Crying Wolf To A Flock Of Sheeple: Conspiracy Theories

Crying Wolf

I’ve been wondering exactly when the big transformation took place. You know, when the police became the bad guys and the bad guys became heroes.

Apparently, the switch happened one night while I was in my bed sleeping. Never saw it coming. Totally unexpected. Yep, one minute we’re all truly appreciative of the police and the dangerous job they do, protecting us from the evils of the world, and the next minute thousands of people had been transformed into “sheeple,” believing and following whatever wacko conspiracy theory passes their way. Nope, never saw it coming. And the false flag conspiracy theories are definitely coming, one after another after another after another. And it doesn’t matter what happens in the world, the theorists have a way to tie it to the police, the government, to Obama, to Bush, to anyone and everyone except the people who actually did the deed. In their minds, the police are always, without fail, wrong, or guilty of some huge, elaborate cover-up scheme that even Tim Burton or Stephen King couldn’t dream up in their wildest dreams and nightmares.

The conspiracy theorists have even gone so far as to accuse the U.S. government of fabricating and unleashing the recent devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. They’ve also accused the state of Connecticut of attempting to pass legislature that would cover up the real truth about the Sandy Hook shootings. Many have claimed the entire incident was backed by the U.S government as means to take away firearms from private citizens.

Then there were the Boston bombing suspects, the Tsarnaev brothers. These two terrorists killed and maimed hundreds of people, yet many people in the U.S. are saying they are innocent of the crimes, and that the elder brother was murdered by the police as an attempt to instill fear so they can take away guns and move the country toward a police state. A Facebook page dedicated to the younger brother states the two men were set up by the U.S government. They were paid actors who were to take part in a government-backed emergency drill. The site makes the claim that the two were given backpacks containing fake bombs, but were forced to flee the scene when the bombs detonated. The “free Jahar” site has over 8,000 followers. And let’s not forget the “he’s too pretty to be guilty” fans of the younger terrorist.

Law enforcement is also taking a big hit from the theorists. No matter the situation, the police are always at fault, with theorists accusing them of staging crime after crime in order to frame innocent people, or in some cases, murder innocent people.

Just yesterday, local, state, and federal officers were at a private home in Florida, conducting an interview with an associate of the elder Tsarneav brother, when the man, a mixed martial arts pro, attacked and stabbed one of the FBI agents. Officers then shot and killed the suspect. Well, the internet is buzzing off the scale today with all sorts of conspiracy theories and accusations about police misconduct. For example:

– police always shoot first and ask questions later

– no doubt the FBI agent lost his temper and killed the guy

– totally a set up. The FBI agent cut himself with a knife to give him an excuse to kill the man

– he knew too much about the government so they murdered him in cold blood

Well, the list is quite long, but most comments are similar in nature. Moving on to the next headline. Two men brutally attacked and butchered a British soldier in the streets of London yesterday. One of the men admitted to the murder on camera, while holding a large knife and meat cleaver in his bloody hands. Theorists have already claimed the British government was behind the attack.

The Aurora theater shootings – Yes, they claim the government was behind James Holmes’ shooting spree. Another attempt to take away guns from private citizens.

There’s just no end to the theories. And there’s no end to cop-bashing. In fact, it seemingly gets worse each day, with some media fueling the fires. Don’t believe it? Well, mosey on over to Alex Jones’ website, Infowars and you’ll get a big ole belly full of conspiracy theories.

I read a really nice article yesterday on the website Poe’s Deadly Daughters, where author Sandra Parshall discusses how writers may be contributing to the cop-bashing atmosphere. Parshall often writes thought-provoking articles and I think this is one of her best. Of course, I may be a bit biased since this one is about and sort of leans toward the defense of police officers.

In the article, the author talks about how many writers of various genres tend to portray the police as bumbling idiots, incompetent investigators, and law-breaking psychotic rebels who never follow rules. Parshall also correctly points out that writing cops in this fashion has become the norm across the board, which also makes the characters quite predictable, and predictable writing translates into a boring read. Readers are tiring of boring books written by authors who use the same tired cliche’s book after book after book, especially when many other writers are also using identical tired and predictable out of control cop characters and plots in their books.

