Helter Skelter in Ferguson, Missouri

helterskelterIt’s been a shitty couple of weeks for race relations in America. A grand jury decided not to indict the police officer who shot Michael Brown. People got mad. Things burned down. Those are the facts, no matter which side of the debate you fall on. Now, what probably isn’t a fact is the assertion that the Ferguson riots are actually “false flag” operations by the government, as this video insists.

The video claims to show smoking gun evidence that police or some paramilitary group is starting fires in Ferguson. Before presenting this evidence, the narrator talks you through what you’re about to see – paramilitary guys are surrounding a car in Ferguson. One of them throws something inside the car. There’s a flash of light, and the car goes up in flames. Pretty cut-and-dry, right? Then it cuts to the video:

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Yes, those are pretty clearly cops or military, and they are standing around a car. The footage is shot from a distance, so the resolution is what some on the internet would call “potato quality,” but you can make this out clearly enough. Then this happens:

ferg2…and the camera immediately cuts away from the scene. This few seconds of footage is all we have in terms of “smoking gun evidence” that cops are burning things down in Ferguson.

Now, I don’t know about you, but those look like flashlights to me. If you disagree, then I’m not sure what kind of white-hot flaming object you think they’re all casually carrying around. If you saw the above picture without context, you’d probably see what I see – some people shining flashlights into a car. But if a guy just told you that what you’re about to see is someone setting fire to a car – supposedly with a flame thrower or something – then you might think that instead. Especially if that’s what you want to believe it is. It’s the power of suggestion at work.

The camera pans away quickly at this point, so the idea that the car then went up in flames is something you have to take the narrator’s word for. And that’s a problem, because he wasn’t there either – he’s extrapolating from footage someone else took, and suggesting someone the original camera-holder did not claim.

So, the Ferguson riots apparently aren’t happening at all, they’re a false flag operation by the government to make us think people are setting fires. But then, there are the people who claim the original shooting never happened anyway. That Michael Brown was an actor, and that the entire thing was staged. It’s the same thing the conspiracy community believes about the Boston Bombing, Sandy Hook, Elliot Rodger, the Aurora shooting, Virginia Tech, and indeed every high profile event in human history.

But does that make any sense? Why would the government launch a false flag to deliberately rile up the black community, and then launch another false flag to deliberately rile the white community against them?

According to Alex Jones, among others, the answer is of course “race war.” The government wants to engineer a war between whites and blacks so that in the ensuing chaos they can take over. (Even though they’re already in charge because they’re the government, but I mean, like, super take over, like with weather machines and moon lasers and shit).

In this theory, the supposed conspirators and indeed the conspiracy theorists who push it have an unlikely ally:

mansonYou may think of the Manson Family as death cultists rather than conspiracy theorists – in reality, they were both. The idea that a race war is inevitable in our near future, and that people in power know about it and are pushing to engineer it, was their conspiracy of choice. Now, Manson was and is completely nuts (he knew the race war, which he called “Helter Skelter,” was coming because the Beatles told him in code through their song of the same name. Incidentally, that song is about playing on a slippery slide). But the Helter Skelter idea, if not referred to by that title, is a very real fear among white, mostly conservative Americans. When right-wing pundits report of escalating mob violence in black communities spreading into white communities, such as in Ferguson, they are often explicitly or implicitly warning of the coming race war.

The idea that a race war is possible or likely in America, let’s face it, comes from some pretty racist assumptions. Just as anti-semites fear Jews because of stereotypes they apply to Jews (eg. Sneaky, money-hungry, infiltrators, corruptors), the fear of a race war emerges due to assumptions that blacks are inherently more violent, stronger, and less rational or diplomatic. The “black thug” stereotype.

Uncle Charlie’s cult ran genuine false flag operations. The murder of Sharon Tate was intended to be framed as a racial attack in order to spark the uprising. Manson believed that the blacks would win the race war through brute strength, but they would be unable to run a country because they lack the ability to form societies, so they would turn to Manson and his family (who would have been hiding in bunkers) as their new leaders out of desperation. In its own strange way, Manson’s plan was a world domination plot.

