Break out your tinfoil hats
March 3, 2005 6:49 PM   Subscribe

Break out your tinfoil hats for the conspiracy du jour: It seems just before Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide, he was working on a piece about the WTC attack. It also seems he hinted that the Bush administration was somehow involved . He was talking to his wife on the phone when he died, yet she heard no gunshot. Was it suicide, or murder?
posted by zardoz (51 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
i don't know--i also share in the suspicions about 9/11--way too many unanswered questions, and no one is THAT lucky in getting exactly what the PNAC called for years before. I don't put it past them at all--they're nasty sons-of-bitches who will lie, steal and cheat, and send our young to die for lies with impunity. (and of course our very less-than-half-hearted attempt to get Osama just adds to that suspicion.)

The "new Pearl Harbor" envisioned by PNAC occurred with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and killed approximately 2,700 American citizens. Within five hours of the attacks, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was advising his staff to link Saddam Hussein to the terrorist strikes and to explore the idea of hitting Saddam Hussein at the same time as Osama Bin Laden--from here

is Thompson that big a threat to them? i'd say no. did he think he was? maybe yes.
posted by amberglow at 7:05 PM on March 3, 2005

From the Globe & The Mail article: "Sounds a lot like a professional hit with a silencer: 'I was on the phone with him, he set the receiver down and he did it. I heard the clicking of the gun,' Anita Thompson told the Aspen Daily News in Friday's editions. Thomp
son said she heard a loud, muffled noise, but didn't know what had happened."

I have listened to recordings of 911 calls in which firearms have been discharged. The report often does not sound as loud as you would expect and often sounds "muffled". I dismiss the "professional hit with a silencer" as being an uninformed, amateur conclusion.
posted by mlis at 7:06 PM on March 3, 2005

This is tremendous speculative fun and all, but if you're there for the government to "silence" Hunter S. Thompson... why not wait till he hangs up the phone?
posted by soyjoy at 7:12 PM on March 3, 2005

Ummm...and why would the guvmint wait two and half years to off the good Doctor, when according to the interview date, he was already well along in articulating these ideas publicly back in 2002?

....and even then, they apparently failed to excite much response?
posted by Miko at 7:17 PM on March 3, 2005

Maybe this was a Hunter S. Thompson prank he thought he'd play on a conspiracy nut. It would be a good one. The thing is, HST wasn't really known for hardcore investigative journalism.
posted by inksyndicate at 7:44 PM on March 3, 2005

Her son, who was in the house, heard the gunshot. From your link:

"Thompson's son, who was in the house at the time, believed that a book had fallen when he heard the shot."

There are several reasons why the report of the gun may not have travelled over the phone lines. Firstly, it may have been so loud that it overwhelmed the microphone on his end or the speaker on her end. Secondly, the phone networks both, wired and cellular, do a lot of signal shaping (filtering out white noise and so on) which would likely also affect the sound. This could be perfectly consistent with what she heard: "[I] heard a loud, muffled noise"..."I did not hear any bang".
posted by event at 7:52 PM on March 3, 2005

How many people do you think HST has told over the years he was about to be offed?

And if he was about to commit suicide, how many people do you think he'd like to play a little "joke" on in the process?

And if HST had anything to tell, don't you think it would be a gift to whomever he had anything on which to tell for it to come to the world through as credible a source as HST? Wouldn't they just want to keep him alive instead?
posted by 3.2.3 at 7:57 PM on March 3, 2005

Ever since HST's death, I've been walking around with a loaded and cocked .45, ya know.. just in case..

OK, actually since before the Y2K scare...

But only since his death have I thought about taking my own life in my own time, my own way..

This seems much more Hunter's style, and a better rememberance than tinfoiling it out and diluting it with 9-11 coverup stories..

Yes, 9-11 was covered up. We may never know the truth, but more will trickle through with time.
Yes, many of the previous conspiracy theories have come to light to be true, but not all...yet.

HST is one of my heros.. the way he lived, and the way he died.

To leave it an open ended question, while making it a cruel joke on the tinfoil croud (I have my membership card here somewhere..) would be right up his alley, I won't believe this one until more evidence comes out..
posted by Balisong at 8:00 PM on March 3, 2005

I wish people would just let a person die without bringing out the tinfoil hats. And why bother to silence Thompson? Even at the height of his career and influence, he saw Nixon win two elections, including one by a landslide.

