The Practice of Free Speech Is a Spiritual Necessity

I almost began by writing that I’m sick of politically tinged topics and wish to dedicate a column to something spiritual… but this one lands me right to the heart of free speech.  Everything, alas, has grown political.

In my nightly meditation (it’s my variety of prayer), I pass a “station” where I ask myself if I have “reached out” that day, because I’m convinced that exchange of some sort has to be an essential part of why we’re here.  We are not finished products.  We cannot allow ourselves to be deposited in a curio cabinet (or deposit ourselves there), safe from dust and errant missiles.  That doesn’t mean that we have a holy obligation to throw our elbows about and shout around the water cooler; it simply means that we must find a way to register our “take” on the truth as events unfold around us in this accelerated, hyper-active, overly medicated e-world of our creation.  Not to speak up in some manner, unfortunately (for the meditative, to whom silence is golden), is these days equivalent to nodding quiet assent to the slanders and inanities that build a dizzy momentum on Twitter, Facebook, and the rest.  “Pushback” is required.

And it was ever so, to be honest.  Monastic seclusion is beneficial only to the extent that it allows the hermit to reflect.  As soon as it favors a suspension of thought and a mind-numbed retreat into daily routine, it shuts down the individual’s opportunity to grow further.  A cow is not the ultimate sage.

I write this as someone with very strong tendencies to flee to an island and sink the skiff that brought me there.  That’s why I have to hold myself to an accounting every evening.  Exchange is required, not just (or even primarily) for the benefit of one’s “benighted” neighbors: it prods one’s soul, as well, into probing questions deeper and framing answers better.

Hence my quoting the word “benighted” above—for we must not think of our intellectual participation as gracing the world with prophetic revelations or as hammering sinners for not falling in with the onward march of Christian (or socialist, or utopian) soldiers.  An exchange not only runs in two directions: it also, in a truly Christian context, must accept limitation and fallibility.  Beings such as we cannot fully grasp ultimate truth, let alone express it.  Though I may be closer to the mark than you, and though I may know well that you won’t accept my correction—however modestly offered—I still need the “exercise in futility” involved in making my case to you so that I may better guard against any straying off target from my side.  When I’m enhancing a digital photo, I always overshoot the point where the lighting or coloring is just right; for how will I know where “just right” is if I haven’t veered into “too much”?

Not that I deliberately go too far in my speech or writing… but I will never “nail” the full truth; and without the evidence of a day’s slight (or gaping) misses, how will I restrain myself from the pride of feeling that I—in my superior silence—understand everything while the others are mere puny mortals?

There, in a nutshell, lies the spiritual necessity of exchange.  And there, as well, lies the wickedness of shutting down exchanges in the interest of “what’s right”.  So you know exactly what’s right, do you?  How generous of God, to loan you His eyes and sit you upon His throne!  But, of course, the people who would shut down such discussion do not regard their perspective as on loan.  In a post-religious world, their vision has become the new god—and they are all his prophets.

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If You’re Male and Have a Pulse, Then Someone Somewhere Could Ruin Your Career (Part Two)

Despite such moments of sublime insight as concluded my previous post, I was an emotional wreck by the time I was awarded a Ph.D.  Once again, I sought refuge among “salt of the earth” types who professed strong religious principles—specifically, in the singles class of a mammoth Baptist church feeding off the small East Texas city where I found work.  I ended up trying to court another strawberry blonde (damn it!), this one as statuesque and serene as the other had been tomboyish and lively.  We had many private conversations which I mistook for intimate, but which, in retrospect, were ice-cold with all that box-checking and “image maintenance” to which young women pay such attention.  When I dared at last to bring my Olympian beauty a lavish bouquet of flowers, the temperature hit Absolute Zero, and I realized that the soles of my shoes again needed cleaning.

Here I will observe (as I begin to aim this long ramble at a destination) that either one of my strawberry blondes—either Baptist Preacher’s Cowgirl Daughter or Celestial Ice Queen—could have charged me with stalking, as the word is now rather carelessly understood.  Yet in both cases, I was only believing the claptrap that I was told and trying to show myself patient and respectful.  One girl was competing with a roommate and a soap opera to stage Cattle Country’s Most Roller-Coaster Romance, the other playing some Duchess of Lonely Hearts game until a dentist finally swept her up in his gilded coach.  I could have done without the “I’m so innocent” act, in the former case, and the “My past has mysteriously wounded me” act, in the other… but I was given no cues outside the context of games that I didn’t know how to play.