On the other hand, those who fear and condemn black uprisings are presumably trying to prevent a race war – they are opposed to the government’s Helter Skelter plot – so it may seem unfair to group them in with what Manson believed. But it doesn’t really matter whether you’re for Helter Skelter or against it – if you think it’s a thing at all, either to be desired or feared, then you’re coming from the exact same place of ignorance and conspiracy theory that Manson was.

You don’t have to believe conspiracy theories about cops lighting things on fire and inciting violence in order to believe that there is racism and corruption in the police force. It’s not an either-or issue. Personally I think it’s safer to assume that the cops really want this to go away as quickly as possible. Inciting more violence is kind of against their best interests.

Emma Watson Nude!!! (Why Everything You Read is a Hoax Now)

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Note: WordPress has advised me that for every Facebook share this post receives, they will kindly donate $1 to the AIDS Foundation. So get clicking!

Back before email, we had this concept of a “chain letter.” Basically, you’d mail a letter to someone that instructed them to photocopy it X number of times, put the copies in envelopes, and mail them to your friends. Sometimes they would give some fake reason (you’ll have bad luck otherwise, or something) but the entire point was that for some reason, a lot of people get an innate thrill out of the very act of having something they created seen by a lot of other people. It doesn’t matter whether anyone knows the identity of the person who created it, or if what they created has any value whatsoever. The thing itself was quickly forgotten – it only ever mattered to the person who wrote it and the little thrill it gave them.

Today, that mentality survives. It’s never been so important to be skeptical of viral news stories. In an age when anything outrageous, infuriating or ridiculous spreads like wildfire over social media, people starved of attention are constantly wracking their brains to come up with some fake news they can release into the wild to see if it procreates or incites drama. Out of two of the biggest viral news stories of the past couple of weeks, both have turned out to be hoaxes, and perhaps unsurprisingly, both involved boobs in some way – in one case, a woman who had three, and in the other, a woman who only had two but also happened to be Hermione Granger, which the internet figured was the practical equivalent of six thousand boobs.

But while the internet believed the three-boobs lady despite the fact that they should have known better, the rumour that the website 4chan was about to release images of Emma Watson naked was believable because, hell, it completely stood to reason. Internet assholes on rancid yet popular communities like 4chan and Reddit have been engaged in a full-on war against the female gender for a while now. I’m not sure whether it properly began with feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian’s analysis of video game culture, or whether maybe it goes as far back as Elliot Rodger, but in any case, once content with allowing women to spout off out of earshot on university campuses and tumblr, angry internet teenagers have decided it’s time to go on the attack. In ridiculous campaigns like “Gamergate” and “the Fappening,” kids with nothing better to do are going after high profile women in an effort to destroy them for only pretend reasons. 4chan already stole and released hundreds of nude images of women for the crime of keeping their tits to themselves, so it was completely believable that they had some fleshy images of Emma Watson that they were threatening to release if she didn’t shut her mouth about feminism.

But then, as time went on, people started to suspect that this was a prank. After all, it was 4chan, who are known to play pranks on celebrities for no reason but shits and giggles, and it was kind of weird that if they had got a hold of Watson’s nude images, they would sit on them instead of dumping them on the internet with all the rest of them. Apart from some kids on Reddit creepily rubbing their hands and salivating over the prospect of getting to see Hermione’s womanly assets, a lot of people started chalking it up to an empty threat.

And they were right. This week it was revealed that the Watson nudes threat was a hoax perpetrated by a company called Rantic Marketing, who claimed responsibility and that they been hired by celebrity publicists to bring attention to 4chan’s criminality and lobby the government to have them shut down.

But that’s not the end of the story. It turns out that Rantic Marketing is also fake. And that’s where things get really weird.

People who looked into this company discovered that it didn’t even exist until recently, and that it’s actually run by some kind of fake news blog called FoxWeekly (no connection to the Fox company) which is in turn run by some group going by the moniker of SocialVevo. That’s about the extent that anyone can figure out what the hell is going on here.

