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Gazette Premium Content OUR VIEW: They say bin Laden is not dead (vote in poll)

Wayne Laugesen Updated: May 3, 2011 at 12:00 am

Conspiracy theorists are just so darned cute. Unfortunately, they are big in numbers and serve as an alarming indication that truth no longer prevails in these times. Lies get to flourish, despite any amount of evidence that proves them as false. Get enough people telling the same lie, all day, every day with political motives, and the lie becomes part of the collective mindset.

A new conspiracy theory sprang to life this week, all over the Internet and the mainstream national press. It will probably never die. The premise: Osama bin Laden is not really dead.

“WHERE’S THE MUGSHOT?” demanded the first comment under an Associated Press article Tuesday that was published on gazette.com.

“Looks like the Obamafrauds didn’t count on the public demanding photographic proof,” wrote another gazette.com reader.

Two days after bin Laden’s death, a Facebook page titled “Osama Bin Laden NOT DEAD” featured hundreds of comments such as this: “So he was shot in the head, then ‘burried at sea’ ... sounds suspicious!”

National Public Radio reported on the phenomenon Tuesday: “Add ‘deathers’ to a conspiracy theory lexicon that includes the ‘truthers’ (who insist the Sept. 11 attacks were some sort of American or Israeli plot) and the ‘birthers’ (who won’t believe President Obama was born in the USA).”

New York magazine reports that famed anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan is promoting the conspiracy by saying “you’re stupid” if you believe bin Laden is dead.

John Brennan, the top counterterrorism advisor for the White House, said “we are going to do everything we can to make sure that nobody has any basis to try to deny that we got Osama bin Laden.”

The entire mission was orchestrated around these inevitable conspiracy lies. Obama could have dropped a bomb on Bin Laden’s compound, but he didn’t want to destroy evidence of the terrorist’s death. As a result, he has DNA proof and the first-hand accounts of Navy SEALs who carried out the mission. Not good enough, apparently.

(Vote in poll to the right in red type. Must vote to see results. Thanks!)

“Deathers” want photos of bin Laden’s corpse, which could incite Islamic tensions. If and when conspiracy theorists see these photos, they will instantly declare them to be counterfeit. That is what the “birthers” did when Obama showed the country his long-form birth certificate in an effort to counter a lie that had grown to the point of harming our country. The day before Obama released his long-form certificate, a USA Today/Gallup poll found that only 38 percent of Americans believed Obama was a natural born citizen. After he released his certificate, an online survey of gazette.com readers showed that 58 percent of 3,539 participants believed the long-form certificate “is probably forged.”

Conspiracy theorists are marginal in their behavior and they sound ridiculous to critical thinkers. But their strength in numbers affects public policy. They became so noisy a day after bin Laden was killed that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., went on the radio in an effort to quiet all the fuss.

“What people need to know is that Osama bin Laden is dead. There is no doubt about it. … If he’s not dead, let him produce another video,” Rubio said.

We’re a culture with diminishing interest in the truth and a destructive obsession with sensational tall tales that defy the gravity of evidence, reason and proof. It’s a recipe for chaos and injustice.

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