July 10, 2006
Some think every death MUST be a hit
Often I take whatever book I am reading and trundle into
town; sit at the bar of my local, the Red Dot, read, eat and
occasionally chat with other customers. It is a place that
is easy, like Sunday morning which allows its
denizens comfort and space, a sense of community and the forbearance
of privacy if desired.
The day Ken Lay, founder and failure of Enron, died was one
of those days. His death, according to the autopsy was from
coronary heart disease, probably precipitated by the stress
he was enduring pre and post trial.
One of my companions was a local artist, a former adjunct
professor at several universities, an early inhabitant of
Tribeca lofts who moved to Hudson in the post 9/11 era. He
said it didnt surprise him Lay was dead, silenced before
he could talk as he was bound to, in attempts to get his sentence
reduced. This, after all, was someone fondly called Kenny
Boy by the sitting President, someone who must have
known too much.
My acquaintance leaned into me and whispered, It was
a hit, of course.
Americans seem prone to a penchant for conspiracy theories.
There has been a profitable cottage industry in Presidential
assassination since the horrible moment in November of 1963
when John F. Kennedy was killed; escalating and accelerating
with the rat a tat follow up deaths of Martin Luther King
and Robert Kennedy.
Any bad thing births conspiracy theories often held fervently,
passionately and absolutely. I have met two of the current
crop, the young men who created the internet phenomenon Loose
Change 2, which purports that 9/11 was a vast conspiracy including
Bin Laden and the current administration. They are intelligent,
earnest young men [one who has served three tours in Iraq/Afghanistan]
convinced they have found the smoking guns and have outlined
their views in a film which has been downloaded something
like 4 million plus times.
The City Pages, Minneapolis alternative paper, last
week had as its cover story the saga of Professor Fetzer,
from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, who has become a
fixture on the JFK assassination circuit and has recently
shifted his attention and speechifying to 9/11 and the death
of Minnesota Senator Wellstone, killed several years ago in
a plane crash an event, according to Fitzer, that was
a government hit.
Conspiracy theories have become more common than ever before
and are, I think, understandable in a world defying logic.
The price of oil hit new and dangerous highs as North Korea
shot a test missile into the Sea of Japan; deaths continue
in Iraq with Iranian pilgrims among the latest victims. The
good guy image of the U.S. is battered by events
in Iraq and, all in all, what with Bird Flu, AIDS, Darfur,
oil crunches, 9/11, the Madrid and London train bombings and
the rest of the cornucopia of horror romping through our world,
its not improbable we find comfort in thinking that
all this badness is the result of dark and malevolent intelligence,
cunningly working to pervert our world.
I cannot deny there are anomalies regarding 9/11 that need
investigating and explaining, including the puffs of smoke
as the Towers started to fall, pointed out both in Loose Change
2 and in U.S. News and World Report. However, it is amazing
to me that in the five years since 9/11 no one of the hundreds,
if not thousands, involved in any such conspiracy hasnt
cracked and come forward, pleading guilt and demanding forgiveness.
Not to mention, as pointed out by some wags, that if 9/11
was an Administration conspiracy, it was the one thing well
handled by an Administration that cant help bungling
anything to which they put their mind.
What is clear to me is that in a world that seems to be madly
spinning it is almost logical to declare any unfortunate event,
including the death of Ken Lay, the result of dark and sinister
forces rather than what it likely was, a mans heart
revolting against the stress of his life. Caution and rationality
rather than emotionalism need to meet events of the day.