If I were running for public office, could an incident of this sort not be dredged up out of my past to prove me a creepy pervert?  Or what about the woman (no longer a girl, by any measure) who threatened to accuse me to my new bosses of being a predator?

I had met her through a book club, of all things (this was a bit before the Internet and Match.com).  I was well into my thirties now myself; and as disgusted and embarrassed as I was by my own lack of progress in these matters, I had acquired greater powers of observation.  I knew very early that Cynthia was a seriously damaged subject.  She spoke to me once of her father (with whom—and her mother—she still lived) knocking her cold with a fire poker as if it were the kind of thing every child goes through; and her fondness for alcohol and cigarettes was hard to hide.  Yet there was a sensitive, genuine person on the flip side of her fiercely sarcastic and vindictive alter ego.  I could add that she was an attractive blonde… but that would explain nothing at this point, for our initial acquaintance had smoothly advanced though the mail.

When I severed this always prim and proper relationship, I knew well that I might be accused of rape, kidnapping, child-cannibalism, and burning candles at an altar to Adolph Hitler if Cynthia were having one of her bad days.  I haven’t forgotten that lesson.  The claim made currently in the press and other highly politicized circles that women never lie about such matters isn’t laughably wrong: it’s dangerously, criminally wrong.  It’s the equivalent of a loaded gun placed in the hands of a drunken psychotic. Does no one remember Potiphar’s queen, or the tragic Phaedra?

I met my wife shortly thereafter: a brunette, who was visiting the singles class in a Baptist church!

The ancients, having survived a disaster at sea, would take their tattered clothing and their salty oar and nail it all to a post in Poseidon’s temple.  I offer my past miseries up to God for anyone to see who’s of a mind to learn.  The Seventies and Eighties did not liberate women.  Those times left them abused, confused, resentful, eager to fight, and quick to run for cover.  We cannot undo the damage by burning a few—or many—males at the cross.  If the typical male has now become predatory and if gentlemen are in very short supply these days, it is because yesteryear’s feminists trashed all lady-like qualities and attempted to be predators themselves. The result was as predictable as a foolish wildebeest’s charge into a lion’s den.

Our culture remains, in sexual matters, a smoking Chernobyl, and a garden hose won’t accomplish the necessary detoxification.  Just this past week, I found a series on Netflix titled Godless—brilliantly produced and even very poignant at times, but heavily embedded in the notion that women could be gunslingers in the Old West or, as prostitutes, could make out as well as a Wall Street tycoon.  I could name at least half a dozen other serials, movies, or Netflix gems that sell the same Kool-aid—and I’ve only seen the trailers and teases, for the most part. Women “whuppin’ ass” in a world where whimpy men can’t pry themselves loose from their coffee mugs… really?  So that kind of Never Never Land fantasy is going to help us get everyone’s head straight? Including the male’s?

The old Virginia Slims ad propaganda needs revision: “You’ve got a long way to go, baby…” except that—pardon me, progressive marketers—a gentleman doesn’t address a lady as “baby”.

Roy Moore, Sex, the Seventies, and the South (Part Two)

Here’s the second half of my “unacceptable” essay about Roy Moore–and it may just be my comments about Mr. Lincoln’s bloody dictatorship that got the door closed in my face.

I myself didn’t actually court younger girls very often in my thirties—but I knew those who did. At a large Southern Baptist church which I visited frequently (since it was the only place in town to meet single women other than a bar, and marginally the more wholesome gathering of the two), we were classed in Sunday School rigidly according to age; and, yes, I observed more than one thirty-something man to forsake the abundant company of wounded divorcees and go hang out with the college girls. The age gap always froze me in my tracks when I contemplated the maneuver. I was afraid that a younger woman might be interested in me only and precisely because I was older: that is, she would assume that I was “experienced” in various and mysterious ways rather than that I was a bookish, retiring person who had hunkered down as the hurricane of the Sexual Revolution raged overhead. I’m sure certain people who wished me no particular good must have whispered various ingenious theories about how I had come to remain single at thirty-two. In fact, I was occasionally apprised of the speculation by busy “well-wishers” who “just thought I should know”.