The same can be said about claiming a conspiracy theory behind every single thing that happens in the world. We’ve almost reached the “boy who cried wolf” stage, where no one will believe anything, even when it’s the truth.

Next thing you know, the government will be claiming to have sent a man, or woman, to Mars. Yeah, right. We all know that whole moon walk thing took place in a Hollywood studio next to the grassy knoll set. Two buildings over from where the RFK and MLK assassinations were filmed.


22 replies
  1. 1015 Adam Henry
    1015 Adam Henry says:

    The recession hit a number of bay area cities hard with local governments deciding to disband their police and fire departments. Its sad because cops and firefighters are the first ones you think about when representing your city. Not to say that these cities are without protection because they now contract those services out to the county or another other city. When faced with the issue where I live, the people came out in full force in support of the police deparment with the exception of a handful of hacks, who of course, downplayed the value of law enforcement. While the core issues between the city and the POA are understandable, its my belief that those are best left to those tasked with discussing them within the confines of their conference rooms. Unfortunately its the hacks who have to make a big ado about nothing when it comes to serious issues like this. Fortunately the city council ditched the idea and proposed an ordinance that the community allowed to weigh in first before the city council re-considers the matter again in the future. Unfortunately the community wasn’t entirely there when financial issues came out about the fire department, which resulted in layoffs and one apparatus being browned out.

  2. J.D. Rhoades
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    Sadly, partisan politics often enters into it, combined with our toxic political environment that fosters the idea that the other side can’t be just wrong, but must be EEEEEEvil. So the Boston bombing MUST have been a “false flag” operation to get the evil Kenyan usurper more power, just as the 9/11 attacks MUST have been staged to seize Dick Cheney and his puppet, George Bush, more power.

  3. Jim Doherty
    Jim Doherty says:

    Just a bit of historical perspective:

    Unsympathetic depictions of police are hardly new in crime fiction. They go all the way back to Poe. Prefect G–, Dupin’s police contact in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and its sequels, may have been honest and brave, but he was also pretty stupid. So were Lestrade and Gregson in the Holmes stories (Stanley Hopkins, in the later stories, was marginally more intelligent, and, being a comparative rookie, was at least willing to learn).

    Throughout the history of crime fiction, cops have been depicted as stupid, as corrupt, as incompetent, as inefficient. Even Ed McBain, certainly no enemy of law enforcement, depicted police corruption and brutality as fairly routine occurrences in his 87th Precinct books.

    Second, re conspiracy theories, those of us who are cops can look at massive conspiracy theories and laugh, because we know that conspiracies fall apart all too easily to believe that, for example, an unholy alliance of the Mob, the FBI, the CIA, and South Vietnamese, gathered together for the sole purpose of murdering the President of the U.S., could exist for nearly a half century without someone talking.

    Remember, Valachi talked, and gave law enforcement insight into the workings of the Mob that had never before been seen. Deep Throat talked and the Watergate conspiracy fell apart (and eventually, we even found out who Deep Throat was). Harry Gold talked and the Atomic Spies were ferreted out.

    Large-scale conspiracies are never any stronger than the weakest link, and the larger the conspiracy, the more weak links there are to break the chain of silence.

    But not everyone has a cop’s experience, or the ability of a cop to place incidents in context. Moreover, cops know, in a way that ordinary citizens don’t, that life IS random, that not every event can be controlled, and, since they work in a governmental bureaucratic structure, but do not generally have a bureaucrat’s mindset, that government is to inefficient to orchestrate the kind of large-scale conspiracies that theorists hatch.

    But, as someone else pointed out, people generally like order better than randomness, and if you haven’t got the experience or the wisdom to see how silly a conspiracy theory really is when examined, or even the inclination to let go of a preconceived but false notion when that notion gives you comfort, you’re going to find conspiracy theories attractive and you’re gonna cling to ’em.

    Finally, as long as cops give out speeding tickets, cops will always be the bad guys to a substantial number of citizens. You wanna be loved? Become a firefighter.

  4. Jeff Mariotte
    Jeff Mariotte says:

    Popular Mechanics put out a whole book debunking the 9/11 “truther” mythology, using science and engineering and reason.

