January 25, 2015
By Craig McKee
Under the right conditions, a 9/11 forum can be a great place to share information, test hypotheses, and learn from other truthers. But under the wrong conditions, it can provoke divisions, spread disinformation, and suppress essential evidence.
The 9/11 Facebook group “9/11 Truth Movement” – the largest of its kind with nearly 40,000 members – can be both. It has some great people posting there on a regular basis, and it has some sincere and hard-working truthers helping to moderate the discussion. But at times it can also operate like a cliquish “club” that applies astounding double standards to enforcing its own rules.
My expression of concern about this, outlined below, is not for the purpose of rehashing past arguments or responding to past slights, nor is it my wish to reduce this to a clash of personalities. It goes much deeper than this. What it does show is how the Truth Movement’s efforts can be undercut by certain thuggish behavior and baseless positions that are given seeming credibility through endless repetition.
If we don’t challenge these repeated fallacies loud and clear – through an honest and direct discussion of the evidence, not bullying attacks – then the less critical thinkers in the movement will end up allowing themselves to be persuaded by inferior arguments. And when that is allowed to happen, some of the strongest evidence that 9/11 was an inside job is relegated to the “too controversial” or “too inconclusive” files.
An introductory message on the 9/11 TM page from the administrators states: “In respect to all our members and all Facebook users, we will not tolerate nor endorse spam, personal attacks, or attacks against any group of people in this group. Thread hijackings, troll invasion or defamation are also not welcome here. Any post falling in these categories will be subject to immediate deletion and ban without notice. We certainly respect your personal opinions and we encourage you to share them in a civil manner and in accordance to the Facebook code of conduct, terms and policy.”
To say that these rules are enforced unevenly would not do the situation justice. Some of the more active moderators tolerate and even celebrate the most extreme attacks and ugly insults and then accuse those who challenge this of being the problem. This double standard was demonstrated when I was banned a few weeks ago for challenging the behavior of a couple of the group’s favored insiders.
I learned later that my banning was due to my own use of “personal attacks.” I found this ironic as I will explain. The ban was reversed a couple of days later after some members expressed disagreement with the decision. Moderator Joe Haley, who was responsible for the ban, called the whole thing “the McKee fiasco.” I’ve always wanted something named after me, I just never thought it would be a fiasco. Oh well.
Things took a real turn for the strange after my reinstatement when Mike Collins, the most toxic contributor to 9/11 TM, who I had complained about getting special treatment, was handed a 30-day suspension because of his aggressive behavior. This was odd because moderators Haley, Amanda Sedell, and Dany Carmady had defended him at every turn when I was calling attention to his behavior. Rather than being told I had even the slightest point, I was told to “grow a pair” or to simply block the person in question. But of course that wasn’t the point. I was talking about Collins’s effect on the whole group and on any chance for a productive discussion of the evidence.
To give you just a taste of how Collins operates, he said I looked like “a Down Syndrome Conan O’Brien.” Classy, eh? I was not angry or hurt by this because there is nothing that this person could say to me that I would take to heart (and I’ve heard the Conan comparison before). But it does reveal a deeper problem.
The reaction from the moderators to this obvious breaking of their rules? Not a peep.
When Collins is insulted by others, Sedell and Carmady rush to his defence like groupies. At one point he referred to this blog as a “disinfo blog” even though he didn’t really believe that. He clearly has as little respect for the readers of the page as he does for those with Down Syndrome. But what else would you expect from someone who regularly calls people he disagrees with “retards.”
Every statement I made questioning the double standard, whereby Collins could insult anyone he wanted while others were scolded for lesser transgressions, was met with condescending lectures and sarcastic “apologies” from Haley and Carmady. In their minds, there was not a shred of validity in anything I was raising. As it turns out, Collins’s suspension (which only resulted from pressure on the main administrators) showed that I had a legitimate argument.
