I don’t often use the word “conspiracy.” I think that when talking about the JFK case or similar events, the c-word is counterproductive and marginalizing. Why describe those of us that challenge the lone gunman story as “conspiracy theorists”? Or, in reductive bumper sticker terms: CTs?
Those who study the case are “historians”, “researchers” or “students”. All perfectly good words, unlike “CT,” “LN,” or “theorist,” Theory of what?
‘JFK buff’ is an insult
The term “buff” is — how do i say this politely? –repellent. A buff is a hobbyist. What we’re doing has great value, but it would be a pretty sick hobby. Remember how John Kerry did some good work on the contra-cocaine story? Newsweek labeled him a “randy conspiracy buff”, invoking the trifecta of nudity, sex, and high adventure. No thanks.
I refer to myself as an “operations researcher.” When I’m making progress, I might upgrade to “investigator.”I
“Lone nut” is also in poor taste, often used in the context of the “LN crowd”. The terms “Lone wolf” or “single gunman” are respectful ways to refer to one’s adversaries in a case like this.
The people fighting AIDS had to deal with “victim”, “sick”, and similar metaphors. Those in danger of infection were not “shooters” or “junkies” but “injection drug users”, or IDUs. The challengers of the anti-immigrant forces have spent many years using the phrase “undocumented worker” rather than “illegal alien”. Words matter.
The romance of conspiracy
I believe that many of us use the phrase “conspiracy theorist” because it seems practical, romantic, or titillating.
The last two reasons are bad ones. Real bad. Two of the many reasons the word has been marginalized.