    We’ve got plenty of bad guys around, all the time. There’s no reason to look to the good guys to be the bad guys. Bad enough that individual cops sometimes go bad, some are lazy, some are incompetent (because they are, after all, human beings). But no police force as a whole will be criminal or even stupid and worthless–those folks take that job because they want to do something good for their communities, and they do. It’s a good thing they’re out there.

  5. Sally Carpenter
    Sally Carpenter says:

    My guess is the conspiracy buffs started with the JFK assasination (no way one guy could have shot a distant moving target, right?) and the “alien autopsies.” I guess blaming the government for society’s woes is easier than each person taking personal responsibility for raising ones children right and helping to create peaceful communities where people don’t feel the need to commit violent crimes.
    As for incompetent cops in books, this is perhaps an unfortunately result of the cozy/amateur sleuth genre. Have a non-professional protagonist solve the crime means the police can’t find the guilty party first. So either the protag must be more intelligent than the police (such as Sherlock Holmes) or the police must seem less capable than the hero. To be fair to all sides, the author must balance the non-pro hero with the police and have them work together, which is tough to do without diminishing the hero.

  6. Bonnie Ramthun
    Bonnie Ramthun says:

    What a great essay, about a topic that worries me deeply. When did we come to a point where facts don’t matter, only opinion?

    My answer is the school system, sadly enough. Children are taught that self-esteem matters more than anything else, and everyone’s opinions are valuable and should be respected. So what does it matter if Popular Mechanics did an exhaustive review of the “Truther” theories and debunked each and every one of them? Facts don’t matter — only your opinion. A culture cannot survive this kind of non-thinking.

  7. Pat Brown
    Pat Brown says:

    People like conspiracy theories because it makes the world a ‘safer’ place. If all the horrible, atrocious things that are happening–9/11, the Aurora theater massacre, Newtown– are random acts of violence then anybody can be a monster and it can happen anywhere. But if it’s orchestrated, then there’s a plan behind it. It’s a crazy, evil plan, but it’s a plan. It’s not chaos.

    Chaos and random chance terrify people, especially the ones who see their own world spiraling out of their control and feel completely helpless.

    I’m happy to say almost all my cops are good guys, with a strong sense of justice, and if there is a bad cop, then there’s a good cop to balance him off.

  8. Bud
    Bud says:

    The ever-sinking rank the US earns for education has real consequences. We have produced huge numbers of citizens who are innumerate and illiterate. They don’t own the core information about science and history, they don’t know how to assess data, they don’t know how to think. We’re becoming the country of stupid.

    So why not black helicopters, climate change a hoax, evolution a hoax, sex education the cause of pregnancy, government tornado machines, gun grabs any minute now, apollo landings a movie trick. If you don’t believe in facts, you’re free to believe anything. Anything that has a good mouth feel and means it’s not your fault and not your responsibilty.

  9. Barbara Graham
    Barbara Graham says:

    I have always been a fan of the police. They are heroes in my life and in my books. They were very kind and in a situation where they could not actually help, they made sure I knew what I might have to do to survive.
    However, as a young woman, I moved to a city (we’ll just leave the name out) and was immediately warned by the other women in my office to be very, very careful to pull into a well lighted area if the police ever stopped me, especially if I was wasn’t speeding etc. The police in the area had worse reputations than the bad guys. Thankfully I never had to put it to the test.

  10. eileen Dreyer
    eileen Dreyer says:

    Lee–It used to be that when I heard some of the theories being spouted now by somebody coming into the ER, we could safely dose the people with Haldol and send them up to Camp Happy. Now it seems to be a national sport. The mechanism is unchanged from your basic paranoid delusional personality. It’s just that so many more people have signed on to play, and with less evidence. As my mom used to say, the Devil can quote the Bible to his own purpose. You can make any fact fit any theory if you shove hard enough. It all depends on what you want to believe. And with the none-too-gentle shoving of the new generation of bottom-feeders who call themselves pundits, people WANT to believe that they’re all victims of the big government, the big police state, the big military overthrow we’re going to save ourselves from by owning just one more Bushmaster. Forget logic, like what the true statistics are about gun violence(remember. Trauma nurse here), or the fact that you’re 40x more likely to die from your own gun than to protect yourself from somebody else with it, it’s much more comforting to treat the weapon like some fantasy baseball team that will bring order and beauty back into an uncertain world. I’m not even going to get into my own personal belief on why said pundits are pushing this drivel, and how they’re getting just what they want.

