June 12, 2013
I get sincere letters from people around the world about all kinds of issues affecting them; mostly political, but often also very personal. I have been honored and happy that people would take time to share a piece of their lives with my very humbled self. I have always answered every letter I get. It’s an ideal I learned from Noam Chomsky decades ago when he mentioned it in one of his interviews and also wrote me back every time I wrote to him. I always found it amazing he could do that all the while continuing with the books, the articles, the interviews and the lectures. (Although I’m thinking he may have had it easier back then before people could whip off emails like nothing, oh yeah and his assistants too.) I have kept this practice until recently. Now I have to say I answer most letters. In more recent times, since I got my documents from the FBI, I started to get letters of a certain kind. I would still categorize them as sincere, but they also are well how can I say this nicely…paranoid.
In the last couple of years I became aware that I have accidentally become the poster child for a marginal, but rising movement. It’s a movement of the disaffected, and somewhat marginalized in civil society. And like all of us its made of those alienated by the ills of capitalism: our atomized communities, the overwhelming media (online and corporate) that can reverberate any idea into truth and the growing overwhelming complexities of our social and political spheres. There is also another important piece that I have to throw into this cauldron that has given rise to this movement too; the farce called the war on terror and its all ensuing baggage of the surveillance state. Sounds intriguing doesn’t it? If you guessed I was talking about anarchy, social justice or even LOLcats you would have guessed wrong. What I am referring to is an internet phenomena called gangstalking and somehow my surveillance by the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force for almost 9 years became the actual proof they all needed to say they were right all along; that they weren’t just paranoid. Except I wasn’t gangstalked.
Now you’re interested aren’t you?
Here is a typical gangstalking definition (abbreviated ) They all have a tendency to be a bit rambling (notice how this is almost one continuous sentence):
"Organized Gang Stalking, also known as Gang Stalking, Cause Stalking, Organized Vigilante Stalking, Stalking by Proxy, Community-Based Harassment, and Covert War, are essentially harassment and discrediting campaigns waged against a targeted individual Citizens and neighbors are recruited to participate, often from extremist groups and cults, but also from among employees Coordinated psychological warfare attacks, consisting of stalkings, noise campaigns, sensitizing and the spreading of lies and rumors, are executed in an effort to virtually neutralize and destroy the victim using people from all backgrounds and vocations to harass, track 24/7, sometimes organizing lethal vehicle accidents, poisonings, electronic harassment,home invasions/property destruction, corrupt or ignorant doctor diagnosis given to stamp the victim as bogus mentally ill with delusions, paranoid, or schizophrenia, etc. Everything is done covertly. and with a sophisticated real time dispatching system to organize the criminals’ harassments and attacks, often in the hundreds to thousands of criminals participating as a coordinated mob at any given time while the criminals do their normal routines of work, shopping, commuting to and from work, leisure, etc., using the method of moving foot and vehicular surveillance techniques, and computers, cell phones, verbal and visual cues, and every other conceivable type of communication. "
Wikipedia editors will not even allow an entry for it on their site. Its only mentioned under conspiracies. What is interesting is that there seems to be confusion amongst the gang stalking—I’ll use the word—‘community’ about what it is. There are some common themes, but no coherence to what ‘it’ is. For some its random noises that appear throughout a day, like horns, saws, trucks, sirens etc (that are aimed at them mind you) while others its coordinated random people who happen to ‘mob’ on them in public places like the grocery store, or people with keys breaking into their houses, but NEVER taking anything. One commonality is that everyone one of these individuals thinks or assumes they are being targeted by some unknown (and unseen) organization that reads like a who’s who of conspiracies: government, organized crime, lizard people vibrations from alternate universes, Christian groups and the lists go on. The other commonality is they have no idea why. Both of these are very curious to me. Many think they are being targeted for very vague reasons. I know why I was targeted by the FBI and JTTF and I wasn’t gangstalked. I fit the FBI’s profile of and justified the budgets within their stupid war on terror. I have been an animal rights and environmental activist for over 20 years and I am an anarchist. I fit into three of the four categories of their domestic priorities to target for surveillance. The only thing I wasn’t was a person of Muslim faith or of Middle Eastern descent. That’s a lot different than some vague feeling that I’m being watched by some unknown group for unknown reasons. Here is where the rubber hits the road. I was targeted because of my overt and ongoing political work, NOT because of some random set of events. There is a huge difference. Unbeknownst to me I was chosen for the poster boy of gangstalking due to an appearance on the news show Democracy Now! in 2011 about being surveilled. I wasn’t asked. They fit my story into the narrative they believed without my consent. And in the internet this stuff has traction. For one comparison if you look at the Youtube view count of the original DN! piece vs. the view count with the words gangstalking attached to my name you will see my concern. The latte has thousands of more hits than the former. Somebody is watching it all. Its all ridiculous to say the least and damaging to those who believe it at its worst. I do not like being a poster boy for a conspiracy (that often calls itself a movement) that is unfounded, delusional and makes no sense. Gangstalking as described within website after website does not exist and it didn’t happen to me.
