Societies have always been vulnerable to blindness induced by their own prejudices. If a child were born under the “wrong” alignment of the stars, or if a crow flew left instead of right as an expedition started out, then human ingenuity and determination could be negated by an invincible sense of doom. To our own time of mass communication, instant dissemination, and absence of rooted values, however, belongs a special susceptibility to “being handled”. Devious people can lead us all around by the nose with a bridle of two or three words… or even just one.
The idiotic coinage “judgmental” has been such a word since my early youth. So we are not to judge anything? But are we not judging, then, those who practice judgment? And how does anyone abandon judgment without surrendering consciousness? Don’t we still advise our children not to climb into cars with strangers? Don’t we pass on eggs and yogurt if their container declares them out of date?
Of course, the whole idea behind “non-judgmental” is to judge very harshly and rashly a person or group designated by our handlers as caught red-handed in the exercise of principles. It’s an easy sell to such as we have become. Simply by turning off our brains, we ascend to the ranks of the “best” people. We didn’t really want to think, anyway. It’s painful.
Or take the phrase “conspiracy theory”. Who wants to be detected in entertaining a crackpot idea? That’s the only kind ever known to have been hatched by “conspiracy theorists”, you know. They believe that reptilian aliens living in Inner Earth slipped Lee Harvey Oswald his rifle, shape-shifted to become Dick Cheney, and loaded the 9/11 jetliners with robots.
The truth is that a conspiracy is any plot to maneuver a person or persons into a certain behavior by withholding critical portions of situational truth. Two or more must be involved in the subterfuge. A lad who bribes a girl’s best friend to praise him lavishly to her has launched a conspiracy. A dad who promises his son a new video game if he votes that the family should vacation in the Rockies instead of at the beach has created a co-conspirator. Conspiracies are a fact of ordinary life. To hear the “conspiracy theory” theorists, you’d think that all the laws on the books against conspiring to commit criminal acts would be redundant. Few people would ever be stupid enough to conspire, and nobody would be stupid enough to believe them if they tried!
Labeling intelligent suspicion of official accounts a “conspiracy theory” has now become a favorite species of disinformation. If you and your cronies design a lie for feeding to the public, and if some group of skeptics indicts your veracity, play the CT card. “Oh, sure, that’s right… we wanted to cover up the existence of an alien spacecraft at Roswell, even though its discovery would have revolutionized modern living. We want to stay in the Dark Ages—and we lied about the Lizard Men who fought us for the wreckage, too!”
A dismissive documentary about the Roswell incident quoted a high-ranking general testifying before Congress in almost exactly these terms—and the narrator obligingly rated the testimony “devastating” to the conspiracy crowd, though it had no more substance than I have portrayed. All you have to do is sniff, be a little snarky, and tilt your head in the direction of “the troglodyte set over there”.
An infinitely subtler use of the technique, however, is to finance your own “conspiracy theory” clique, broadcast, or website to cry out against the very conditions you wish to hide. Instead of cozening interviewers for the Roswell documentary to ignore the evidence of an extraterrestrial encounter, play the thing up to the hilt. Make your own film. Carry it far over the top. Spread rumors that one alien pilot survived and conferred with President Truman. Create a list of everyone in the county who died over the next decade and speculate that government agents “took them out”. Disgust the public with your lunacy.
I sincerely wonder if some of the more extravagant serials and documentaries about the Kennedy assassination, alien visitors, 9/11, and the rest do not have their roots in this more subtle kind of dissuasion: the “make the believers look like psychos on crack” approach. But that, of course, would just be another conspiracy theory.