So-called conspiracy theories abound, especially among those who attack others by calling them conspiracy theorists. There are official conspiracy theories, such as the government-approved stories about 9/11, the 7/7 bombings, the Manchester Arena attack and so on. There are also unofficial conspiracy theories, such as the expressed opinion of Richard D. Hall that the Manchester arena attack was a staged simulation without injury or death but performed and reported as if real.
We have to use the term “conspiracy theory” advisedly because, as we shall see, conspiracy theory, as we understand the term, doesn’t exist. “Conspiracy theory” is really just an opinion that the state does not wish anyone to either hold or express.
The BBC’s special disinformation and social media correspondent, Marianna Spring, calls Richard D. Hall a “disaster troll.” She claims that Hall lives in a “dark world” and that his “warped views” have “led him to the doors of terror victims.” Spring says that Hall is spreading “obscene lies” and that he is “at the centre of a network of conspiracies.”
Spring is utilising the propaganda technique of “othering.” She is trying to cast Hall as subhuman—a troll—and, by association, applies the same dehumanising propaganda label to anyone who shares Hall’s concerns about the official account of the alleged Manchester Arena bombing.
“Othering” is an applied psychological strategy widely used by authoritarian political regimes. Prominent historical examples include the “othering” of Jews in Germany during the 1930s by Nazi propagandists.