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Smoko With Hendo

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Hendo Likes A Good Punchline

Chances are you know at least one conspiracy theorist. Maybe it’s that smart-arsed anti-vaxer cousin who reckons Pete Evans is a guru. Maybe it’s Aunty June who lectures you on how ‘the climate is always changing!’ Or perhaps it’s the muppet sparky on your building site who’s ‘not falling for the COVID lie.’ But you definitely know one nutter, right? Hey, it’s possible you are one, in which case go grab your tinfoil hat.

To my dismay, I recently discovered one of my oldest and dearest friends is a full-blown conspiracy theorist. Some background: I grew up with Roy and we were pretty tight through our 20s. He then moved to Europe for a decade, then I moved to the coast from the big smoke after he returned. In other words, while we share a long friendship, we haven’t hung in person much over the past 20 years.

Your politics and world view can change the older you get and I should have seen the warning signs that Roy’s had when we caught up on a winter surfari with the boys about 10 years ago. Over 15 beers, he tried to explain that the September 11 terrorist attacks weren’t the work of al Qaeda suicide squads at all.

“Nah, it was an inside job!” Roy declared. I nearly choked on my Resches. “Don’t be a fucking idiot,” I spat.

This was possibly the wrong response. Roy is a hot-head and doesn’t like too much pushback. Also, I am a big-mouth and I don’t like people gibbering frogshit at me. It was a no-win situation. Roy and I argued and sneered at each other some more. Eventually we fell asleep in our camp chairs then forgot all about it the next day, as mates of 40-odd years do.

But…then his family came to stay with mine last winter. You know, the winter after the summer that saw fire wipe out 12 million hectares of bushland, and nearly took my town with it? I made the mistake, in Roy’s eyes, of mentioning climate change in the same breath as the bushfires. He rolled his eyes and scoffed. “You’re not into the whole climate-change thing are you Hendo?” Cue another pissed argument. Then the next night he wanted me to swallow the COVID pandemic was a ‘plan-demic’.

So, the September 11 secret, the climatechange hoax and now the COVID scam. That’s three pretty big strikes and a clear sign Roy has become something of a fruit loop. Maybe he always has been? I dunno.

But I do know it’s almost impossible to change the mind of a conspiracy theorist once they disappear down the rabbit hole. And my friendship with Roy – who is a championship bloke and as funny a bastard as you’re ever going to meet – is worth more to me than any differences we might have on the fringes. So rather than argue with him, I’ve decided to just change the topic in future.

Every now and then though, I think about Roy’s theories and I fantasise about sticking it to other conspiracy theorists as a proxy up-yours to his crazier set of beliefs. The boldest of all loonies by far would have to be the growing cohort of people who believe the earth is flat. Yep, some nitwits fair dinkum think we live on a giant disc.

Well I say strap the Grand Poohbah of the flat-earth movement into the next SpaceX mission and put him into orbit for a couple of days. While he’s up there – after he’s crapped himself and vomited all over the place – make him do a live cross to all the other flat-earth jerks back here on earth and tell them how wrong they’ve been all along.

On days when the latest conspiracy theorists – be it the MAGA crew who says Biden stole the US election or the gronks who reckon the COVID vaccines will carry a mind-control chip – really start doing my head in, I like to relive the best-ever response to unhinged babble. It took place in 2002 when a conspiracy theorist named Bart Sibrel accosted Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin with a film crew. Sibrel accused the space pioneer of faking the 1969 moon landing. Aldrin tried to step away but Sibrel chased him. “You’re the one who says you walked on the moon when you didn’t!” Sibrel jeered. “You’re a thief, a liar and a coward…”

The coward bit was too much for Buzz. The 71-year-old threw a withering overhand right cross that caught the 37-year-old Sibrel flush on the jaw. The look on Sibrel’s face afterward is worth the 1000 words I’d love to say to my mate Roy. Go check it out. Search ‘Buzz Aldrin punches denier’ on YouTube. It’s awesome.

Anyways, Roy’s coming to visit again in a few months. I’ll ask him his thoughts on the Apollo missions and report back to you.

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