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American stupidity

July 11, 2019

It is not everyday that I stumble across an article that epitomizes what is wrong with the right-wing media in this nation. But, it’s not everyday that a writer tries to argue that Jeffrey Epstein’s latest arrest makes Pizzagate more believable:

We should keep all of this in mind the next time we feel inclined to sneer at so-called “low-information voters,” especially the kookier sort. You know the people I mean. Wackos. Gun nuts. 8channers. Conspiracy theorists in Middle America who watch InfoWars (one of the few journalistic outlets to discuss the issue of pedophilia regularly) and post about QAnon and “spirit cooking” and the lizard people. The news that a globalized cabal of billionaires and politicians and journalists and Hollywood bigwigs might be flying around the world raping teenaged girls will not surprise them in the least because it is what they have long suspected. For the rest of us it is like finding out that the Jersey Devil is real or turning on cable news and finding Anderson Cooper and his panel engaged in a matter-of-fact discussion of Elvis’s residence among the Zixls on the 19th moon of Dazotera. Among other things, the Epstein case forces us to ask ourselves some uncomfortable questions about the real meaning of “fake” news. There is, or should be, more to being informed than fact-checking formalism.

Let’s begin with this. There are pedophiles. Being rich and powerful doesn’t make people more moral. No one is surprised when someone rich or powerful is caught behaving criminally or scandalously. Especially when they were previously convicted of a similar crime. No one is surprised that like-minded criminals sometimes act together. None of that is the reason Pizzagate is laughable.

Pizzagate is laughable because there never was a bit of evidence for it. It was entirely conjured, by wackos, 8channers, Alex Jones fans, and similar conspiracy theorists.

And that is obvious from just a little bit of fact checking. That author gives himself away when he labels fact checking a “formalism.” Because conspiracy theorists do what they call fact checking. And sometimes copy the style of actual fact checkers in doing that. While missing completely the substance. It’s like those who write articles in the style of an academic paper, from abstract to footnotes, containing nothing but bunk and nonsense. In both cases, it is an imitation of form, an imitation that ignores the substance and reason that gave rise to the form.

Those who cannot tell the evidentiary difference between Pizzagate and the Epstein case are incapable of understanding the social world in which they live. In the case of someone young, not long moved out from under their parents’ roof, that may reflect youthful naivete. In the case of someone older, they either lack the capacity to understand, or have pursued an intentional ignorance.

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