Posted Thursday, May 5, 2011, at 11:31 AM
GREENVILLE, SC -- Let us give full credit to Matthew Hurtt, who earlier today tweeted a perfect term for the people who want extra evidence that Osama bin Laden is dead:
. He used the term after I mentioned that I was listening to a funny/tense episode of Neal Boortz's libertarian radio show, in which Boortz complained about the callers who wanted a death photo of OBL to be released. He didn't.
"How would that convince someone with inherent distrust of their government that Osama bin Laden is dead?" asked Boortz.
(Photo by David Weigel of a car in a parking lot here; parked next to mine, actually.)
The Proofer discussion is a real signal of how much conspiracy thinking has permeated the culture. I'm not saying people who want to see the photo, or want to release the photo, are conspiracy theorists. Most of them want it out there in order to hush up conspiracy theorists. (Rudy Giuliani has said it would convince "rational" people.) And the people who don't want it released argue that conspiracy theorists will just deny its reality anyway, so there's no point.
"There are still people who think George W. Bush had something to do with 9/11," groaned House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers on Fox News today.
The implication of what Rogers is saying is that it's just a given that conspiracy theorists will doubt that OBL is dead. The conspiracy theorists are part of the equation. (Worth remembering, most 9/11 Truthers couch their arguments as part of a campaign for a new 9/11 investigation.)
Walking around Greenville this morning, I did not find anyone who wanted the photo released because they doubted OBL's death.
"That's the last thing I want," said Mike Sanders, a sometime trucker who's working at a cook in downtown Greenville to make ends meet. "I mean, think about those pictures you've seen of soldiers' bodies dragged behind a helicopter. When I see that, I want to get out there and fight somebody, and I'm not even a fighter. It's not like they're ever going to approve of us, but to show those pictures, that'd be the worst thing you can do."
As we talked, though, Sanders described how he spent Wednesday night. He went online, starting at YouTube, and looked for videos about 9/11.
"Even the ones that aren't conspiracy related, I see a lot of weird stuff on there," he said. "I saw ones with firefighters saying there was a bomb in the second [World Trade Center] tower. You can hear the explosions going off."
He didn't buy into this, but there was video of it; it was compelling. And photos of bin Laden, surely, could become the grist for brand new conspiracy theories. There's really no way out of this.