I recently published a column, “Have They Skinned the Rattlesnake?” (you can see it on Lee’s Twitter), in which I posed rhetorical questions. My purpose was to move readers to think about the sorry state of our country and the world–not to solicit information from my readers.
Somehow the point of the column slipped past a lot of people, and I was snowed under with emails from readers eager to provide me with the reasons why America is going to the dogs. One and all, they trotted out conspiracy theories.
Far be it from me to deny that conspiracies exist. They always have, they always will. But the ones offered by my readers are truly grand conspiracies: top-secret plots that everybody on the Internet seems to know about, involving tiny cabals of all-powerful, all-knowing puppet-masters who micro-manage everything that happens in the world. All of our history, our politics, our economics–it’s all an illusion created by the Illuminati, or the “bankers,” or the Trilateral Commission, or the Masons, or even reptiloid space aliens who wear latex masks to make us think they’re human. The ranks of the all-powerful Lizard People include Queen Elizabeth, George W. Bush, and Boxcar Willie. If you flip a coin and it comes up heads, some conspiracy made it do that; if it comes up tails, the same conspiracy arranged for that. Let me add that a disproportionate amount of this conspiracy theorizing is virulently anti-Semitic.
The great thing about all this stuff is that none of it can be proved. You have to take the conspiracy theorist’s word for it all, because somehow he has become privy to top-secret information that the world’s most powerful plotters and schemers have successfully hidden from everyone except him and his like-minded friends. With the conspiracy in total control of all the information, it will always be impossible to prove the case. And prove it to whom? The conspiracy controls the courts, the media, the legal profession, and also rigs wrestling matches when it’s not busy faking moon landings. (A few believe that pro wrestling alone is immune to the baleful influences of the conspiracy.)
I am a fantasy writer, and I know fantasy when I see it. And a lot of this stuff is 100% pure fantasy.
Meanwhile, I am soooo sorry that I ever wrote that column!