If anyone has any deep knowledge about the government and they want someone to write about it, they're certainly not going to go to HST. And why bother to kill Thompson, if the Powers That Be in the government can manipulate the media and the entire chain of government to start a war, then making HST out to be a loony crackpot could be accomplished by the end of a second cup of coffee.

Now if the same happened to Seymour Hersh, then I'm getting a hat.
posted by Arch Stanton at 8:02 PM on March 3, 2005

I knew the old sonofabitch would never die. Thompson pwns from the grave too!
posted by Hankins at 8:05 PM on March 3, 2005

I would think that if somebody was going to concoct a conspiracy around Hunter S Thompson's death it would be a little grander. Or at least interesting. He deserves better.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:18 PM on March 3, 2005

My own mind just derailed me.

Tinfoil hats... it just struck me.

I know the bowl tinfoil hat (where you mush it all around your head... and then taper it at the end like a kewpie doll.

I also know the bi corner hat... which is much akin to the tinfoil version of the folded paper hat.

But what I want..

Is a TRICORNER tinfoil hat. I think that would be oh so classy.. oh so ooh lah lah. Anybody got any origami ideas as to how I may go about acquiring/making one? God I just wear one in the office to break down the drudgery of it all.

Anyway carry on with said conspiracies... I'm just really in the mood for a tricorner tinfoil hat.
posted by JGreyNemo at 8:23 PM on March 3, 2005

Is he dead, or in Dulce?
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:24 PM on March 3, 2005

It's not like anyone has paid any attention to anything that brain damaged junkie has said for many years. I doubt he'd have brought down the government.
posted by acetonic at 8:36 PM on March 3, 2005

You're all so cute.
posted by troutfishing at 8:43 PM on March 3, 2005

posted by Captaintripps at 8:47 PM on March 3, 2005

But what I want..

Is a TRICORNER tinfoil hat. I think that would be oh so classy.. oh so ooh lah lah. Anybody got any origami ideas as to how I may go about acquiring/making one? God I just wear one in the office to break down the drudgery of it all.


You dandy with an extravagant hairstyle and affected mannerisms, you.

(From here)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:49 PM on March 3, 2005

acetonic - Come back here when someone you appreciated and respected dies, and read the posts. "Goodness," you'll eventually say upon reading one. "How glib, small-minded and ignorant that person is."
posted by GriffX at 8:58 PM on March 3, 2005

It IS pretty hard to believe that "the government" would go after HST, when other people have already written and published theories that Bush & co. were involved and the planning and execution of 9/11 (see "The New Pearl Harbor", for instance).

Besides the Bush White House has no cause for worry, because evidently they can get a sizeable number of Americans to aver forcefully that black is white simply by announcing that it is so. That's the beauty of your faith-based society.
posted by clevershark at 9:26 PM on March 3, 2005

Look, there's one way to test this, and that's to accuse Bush of masterminding the WTC attacks and see if you get murdered. Let me try.

George W. Bush... J'accuse!

... Nothing so far.

Where's my Peabody. Where's my Pullitzer? WHERE?
posted by Hildago at 10:01 PM on March 3, 2005

Meanwhile, in Azerbaijan...
posted by Firas at 10:09 PM on March 3, 2005 [1 favorite]

Hildago? You still out there?

Guys, I'm getting worried.
posted by Doug at 10:39 PM on March 3, 2005


Anita was quoted in several articles saying that Hunter had been planning this for a while, and she was opposed to it, and that they had argued about it.
posted by Espoo2 at 11:28 PM on March 3, 2005

You mean, they got to her too?!
posted by Mr Bismarck at 11:42 PM on March 3, 2005


Where'd everybody go?

