And when it comes to current affairs it doesn’t come much more murky than Osama Bin Laden and his bizarre relationship with the US Government — a relationship which makes Joey and Pacey’s let’s-be-friends-actually-let’s-not-be friendship (from hit series Dawson’s Creek) look positively simple by comparison. Now, as anyone who is familiar with this, that’s really saying something (and for anyone who isn’t, ask someone older than you what I am talking about).
So, the news came today that Osama Bin Laden is dead. Not allegedly dead, or probably dead, but definitely dead. Shot definitely dead, to be specific, in a covert operation by a group of US elite Navy Seals. Like many, this news didn’t surprise me in the least. It was a matter of time until it happened, and the comments on the BBC web-site are – I assume, as I haven’t visited every other web-site yet – indicative of what most people are thinking. That’s to say the collective opinion is enormously mixed. A lot of people are celebrating, many are concerned about what this might mean for the future, and many more are dubious that Osama was ever shot at all. Many more are probably outside having fun and clueless to this news, seeing as it’s a Bank Holiday, and who can blame them?Or maybe not…for a moment there I completely forgot about the iphone…
Then there are the conspiracy theorists who take it one step further. They’ve been waiting for this day for a long time, and they’re suggesting – many with a bit too much enthusiasm for their beliefs – that Osama’s death is linked intrinsically to the US, the UK, the world, in complex political ways which are, for the majority of people, quite difficult to comprehend.
Now, I’m not going to get too deep into what I believe here about the rights and wrongs of it all. Why? Because I’m not entirely certain what I believe. Opinion, after all, is not a stationery immobile thing. By its very nature it changes and shifts as new information comes to light. Of course, certain core things remain where they are, and facts are facts…It’s everything else that’s the problem.
Wait, just hang on a minute, facts are also the problem. Mainly because a fact is a very rare thing in this technologically enhanced, digital age we live in.
Here are my top reasons for questioning Osama Bin Laden’s “death”.
1) Pure unadulterated 100% trustworthy evidence is an even rarer thing than a fact you can rely on. Many right now are asking for proof of Osama’s death. They want conclusive video footage or photos of a dead body that looks a lot like Osama Bin Laden would look like if he’d been shot dead and photographed. If this is you, stop asking, because it’s a pointless question. Just ask yourself what you want to believe, and the question will present itself. The truth? The only hard evidence is what you can see and trust with your own eyes and feel with your own hands. As soon as you’re looking at the truth through someone’s else’s eyes it’s not The Truth any more and it’s up to you to decide if that counts as evidence or not. As soon as anything is recorded and put onto a digital format it is no longer pure: it has a time code, a new identity which can be steered in any direction by its owner, and it has been manipulated, even if only in a small and barely noticeable way. The second that information gets passed to a new person, the real truth gets left behind and replaced by opinion. Once this happens a billion times you can call it “media truth”, but don’t call it “fact” and don’t call it “intelligence”. Just because a million people say jeans so tight they hurt your privates are good, doesn’t mean they are actually good.
2) As much as I’m sure you’re a nice person, you’re as manipulative as anyone, whether you like it or not, and the US government – and anyone who affiliates itself with it – is made up of many, many everyones: an almost infinite number of opinions and personal desires all rolled into one, leading a grand charge of energy in a direction which is only really known by a few people in the entire World. If you want to get really technical, the way you tell a little white lie to your girlfriend or your lover or your Mum is a manipulation which you did – subconsciously or not – because you wanted something to happen, life to move in a very specific direction, rather than in another direction. Imagine what happens when politics come into it and now, if you haven’t done already, go and read about how the US Government and Osama Bin Laden used to be best friends all those years ago. If you can’t be bothered to do that, you can feel free to comment on Osama Bin Laden and the US Government. Just don’t expect anyone to listen to what you have to say.
3) Equally as unreliable as fact and evidence is communication. What started off as the musings of a group of Neanderthal or Homo Sapiens – if that’s how it in fact started – eventually morphed into letters, and words, and numbers. Now we have the power to record our thoughts for generations to come, which is pretty cool if you stop and think about it. The problem is that for every person in Earth, each and every word has a slightly different meaning. For some hate is a word they’d only use to describe a feeling of intense loathing for someone or something. For others, it’s a commonly used word which is nowhere near the worst thing they could say. This means that every time someone tells someone else something, the meaning changes slightly. Multiply that by a billion, throw in some arguing and deeply-rooted political agendas into the mix, combine all that with one or two people having more power than anyone else and you have an outcome which is difficult to make sense of. Therefore, everything should be questioned, and to do that you need to start right at the beginning.