Now I know this may seem petty to some, but I believe this bullying behavior has to be called out for what it is, so that it is not allowed to drive honest and sincere people from the movement in disgust. A very small number of participants can set a very negative tone for an entire group if they are allowed to do so. And moderators who do nothing to address this (or even encourage it) do a real disservice to the very forum they’ve put so much time and energy into making a success.
Muddying the waters on the Pentagon
The group’s leading admin, Ken Dockery, said it was with great regret that it was necessary to suspend Collins, who he described as being “valuable to the movement.”
I have no idea why any regret would be involved. I don’t think Collins is valuable, I think he’s poison. My regret is that he was given a 30-day slap on the wrist and that he’ll be back to his poisoning ways very soon. Collins may be sincere and not an agent, but his behavior towards others is so destructive that he might as well be an agent. I’ve been told that he was previously banned but then allowed back into the group. Bad move. He is apparently responsible for turning the group from an open one to a closed one (where only members can see posts and read discussions) – but that’s another story.
One destructive claim that gets the “constant repetition” treatment is that there is a real controversy over whether a plane hit the Pentagon. But this controversy is entirely contrived. Past informal surveys on this very Facebook page have shown that the vast majority of truthers believe that no plane crash took place. But it seems the majority of the moderators of this page either believe the part of the official story that a plane did hit or they think that the evidence is so inconclusive, the subject so contentious, and the movement so hopelessly deadlocked, that we can never resolve this impasse.
This, of course, is nonsense.
The only reason there appears to be an impasse is that some don’t recognize compelling evidence when they see it – or they haven’t been exposed to the strongest evidence. Instead, they repeat how we have to wait until the government releases the 85 videos to really know what happened. Comments are posted that offer baseless speculation about what hit or didn’t hit, with missiles seeming to top the list. This speculation is not helpful especially when we have so much hard proof of a faked crash. Collins and his supporters choose to ridicule this wealth of evidence in a way that is disingenuous at best and downright dishonest at worst.
Back on October 8, 2014, I made a comment in response to moderator Amanda Sedell:
“Amanda, since you’re all about the evidence, perhaps you could answer some of these questions: What happened to the wings? What happened to the tail section? Why didn’t the tail section break the windows above the main part of the hole in the wall? Why weren’t there holes where both engines would have hit? Given that the plane is supposed to have hit at ground level, why were there no trenches where the engines would have dragged along the ground? How can you explain the obvious faking of the government video (two videos are incompatible in the frames that allegedly show the plane); and how can the highly credible witnesses interviewed by CIT be explained?”
I didn’t get answers from her, but Collins responded:
“Craig, why do you come in here every week, and repeat the same stupid questions every single time, after multiple people have proven you wrong? Are you hoping that one simple minded person will agree with you, so you can believe you are finally justified? lol. How could the engines drag on the ground, before the fuselage? This question alone just proves you have absolutely no fuckin clue what you are talking about. Do the engines drag on the ground when planes take off from airports? lol…. Jesus, will somebody tell me why the least-educated, most gullible people in this group are ALWAYS the most stubborn and the most confused.”
When people read things like this, it’s no wonder they’re confused. They may indeed think they’ve come across an ardent defender of the 9/11 official story. Collins mocks and ridicules, but he doesn’t provide answers to any of these questions, despite his claims. In fact, no one favoring a plane impact has answered any of these questions to any satisfactory degree.
Here’s one of my favorite Collins pronouncements. See if you can follow his engineering reasoning as he explains the damage to the Pentagon wall:
“But what you would expect (these are my engineering degrees talking) is the heavy parts of the plane to break through the concrete into the building as they get shredded, and the lighter parts to only do minimal damage to the exterior of the building as they were shredded.”
This guy has two engineering degrees? Wow. You can’t read any of my responses to Collins at the time because they were removed by moderators. No reason given.
Collins explains why most of us just aren’t smart enough to get what he’s saying:
“It just sucks trying to discuss the Pentagon because none of the “no planers” have taken physics, so any explanation they hear, they simply cannot understand.”
