QAnon – our opinion
- Is QAnon actually dangerous, sick, and criminal – are its participants and believers mentally ill and/or criminal?
- or is QAnon entertainment, their pronouncements protected as free speech?
- What is an appropriate response?
Our legal system must address QAnon as a terrorist organization that spreads fabricated, malicious defamations, violence, dangerous delusions, and addiction to conspiracy theorizing*. Participating and/or believing in QAnon always includes condoning illegal defamation of respected politicians and their supporters, intimidations and threats, violence, and, maybe most importantly, intent to thwart elections. Anybody partaking and believing in QAnon must be considered emotionally disturbed, in need of therapy, and ineligible for public office, teaching positions, radio talk-show host or TV news anchor, etc. These people condone and may be prone to hideous violent crimes. Courts have an obligation to act – we cannot have QAnon delusions and falsehoods prevent political debates in Congress or any other representative body; QAnon must get off the air and out of colleges and schools, etc. Professional associations, particularly the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, must take some responsibility and act.
QAnon’s “Where we go one, we go all” sounds like an invitation: if a QAnon believer takes actions against the supposedly satanic, child sex trafficking, cannibals, all other believers should follow suite. We must not forget Edgar M. Welch who, consequent to the spread of the “Pizzagate” fabrications, almost started a massacre – luckily the Pizzeria did not have a basement. Those fabrications may have started QAnon and were amplified in its conspiracy theories.
QAnon is like a warehouse of explosives – they are presently not harming anybody physically – but a spark may detonate them at any moment. This is not a partisan issue; there is a danger of war-like scenarios. Both, Republicans or Democrats winning in coming elections is potentially dangerous, and even if the threat of broad violence is very minor, it must be considered unacceptable.
Many by QAnon targeted politicians and prominent supports of Democrats should take legal actions against politicians and powerful people in the media who state they believe in “Q” – since believing in “Q” implies they believe in and help spread the vicious, slanderous statements which are designed to incite violence against them and to thwart the elections. The dangerous and subversive pronouncements, that many Democratic politicians and their prominent supporters are satanic, child sex trafficking, cannibals, is not protected by “free speech” – defamation, character attacks, and incitement of violence against individuals, all completely based on lies, are not legal even if the victims are not (yet) suing the instigators and propagators of the dangerous lies. Inventors of the lies may not be known; still propagating such statements, objectively known to be 100% false, is a serious crime.
Conspiracy theorizing usually reinterprets known data in odd ways. The right-extreme QAnon conspiracy theories were started by spreading made-up, vicious falsehoods about reputable politicians and other prominent people with the intent to thwart elections and incite threats and violence against political opponents and their prominent supporters. QAnon is also a cult as it promotes a blend of ‘pseudo-religious’ and delusional thinking. It is a tragic sign of our times that many people, including Republican politicians, appear to believe the absurd assertions that “Q” is promoting. Extreme ideology-driven us-versus-them thinking has led many to ignore realities.
Cults are usually led by a charismatic leader and may include some conspiracy thinking. In conspiracy theories, data is misinterpreted in odd ways. In the case of the conspiracy-theory cult QAnon, the anonymous leaders keep fabricating vicious material, and the pronouncements themselves entice followers. QAnon is designed to be very addicting, with more and more people becoming immersed in exploring them and adding material that will spread in social media: related delusional and some religious thoughts, mean-spirited, slanderous fabrications, and other loosely associated material.
Addiction to conspiracy theorizing: Any conspiracy theorizing may become an addiction comparable to computer game and gambling addictions. Pursuing the theorizing leads to frequent reward feelings, a positive sense of learning something exciting most others do not know. People get particularly excited about participating in creating a “larger picture” out of many people’s “insights” and possibly adding something themselves. Conspiracy theorizing about historical events is addicting; it is a waste of time that is harmless for society, but, like other addiction, it damages bonds within families and distracts from emotional growth and constructive or artistic endeavors. Conspiracy theories about present and future are more dangerous.
Additional pathology results form patients becoming accustomed to living in multiple realities. People have to add a layer of pseudo-scientific and quasi-religious beliefs, which healthy people consider absurd. This is problematic since modern Americans already have to deal with frequent conflicts between the usually opportunistic cultures of their family and profession, the realities and conclusions of science, and teachings and moral mandates of their religion.
Conspiracy theorizing that addresses the present and future is always extremely problematic. Quasi-religious conspiracy theories involving cults do not respect reality and science and usually involve criminal thinking. That in QAnon virtually all “insights” are opportunistic inventions, which reinforce others’ pseudo-scientific and quasi-religious views, is not relevant. Many QAnon followers love anything that may thwart undecided people’s judgment. To add to its attractiveness, much of what adherers “believe” is designed to be unintelligible, vague, and/or containing purposeful misinterpretations of real issues. QAnon also falsely claims to work with and pursue the same issues as legitimate, ethical organizations, mainly saving children from traffiickers and pedophiles. To enhance its reach, QAnon, like many religions, integrates other false beliefs, such as that child entertainers systematically brainwash children, that vaccinations are designed to hurt children, that covid-19 is a left-wing conspiracy or the virus was developed and/or spread by people who oppose president Trump, that “antifa” is responsible for forest fires, etc. Attaching such fralse rumors and conspiracy theories to their own inventions attracts people who otherwise would not know of the right extremist, Trump supporting QAnon; consequences include resurgence of dangerous infectious disorders, violent crimes by people who believe the outrageous false claims and specific accusations, and consequently much suffering and deaths.
QAnon beliefs are highly delusional not only in content, but, more importantly, in their meaning – believers genuinely assume that, in some perverted way, their groups make the world a better place. Their delusions include predicted and planned terrorism that people may primarily observe in virtual websites; however, many may also want to participate, sometimes taking action alone while feeling that they are part of a powerful, growing movement that “should” “take over the world.” This can quickly erupt into widespread terrorist actions.
*Addiction may be defined as an abuse behavior that has become a first priority, competing with everything else that is most valuable to the person. Abuse behavior are behaviors that lead to some good feelings and/or positive excitement while the person has knowledge that the behavior is not ‘good,’ harming others and/or eventually oneself – that knowledge may at the time be suppressed and/or ‘forgotten.’