Most viral pranks either have some kind of point to make, or exist solely for the purpose of trying to make something go viral, almost as a social experiment. Ostensibly, the Watson nudes hoax is the former – an effort to incite public disgust with 4chan – but the fact that this is itself a disingenuous hoax just leaves everyone scratching their heads.

If this is intended as an anti-4chan, pro-feminism hoax, then it’s a terribly executed one that surely has Watson thinking “thanks but no fucking thanks.” Like someone calling in a bomb threat to the White House as an endorsement of the president. I don’t know if it’s ever crossed Watson’s mind to snap some private erotica with her phone, and as always that’s her own business. If she hasn’t, then she would have known this is a hoax from the beginning, but if she has, then it’s likely she’s spent the past week rallying her lawyers together, adjusting her schedule, and preparing for intense emotional and professional fallout. That’s not a nice thing to do to someone even if you say you’re on their side.

But given that this explanation is also a smokescreen, people have begun to wonder whether this is a real “false flag” hoax that’s connected to 4chan after all, some kind of effort to create false “social justice warrior” enemies to incite even more rage against women in the media.

Personally, I suspect that’s thinking too deeply into it – this isn’t the first hoax SocialVevo has been behind, but nobody can figure out what any of their other hoaxes have been about either. Maybe it is as simple as just trying to get in the news. Maybe it’s just a private joke that only they understand. Being that they run a news site that (probably deliberately) sounds like it’s connected to Fox but only runs stories copied and pasted from other sites, they probably just get off on Facebook shares. That’s probably all this comes down to – chain letters, refined for an age when threatening people with bad luck for not passing it on just doesn’t cut it anymore. Now you have to threaten them with their own boobs.

Why Elliot Rodger Happened

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When I was younger I heard a fable called “Stone Soup,” and it went something like this: A hungry traveler arrives at some guy’s house and knocks on the door, asking for food. The man is unwilling to provide it, so the traveler tells him that he’s a master chef and if the man is willing to indulge him, he can make the most delicious soup he’s ever tasted simply by boiling a stone.

The man is intrigued, so he invites the traveler inside, and the traveler produces a large stone that he plucked off the side of the road, washes it up, and puts it in a pot of boiling water on the stove. After a while he tastes it and says that it’s doing great, but it’s going to need a bit of garnish to really bring out the flavor. So the man gets some carrots and some potatoes and some leeks and whatever and adds them to the soup. Then they add some salt and pepper and oregano and parsley. Long story short, the man is eventually amazed that this guy actually made a delicious soup out of a stone, without realizing that the stone itself had nothing to do with it.

Now, imagine this traveler isn’t offering to teach you how to make soup, he’s teaching you how to pick up women. Also he looks like this:

Myster190

That’s “Mystery,” a leading member of what’s known as the “pick up artist” community, and he claims to have unlocked the combination to women’s pants. The stone soup he’s selling is that he can teach you how to make women attracted to you simply by acting like a complete fuck knuckle. He’ll tell you something like this:

First, you have to clean yourself up real nice. Have a shower, wear some nice cologne, have a shave. Put on a nice shirt. Get some interesting hobbies to talk about. Grow a personality and some self-confidence.

Then go out and buy the biggest, dumbest fucking hat that you can find.

Now you’re ready for the final step in the plan: Go out and approach women. Engage them in conversation, listen to what they have to say, socialize and be cheerful. Also, occasionally tell them they’re fat and stupid.

The shocking thing is that pick up artistry actually does work for some men. Mystery will promise you that it’s not because you’re actually putting work into your appearance and talking to more than zero women now – clearly, that’s just garnish. The real secret is the hat and insults thing.

What does any of this have to do with Elliot Rodger? On Friday, this 22 year old man picked up a gun and used it to erase six random people and himself. He was not wearing a fuzzy hat at the time, but the media quickly began to report the fact that he was a disgruntled ex-member of the pick up artist community. Part of his motive for the massacre, as he outlined in his manifesto, was that their techniques had not worked on him. He began to spiral into depression and, finally, acute rage. Rage against the women he had tried all his life to figure out, to unlock the secret of how to get them to have sex with him, and ultimately decided to punish their incomprehensible, cruel womanhood by taking their lives.

