Now I have heard everything! The monumentally stupid Pauline Hanson has raised the possibility of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre being a put-up job organised by ‘the government’ solely to tighten gun laws1. Apparently, she read some book by a conspiracy theorist and immediately believed it. What I, and many others, find hard to believe about this is that Pauline Hanson actually read a book. The fact that she believed what was said in this book is unsurprising; she is so gullible she will believe pretty much anything she is told. Some time ago, and much to naval officers’ stifled amusement, she once believed that a new submarine propulsion system (a pump-jet) only allowed submarines to stay submerged for 20 minutes2. She presumably had been told this by one of the other halfwits in One Notion. The lack of common sense is stupendous; but as my old man used to say: ‘common sense isn’t that common’.
Pauline Hanson is, of course, not the only person who believes in these idiotic conspiracy theories. Gun nut, Senator David Leyonhjelm, has stated there were ‘legitimate’ questions about Port Arthur, although he denied being a conspiracy theorist himself3. Basically, that is him saying: ‘I’m asking if there was some sort of conspiracy, but I am not a conspiracy fruitcake’. Really?
Pauline Hanson initially doubled up, after a fashion, on a morning television program, where she said “My comments were made at a dinner table, they were not made publicly”. Of course, she blamed al-Jazeera ‘and an undercover agent’ for exposing her. As host Tom Steinfort subsequently said: “You know what jumped out at me, is the fact that she denies everything and says it’s all a conspiracy, and then says she hasn’t watched the documentary”. Indeed, Hanson had stated that the footage has been edited and dubbed, despite not having watched it. This is, at best, a ludicrous proposition, and is simply Hanson, in desperation, saying anything she thinks will get her out of this predicament with her gullible voters. An admission of stupidity is what is required, but is clearly out of the question. Finally, she tried to blame it on Qatar, where al-Jazeera is based, by insinuating that it was that nation which was trying to ‘interfere in the Australian election’.
When Pauline Hanson was ridiculed and subject to opprobrium from the families of victims and others in Tasmania and elsewhere, she backed off and on Andrew Bolt’s television program, stated that if she “really thought [the massacre] was a conspiracy theory (sic)”, she had had two and a half years in parliament to speak up about it. She then stated that she had no doubt that the person convicted of the crime was the murderer. However, later on in the same interview, she seems to indicate that the massacre was not what it seemed, and that the convicted person couldn’t have shot with such precision. This is one of the standard items of garbage by the few Port Arthur conspiracy theorists, that the shooter must have been a trained marksman. This was even too much for Andrew Bolt, who said something along the lines of ‘he was standing over them; that is not precision shooting’. Hanson’s assertion is, of course, just the same sort of stuff you get from all conspiracy theorists, whether it be dealing with massacres, evolution, spheroidal earth, vaccinations, September 11, the moon landings, chemtrails, the Kennedy assassinations, climate change, or any other part of the modern world with which the ignorant seem unable to cope.
Where do these conspiracy theories come from? It has been suggested that they explain disturbing events or social phenomena in terms of the actions of specific powerful individuals, and that they deflect responsibility or keep people from acknowledging that tragic events are sometimes largely inexplicable5. Admitting the Port Arthur murderer was simply another gun nut, in Hanson’s and the gun nuts’ perception, in part implicates them.