Another Republican conspiracy theory bites the dust

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Those of you who know of my individual predilections are probably aware of my distaste for conspiracy theories. By “conspiracy theory” I mean the usual definition, an explanation for an event or situation that postulates the existence of a conspiracy by powerful and sinister groups, where coincidence and speculation are confused with actual evidence, and where actual evidence-based explanations are far more likely.

I am opposed to conspiracy theories for many reasons, principally because they teach sloppy thinking, encourage ignorance and superstition, promote evil — such as Holocaust denial and global warming denial — and because they invariably victimise the innocent.

A case in point of the latter is the so-called “Stop the Steal” movement from the 2020 election. It was a conspiracy theory cloaked in disingenuous political outrage, and it was one of the causes behind the January 6 insurrection. The ignorance promoted by Stop the Steal continues to hold sway, and has spread to other elections. It will, of course, be a feature of the 2024 presidential election. It’s ignorance on steroids, and is a typical conspiracy theory for that reason.

Of course, promoters of conspiracy theories seldom (if ever) consider the innocent victims they create. Stop the Steal famously ruined the innocent lives of Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman. It devastated the lives of many police officers on duty on January 6, 2021. Those are the more well-known victims. There were many others not so well-known, of course.

There’s a lesser known example of the hatefulness engendered by the Stop the Steal conspiracy theory, stemming from the idiotic “documentary” called “2000 Mules.” If you’re unacquainted with it, the film falsely claims that unnamed nonprofit organisations supposedly associated with the Democratic Party paid “mules” to unlawfully collect and deposit fraudulent ballots into drop boxes in the swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin during the 2020 presidential election, thereby causing Trump to lose the election.

As part of a settlement for a defamation suit, Salem Media Group, the right-wing owner of the film, issued a public apology and withdrew the film from distribution. The person they defamed was one Mark Andrews of Georgia. Andrews was surreptitiously filmed legally depositing his and his family’s 2020 ballots in a voting drop box by the morons making “2000 Mules.” The film’s narrator, voiced by arch nitwit Dinesh D’Souza, proclaims, “What you are seeing is a crime. These are fraudulent votes.”

No they weren’t. What they were seeing (and dirtied with their lies) was an ordinary, innocent American exercising his Constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. And that ordinary, innocent American successfully sued their lying asses off for saying otherwise.

“It was never our intent that the publication of the 2000 Mules film and book would harm Mr. Andrews,” a spokesperson said for the Salem group on Friday. “We apologise for the hurt the inclusion of Mr. Andrews’ image in the movie, book, and promotional materials have caused Mr. Andrews and his family.” What exactly they did intend by filming someone doing something perfectly ordinary and legal and calling it a crime they didn’t say.

This is part of a bigger reality that Republicans are having to face more and more. While their lies might be good for rousing the ire of the stupider members of their cult, those same lies don’t play well in courts of law. Just ask their cult leader, the convicted felon Donald Trump. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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