Now, I quite obviously cannot attest that my situation and Roy Moore’s were closely parallel in the manner that I have just suggested. I hope they were. That would allow me to let the Judge off the hook for everything except some very clumsy prevarications in the throes of “Yankee-induced panic”. I can further imagine, without much of a stretch at all, a fourteen-year-old girl whose parents have split up being titillated by the prospect of drawing attention from an older, “more experienced” man. And I can imagine her creating fantasies that come to have the vividness of reality for her—perhaps to the point that she holds the older man responsible for not finding her more interesting and considers herself somehow violated by him. Look up a classic black-and-white film with Lawrence Olivier and Sarah Miles titled Term of Trial if you want to view a good example of just how such things can happen.

I do not believe that Moore had the sort of encounter with the fourteen-year-old which she has described, forty years later, as a middle-aged woman. It would make no sense. Having exercised gentlemanly restraint around the older teenagers (who had reached the legal age of consent), as all parties acknowledge who acknowledge anything at all—and this excludes Roy himself, at least during Hannity’s interview—why would the same man then strip naked before a child? In the scenario I have portrayed, Moore would most likely have an interest in younger women precisely because he was striving to preserve an abstemious Christian lifestyle before marriage. Had this not been his objective—believe me—he could have found dozens and dozens of playmates to party with in the pre-AIDS, hypersexualized Seventies. Yes, even down in the land of cotton, where there’s a steeple on every street corner.

A Southerner, a Christian, a white male… Roy Moore is everything our intelligentsia loves to hate. The only thing needed to fill out his profile, as far as the opinion-makers are concerned, is a trail of corpses indicating the activity of a serial killer. I do wish this man were not so verbally klutzy; and, as a Christian myself, I wish he would not retreat to Bible-thumping every time he senses that the jackals are closing in. Just because all martyrs suffer doesn’t mean that everyone who suffers is a martyr.

On the other hand, I have to reject the pronouncement of Gregg Jarrett (for whose views I have the utmost respect) that Moore is an antinomian renegade just because he has defied the Supreme Court. “Renegade” seems to me a pretty accurate descriptor for more than one of the nine worthies who sit on that august body. Then, too, Mr. Jarrett, you must understand that some of us in the South, even now, have not forgotten the hypocrisy of a central government that invaded its member states for exercising a constitutional freedom, all the while sanitizing its act by decrying the atrocity of slavery yet tolerating the institution in “loyal” states and freeing Southern slaves only to serve as cannon fodder, imprisoning publishers and legislators in states as remote as Illinois and New York for resisting Mr. Lincoln’s draft and his sanguinary policies, and carting away plunder while leaving once-prosperous cites in ashes. Roy Moore speaks to those memories, as sublimated as they have grown and as unhappily knotted as is his drawling tongue. The government in Washington, Mr. Jarrett, observes what clauses of the Constitution it feels like reading on what days it finds itself in an observing mood.

We revere the Constitution in the South. The faraway, faceless government that claims to rule by constitutional authority? Not so much.

Roy Moore, if you are that caricature of a Christian gentleman that they make of you in the corridors of power… then God help us, and I only hope that forty years have taught you how to keep a belt buckled.

Roy Moore, Sex, the Seventies, and the South (Part One)

The following is the exact text submitted to an e-colleague who has always published my ruminations before on his busy site.  He woudn’t touch this one, or even tell me why not.  Roy Moore is apparently radioactive for “intellectuals”–especially those with good northeastern educations.

I had to wince at Roy Moore’s answers to Sean Hannity a couple of weeks back. Specifically, there was far too much talk about how the mothers of a seventeen- and an eighteen-year-old girl “liked” Roy and were pleased to have him courting their daughters–how he never asked a girl out without first consulting the lady of the house–followed by reiterated insistence that, no, he didn’t date teenagers when he was a thirty-two-year-old. So, Roy… these two particular moms wanted you to court their daughters, but you refused because of the age gap? And when you asked out a woman of twenty-eight, you first contacted her mother so as to ascertain if a date would be acceptable? Is that what you’re saying?

I so wanted to like this man… but thanks to contradiction and incoherence flowing from his mouth in a steady, unsavory mush, he has rendered himself impossible to believe and presently looks as guilty as Ganelon. If your account of how you did not do a deed is insulting to people with IQ’s higher than the temperature on Christmas Day, then you likely did the deed. (For instance, if you claim that you found a gun in a dumpster and decided to shoot a seal with it, but dropped the piece and then stumbled so that your toe pulled the trigger while pointing the muzzle further downward so as to create a ricochet… but I forgot that such things really happen in San Francisco.)