“No planers.” See what he’s doing there? He’s equating people who think no planes hit the WTC towers with those who don’t believe a plane crashed into the Pentagon. He and others will ridicule the idea that the “crash” scene might have involved staged evidence. Here, Sedell dusts off her best sarcasm to comment on this:
“The Feds were rolling around with vans full of plane parts too to scatter around and in the building. But no one witnessed these plants because they were invisible to the onlookers and massive media presence.”
Then we have the contribution to the muddled debate from moderator Haley. He contends that the best way to advance the 9/11 cause would be to pursue an indictment against Donald Rumsfeld for “leaving his post” and going out to the Pentagon lawn when he should have been defending the country. But then he somehow relates that to the Pentagon evidence itself – including my contention that the five “downed” light poles were planted.
“How are you going to propose to get an indictment for murder against Rumsfeld when you propose that the light poles were placed there by guys in black hoods and AA77 flew over the Pentagon. It’s a serious question, Craig.”
Is it really? Haley knows I don’t claim that Flight 77 flew over the Pentagon – although a large plane clearly did. And the bit about the black hoods is typical of the kind of flippancy that Haley and Collins force the group’s members to endure on so many threads. (Collins also stated that I was claiming that the light poles were planted in “rush hour traffic.” I don’t think that either, but it makes a better quip, doesn’t it?)
There is another bone of contention that leads to toxic exchanges – the idea Collins and moderators Dockery, Haley, Sedell, Carmady, and others seem to have that it’s their job to purge the movement of believers in no planes at the WTC and Judy Wood. Collins actually believes that by calling those people names and attacking their intelligence, he can reduce their number. What it does instead is focus MORE attention on the alleged disinformation. If a real agent is being paid to bring up no planes or Judy Wood, they aren’t going to go away because they are called names. Instead, they’ll succeed in setting the agenda. This point is continually missed by those listed above.
If you dare to support the no planes position, you will find yourself being called such clever labels by Collins as retard, dumb ass, fucking idiot, and stupid fuck – sometimes he even uses all capital letters, so you know he really means it. When I pointed out to Haley that this approach breaks the group’s own rules, he countered with, “Well they are FUCKING IDIOTS!” What I don’t understand is why the group’s administrators don’t simply enforce their own rules and prohibit the topic if that’s how they feel.
‘Twoofers’ and other toxic terms
My banning followed a comment I made about Haley. He and Collins seem to think that conspiracy theorists are a group to be ridiculed. They use the language of the perpetrators of 9/11 and countless other deceptions to ridicule our opposition to the official story. Collins says he doesn’t want to be labelled a conspiracy theorist so he piles on the ridicule – the very definition of “unclear on the concept.”
He uses terms like “twoofers” (a term that official story defenders sometimes use to essentially call truthers wackos and kooks). He also uses “conspiracy sheep” to describe all of those who dare to disagree with him and mocks those who get information from “random online conspiracy blogs.” Am I the only person who finds this incredible – that a supposed truther would use the very terms that our opponents use to marginalize and discredit us?
“Stay logical and only use statements you can absolutely explain and prove. Once you do this, the more simple minded twoofers will think you are a government CIA illuminati agent” and this is when you’ve succeeded at distancing yourself from disinfo trolls.”
On another thread:
“Lol if you think I am ‘hopeless’ because I said you should look at the hard data, instead of only conspiracy blogs, then you are just a typical arrogant conspiracy sheep who thinks he is “spreading the truth” by memorizing disinformation….lol”
The final straw before my own banning came after Haley said that I sound “just like a conspiracy theorist.” I responded that any truther who mocks conspiracy theorists is either an idiot or deliberately trying to harm the movement. I guess he didn’t like that. I stand by that statement.
Carmady advised me to be more constructive in my criticisms: “Go with the flow! Help don’t hinder. Applaud don’t whine. Praise don’t criticise. Thank don’t request. [???] Watch things change like magic.” It never occurred to me to applaud.