Oh, there's a knock at the door... I guess I'll go answer it since the Government Goons would never knock...

posted by Balisong at 11:56 PM on March 3, 2005

My hat it has three corners
Three corners has my hat
And had it not three corners
It would not be my hat

posted by Goofyy at 11:58 PM on March 3, 2005

I've got a rather less intriguing theory calling Extolling Momentum still involves tinfoil hat and it more or less goes like this

1. a lightning strikes somethings, a tree ..whatever
2. confusion ensues, panic, the God is angry at us or whatever is evil is against us ! Drug kills !
3. OH, Yeah ? Let us build a giant lighting fighter !
4. Ask 50 billion for a thing that costs 10 million at worst
5. Have the idiots pay for they're scared oh so scared
6. Blame the same idiots for they're dirty hippies against the lighting fighter, have them pay some more
7.... ?
8. Profit

Yes you get free tinfoil hat with deal, you really need one for today republuliberul media.
posted by elpapacito at 1:48 AM on March 4, 2005

We need another term for baseless paranoia.
Tinfoil is ever-shiny but increasingly tired.
posted by NinjaPirate at 2:54 AM on March 4, 2005

Those tinfoil hats are so old fashioned - get with the program.
posted by madamjujujive at 4:02 AM on March 4, 2005

Ha ha ha ha!
Tragically discontinued. How will the poor (read "rich"), afflicted population of Florida's care homes cope without their holistic vibes?

I wonder if the halo was photoshopped or if it was a localised weather phenomenon brought on by the magnets.
posted by NinjaPirate at 4:24 AM on March 4, 2005

It's not like anyone has paid any attention to anything that brain damaged junkie has said for many years.

And he never seemed to get in trouble for all those drug and firearms "events" .... perhaps he was being drugged AGAINST his will ... now who would what the good doctor thought of as a brain damaged junkie? Hmmmm?
posted by R. Mutt at 5:28 AM on March 4, 2005

HST is one of my heros.. the way he lived, and the way he died.

I'm not familiar with the circumstances of HST's suicide but I don't consider suicide heroic.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 6:29 AM on March 4, 2005

I do.
posted by exlotuseater at 6:42 AM on March 4, 2005

Nor do I, but I can see why some people would see Thompson's death as being of a part:

(The following is extensively quoted from The Friday Thing

Thompson's suicide is - even for someone with just a passing
acquaintance with his work - not only perfectly understandable;
it is also wholly admirable. Hunter S Thompson lived his life
according to his own rules. That's what he did. That's why the
people that loved him loved him. Because he took no shit and he
didn't give a fuck. From a very early age, he pissed all over
everything that said 'behave like this' and did what he wanted.

That - plus his own personal knowledge that people like him are
depressingly few and distressingly far between - made him the
legend he will always be. All of his life, no matter how fucked-
up it got, Hunter S. Thompson was in the driving seat. He took no
shit and he didn't give a fuck. The only time he would ever have
to relinquish control was in Old Age. And that's not something he
was prepared to do.

Rather like Hunter, Old Age takes no shit, and rather like
Hunter, it doesn't give a fuck. Most of us have no choice but to
knuckle under, conform to its cruel, wasting tyranny and slowly
decay. Most of us see no alternative but to shuffle listlessly
into uselessness and dependence, to stop actively living and just
accept the inevitable pain and indignity. This is because most of
us agree at least in part with the sheep above who see something
wrong in self-slaughter, something cowardly. Plus the fact of
course that most of us never really lived in our youth anyway, so
the slowing down and stopping typified by our autumn years
doesn't really make that much of an impact. It's not that
monumental a sacrifice.

But Hunter S. Thompson was never most of us, and because Old Age
threatened to stop Hunter S. Thompson being Hunter S. Thompson,
he was simply not prepared to accept it. Right up to the bitter
end, he was not prepared to play by anyone else's rules. Once
again, he took the law into his own hands. His suicide wasn't
cowardice. It was so far from cowardice it's a fucking joke.
Ironically - brilliantly - Hunter S Thompson's suicide managed to
actually be life-affirming.

It brings to mind the following words from the Julian Barnes
novel Staring at the Sun. In context the character who thinks
them onto the page is wholly opposed to them, but here they fit,
like a fist in a glove: 'Suicide wasn't self-abnegation. It
didn't say: I am so miserable and unimportant that it doesn't
matter if I destroy myself. It said the opposite: look, it said,
I am important enough to destroy.'

