goes too far or overreacts to certain topics, that may be a sign that you are part of the problem and need to moderate your beliefs.
You can always spot a zealot – or a fanatic because they emotionally react when you try and challenge their opinions. They put all of their emotional energy into a small detail rather than focusing on the bigger picture.
This is what is known as myopia.
There is a great deal of myopia, attention deficit, misleading talking points, and manipulated information the people are being fed in the media – the more you read and the more you watch the more you can pick up on what the end goal is with their method of informing the people about major events.
For example, if you sample some of the headlines about the recent shootings in El Paso and Ohio you can see that the media is not helping matters in this country by providing divisive views that put this country at odds with itself.
CBS: Trump’s Speeches ‘Almost Identical’ to Manifesto of Crazed Killer
CNN Smears Gun Owners, Trashes ‘Diversionary’ Speech by Racist Trump
Celebs Attack 2nd Amendment, ‘Hater in Chief’ Trump After Shootings
NBC Channels Dems: Trump ‘Bears Some Responsibility’ for Shooting
Nets Ignore: Dayton Shooter Was Alleged Leftist, Supported Warren
CBS Parrots Dem Talking Points: Hold Trump ‘Accountable’ for Slaughter
NY Times Tries to Motivate Black Vote Against ‘Racist’ Trump on Page One
There are many more, but that should be enough to identify the pattern of divisive coverage.
There isn’t a topic out there that the mainstream media isn’t using to divide Americans.
My job is to monitor the mainstream news and try to give you a story that goes beyond world headlines. Sometimes I analyze them in order to find root issues that the media ignores.
In this process, you learn some things about how divisive the media really is.
There is no doubt that the media wants to set up the talking points about how the biggest evil in the country is white nationalism. They certainly are creating an atmosphere of white versus people of color.
They are creating an atmosphere of hate towards our fellow Americans period – making us not trust one another and focusing on extremism rather than what an average American thinks and does.
They wish to keep the liberals in a state of defined collective thought and reminding them that resistance against conservatives is a righteous endeavor. Conservative media is then placed on the defensive, forcing them to rationalize some of the most insidious actions being carried out by extremists.
The liberal-leaning media will not call out the domestic terrorists and radicalized political groups that they believe share the idea of resistance. This breeds contempt.
In the recent mass shootings, it appears that the media bias is trending toward the suspect that best makes their argument. The El Paso shooter highlights the plague of white nationalism and yet the Ohio shooter basically was a left-wing supporter of violence against those who do not believe in socialism or support conservative views.
Both, of course, are criminal madmen but they become the focus mainly because of their political leanings and yet when it is all over, the victims are ignored, the families don’t heal and the resentment lingers.
Then, of course, there are unanswered questions. The lack of information, the manipulation of the record, the strange behaviors of victims and lack of transparency lead to what can be called, collective conspiracy theory.
Conspiracy theory has been considered information that comes from the outer limits of society and even though most are just hypothetical scenarios based in corollary evidence and hearsay –many of the theories wind up being true or even partly true.
This outer limits theorizing is done by law enforcement, economic planners, and others whose jobs it is to cite trends and human behaviors.
However, conspiracy theory at the moment has also been weaponized and has been intentionally steered to direct misinformation that generates violent responses.
For the last half-century, the outer limit of free speech in America has been defined by violence or the violence it creates – the media is already exercising the power of using repetition of divisive language to divide the people and with a portion of the public that mistrusts the media we begin to see how predatory conspiracy theory can target groups of people and put them under the microscope for further persecutions.
Weaponized conspiracy theories are tools of psychological operations and they are used to target individuals for harassment and now it may even target them for prison.
We all know about the boy who cries wolf and how it can be counter-intuitive to make up a monster when there is none because there may come a time where a real monster shows up and no one believes.
“Shouting fire in a theater” is as an aphorism describing actions that have a tendency to cause panic and “create a clear and present danger” through sedition or lawlessness.
This is all protected under the First Amendment, however, if what is said incites a dangerous action produce imminent violence – the First Amendment has some consequences with regard to what is called the “harm principle” or the “harm clause.”
Now it has been reported that the courts might see another chance to refine the outer edges of free speech in the U.S. but instead of shouting fire in a crowded theater, the nation’s highest court may end up evaluating the protections for yelling “Deep State!” on Facebook.
According to a Federal Bureau of Investigation Intelligence Bulletin, the U.S. government officially sees fringe conspiracy theories as a substantial domestic terror threat insofar as “anti-government, identity-based, and fringe political conspiracy theories [are] very likely encourage the targeting of specific people, places and organizations” for potential violence.
While an intelligence bulletin isn’t the same as an official “domestic terrorist” designation, it’s still a revealing document. Compiled by the FBI Phoenix Field Office on May 30th and obtained by Yahoo News, the “high confidence” assessment was based on intel from open-source information, court documents, a decade of FBI and other law enforcement investigations, and “human sources with varying degrees of access and corroboration.”
More specifically, the bulletin cites several incidents involving suspects inspired by the covert techno cult led by QAnon.
Now I have presented show after show about QAnon warning people that this was the purpose of the Q Phenomenon. When I say this, what is most disconcerting that Q fanatics become nasty and don’t want to listen to common sense.
They see anyone that wishes to expose the dangers of an unknown source of conspiracy theory an enemy and are a threat to the morals of the United States, especially conservative morality.