Where do these ideas come from? Here’s where it gets serious.
I mentioned earlier that I get mail about it, the majority being really sincere, but misguided. Others are just flat out crazy. The former category comes from people with upstanding lives that really think that something unknown has conspired on them. They have been business owners, teachers, office workers
and even one concerned mother writing about her daughter, a student, who said she was being gangstalked. The sad thing is the stories are always similar, vague things happening to them, for vague reasons (the sites never explain why just how) When I used to engage via email I would always ask why? And their never were any concrete answers even to themselves. “I signed a petition once..,”, “ I filed a complaint against my workplace…” , “I was an animal rights activist on my college campus 25 years ago…” but mostly the answers are “I have no idea”. None of these are reasons to be stalked much less by governments or other nebulous ‘gangs’, but they still believed it was happening. Even if they couldn’t prove it in any way. That’s a huge stumbling block to get around.
I often introduce the concept of Ockham’s Razor which states “that among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected” or basically the simplest hypothesis is usually the correct one. Is it more probable that a concerted effort of hundreds of unknown people are conspiring against a person in a coordinated way or that you are drawing connections from unconnected events; connecting dots that don’t exist? The latter pattern, which is called apophenia, is the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. In this case random events, experiences that seem to become coordinated attacks where there are none. Apophenia is how conspiracies (and other groundless ideas take root). But it is difficult to tell people this who are already down far into that rabbit hole. Have you tried talking to any conspiracy theorist people about reality lately? To provide a counter narrative literally challenges all of their assumptions, beliefs and for lack of a better term critical thinking about their worlds and surroundings. Sometimes its heartbreaking. People are losing their whole functional lives around it. These kinds of social phenomena are \not just about wingnuts, fringe or confused people, but at some level affects all of us especially in the digital age. Its just becomes more exaggerated for some.
I think confirmation bias is also reinforced through the web where any idea, belief or practice can be reinforced as true through supporting websites. This is reinforced by internet searches. Google and all of them in their roles as good capitalist want you only to find the most ‘relevant’ searches and tend to reinforce similar pages to which you have already been before. And if pages like Wikipedia or a real dictionary don’t have entries, then you get the same reinforcing fringe sites. In the case of gangstalking there were no websites about it until about 2005 and now there are dozens that all have basically the same information and stories. If you look up the word it could look like a large body of work on it, but really every crappy blog rises to the surface with the same weight as a respected site. This also means the ideas developed and were reinforced under a post 9/11 world. A world of increased surveillance in some sectors of civil society, fear of ‘terrorism’ and the nonstop media coverage that reinforces it all out of proportion without filters to sell toothpaste and cars. These sites all reiterate the same vague information in a meme that has gone awry. Like Baudrillard’s ideas of the simulacra it has become real only because it has been copied and repeated enough times. There is no original.
The last piece I want to mention that I think adds to the whole of these stories are one lack of critical understanding of how the government administrations and law enforcement divisions work. The government is seen as a one homogenous and all powerful single entity, which it is far from. Instead of seeing it as it is a huge bureaucratic nightmare of entangled and often competing agencies fighting to get money into their programs and pockets, individual fiefdoms fighting for control and mountains of inefficiency. That doesn’t mean that sometimes multi-government agencies don’t engage in coordinated efforts to get people a la the Boston Marathon Bombers or under the Green Scare. They do, BUT only when they think they are going to get a conviction. Even with their gobs of money they don’t have the endless resources to harass people without end. At the end of the day they need to get criminal convictions to make their system work. They cannot afford to chase people for no reason or for vague reasons.
Lets Close This
I don’t mean to make light of this because it seems painful when people write me. People are really harassed sometimes by ex-lovers, ex-gang members or even other bullying students at school etc., but those are isolated events compared to this vast supposed conspiracy involving thousands of people. Of all of the websites on the subject NONE of them are credible. Not one. They are filled with varying amounts of misinformation, distortion and complete fabrication all reinforced by belief and not critical thinking. Which makes it harder to grasp for those genuinely trying to find answers to the alienation and complexities of our lives. This conspiracy example can be used in any of the other conspiracies floating around the world too. You don’t have to believe me. And just because you believe it doesn’t make it any more true than it was before the internet. Some can even say that I am now part of it all; and I would laugh at that. There is no MK Ultra here. I just wanted to clear the air and say stop using me as an example of some fucking fringe conspiracy that doesn’t even make sense. There is no gangstalking and saying more or louder doesn’t make it more real. I support real movements and real communities, but not this one.