THERE’S nothing quite so alarming as a conspiracy theorist.
That isn’t so much because of the theory they’re espousing, whether it’s that aliens invented AIDs to de-populate the planet, or that Jack Nicholson, Roman Polanski and Woody Allen killed Heath Ledger because he was too good as the Joker in The Dark Knight (both of which theses I just made up). The shocking idea is that some people feel any old group can get super-organized, commit a complicated crime, and pull the wool over everybody’s eyes for all time. Most of us can’t even do that with our income tax forms.
Massive conspiracies are all in a day’s testimony for Mohamed al-Fayed, the owner of London, England’s Harrods department store. Al-Fayed’s son, Dodi, died in the 1997 car crash that also killed Diana, Princess of Wales. This past week, a London court heard al-Fayed’s oft-repeated accusation that the British government arranged to have the princess killed because she was pregnant with the child of a Muslim, and that was intolerable to the “racist” Prince Philip. Al-Fayed alleged that Prince Charles was also champing at the bit to have his mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles, installed as his wife, so the British government arranged for the princess to be whacked. “They cleared the decks,” al-Fayed told the court. “They finished her. They murdered her. And now he is happy.”
One can only imagine the high-falutin’ accent in which lawyer Richard Horwell expressed his skepticism when he noted that al-Fayed was implicating MI5, MI6, the CIA, the French intelligence service called the DGSE, the French ambulance driver, a judge, several peers, a coroner and the sister and friends of Princess Diana in this move to ensure the good spirits of the Prince of Wales.
As Guardian News Service reporter Stephen Bates pointed out, from al-Fayed’s perspective, there were many other players who might also have been in on such a “plan,” including the princess’s two bodyguards, the driver of her car, several French pathologists, the photographer whose Fiat supposedly nicked the car in which the princess was traveling, the British ambassador, and the Queen’s private secretary, who was Diana’s brother-in-law. Not to mention the clerk at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Paris. If you want nefarious underlings, look no further than the French hospitality industry. (Wait a minute — that actually might be true.)
Lawyer Horwell metaphorically lifted an eyebrow at al-Fayed’s contention that, as collaborators, the French ambulance drivers drove slowly in an effort to ensure Diana’s death, and the French magistrate and intelligence service pronounced the death an accident. “The French are not known for doing the bidding of the British, Mr. al-Fayed, are they?” Horwell asked rhetorically.
Of course, there are more credible conspiracies, like the one that apparently led to the attacks of 9/11. Naturally, contrarians think that 9/11 was not an attack by Al-Qaeda but by some other group they themselves mistrust and dislike even more passionately. It’s not such a big leap, I suppose; never mind its probable inaccuracy. Plenty of us fantasize that people of other ethnic, religious and cultural persuasions; the government; the post office; auto repair shops; tanning salons; meter maids; inventors of technology; pantyhose and brassiere designers and manufacturers; and, most particularly, dentists, are constantly plotting to victimize us in every conceivable fashion. Those who express incredulity regarding these evil machinations are seen as part of the conspiracy, and unable to be trusted themselves.
If they can’t trust those around them, the conspiracy theorists among us can, of course, still put their faith in Paranoia: The Conspiracy & Paranormal Magazine (“Reality Based Since 1992”). There, they’ll find out everything they never wanted to know about double dealings concerning King Arthur, Robin Hood, “the Popes of Rome,” Agent Orange in the waters of New Orleans, and “Vulcans, Comets and the Impending Catastrophe.”
They can read, too, about “How Paul Laffoley’s Leg Almost Became An Exhibit in Joe Coleman’s Museum of Human Oddities.” Laffoley’s leg (whoever Lafolley is, and whichever leg it was — if not both) is probably also to blame for Princess Diana’s demise, but that story hasn’t run yet. No doubt “the cryptocracy” (a government whose “real” leaders are “unknown”) nixed the exposé. I’d better stop writing about Paranoia magazine, though -- my computer’s quotation marks key is smoking.
Lately, a theory of some sort has been fomenting around a Vancouver man called Jack Worthington who has suddenly claimed to be the illegitimate son of JFK. He looks a bit like the late U.S. president, but then, so do lots of people with googly eyes. Worthington seems to have emerged as a result of a feature story that Vanity Fair magazine was considering running about him. It only needed a couple of already authenticated Kennedys, like Ted and Caroline, to do a DNA test to back Worthington up. I’ll be holding my breath for that one.
Ever since the story “leaked,” Worthington has been playing peek-a-boo with the press. Last week he said he was going to disappear for a while to get out of the spotlight that he had already been out of for 45 years before he came forward to seize it. At the same time, he said he was going to be telling his story soon on a major U.S. network.
If this man is not himself a crackpot, which remains to be seen, he is certainly bringing the crackpots out of the woodwork. An almost unintelligible story in the Vancouver Sun suggested that somebody-or-other was trying to tie Worthington’s birth to a controversial theory blaming the president’s murder on then-vice-president Lyndon B. Johnson. Worthington said the idea was outrageous. Another conspiracy theorist, who wrote a book about “how LBJ killed JFK,” said he never would have made that allegation. Still, you can bet that some brain, somewhere, is busy dotting “i’s” and crossing “t’s” so its owner can believe Worthington and the assassination are indeed linked — but the story has been hushed up.
Who really cares whether Worthington’s assertion re: JFK is proven true? Science, schmience — I’ve got my own theory about how Worthington’s infant DNA conceived the assassination scheme and magically implanted itself in Lyndon Johnson’s brain. The plan was simple: Fidel Castro hid out on the grassy knoll, Richard Nixon squirreled himself away on the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository. They pulled their separate triggers, got their mutual wish, and shut up about the incident, forever.
It explains so much, when you really think about it.