    No, all cops aren’t perfect. All government officials aren’t perfect. We do have to keep an intelligent eye out for our best interests. But like you, Lee, I believe that the operative word here is ‘intelligent’, and too many people forfeited that one. Yes, as an author, I’m always thinking outside the box. It’s much more fun to suppose the person who looks the most innocent isn’t. But the populace is losing that important differentiation between fiction and reality.

    Dude. Duuuuuuude. Really? That’s the evidence you’re going on? That a DC-9 could have flown into the towers and they could have survived, so it could have a 767 as well? Let me give you one stat. Just one. A full fuel payload on a DC-9 is 4,000 gallons. A 767’s is 24,000 gallons. Of high octane jet fuel. And both jets were full at impact. And accelerating on impact. And hit the buildings at such an angle, both of them, to shear multiple floors, especially the center cores, where the elevators were, which then opened up every structural support to meltdown. I know, because the man who designed the Towers, and feels unbearable guilt, because somehow he should have seen that a terrorist would fly 2 767s into them, spoke of the weaknesses of his own plan and how those buildings came down. And if anybody on earth was going to claim foul, it was the man whose reputation stood the most to lose. There are evil people out there. There are evil people who gain government positions. But not ALL of government is evil, and it would have to be for all of the conspiracies being spun out there to be true. And they’d have to have a massive tornado machine—although I’m still trying to figure out how an F-5 tornado would help the government take your guns.

  11. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Dude, thanks again for your response and comments. I’m also pleased to hear that you’re not a cop-basher because it’s difficult to have any sort of intelligent conversation with someone who only sees one view, and refuses to hear anything contrary to their opinion(s).

    Okay, I looked at the site about other structure fires. But neither of those are comparable to the trade center situations. The ones mentioned on the site were all “fire only.” The trade center towers were struck by a large aircraft that first of all compromised the structures on impact. The resulting fires were caused by jet fuel explosions (actually, they became huge bombs), which, in turn, caused fires that reached temperatures of far greater intensity than the “normal” building fires – carpet, drywall, ceiling material, furniture, all of which are supposed to made of fire retardant materials that burn slower and cooler).

    It was a perfect combination of weird circumstances that came together at once to cause the steel at the site of impact to heat and weaken – the impact of the jets, the resulting explosion (which was similar to a bomb blast or a blast during a controlled explosion), the intense heat not seen in normal fires. When the steel in or near the impact point became too weak to hold the floors above they came tumbling down, resulting in the crushing of the lower floors.

    Do you have information other then Wikipedia? I ask because Wiki is not a credible resource since anyone and his brother can contribute anything they want to the site.

  12. thedude
    thedude says:

    yes I’m not anti-cop unless I have a reason to be… a few bad apples in LA over the past 30 years should not be a reason to hate all cops.

    I think the planes definitely hit the towers. I think the towers came down, obviously.. However, the official report is that ONLY planes/fire were the reason for the collapse.. if that were true, it would be the first time in history a building of that sort totally collapsed due to fire and structural damage to only a few floors (check this link: ). All I am saying is that explosives sound a lot more plausible considering the history of fires and steel buildings.

    Also, WTC 7 did not have a plane hit it at all, and it too collapsed in what appeared to be a classic controlled-demolition style.. it had the “crimp” in the middle as it was falling (at free-fall speed btw) which indicates the center supports being blown out a few seconds before the rest of the charges. The likelihood of a modern, steel-reinforced building collapsing from fire on only a couple floors, in perfect free fall, straight down is nigh impossible. Otherwise there wouldn’t be people who get paid lots of money to demolish buildings.. it’s very difficult to create that scenario, let alone for that to happen accidentally from “a fire”. Over 1,500 architects and engineers have claimed that contrary to the U.S. government’s official story, it must have been controlled demolition. ( )

    Some other interesting facts.. 1: hitler burned down his own parliament building and blamed it on terrorists, which helped him rise to power ( 2: In what the government describes as a bizarre coincidence, a US intelligence agency (the National Reconnaissance Office or NRO) was all set for an exercise at 9 AM on September 11th in which an aircraft would crash into one of its buildings near Washington, DC. [AP, 8/22/02] Four wargames were also in progress at the time of the attacks.

