A little paranoia from the left, for once

Benjamin Chase of the Plainsman
Posted 4/21/23

In this From the Mound, the writer takes a look at what conspiracies would look like from the left side of the political aisle

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A little paranoia from the left, for once


“I don’t know anymore
Are the neighbors watching me? (Who’s watching?)
Well, is the mailman watching me? (Tell me, who’s watching?)
And I don’t feel safe anymore, oh, what a mess
I wonder who’s watching me now (who?), the IRS?”
“I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me” - Rockwell

The son of Motown CEO Berry Gordy, Rockwell was estranged from his father at the time of recording his one hit single, released in 1984. Rockwell’s mother sent multiple sample tracks to his father, but none particularly impressed Gordy.

That was, until Rockwell got Michael Jackson to sing the hook line on the song and Michael’s brother Jermaine Jackson to add backup vocals on this tune. The paranoia-based song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Ben Bowlin of the “Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know” podcast has said that being skeptical and even leaning into some conspiracy theories is wise, as full information is not always provided. The “STDWYK” podcast has been around for more than a decade now, investigating conspiracies to decipher between the fact and fiction surrounding each one.

The key is to focus on objective information when researching a conspiracy theory, but many of the most-cited conspiracies tend to ignore facts for story purposes. The podcast has explored things like Wiki Leaks, Edward Snowden, aliens, Tuskegee, the Kennedy assassination, crisis actors and so many more things over the years.

Recent conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 election and COVID were also covered extensively, though many of those episodes hit on things that then are significantly ignored by those who badly want to believe the conspiracies.

While a little paranoia and over-awareness can even be healthy (especially when online or using social media), often the political conspiracies come predominantly from one side of the aisle.

After a recent decision to adopt the wildly unpopular social studies standards, some have begun to question the motivations behind the new standards that are being forced upon the state’s public schools, and that sparked an idea for a farcical piece this week.

For a bit of “fun” this column, we’re going to explore a few potential conspiratorial thoughts with recent actions of the state and/or national government, and what could potentially be on the horizon. Mind you, these will all be viewing actions of a state government that is strongly leaning to one side of the aisle, so the criticisms are based toward that leaning, not an indication of my personal preference, my personal beliefs, or even something truly feasible.

These are just the type of conspiracies that would be considered if the tin foil was on the head on the other side of the aisle.

Conspiracy #1: Recent proposed (and frequently passed) bills limiting women’s access to medical care, homosexual rights, and degrading/denouncing the existence of transsexual persons are a cover up to those who are continually doing bad things and are well-known supporters/backers of the right wing.

The way that this one goes, forcing women to have children that they do not want and/or do not have the ability to raise financially while also then reducing funding to vital early-life funding for those in poverty ends up creating a host of desperate, poor women and children. Those women and/or children aren’t going to fight when abused mentally, physically, or sexually by those in power that the right wing likes or receives heavy support from in the way of political donations or even platforms to “insist” upon right wing politics to their followers/listeners/viewers.

Actions to dehumanize LGBTQ+ persons allow for an easy blame target when someone does come forward with an accusation. A recent exploration by an independent Florida newspaper found that the publicly-released arrests on charges of child exploitation, child pornography, and child sexual abuse in that state were heavily toward those in positions of law enforcement and clergy/youth pastors (nearly 2/3 of all arrests in those two groups).

Less than 1% were by a transsexual individual - and none by drag performers.

Conspiracy #2: Talking about freedom is only okay if the “freedom” agrees with the speaker’s personal beliefs.

Guns are always okay ­— even when certain guns are frequently used to shoot schools and parties of young people.

The Bible is always okay, and prayer should be frequent in public/government spaces while the Ten Commandments are enshrined on the wall — but no imams or rabbis should come near the podium to share a prayer.

My body, my choice — unless your body has a dead fetus in it. Then you’re required to carry it to term because the surgery to remove a dead fetus is termed an “abortion” under laws written by predominantly men who have no uterus or background in women’s medical needs.

Freedom is preached constantly by the right, but bills proposed and passed continually limit those who may partake in activities that the writer either doesn’t agree with or wants to hide personal involvement with - drag shows, smoking marijuana, same-sex partner protection.

However, drinking alcohol is viewed as just fine, leading to DUI laws being made more lenient multiple times in the last five years.

Conspiracy #3: Attacking schools, teacher unions and books are a mass movement to end the public school system altogether.

This one rings a bit close to home with the recent decision to accept the social studies standards that were overwhelmingly spoken against by anyone involved in education. The two members of the seven-person board who voted against the proposed changes were the two with the longest and most direct involvement in education.

The governor’s office and many hard-right legislators have proposed bills the last few years to reduce the power of teacher unions, to limit what teachers can use in their classrooms, and to provide additional funding to private schools and home schooling parents — typically without increasing overall education expenditures.

There’s nothing wrong, per se, with a private school or home school education, but those utilizing private schools or home schooling have no requirement to adhere to the new standards adopted by the state. They also can choose teachers whether or not they have an education degree at a private institution. That’s not something a public school will get the choice to do.

Last summer, more than 500 teaching positions were open for 2022-2023 when the 2021-2022 school year completed. Many teachers have already stated that they intend to take early retirement or leave the field of education rather than deal with the new standards that are not age-appropriate and will require significant time investment from teachers who are already paid among the lowest wages in the nation for their work. Could the state see 1,000 openings this spring or next spring before the standards are implemented?

Teachers leaving the profession will eventually lead to public schools having to close for lack of educators who meet the minimum education requirements in a public school environment and are willing to teach within the state. Once schools begin closing, that’s more money back into the state budget, hence the desire to push policies that force public schools to close on their own rather than pull a Bill Janklow and make public plans to consolidate and/or close schools.

It’s interesting to read these and realize that as outlandish as they each are, there is as much or more factual support for any of them as for Pizzagate.

Maybe the left side of the aisle needs to toss out more conspiracy theories. Or maybe actual government “for the people” would not be so obviously biased as to hint at conspiracies.

Nah…what fun would that be?!