I concluded after the Hannity interview, then (with my head buried in my hands), that Moore must have done everything of which he stood accused. I was ready to fit the noose around his neck myself.

As the weeks have stumbled along, however, as awkwardly as an expatriate seal-hunting drug-dealer on a crowded pier, I began to reconsider. I did so largely on the basis of my own recollections of the Seventies, and of the ordeal of being a single Christian male during those suicidally hedonistic days. Here’s what I wish Judge Moore had said, and what I think he may have meant to say:

“Mr. Hannity, I’m sorry that you think it’s a perversion for a man of thirty-something years to ask a girl fresh out of high school for a date. In the rural South and out West, such practices were routine rather than unusual (let alone aberrant) before the Civil War; and in some parts of the South, things haven’t changed that much. But, yes, they’ve changed enough to have made my courting practices a little oddball back in the 1970’s. All the same, in my neck of the woods, asking out a girl ten or fifteen years your junior wouldn’t have been equated with pedophilia necessarily, as you seem determined to do–and your making that association really intimidates me. I’m really tempted to scuff up certain boundaries and hedge on the truth, except that I know I would be setting my foot in my own snare. You fast-talking Yankees, Mr. Hannity… you all have a way, you know, of making us Southerners feel like backward, inbred perverts, deviants, mutants, and retrogrades. You’re always so sure of yourselves, and we’re always Exhibit A for human failure and degeneracy. But I’m going to admit to the seventeen- and the eighteen-year olds–those were innocent adventures involving nothing more torrid than a light kiss at the end of the evening; and I’ll attempt to explain to you something further about the Seventies.

“You just about couldn’t find a girl to go on a date with back then who didn’t expect the evening to end up in bed. It didn’t even matter much if you met her at church. Since I had been unwise or unlucky enough to remain single into my thirties, most of the available women were divorcees, and they weren’t in any hurry to repeat what they regarded as a mistake: to get married again, that is to say. They held the institution of marriage at fault for their unhappiness, and not their own evaluation of marriageable material. They had decided that if they ever did marry a second time, they would do so only after giving the vehicle several test-drives. Unfortunately, this attitude not only tolerates behavior that a Christian is not supposed to practice; it also doesn’t yield the sort of confirmation that girls back then seemed to expect of it. So if I had engaged in the dating game as it was then being played by people of my age, I would have been exploiting women for my selfish sexual pleasure, albeit with their permission–and I would have been preparing them for another personal catastrophe following hard upon their previous one, since they were seeking to build a solid edifice upon a foundation of sand.

“Of course, there were better-educated women of approximately my years who had not rushed into marriage right out of high school, as we tend to do in the South; but few of them, frankly, clung even the rudiments of Christian belief that I found in struggling, confused divorcees. Indeed, it was the creed of feminism, learned in colleges and exported by these dazzling graduates into professional circles throughout the community, that probably induced many a single-parent secretary or nurse to follow the same lifestyle. For that was how the ‘smart’ people lived.

“In those circumstances, Mr. Hannity, I conceived the perhaps ill-advised notion of trying to date ‘unspoiled’ girls–young ladies who were neither exiting an unhappy marriage nor bound for a campus that would make them wise in the ways of contraception and abortion. I thought I was choosing the best option of the few available to me. Naturally, I made myself look a little ridiculous to certain people in the community who were already disposed to dislike me. Some of them, I’m sure, made me out to be a pervert and a predator, because I had left myself in a perfect position to receive shots like that. My ill-wishers in the law enforcement fraternity, especially, would start rumors about how they had to warn old Roy away from the young girls at the shopping mall. That’s what Jesus said would happen if you didn’t follow the way of the world. Him, the Son of God, they called a drunkard and a reveler, a companion of shady characters like tax-collectors. If the world would say that of Him, why would it say kinder things of me?”

Kind of a long speech for a Hannity segment, I know… but I wish Judge Moore had uttered something in the vicinity of my script.    continued tomorrow

R.I.P., Kate Steinle—and God Help the Rest of Us

Some day, I will be able to speak freely about several subjects that weigh very heavily on my heart at the moment. As a teacher of over thirty years’ experience, I am dismayed, disgusted, and even infuriated by things that I see going on around me… but I must not speak. Not yet.

So I’ll content myself, at the moment, with a few comments about the liberation of Kate Steinle’s killer by a San Francisco jury last week.

