HuffPost’s absurd stand on “conspiracy theories” (David Ray Griffin)
From David Ray Griffin:
It’s good to have the Huffington Post’s policy on “conspiracy theories” in black and white.
So now someone needs to inform them that they cannot accept any posts that state, or imply, that al-Qaeda was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, for that is a conspiracy theory.
That has been acknowledged by Cass Sunstein, the Chicago-and-then-Harvard professor of law who was tapped by President Obama to direct OIRA, the executive branch’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (which is under the Office of Management and Budget).
In a 2009 article entitled “Conspiracy Theories,” he and his Harvard co-author wrote:
“The theory that Al-Qaeda was responsible for 9/11 is . . . a . . . conspiracy theory.”
(The complete statement is: “The theory that Al-Qaeda was responsible for 9/11 is thus a justified and true conspiracy theory.”) See Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule, “Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures,” Journal of Political Philosophy, 17/2 (June 2009), 202-27, at 208.
In pointing out that there are true as well as false conspiracy theories, Sunstein refers readers to philosopher Charles Pigden, who gave this definition: “”[A] conspiracy theory is simply a theory that posits a conspiracy – a secret plan on the part of some group to influence events by partly secret means.” (Charles Pigden, “Conspiracy Theories and the Conventional Wisdom,” Episteme, 4 (2007), 219-32, Sect. 2.)
So, in telling us that the 9/11 attacks resulted from a conspiracy between Osama bin Laden and 19 members of his al-Qaeda organization, Bush and Cheney clearly articulated a conspiracy theory. They and Sunstein, of course, call it a true theory; but all conspiracy theorists claim that their theories are true.
In any case, the HP did not say that it accepted true conspiracy theories and excluded only false ones (and to do this, they would need to do an enormous amount of research). They said they avoid “lending credibility to any conspiracy theories.”
This means, for example, that they cannot allow President Obama say that we are in Afghanistan to “get the people who attacked us on 9/11,” because he’s thereby endorsing the Bush-Cheney conspiracy theory about 9/11.
What the HP policy amounts to is excluding any allegations that our own government has orchestrated any conspiracy. So they would have had to exclude all allegations about Tonkin Gulf being a hoax; ditto about the Watergate break in; ditto for WMD in Iraq (recall “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy”?); ditto for the claim that Saddam helped al-Qaeda with the 9/11 attacks; and so on.
One would hope that the people at HP, being reasonable people, will see that they need to rethink their policy. Reading Charles Pigden’s essay would be an excellent place to start.
David Ray Griffin
Santa Barbara, CA