Julie Burchill

The Manchester conspiracy theory mob are a pitiful bunch

The Manchester conspiracy theory mob are a pitiful bunch
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Before the timely invention of the motor car, large urban centres were drowning in horse manure - only the ‘crossing sweepers’ who for a fee would clear a path through the mire for pedestrians made street life bearable. I thought of them as their opposite numbers - the conspiracy theorists - spread their predictable ordure in the wake of the Manchester bombing. Conspiracy theories are designed to make lazy under-achievers feel like rigorous scholars - no person with two braincells to rub together has any respect for them - but their peddlers have plumbed new depths this week with their claims that the Conservatives would happily murder children in order to win an election. 

These rays of sunshine ranged from barely sentient showbiz glove puppets such as Steve Brookstein (‘I’m implying that there are dark forces…power people who don’t give a crap about Joe Public and would do this for their agenda’) and Rufus Hound, who retweeted ‘Given that the attacker was known to MI5, the timing seems fortunate for May that an attack 'slips through' as Labour are making progress’ before comparing the bombing to the Reichstag fire to the usual geek chorus of Labour activists obsessed with the idea that the Jooos are responsible for every unpleasant world event up to and including rain on a Bank Holiday.

There is surely a sociopathic element to someone who is able to look at the shattered bodies of little girls, skip the sympathy part and go straight to using it as a Snakes and Ladders counter. Conspiracy theorists have been with us forever - once they would have wielded pitchforks, accused women of being witches or Jews of poisoning wells. They may hide behind new-fangled technology these days, but the medieval song remains the same; namely, that Those People Over There are in cahoots with the Devil. But though they may appear to be mouth-frothing thugs, they’re just sad little sacks wetting their beds in the long dark night of the modern soul where no one knows what’s around the corner, using their far-fetched fancies as a kind of blanky to be cuddled for comfort - no matter how rancid such comforters become with repeated use. It’s them, not us, who are actually the sheeple - seeking the unswervingly strong shepherd of destiny while we are tough-minded enough to take our chances with the wolves of uncertainty. 

Their fruitcake theories about the authenticity of the moon landing in particular illustrates the tininess of their minds and their dullards lack of ability to experience wonder or appreciate achievement; at heart, conspiracy theorists are a bunch of fearful, curtain-twitching stick-in-the-muds, like a demented Neighbourhood Watch on a global scale. The idea that the world actually doesn’t have a pattern terrifies them, driven as they are by a narrow-minded desire for order - as are the terrorists whose crimes they so lightly dismiss. In fact, conspiracy theorists are best described as terrorists too scared to leave their bedrooms - a good thing, on balance. 

What to do? Some people would censor the half-wits - but this would just play into the clammy paws of their persecution fantasies. No, the only course of action is to let them chatter themselves senseless - even the ones who aren’t barking mad now eventually will be - until they end up in a Tower of Babel situ, no longer able to understand even each other. The sainted Christopher Hitchens famously coined the phrase ‘the silly led by the sinister’ to describe Western apologists for Islamism, and it is equally applicable to conspiracy theorists. Though we may feel that the sinister deserve greater condemnation than the silly, it’s good to have them all in the same padded cybercell, where we can keep an eye on them and hopefully prevent them from injuring themselves too seriously on the sharp corners of cold hard fact.