His body was breaking down. Immobility beckoned. And Hunter took
out his gun, and he shot it in the face. He that lives by the
Self shall die by the Self.

He took no shit, and he didn't give a fuck.

What a guy.

posted by Hartster at 6:43 AM on March 4, 2005

good call, MLIS (as it were).

telephone lines cut off voice signals above 3500 Hz -- which, incidentally, removes a goodly portion of speech information, though retains intelligibility. Gunshots, meanwhile, have their highest concentration of sound level between 130 and 10,000 Hz -- with frequencies between 3500 and 10,000 Hz registering at about 25 decibels.

Although the peak amplitudes (c. 30 dB) for a gunshot are found between 130 and 3000 Hz (within the phone line's bandpass), this is the "bassy" part of the gunshot's sound, and its presence over the phone line without any of the higher frequency information could easily make it sound unlike a gunshot.

In addition, the main cut-off point for acceptable attenuation of a signal over a phone line in the US is 8 dB -- in other words, it is acceptable (and fairly normal) for a signal to decrease in amplitude as it passes over the phone line by a quite significant amount. Below 500 Hz, the acceptable limit is 12 dB -- and sounds in this frequency range tend to get attenuated by about 5 dB. Since dB are logarithmic, a 3 dB attenuation, well within the acceptable range, means the signal is twice as quiet. The sound signal of Hunter S Thompson's gunshot could easily have been heard by his wife as four times quieter than it would have been in the room.

I know this is really pedantic, but a suicide is a terrible thing for family and friends -- and the last thing they need is for people to latch onto absurd theories.
posted by melmoth at 6:44 AM on March 4, 2005

What's more interesting is the word "counselor" on the typwriter. The rest is ridiculous, but he really did type that word.

...or did he? (BUM BUM BUMMMM!)
posted by schambers at 6:46 AM on March 4, 2005


...then shoot his ashes out of a cannon shaped like a gonzo fist.
posted by anthill at 8:06 AM on March 4, 2005

Those tinfoil hats are so old fashioned - get with the program.

But... but... it's been discontinued!
posted by deborah at 8:13 AM on March 4, 2005

Re: the word 'counselor':

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that the word was some sort of a prayer before dying. And let it be made known now that I'm not coming from a Christianity-boosting perspective, but like any properly trained former English major, when faced with an inexplicable allusion, I turn first to the King James.

Since the day of his death, I have been thinking about all the Biblical references in HST's writing. And so have others. Here's a nice, quick take on it in The Revealer. In its official obit, Washington Post said this:

Among the writers and works he cited as major influences were most of the classic American authors, including Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway, many or most read early in life. He also named the Biblical book of Revelation.

And finally, there's some great work in this essay on Thompson's writing found in a Penn English syllabus,which I stumbled across in my memorial Googling.

Apocalyptic religious motifs resonate through Hunter Thompson's literary corpus, a more recent manifestation introducing Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the '80s:

"I have stolen more quotes and thoughts and purely elegant little starbursts of writing from the Book of Revelation than anything else in the English language.. . because l love the wild power of the language and the purity of the madness that governs it and makes it music. (1988, 9)"

The "fearful intensity" of Revelation, "a thunderhead mix of Bolero, Sam Coleridge and the ravings of Cato the Elder," Thompson wrote, is an inspirational "litany of doomsday gibberish" (1988, 36).

Language and madness--these terms signify Thompson's secularized style of literary prophecy. Like biblical prophecy, Thompson's reportage takes the form of volatile denunciatory literary jeremiads, challenging and reproving conventional morality, politics, and culture. "Most smart people tend to feel queasy when the conversation turns to things like 'certain death' and 'total failure' and the idea of a 'doomed generation,'" Thompson proclaimed. "But not me" (1988, 299). "I am comfortable with these themes.... Any conversation that can make smart people confront a mix of Death, Doom and Failure with a straight face is probably worth listening in on" (1988,299). His Gonzo-style reporting in six books and other "major statements of our time" constitutes the "ravings" of a postmodern Jeremiah whose prophetic narrative discourse ranks him as the most brilliantly outspoken moralist to practice New Journalism.

So it might not be crazy to suggest that HST was referring to Isaiah 9:6:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

...And that perhaps he was attempting to indiciate that he believed that there may exist a governing power, and a justice, far greater than W's.

