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EDITORIAL: Conspiracy theorists take one in the shin

| April 5, 2024 1:00 AM

Chalk up another win for the ghost busters.

Not the hilarious movie actors; in this example, the very serious men and women in Coeur d’Alene blue who catch bad guys and sometimes blow up conspiracy theories along the way.

Wednesday’s Coeur d'Alene Police Department press release on progress in the city’s racial harassment case verified key aspects of the incidents as initially reported by members and friends of the University of Utah women’s basketball program. That was welcome news to most people, who want the culprits exposed and, if possible, prosecuted.

But not everybody is cheering for the same team here. In fact, some pulling dangerous strings on the community’s far right have exercised a worn-out but sometimes still effective tactic: When you don’t like the information, you simply label it fake news. And that’s what they’re doing in big, bold type.

The headline on a local conspiracy-packed digital publication called IdahoTribune.org declared, “Anatomy Of a Hate Hoax: One Week And Still NO EVIDENCE of Alleged ