John Simkin, moderator of the U.K.-based JFK Education Forum, writes that he plans to shut down the online discussion site, which he launched in 2004.
In an email Simkin blamed the self-centered and obnoxious behavior of commenters:
“I became very disillusioned with the behaviour of the so-called researchers. The degree of hostility they show towards each other is beyond me. The vast majority of researchers only appear to be interested in promoting their own theories and to rubbishing those who disagree with them. I will be closing down the JFK Education Forum when the subscription comes up for renewal.”
Simkin says he has abandoned JFK research to devote himself to writing about the British government and its intelligence services.
Who can blame Simkin for retiring from the field? Anybody who spends any time in the JFK research community knows exactly what — and who — Simkin is talking about.
The prototype is the egregious James Fetzer, a tenured professor and otherwise intelligent man, who does a superb job of embodying the stereotype of a crazed conspiracy theorist. I disagreed with him once on a minor point in 2007, and he still hectors me for my heresy. The language of his harangues has varied little over the years but his shamelessness has grown. Last I heard of him he was trying to peddle some contemptible sophistries about the Newtown School tragedy.
Then there’s Robert Groden, a nice man in person, certainly one of the world’s leading experts on the photographic record of November 22, and a citizen unjustly persecuted for exercising his First Amendment rights in Dealey Plaza. Maybe he doesn’t have anything to do with the trashing of the Education Forum but his certainties are the kind of thing that can wreck a discussion of JFK. For example, Groden informed me last August that anyone who believes the Warren Commission’s account of JFK’s assassination is a “liar.”
Really? Was it possible, I asked, that somebody might have considered the facts and sincerely reached a different conclusion? Or possibly that they were not being intentionally deceptive but had been misled by a government that fears transparency on the issue? “Is there no such thing as an honest mistake or difference of opinion?” I asked.
The possibility seemed not to have occurred to him before. Groden promised to think about it and get back to me. My phone has not yet rung.
Last week, I cited the the example of Charles Drago who declares that anyone who believes the Warren Commission is either mentally retarded or criminally complicit in JFK’s murder. I likened Drago’s intellectual style to that of former White House official Cass Sunstein, who once advocated Internet infiltration teams to disrupt those demonic online conspiracy theorists (i.e. me and you) whose informed conversation (in Sunstein’s paraoid view) endanger the fabric of American democracy.
Impervious to irony, Drago responded by doubling down on self-righteousness In a comment made to JFK Facts. He boasted that he had first used his line about the mentally retarded and criminally complicit at a JFK conference in 1999, where he said it had received a “prolonged, enthusiastic positive response.” The conference, he noted with pride, was sponsored by Jim Fetzer. Mercifully, Drago spared us his analysis of the second gunman at Newtown, and we thank him for that.
Some will say that the heinous nature of JFK’s assassination and the prolonged coverup requires such audacious “truth tellers.” Others will say that John McAdams or Cass Sunstein are even worse. This is a succinct expression of the odd theory that one needn’t have critical standards, merely adopt those of the enemy.
The reality is that this all-too prevalent intellectual style of the JFK crowd only serves to alienate the young student, the thoughtful newcomer, the curious MSM reporter, the undecided, and, most importantly, the female.
Not to be sexist but it is plain that almost all of the JFK jerks are male, and so are virtually all of their defenders. This isn’t proof of the inferiority of the male species (though a case can be made). It is evidence that these blowhards are out of touch with reality, at least as it is experienced by half the country.
In any case, they do not contribute to the JFK discussion. They stifle, discredit, and kill it. JFK Education Forum R.I.P.