Now, people within the PUA and related “manosphere” communities have been quick and desperate to distance themselves from Rodger. Whenever discussions pop up about the tragedy in forums and social media, there are people who will quickly try to lasso the conversation away from men’s rights rhetoric and toward the mental health issue. People can sense an attack coming – this event is for the manosphere what Sandy Hook and Aurora were for the gun community. I’m surprised that I have yet to hear anyone insist that this was a “false flag” attack carried out by feminists in an attempt to discredit the anti-feminism crowd. I have absolutely no doubt that charge is on the horizon.

It looks bad for the manosphere. When you’re trying to push the idea that feminism is a conspiracy to eradicate men and masculinity, it looks bad when someone from your side squeezes off the first shot.

I don’t think we can argue that Elliot Rodger is the product of any one thing. What is clear to me is that people don’t just suddenly emerge from a vacuum, fully formed, and start killing people. Even if Rodger was mentally ill, his actions were still shaped by the culture that birthed him over the past 22 years. And we are teaching our young men some really dumb shit.

Something like PUA emerges from a concept that pervades male society in general, which is that women are essentially aliens. You see that whenever you hear men talking about how women are confusing or irrational. We don’t try to understand them as people, we need to understand them as women. And so we as men try to figure out this thing called women so that we can interact with each other. It’s kind of perplexing that we as a species have existed for like a million years and are still laboring under the illusion that fully half of our kind have a fundamentally alien perspective on the world and we’re still trying to figure out a common language.

Men focus a lot of their energy on trying to figure out this woman thing, and some of them get really good at it. They study hard and learn about the way that women think and what women like and what women really mean when they say X. They work out how women are as though they’re a goddamn operating system. And then they meet a woman and try to apply their advanced knowledge to interact with this creature in the wild, only to discover that she doesn’t adhere to every rule that he’s figured out – and so we think, well damn, women are so confusing and contradictory, we just can’t figure them out!

But rather than come to the realization that women are diverse, individual human beings, we cling white-knuckle tight to the idea that there’s a secret code down there somewhere. And we teach our sons and reinforce to our mates that woman is something they need to figure out and master. We share among ourselves what we’ve learned about women in the hope that we can decode this age-old mystery eventually.

And this pitiful over-thinking about the whole situation ultimately ends in bitterness and resentment, specifically because our society also teaches men that women possess something that we desperately need for survival: Sex.

Rodger claimed that what drove him over the edge was that women wouldn’t have sex with him. Now, I do realize that the internal monologue of a man who is about to go out and spray his neighborhood with bullets is the ultimate unreliable narrator, but what strikes me is the way he keeps referring to women withholding sex as a “crime.” A crime so evil that it deserved the death penalty. This is where people say this guy was just nuts. Mental illness, boom, in the bag. But of course, he’s grown up in a society that teaches boys, constantly, everywhere they turn, that sex is the most important thing in the universe for them. Every movie ends with the hero winning the woman that he deserves. Every song on the radio is about the same thing. Meeting an attractive member of the opposite sex and having fun boning times for the rest of eternity. You know that if a movie starts off with the female lead already attached to some guy, he’s either going to die or turn evil by the end, because that woman belongs to the male protagonist. That’s the woman’s role in almost every popular film, book or comic out there – the conquest. The keeper of the sex.

And the construction of the male identity, what we beat into boys from a young age and reinforce over and over again, is that we are the overwhelmingly sexual gender. We think with our dicks all day long, not five minutes passes when we’re not thinking about boobies, we can’t even help ourselves. We celebrate it, we joke about the burden it places on our lives, we ridicule virgins. Society teaches men that sex is, for us, a fundamental human right, as necessary as breathing.

And that creates confusion, because men start to think about sex not just as something fun to do without clothes, but as something they deserve. Something they need. Enter the concepts of rape culture and male entitlement. And when men start to see women withholding sex as being akin to withholding food, that’s where resentment comes from. When men see an ideology like feminism threatening to further limit their ability to get sex, they become fearful and furious.

