The news broke early, that Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide. Within minutes, all hell broke loose. At first, it was the cheers at his death. Then it was the realization that his death precluded his coughing up the names of his rich and powerful co-conspirators. Then the conspiracy theories broke, from left and right, each absolutely certain it was the other side that silenced Epstein. And all shared absolute certainty of his guilt.
As someone said on twitter, the conspiracy theorists and the normies had achieved singularity. They all agreed that whatever happened, it was a nefarious scheme. Paranoia, assumption and the absolute certainty only a child could believe had taken control.
Get it out. Let it out. It needs to come out or it will explode and make a mess all over the screen.
But when you’re done, consider a few things. First, you are not a witness to any event related to Jeffrey Epstein’s life or death. What you “know” is what you’ve been told by others. You read about it. You heard about it. You believe it until you’ve internalized it as if you actually know something. No, you weren’t there. No, you didn’t see anything happen. But how could all these other people telling you all these terrible things be wrong? Are they liars? Are all of them liars?
Beats me. Maybe some are. Maybe some are wrong. Maybe it’s totally true. Maybe it’s not. I was not a witness to any of it, so I don’t know. I’m not saying any purported victim is lying or is telling the truth. I’m saying I don’t know. They’ve never publicly testified under oath. They’ve never been subjected to cross-examination.
Does that mean they’re wrong. Nope, not at all. But it doesn’t mean they’re telling the truth, or the complete truth, either. I can accept the ambiguity of not knowing. I feel no compulsion to believe in the absence of evidence. Most people can’t pull that off. Even lawyers. Even smart people who should know better fight vehemently for their right to believe in things they don’t know because they want to.
They have a right to believe, if that’s their choice. This is America and you are entitled to believe whatever you please, no matter how real or batshit crazy it may be. The question isn’t can you, but should you. Faith is believing in the unknown. Do you have faith?
And then comes the death, which I was told was obviously murder at the hands of those whose names would come out, because it wasn’t within the realm of possibility that Jeffrey Epstein could commit suicide at MCC Manhattan. This could only be believed by someone who was so utterly unaware of the neglect and inhumanity with which jails are run, but don’t let ignorance impair the certainty of your faith.
Hundreds, maybe more, of people “explained” why it was absolutely certain that Epstein’s death was no suicide, at least not in the sense of his taking his own life. Not because it wasn’t an entirely reasonable thing for him to do under the circumstances, but because he was such a high profile, closely watched prisoner. And clearly the Clintons and Trump and others wanted him dead and, being rich and powerful, could make that happen.
I was asked if it was possible. Of course it’s possible. Space aliens are possible. But there isn’t a single known “fact” to support such a conclusion.
Finally, there are the calls for “justice,” the “victims” being denied their right to justice by his death. We’ve become suckers for words like “justice” and “morality,” because everybody seems to know what those heartwarming words mean. Bless your souls.
In the turmoil of the singularity, where otherwise rational people linked arms with the perpetual conspiracy theorists, I offered some thoughts in the hope of soothing the fevered rhetoric and reminding people that they don’t actually “know” anything.
Consider Occam’s Razor rather than the flights of fantasy that seized the singularity. But that required people to distinguish what they know from what they imagine they know. That proved too difficult for many, who ran down all the reasons that were floating around the internet about why it couldn’t have been a suicide and had to be a conspiracy. The only failing of this argument is that none of it was real, and it was false assumptions laid one upon another to build an edifice of nonsense.
Consider the presumption of innocence,* which has gone from a sound and beloved principle to a hurdle to be leaped or shoved aside to proclaim that random people who have no actual knowledge of anything are entitled to reach conclusions about things in the absence of proven facts. As Joe Biden said the other day, “we believe in truth, not facts.” And indeed, that’s true.
It was sadly disheartening to see smart people, even lawyers, proclaim that the presumption of innocence is merely a legal rule. The argument is perpetually backward, that they have a right to believe in someone’s guilt despite there having been no trial, no presentation or vetting of the evidence. Of course they have a “right” to believe, but that’s irrelevant. That they choose to exercise their right to be wrong is nothing to be proud of. Yet, they take pride in proclaiming their right to be ignorant and do so ferociously.
But this is Jeffrey Epstein. He reflects every attribute that’s despised, at least at the moment, and his crimes are the most reprehensible possible, at least at the moment, and his accomplices, like him, are the rich and powerful, getting away with their crimes while the poor and marginalized suffer.
This case provides reason for everyone to indulge their wildest fears and dreams, their most irrational rhetoric and beliefs. So let it out. Get it out of your system. And maybe, just maybe, if the poison and insanity is purged, there is hope to return to a rational world where facts become things proven rather than assumed and believed.
*Some will recall that the issue of “presumption of innocence” has been raised a couple of times recently, provoking some of the most passionately zealous assertions of pride in ignorance possible. I don’t blame people for being flawed, but they get no tummy rub for taking pride in it either.