One thing that makes forums like this one almost unbearable at times (for me, at least) is the incessant use of “lol” at the end of every other sentence (Dockery is the worst offender with Collins a close second). This is actually code for “this sentence is not the least bit funny, but I am laughing in advance to head off anyone who wants to disagree with me.” Most of the time, lol is thrown in at the end of a sentence that stands perfectly without any artificial condescension. Whatever happened to being sincere and saying something funny when there was something funny to say? Maybe it’s a generational thing…
Having said all of that, I have to give credit where credit is due. Haley made a post recently where he called on members not to jump on newcomers to the movement who may put forward discredited information. I completely agree. Going on the attack can easily discourage someone who might just be getting introduced to the evidence.
This happened to me in 2010 when I joined 911blogger shortly after creating Truth and Shadows. Someone else had posted a piece from my blog in which I reproduced a satirical article by Gerard Holmgren. But his piece mentioned missiles at the Pentagon, so I was attacked pretty viciously for promoting the missile position, which was the last thing on my mind. Had I been less stubborn than I am, I might well have become discouraged and left the movement. Instead, I gained some valuable insight into what was happening at 911blogger.
I responded to the attacks and got banned there just 10 days after joining. But I’m in good company. Many supporters of Citizen Investigation Team and their position that no plane hit the Pentagon were purged from that site – including the members of CIT themselves. This overt disinfo behavior by those running 911blogger did a lot to destroy the credibility of that forum.
Sometimes I think we lose sight of the fact that we’re supposed to be spreading the word about how the official story of 9/11 is false and impossible. Instead, some of our most prolific and condescending “personalities” devote puzzling amounts of time to trying to discredit those who offer the best evidence against that official story.
While I appreciate the work they do, my hope is that those running this page – and other similar pages – will consider the damage they risk doing to our cause by what they allow and encourage. What we need from them is leadership and solid, fair “moderation.” And when their page falls short of that, it should be held accountable.
As I said early in this article, it’s not about personality clashes or whether contributors have poor manners; it’s about the poisoning of the discussion at the expense of the truth. I think these points are worth making because a page with 40,000 members is a very valuable thing, and it’s worth fighting for.
TRUTHERS WHO TELL LIES: A FACEBOOK FOLLOW-UP
It’s ironic when supposed 9/11 truthers write things they know are false. It is also troubling when those running 9/11 forums do it. And more disturbing still is when reasonable and intelligent members of the movement are purged from a site without having broken any of the site’s rules.
I had really not intended to do a follow-up to my last post about the destructive practices at the largest 9/11 Facebook page, “9/11 Truth Movement.” I figured they’d call me some nasty names, and that would be the end of it. But what has happened since my article came out in late January has given me no real choice.
Lead administrator Ken Dockery, clearly unhappy that I had expressed all that negativity, announced a “zero tolerance” policy for insults and, well, negativity. Of course, what he means by this is that those challenging his authority will not be tolerated while privileged insiders like fellow admin Joe Haley and venomous provocateur Mike Collins stay privileged.
Right after the article was published, Dockery produced this self-important rant (it’s more effective if you imagine it being read by Charlton Heston).
“… I will no longer tolerate nor endorse anymore infighting in this group … personal insults and negativity will no longer be allowed here … There are a few people with a different agenda that love to argue and cause infighting. These people will be removed and filtered out. … The division is destroying us and it’s making me sick to my stomach. We either work together as a team or you don’t work with us at all. … If this is too much to ask for, then I will quit this movement. … If anyone wants to bash us, then there’s the door. … If anyone says anything negative in this group from this point on. You will be removed. No warning, just gone. Do I make myself clear? … I’m on my last legs here and this is my final solution. I’m as strong as they come in this movement but I will not waste my time with trolls, shills, or anyone else that wants to start bullshit in this group.”
Shortly after announcing that insults were forever banned, he called me a hypocrite and made three statements about me that he knows are false:
- “Why did Craig McKee publicly bash this group for no longer entertaining Judy Wood here but then writes an article debunking her theory???” (I didn’t bash the group, I sharply criticized Dockery, Haley and Collins, primarily. The group and its members I praised. And my criticisms were not about the group “no longer entertaining Judy Wood here,” they were about the ban on this topic not being enforced when it was convenient – such as when Collins wanted to call Wood supporters or no-plane supporters “retards” or “stupid fucks.”)