For the most part, whenever I hear people declare themselves “anti-feminist,” I suspect they have a feeble grasp on what feminism actually is. It’s not a female supremacy movement. Often you’ll hear criticisms leveled at feminism as “trying to create equality between the genders by focusing only on the problems of one gender.” That criticism is much more applicable to the men’s rights movement than it is to feminism. Feminism from an academic standpoint doesn’t ignore men’s issues, it analyses them through the observation that both men’s and women’s issues both arise from common problems that exist at the basis of our social structure. The view isn’t that men are never oppressed. It just posits the idea that, as society has long sustained a patriarchal structure, women aren’t oppressing men. Men are oppressing men.

When men feel pained and lonely at the fact that there are no women in their life, it’s because society has taught them that women and sex are something they should expect, and they feel lied to. When they see that women are becoming empowered by feminism to have greater choice in who they hook up with, and it’s not us, they feel betrayed and resentful. These people, these women, are hoarding a commodity that society tells us we need, and now we’re supposed to suck up to them, put on our fedoras and be really nice to them in the hope that they’ll give it up, and if they still don’t, well they’re just horrible, petty creatures who revel in our suffering, and if they’re not going to give it up, we’re going to have to take it.

A community on Reddit called “The Red Pill” is an example of a group of men who have come to this sad, misguided conclusion. The Red Pill, a reference to the pill that Neo takes in the Matrix that enables him to see the world as it really is, is dedicated to the idea that level interaction between men and women is futile. Their world is a battlefield, women are the enemy, and sex is the commodity they’re fighting over. Using concepts borrowed from PUA and men’s rights rhetoric, they compare notes on how to get the sex they deserve from its tyrannical, vagina-hoarding gatekeepers. They’ve reduced interaction with all women to a cold, morbid calculus. They speak at length about the myth of rape and domestic violence, all lies cooked up by the conspiracy of women who dedicate their lives to withholding sex from those men who deserve it.

The opinions of communities like The Red Pill about Elliot Rodger are united in their condemnation. To their credit, few of them support his actions, at least publically. But there is an element of suggestion that this was a man who was pushed too far by women’s refusal to give him sex, that he is a victim of women, even after killing several of them. If he’s a victim of anything, it’s sure as hell not women. But in a stunning lack of awareness, the consensus of the manosphere is clear – this guy needed to get laid. Whether they’re condemning him for his weakness or pitying him as a man pushed too far, the idea is that a good boning would have fixed him right up. The source of this tragedy is once again somehow that the women are to blame. There’s nothing wrong with the way that we put a man’s sex drive on a pedestal and command them to screw at all costs, that this is the measure of their worth.

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Or maybe we can just chalk this up to good old fashioned insanity. That’s what keeps us sleeping at night, right? Just another random act of violence that nobody could have predicted, from a mind that none of us could have comprehended. A random person snapped, no real reason. We’ll go back to discussing whether this could have been prevented with more or fewer guns. And hey… women, huh? Crazy.

Edit: I posted this earlier today with the promise that conspiracy theorists would soon be declaring this a “false flag” event, and the internet has not disappointed. This article just came to my attention:

http://jaysanalysis.com/2014/05/25/santa-barbara-shooter-psy-op-the-first-mens-rights-false-flag/

For those who don’t know, the term “false flag” dates back to the days of naval piracy, when pirates would be hired by governments to fly a particular official flag as they attacked vessels, to give the impression that a foreign navy has incited war, as a means to in fact incite war against that nation without appearing to have done so. In modern usage, the term has come to the forefront especially referring to last year’s murderfest trinity (Aurora, Sandy Hook, and the Boston Bombing) by conspiracy theorists who believe these attacks were perpetrated by the American government (usually as an attack on the second amendment) and blamed on somebody else.

As many or most conspiracy theorists think that feminism is a part of the New World Order scheme to subdue, control, and ultimately depopulate the globe, anti-feminists are going to begin declaring this event as a false flag operation, orchestrated by the government, to discredit and vilify their movement. They will be coming out of the woodwork over the next couple of days, and I expect Alex Jones will weigh in soon.