Yes, it was a jury’s decision, and not an activist judge’s, for a change. Yet the judge could have thrown out the verdict, as I understand, had he or she determined that the jury ignored its instructions and willfully disregarded the letter of the law. I don’t know how this could be said not to have happened when the shooter, a convicted felon, was in possession of a firearm. That act in itself is already a crime, whether the felon shoots the piece or not. If he merely touches it, he’s in violation of the law. Nevertheless, the sterling character in question was exonerated on that charge.

Neither do I understand how a defendant is allowed to walk when his defense is a patchwork of lies, many of them trimmed with other lies when the earlier versions sprang leaks. I accuse you of emptying out my wall safe. You say, No, I spent that evening at my auntie’s. Well, that’s not what you aunt says. Oh, did I say “aunt”? I meant “uncle”! Well, your uncle’s been dead for three years. But I was at his house. No, you weren’t: the new owners don’t know you. But I was going over there to fetch some stuff, but my car broke down….

Now, nothing in such a line of questioning establishes that you in fact possess the contents of my safe. You have lied so many times in seeking an alibi, however, that your evasions may—and should—be construed as evidence of guilt.

But not in San Francisco.

Apparently, Franciscans are so blissfully, virtuously ignorant of the operation of firearms, furthermore, that they are incompetent to pass judgment on an act involving one. You cannot fire a gun with your toe—not unless you’re a chimp, and your heel can bend like the palm of your hand to restrain the handle as the trigger is compressed. (Was our innocent murderer shoeless? Did anyone even ask? You certainly can’t pull a trigger with a sneaker!) The bullet is supposed to have ricocheted upward into Ms. Steinle’s heart. What did it hit? A forty-caliber slug would have to encounter something pretty solid to gain four feet of height within fifty feet of distance—always assuming that the gun was lying flat on the pier. Did anyone bother to reconstruct the incident? What hard surface did the bullet strike?

Of course, my guess is that it didn’t matter, and wouldn’t matter. California juries are composed of people who intend to go to sleep that night wrapped in a warm confidence that they are morally superior to the rest of the nation. They’re not going to bully people of other cultures. The poor immigrant fellow was just trying to make his way in the world. The real villain here is the NRA—because without the NRA, there would be no guns. And so on, and so on… nighty-night.

How many of our neighbors and our relatives will have to die so that these pompous idiots can curl up in their solipsistic, sociopathic utopianism every hour of every day?

On the Educated Elite’s Adoration of Centralized Authority: Part One

A conversation I had earlier this week is really getting me down. The person concerned is a Chinese colleague who survived the Tiananmen Square crackdown and knows the PRC’s communist regime up close and personal. I’ve grown very fond of her. I think she understands much about freedom that most Americans have forgotten. And yet…

And yet, she readily unleashes comments such as the following. All Trump voters are impoverished, uneducated, blue-collar white people (what we call down South “poor white trash”). They are single moms with five kids and no job. They’re grouchy old men living in clapboard houses with sagging, leaky roofs. They’re cousins of the cast of Moonshiners, wearing no shirt under their overalls, sporting boots with holes cut for their toes, and lisping through their remaining teeth that jut out like yellow tusks. How could they possibly be anyone else? All the smart, educated people voted for the other party. With an absolute conviction of omniscience and infallibility that the Chinese system drums into its own educated elite—including a reflexive “doubling down” response whenever one blunders into error—this worthy colleague sought to school me on the demographics and propensities of my own society.

I sought to remonstrate mildly. Excuse me… but the type of person just described a) rarely votes at all, and b) votes solid “D” (as his or her relatives have done immemorially) on rare trips to the polling station.

More significantly, my disputant maintained that these fictitious masses were voting against their interest in supporting a candidate who would cut off the flow of freebies. My own belief (and fear) is that Donald Trump isn’t this type at all, ideologically (which is why I didn’t vote for him); and my further belief (and fear) is that no one is served, eventually, by trying to bleed a corpse that has already started to draw flies.

Indeed, my original comment that started this conversational ball rolling into the La Brea Tar Pits was that all of our masses—American, Chinese, English, Italian—are too multitudinous, too unskilled, too needy, and too prolific for any of the world’s devious political systems to keep sustaining them. A sow with a dozen teats cannot feed fifty piglets. The world’s various political elites all know this. Ergo, it is painfully obvious that various plans for mass die-off at some critical point must be circulating in back rooms, bunkers, and barrooms of exclusive golf courses.