- “Craig claims we don’t allow disinfo threads in this group. He couldn’t be more wrong…” (Again, I never claimed any such thing.)
- “Craig also claims that we here in this group won’t discuss the Pentagon. Again, he is wrong.” (Of course I don’t think this; many of the ridiculous statements made by Collins and others were on threads about the Pentagon.)
So either Dockery knew what he was saying wasn’t true, or he has a serious problem with reading comprehension. It could be both, I guess.
Following my article, I was banned from the page for the second time in a month. Fine with me. But what concerns me is that Dockery (or another admin operating with his approval) followed that up by banning three more people who broke no rules other than defending me. These include Adam Syed, Adam Ruff, and Michael Cook – all of whom are supporters of Citizen Investigation Team and the position that no plane hit the Pentagon. Sheila Casey, who also fits this description, later asked to join the group, and this was denied. One can’t help but think back to the wholesale banning of CIT supporters from 911 blogger, which occurred primarily in 2010.
Then things got really good…
After my article, things got really outrageous when Collins wrote to Richard Gage of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth to warn him that he should dump me as a “main interviewee of AE.” I have no idea what that means, but I assume he was trying to convince Gage that I should dropped as part of the AE writing team (I’ve been with them since spring 2014).
From his message to Gage:
“Some of these people think ‘hologram planes’ hit the Pentagon, some think ‘space beams’ vaporized the towers…. I’m aware that YOU do not advocate these theories, yet the people who adhere to your groups do. Please be aware that Craig McKee is one of these people, and his blog is all about the ‘no plane’ theory at the Pentagon….”
Of course Collins knows I don’t advocate space beams or holograms being used at the Pentagon or anywhere else. That’s a lie. He also slips in a less obvious lie claiming I believe in a “no plane theory at the Pentagon.” He knows that I believe a plane was indeed involved but that it did not hit the building. By the way, I know about what he wrote to Gage because Collins sent it all to me. For some reason he actually seemed proud of writing this.
And then this incredible statement that is not only another lie but doesn’t even make sense:
“Without any technical knowledge, people like Craig assume ALL theories are equal, which is why he discusses nonsense like space beams or “no planes.””
Is there really anyone who thinks all theories are equal? Apparently there is one person who thinks there is. He thinks my view that no plane hit the Pentagon is disinformation that threatens the credibility of the movement. But then he contradicts himself by saying we can’t know either way in this brilliant exchange on the “9/11 Truth Movement” page:
Collins: Until we have the video footage of the pentagon’s impact, it could have been Santa.
Haley: I am going with the stay puft marshmallow man.
Collins: Actually, with the lack of video footage, I think this proves it was a Gabriel 3 with a thermite tip made from holograms.
Dockery: It’s very possible and most likely that a plane did hit the Pentagon…… the problem is no one has seen it.
Collins This is why we SHOULDN’T waste time debating the pentagon…there’s no way to concretely back up your opinion and it turns into a shit-throwing festival.
But in the middle of all of this absurdity, something happened that left me feeling optimistic that reason can prevail. One of the admins of the group who was very upset with my article was Dany Carmady, but what she did was unexpected. She sent me a Facebook friend request, which I accepted. I was touched by the gesture and encouraged by our subsequent communication. I should also mention the generosity and fairness of two other group admins, Joshua Froze and Kimberly McLaughlin.
But to Dockery, who ultimately runs the show and sets the tone for the site, I say this: Ken, if you want to be respected and supported, you can start by denouncing Collins for his blatant lies. And you can correct the false statements you made. And please don’t try to tell people I’m bashing the group again. I’m not. I’m criticizing you. And it’s not because I like in-fighting, it’s because I’m holding you responsible for encouraging it while claiming you want to get rid of it.