In Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991) Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) asks a member of his staff if he has read his Shakespeare, because, “Brutus and Cassius, they, too, were honorable men.” Stone’s point with this exchange is to help convince viewers that a conspiracy of seemingly honorable men could also have assassinated President Kennedy. Like many arguments that conspiracy theorists make, this one appears to be solid on the surface – leaders have been murdered by conspirators in the past, therefore it can happen in the modern world – but this is kind of like saying, “I had a great dinner at a restaurant once, so any restaurant I go to in the future is likely to be great.” Nothing is actually being proved and much is being obscured.
Putting aside the fact that we would be better off learning the history of Julius Caesar from historians, instead of artists, the substance of Shakespeare’s play (or Camuccini’s painting, for that matter) is close enough to the truth for us to understand how radically different this event was from the death of JFK. Caesar was stabbed to death by Roman Senators at a public meeting, in front of witnesses who were not a part of the conspiracy and very aware of who the conspirators/assassins were. The men who took out Caesar could call themselves honorable because Caesar had made himself dictator and appeared to be on the path to naming himself king. They believed they were standing up for Roman Society, Roman Law, and the Roman People, which is why they did what they did in public. They believed they would be praised as saviors of the Roman Republic. They had no plan to conceal their crime, because they did not believe they were criminals.
In the end, their actions brought about further civil wars and their own deaths, followed by the creation of the Roman Empire and the rule of Emperor Augustus Caesar (formerly Octavius, the great nephew of Julius and his adopted heir). So, basically, beyond killing Julius, they failed.
Now imagine the meeting were JFK’s alleged conspirators decided to do him in. First, you need to believe that all these men have no regard for the office of the presidency, the rule of law, the Constitution, or anything of this nature. This is not hard for conspiracy theorists, since they imagine everyone with any power to be amoral, at best. But if these men really were the worst of the worst, with no regard for anything, beyond their own ambitions, then they could not reasonably argue that their actions would be honorable, which necessitated a secret plan and a never-ending coverup. It also begs the question, how could such unscrupulous men keep a secret, with no one, not even the wait staff, speaking out, for decades on end? And how could they trust one another? If they respect nothing, why wouldn’t they end up killing off their fellow conspirators until only one strongman remained? But, I digress.
Given all the options open to them, from poisoning JKF’s midnight snack at the White House to having him “accidentally” drown in the pool, why would a group of would-be conspirators pick a plan that exposed the fact the president was murdered? If they had the kind of power and control that conspiracy theorists allege, and they could fake evidence and force nearly anyone to say anything they demand, why not pick a plan that required the least amount of meddling and the least amount of headaches? Why make things so needlessly complicated?
Just imagine the guy who pitched this: “We’re going to shoot him in a public place, with an unknown number of witnesses around, with an unknown number of cameras, possibly even TV cameras, which might air the shooting live. We’re going to use multiple shooters, from multiple locations, but we’ll pin it all on one shooter, from one location, and hope that no one else is caught, in person or on camera. Then will fake all the ballistics, eye witnesses, autopsy, etc. to fit with whatever we want. And just to make sure that our guy doesn’t talk, we’ll kill the killer, but we’ll leave the second assassin alive, because we can trust him not to talk.”
Would any intelligent, well-established individuals, who depend on their reputations for much of their influence, actually say, “That’s a great idea! And then we can get the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to head up a commission about the shootings and sell out lies to the American Public. I’m sure he’ll be happy to go along with anything we tell him to do.”
It’s nonsensical. No actual conspirators would leave so much to chance, because they know they would be caught. There are simply too many elements and people to control and no reason to make the kind of stupid choices that they allegedly made.
I’m reminded of an old episode of the Simpsons where Bart brings his dog to obedience training, but he doesn’t want to correct the puppy’s bad behavior in any way, so he simply pretends that he is giving the dog commands, no matter what the dog does. “Lay down. Get up. Walk around. Sniff that dog’s butt.” It’s easy to act like you are giving commands, as you watch what an animal is choosing to do on its own, but it quickly becomes obvious that you are not in control of what is happening. Much the same is true for conspiracy theorists, who can look at any piece of evidence and imagine it was somehow faked, or planned from the start, by the people allegedly “behind” Oswald. But they are not actually thinking about this imaginary plan from the outset and how complex, yet ridiculous it would need to be.
Take the so-called “pristine” bullet that passed through President Kennedy and Governor Connally (the previously discussed “magic bullet“). Critics of the Warren Report and deniers of reality, like to believe that this bullet found on a hospital stretcher must have been planted there. It is simply too convenient, according to them, and too undamaged to be believed. Like so many things that conspiracy theorists assert, just the opposite is true.
This bullet was found in the midst of an ongoing investigation, begun by the Dallas Police and joined by several other law enforcement agencies. No one knew at the outset what bullets might be found, in the limo, on the ground, or in the body of the two men hit. To plant a bullet at this time would be very inconvenient and extremely poor judgement for a conspiracy that was allegedly pulled off so flawlessly as this one. You don’t want the FBI saying, “Look, we have a bullet from Oswald’s rifle,” and then have the autopsy turn up two more in JFK (they x-rayed his entire body) and the local cops find another one, and… you get the idea. If you were going to plant something, you would wait and see what fake evidence would actually help your story, first.
Furthermore, the bullet that was found at the hospital, and actually did pass through these two men, was damaged in a very particular way.
Conspiracy theorists only like to look at the side view and say the bullet is, “pristine.” I have even had some people tell me that it is in such good shape it could be fired again (as if it was never fired in the first place). But this is a full metal jacket, military bullet, fired from a World War II era, military rifle. It can take more damage than most civilian hunting rifle and hand gun bullets, without collapsing. More importantly, when you look at the bullet from the bottom view, you can see that it has been squeezed and some of the softer metal inside is being pushed out. This is consistent with a bullet that spun, end or end, or “yawed,” before hitting something hard, like a bone.
Ballistic tests have shown that a bullet like this one, which passes through flesh, without hitting bone, will tend to yaw after it emerges on the other side. The wound found on Connally’s back was an oval, not a circle, because the bullet was yawing when it struck him. There is no way that any alleged plotters could ensure this outcome from the beginning and plant the correct “fake” bullet that would be consistent with the wounds found on both men and the damage done to the bullet. Only if you look at this in hindsight, and ignore many of the facts, can you convince yourself that someone planned from the beginning to plant this bullet.
Many other facts about the case similarly backdown when you try to imagine how anyone could have conceived of them in advance, let alone planned out all the possible variations that could have happened and been prepared for each one.
Return to the complete list of 55 reasons to accept that Oswald acted alone.