    There’s a lot more.. we could be at this for days.

  13. Sandra Parshall
    Sandra Parshall says:

    Thank you for this, Lee. So much crazy talk is swirling around us these days that it’s always a relief when somebody actually makes sense. I have lost friends because they have become so extreme in their views that I can’t bear to listen to them anymore. The Internet, unfortunately, has made it possible for extremists to spread their wild theories far and wide. But it also gives sensible people a forum to speak against extremism. And we must speak against it, because it threatens to destroy our society.

  14. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Dude – You’re barking up the wrong tree. As a former detective, I’m someone who analyzes everything and uses nothing but facts before reaching a conclusion. However, I also know that most of the crazy theories about police are total BS that mainly come from people who are anti-cop, therefore no matter what the officers do the theorists always find fault. Also, many of the cop-bashers/haters aren’t true theorists, they merely use the theorists and their media sites to further their agendas.

    I’m curious, now that you brought it up…even though the world saw the planes hit the towers, and the world saw the towers come down, you’re saying that didn’t happen – that perhaps something else caused the buildings to fall and the planes were just a coincidence? Or are you, too, saying the 9-11 events were a government conspiracy? If so, who caused it? I’d like to hear your opinion.

  15. thedude
    thedude says:

    Randomly came to this article through facebook…

    I just want to say that you should be a little more appreciative of people willing to question authority. The real sheep are the people who thought that nothing was wrong with Hitler.. that “he’s a trusted leader, surely he can’t be evil.. he means well” – all the people that were crying wolf as he was coming to power were no doubt looked upon as you currently look upon conspiracy theorists. I’m not saying everyone on the internet is honest or correct, not even 50% of the time… but do not throw the baby out with the bath water. And, be willing to look at cold hard facts before you blindly believe whatever fox news tells you. For example.. my father works in the airline industry, is a republican, logical(math major) and pretty conservative.. however, he knows(along with all of his co-workers) that steel-reinforced buildings, ESPECIALLY the twin towers can’t collapse due to fire from jet fuel. It is scientifically impossible. The lead architect for the WTC is on record as saying the buildings were designed to withstand MULTIPLE impacts of a DC-9. And that’s just one fishy fact out of many. So, there is more to the story of 9-11 than meets the eye. All I’m saying is be willing to look for other answers and stories.

  16. Liz Lincoln
    Liz Lincoln says:

    It’s sad when the trusted mainstream media join into what should be the fringe element. My local paper, which masquerades as a respectable, Pulitzer-winning media outlet, has taken on what seems like a vendetta against the Milwaukee Police Department. They regularly bash the Chief of Police and often the rest of the officers. They ran a whole expose series about an incident where a suspect died in custody. The officers involved have been cleared by 3 different investigations (but can’t trust any of those – we all know law enforcement looks out for each other), but the paper knows better. It’s pathetic and disgusting and lazy reporting, but it sells.

  17. Nancy D.
    Nancy D. says:

    The best villains are the ones who are the most trusted – those who hold our lives in their hands (and we let them), those whose ultimate betrayal will shock us, because we see them as good and just with a moral compass that never wavers. The signs are there, yet we never see it coming.

    So that gives us parents and teachers and religious leaders and doctors and law enforcement. And the first time a writer chose this route, that unexpected betrayal was no doubt beyond effective. A big honkin’ wow.

    But now it’s just laziness on the part of writers, a form of copycatting. I don’t know if this trend in the entertainment industry is behind the current anti-law enforcement sentiment so prevalent in the media, but it sure isn’t helping.

  18. GunDiva
    GunDiva says:

    You mean the government doesn’t have a giant tornado machine?

    But…it’s on the internet, so it must be true, right?

    In all seriousness, I don’t know when the switch happened. Maybe I was sleeping too. The other day an officer in a nearby town was shot at during a routine traffic stop. The jackass, pulled over, jumped out of the car and started firing on the officer with an AR-15. The officer was unhurt, but shot the jackass, who is in critical condition. In my eyes, just punishment. However, the idiots in his community, instead of saying “thank you for doing the hard job we could never do”, are crucifying him.

    Since when is that ok?

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