First, Bill Maher threw people out of his studio after they wouldn't stop shouting "What happened to building 7?"
Then Bill Clinton responded to a similar rant by a heckler:
Unfortunately I'm personally familiar with people who believe in these conspiracy claims suggesting that the 9/11 attacks were planned by our government and not by terrorists. At one point these people called the Atheist Experience several times and got very mad at us when we wouldn't take them seriously. Matt once spoke dismissively about the conspiracy theories on The Non-Prophets, and we got multiple emails that repeated the inane phrase "Oh, so you believe the CONSPIRACY THEORY that our GOVERNMENT promotes?"
Besides that, 9/11 truthers infest the phone lines for the Washington Journal morning show on C-SPAN (which I often watch while getting breakfast), and various Air America hosts are constantly bombarded by demands to swear loyalty to these ideas. There is a two hour amateur documentary out on the internet called Zeitgeist. We keep getting email about this movie all the time, and my blood pressure goes up a couple of points every time I see yet another message about it. Zeitgeist starts with a semi-interesting story arguing against the existence of a historical Jesus, and then degenerates into 9/11 "truth" claims about the World Trade Center attack being an inside job. For good measure, they also throw in some stuff about how federal income taxes are illegal. Riiiight.
I confess: I haven't watched Zeitgeist all the way through. I've tried a couple of times, but it is a fairly awful bit of film making, and I didn't have the patience to sit through two hours of it. I gave it another chance today, just so I would have more to say about it. Tried turning it on and listening to the audio while I worked. The problem is that most of the "shocking revelations" require the movie to clear the screen of any action and display text for several seconds while ominous music plays. So I can't follow the thread of the story unless I sit in rapt attention staring at the screen for the full two hours.
Attention, budding filmmakers: Movies are not the right medium for text. I'm fine with reading a long article, and I'm fine with watching a movie, but don't mix the two. People read things at different speeds. The advantage of a movie is that it presents a sequence of entertaining visual images and compelling sounds. The advantage of text is that you can go through it at your own pace, and you can jump backwards to reread something you missed. A movie with lots of text combines the worst of both formats: The movie is boring, and the text is hard to read. Most of the text is too slow and you have to sit there staring at something you've already read, but if you take your attention away from the screen, you'll miss something and never see it again.
DON'T DO THAT! Watch a Michael Moore movie sometime for an example of how to do it right. Even if you think that Michael Moore is a big fat jerk, and everything he says is a total lie, the guy knows how to make an entertaining movie. You don't get an academy award for putting a full page of text on the screen every thirty seconds.
I have a lot of reasons for thinking that the "inside job" explanation of 9/11 is bullshit, but here's what it really comes down to. Big conspiracies don't work. The bigger they are, the less likely they are to be successfully covered up. Franklin said it best: "Three can keep a secret if two are dead."
It should be no surprise that I'm not a big fan of Team Bush, and I believe their actions have led to the deaths of thousands of innocents, in various ways. But IMHO, these deaths have mostly come about due to apathy and greed, not deliberate attempts to kill American citizens.
It's not that I think Bush and company are a bunch of swell guys who would never harm a living person. It's that I find it completely ludicrous to think that they could plan something this elaborate and make it work without a hitch. Look at Iraq. The Project for a New American Century folks were planning that one for decades, and yet it seems like they sincerely believed that we would be greeted as liberators and have candy and flowers thrown at us when we arrived. Slight miscalculation on their part, no?
The conspiracy dreamt up by 9/11 "Truth" ("You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means") is massive in scope. Whether they're claiming that explosives were planted inside the buildings, or that the government fired missiles at the Pentagon, or that all the news videos released were actually fake... all these ideas require an insanely large number of people to be in on the conspiracy. Let's see, there's the people who planned the actual attack, and much of their staff; the people at the airport; the news organizations that collaborated in spreading fake videos; etc, etc. You can say that some of them were dupes who didn't know the whole plan, but in a scheme this big and this well-executed, you need a LOT of people to have a significant portion of The Big Picture in order to handle their jobs correctly. I think my Project Management professor will probably agree with me there.
What 9/11 truthers are suggesting is that every one of these people was an intentional accessory to the murder of nearly 3,000 people. Now, you can call me a starry-eyed idealist, but I just find it beyond the limits of my credibility that among all those people, not one of them grew a conscience enough to let slip a little information about what they saw.
Think about it... who's promoting the conspiracy? People who would actually be in a position to know anything about it? Government workers, airport workers, aids to important people? No... college kids who are meticulously studying the frames of grainy video footage, and theoreticians pontificating on how the laws of physics prevent smashed up burning buildings from falling down.
Yes, Bush was negligent in following up on credible threats. Yes, he and others like him have done a fantastically good job of exploiting the tragedy at every possible chance. But this looks to me much more like a case of answering opportunity when it knocks, not getting hundreds of American citizens intentionally involved in the murder of thousands.
Conspiracy nuts, give it a rest already. The fact that everyone you contact hangs up on you and doesn't listen is not "censorship," nor is the fact that you were thrown out of a private studio for disruptively yelling at the host. I hang up on you on our cable access show because you are annoying and sound silly.
If you want to read more amusing stuff on the 9/11 conspiracy theories, may I recommend:
- Bill Maher again. This is the video that inflamed those people into harassing Maher in his studio in the first place. "New rule: Crazy people who still think the government brought down the Twin Towers in a controlled explosion, have to stop pretending that I'm the one who's being naive."
- Matt Taibbi: The Hopeless Stupidity of 9/11 Conspiracy Theories. BUSH: "So, what's the plan again?" CHENEY: "Well, we need to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. So what we've decided to do is crash a whole bunch of remote-controlled planes into Wall Street and the Pentagon, say they're real hijacked commercial planes, and blame it on the towelheads; then we'll just blow up the buildings ourselves to make sure they actually fall down."
- The Best Page in the Universe (their title, not mine): "Now we're expected to believe that the same government that was able to commit the largest terrorist operation in history--with military precision no less--is suddenly too incompetent to sniff out and shut down a little website set up by some college losers within days, if not minutes of its creation?"