My point never penetrated. Despite her experience of authoritarianism, my colleague couldn’t grasp the extremely high probability that the nerve ganglion of an intricately centralized human system would devise ways to rid its outer reaches of unproductive cells. Indeed, I have noticed in her and other Chinese an almost obsessive concern over access to doctors and medicine, as if the “dependency” impulse had been activated across the board. When educated Chinese are imprisoned by their paternalistic handlers (an ordeal euphemistically known as “going to the police station for a cup of tea”), their first lament seems to be for their meds. The orientation toward the ganglion is invincible, apparently. After all, how could we survive without a brain, even though some brains think evil thoughts?

Yep. Depressing. God forbid that we should use our own brains!

How to Hide in Plain Sight: Surround Yourself in Conspiracy Theory

Societies have always been vulnerable to blindness induced by their own prejudices.  If a child were born under the “wrong” alignment of the stars, or if a crow flew left instead of right as an expedition started out, then human ingenuity and determination could be negated by an invincible sense of doom.  To our own time of mass communication, instant dissemination, and absence of rooted values, however, belongs a special susceptibility to “being handled”.  Devious people can lead us all around by the nose with a bridle of two or three words… or even just one.

The idiotic coinage “judgmental” has been such a word since my early youth.  So we are not to judge anything?  But are we not judging, then, those who practice judgment?  And how does anyone abandon judgment without surrendering consciousness?  Don’t we still advise our children not to climb into cars with strangers?  Don’t we pass on eggs and yogurt if their container declares them out of date?

Of course, the whole idea behind “non-judgmental” is to judge very harshly and rashly a person or group designated by our handlers as caught red-handed in the exercise of principles.  It’s an easy sell to such as we have become.  Simply by turning off our brains, we ascend to the ranks of the “best” people.  We didn’t really want to think, anyway.  It’s painful.

Or take the phrase “conspiracy theory”.  Who wants to be detected in entertaining a crackpot idea?  That’s the only kind ever known to have been hatched by “conspiracy theorists”, you know.  They believe that reptilian aliens living in Inner Earth slipped Lee Harvey Oswald his rifle, shape-shifted to become Dick Cheney, and loaded the 9/11 jetliners with robots.

The truth is that a conspiracy is any plot to maneuver a person or persons into a certain behavior by withholding critical portions of situational truth.  Two or more must be involved in the subterfuge.  A lad who bribes a girl’s best friend to praise him lavishly to her has launched a conspiracy.  A dad who promises his son a new video game if he votes that the family should vacation in the Rockies instead of at the beach has created a co-conspirator.  Conspiracies are a fact of ordinary life.  To hear the “conspiracy theory” theorists, you’d think that all the laws on the books against conspiring to commit criminal acts would be redundant.  Few people would ever be stupid enough to conspire, and nobody would be stupid enough to believe them if they tried!

Labeling intelligent suspicion of official accounts a “conspiracy theory” has now become a favorite species of disinformation.  If you and your cronies design a lie for feeding to the public, and if some group of skeptics indicts your veracity, play the CT card.  “Oh, sure, that’s right… we wanted to cover up the existence of an alien spacecraft at Roswell, even though its discovery would have revolutionized modern living.  We want to stay in the Dark Ages—and we lied about the Lizard Men who fought us for the wreckage, too!”

A dismissive documentary about the Roswell incident quoted a high-ranking general testifying before Congress in almost exactly these terms—and the narrator obligingly rated the testimony “devastating” to the conspiracy crowd, though it had no more substance than I have portrayed.  All you have to do is sniff, be a little snarky, and tilt your head in the direction of “the troglodyte set over there”.

An infinitely subtler use of the technique, however, is to finance your own “conspiracy theory” clique, broadcast, or website to cry out against the very conditions you wish to hide.  Instead of cozening interviewers for the Roswell documentary to ignore the evidence of an extraterrestrial encounter, play the thing up to the hilt.  Make your own film.  Carry it far over the top.  Spread rumors that one alien pilot survived and conferred with President Truman.  Create a list of everyone in the county who died over the next decade and speculate that government agents “took them out”.  Disgust the public with your lunacy.

I sincerely wonder if some of the more extravagant serials and documentaries about the Kennedy assassination, alien visitors, 9/11, and the rest do not have their roots in this more subtle kind of dissuasion: the “make the believers look like psychos on crack” approach.  But that, of course, would just be another conspiracy theory.