QAnon is allegedly an intelligence insider that tells followers that there is a plan where the faithful will be vindicated because President Trump will deliver a greater America by jailing the pedophiles and degenerates of this country.
Most of the targets of their anger are liberal elites.
Now, what is most convenient is that just after the release of the FBI intelligence bulletin targeting Q members – we had the politically and racially charged shootings in El Paso and in Ohio.
This is no accident; in fact, it feels very contrived.
Hours before the shooting, the killer published a manifesto overflowing with white supremacist conspiracy theories about a “Hispanic Invasion of Texas,” according to the New York Times, invoking the same paranoia about a “white extinction” caused by mass immigration and multiculturalism that animated the perpetrator of the New Zealand mosque attacks of March of 2019.
Federal authorities are treating the case as a domestic terrorist incident. However, there seems to be a bit of confusion over where the El Paso killer posted his manifesto. According to new reports he posted his manifesto on Instagram and then an unknown source was able to post the manifesto on 8chan.
8chan is an anonymous forum that has been under scrutiny because of its raw and unfettered information that is seen as anti-establishment and anti-government.
On Sunday, critics characterized the site as a breeding ground for violence, and lobbied the site’s service providers to get it taken down. One of those providers, Cloudflare, a service that protects websites against cyberattacks, said it would stop working with 8chan on Sunday night and the site went dark about 3 a.m. Eastern time.
8chan has become a catchall website for internet-based communities whose behavior gets them evicted from more mainstream sites.
It also was the host to QAnon supporters as well.
Tucows, which controls 8chan’s domain name registration, had no plans as of Sunday evening to disable the site’s web address.
Earlier this year, the gunman who attacked two New Zealand mosques and the gunman who attacked a California synagogue posted their manifestos to 8chan.
The FBI’s specific inclusion of followers of QAnon as potential terrorists appears to, in some ways, foist blame on those in the internet ecosystem who happen to propagate those theories.
There has been no attempt by the FBI to curtail the division brought on by a zealous media, however.
The FBI considers QAnon a tool that is creating what is called “collective stochastic terrorism,” which includes the use of mass communication to “incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.
The American legal community seems fairly certain that conspiracy-mongering isn’t protected under the First Amendment.
The defamation lawsuit filed against Alex Jones brought this “idea” out of the nebulous shadows of First Amendment interpretation.
Four legal scholars wrote that “False speech does not serve the public interest the way that true speech does … and indeed, there is no constitutional value in false statements of fact.”
I have read that statement several times and I still don’t get the Orwellian doublespeak it provides.
But while the FBI is on the lookout for conspiracy-fueled extremists, it’s not totally clear if conspiracy theories are speech that the government can actively prohibit.
Even if proof existed of intent to incite, the whole concept of collective stochastic terrorism suggests that imminence and likelihood are necessarily ambiguous. The question is whether or not a conspiracy theory or even theories that question the motive of government or any institution is considered protected speech under the Constitution.
Conspiracy theories are alternative views that open up discussions and promote thought — the FBI and the media want to label all conspiracy theory as intended lies.
But intelligent people know that not all conspiracy theories are lies.
Here are some interesting statistics about QAnon and the power of consensus organized intelligence. The fact is that literally hundreds of thousands of people are now actively following the theories presented by QAnon, among them the likes of high-profile people like Roseanne Barr and the creator of Minecraft, ‘Notch’.
QAnon is being followed by many heavyweights in the UFO community of lecturers as well and many of them have declared war on those who question the theories presented by QAnon.
A recent QAnon video now has over a million views on YouTube; meanwhile, a mobile app that disseminated the QAnon ‘drops’ to fans was near the top of both Apple and Google’s app store charts for months. And a book promoting QAnon became a bestseller on Amazon, reaching a peak of #2. This stuff is not the ravings of a few people on an obscure message board – it is a mainstream alternative that is creating what can be called a techno cult.
Q followers do not like hearing they are part of a cult and if you question the motives of an unknown informant or intelligence like Q you are met with hostility. But the destructive cult dynamics are ever-present in the sphere of Q and most do not see how destructive it can be.
This is especially true when an unknown so-called intelligence that is either human or bot is telling hundreds of thousands of adherents that everything they believe is right and good and everything they disagree with is evil, hurting the innocent, and ultimately out to get them.
You start to see these conspiracy theories become tools of live-action role-playing and agreed upon theories, doctrines, and dogma that make this a very cultish subversive group.
Question Q’s motives and you become the enemy. To say that the philosophies of Q are laying the groundwork for a future coup is an understatement. While one side is pushing the issue of white supremacy and division – Q followers are waiting for their moment to bring the country back to its constitutional roots.
While ideals of saving the Republic are warranted in these troubled times it is important to emphasize that if you are going to speculate, on highly-volatile topics, then you need to be very careful in how you frame them, with an understanding of how the people will react.
There must be a duty of care with any broadcaster or internet intel operative promoting these highly emotive conspiracy theories.
Like it or not, this is protected speech and it is also protected thought. This is a First Amendment right that at the moment comes with greater responsibility. We should not make the discussion of conspiracy theories a forbidden topic – conspiracies happen all the time and it’s important they can be brought to light.
We need to have open minds and listen to others. We above all in these times need to stay rational, understanding that certain people might be pushing agendas rather than a search for truth, and perhaps most importantly of all, retaining our moral compass.
We are Americans and while we are fighting each other from within, there is a bigger enemy on the outside and they have powerful tools and psychological dynamics that can breed voluntary entrapment.