It's a ripe field for inquiry, and I'm so thankful he left us with a puzzle. It seemed nuts at first that there was no note...this is better than a note. In fact, if I had the day off today, I might try to follow this trail further -- take the concordance and look through the Bible for other mentions of the word 'counselor,' see if any of those might have parallels to HST's life, self-image, or role in culture and politics. I'll leave it for some other English major to do.

I close with this:

Playboy: What will you do? Do you have any projects on the fire other than the political stuff?
Thompson: Well, I think I may devote more time to my ministry, for one thing. All the hellish running around after politicians has taken great amounts of time from my responsibilities as a clergyman.
Playboy: You're not a real minister, are you?
Thompson: What? Of course I am. I'm an ordained doctor of divinity in the Church of the New Truth. l have a scroll with a big gold seal on it hanging on my wall at home. (1974, 246)
posted by Miko at 8:28 AM on March 4, 2005

Miko: I can't hear that quote from Isaiah without hearing the version from Handel's Messiah (Part 12). IANAX, but I have to say it's inspiring.
posted by The Bellman at 8:51 AM on March 4, 2005

Phooey. Those censorious bastards deleted all the best rampant speculation about the meaning of "counselor." Remember, folks, it's the acronym, not the anagram! Go in peace.
posted by soyjoy at 8:59 AM on March 4, 2005

Hm. I didn't realize that in reclaiming my carefully-put-together post from the deleted thread, I would lose the links. So here's the Revealer, here's the Washington Post obit, and here's the Penn essay.

Bellman: me too, the durn thing has been echoing in my head since I looked up Isaiah.
posted by Miko at 9:16 AM on March 4, 2005

If somebody wanted to 'do' HST, walking into his house with a silenced pistol would have to be about the worst of all possible solutions, especially when there were other people in the house. He was a gun lover like no other and from what I have heard, his house was spilling over with guns. What kind of incompetent assassin would sneak into the house of guy who was probably wearing two revolvers at the time? This is pure retardation.
posted by well_balanced at 9:40 AM on March 4, 2005

maybe it was a T1000?
posted by mcsweetie at 9:54 AM on March 4, 2005

Miko writes "I'm an ordained doctor of divinity in the Church of the New Truth"

That sounds more like discordianism than christianity to me.

Btw, I saw this story in the comments at the Revealer. An obit worth reading.
posted by mr.marx at 11:04 AM on March 4, 2005

G&M published a piece by Paul William Roberts where Roberts briefly fictionalizes an account of a desperate phone call from Thompson to Roberts, the night before Thompson's death. Then Roberts goes on and says 'and that's how I imagine a tribute to Hunter S. Thompson should begin'.

The problem here is that the link above leaves out that last part about 'and here is how I imagine'. Instead, they post just the beginning few sentences, a complete fiction, and to read the full story one must have a subscription, and in doing so you'd find that Hunter S. Thompson never made any such phone call to Roberts.

Here is a link to the full Roberts story, assuming you have a subscription...which I do not because they want a credit card number to view their precious content during your "free" trial.
posted by dejah420 at 11:46 AM on March 4, 2005

Jeebus, I've been confused on this for months. When I heard that Bushco wanted to get rid of HST, I thought they meant the Hubble Space Telescope.
posted by grateful at 12:06 PM on March 4, 2005

The story regarding the fact that Hunter ended his life while typing "counselor" on a piece of paper with "Fourth Amendment Foundation" was genuinely intriguing. That it was deemed a conspiracy theory article that echoed this one in the FPP here, and thus taken off the front page, is sad. Anyone who read his stuff with any regularity knew that civil liberties--those beyond the First Amendment rights that most reporters only spend time going on about-- were very important to him. It's not a stretch to think that despair over civil liberties in America played a role in his death, or that his suicide was at least partially a protest.
posted by raysmj at 5:23 PM on March 4, 2005

Totally in agreement, raysmj. It was intriguing\, consistent with his body of work, and worthy of serious thought.
posted by Miko at 7:12 PM on March 4, 2005

yeah and tupac's not dead
posted by angry modem at 9:18 PM on March 6, 2005

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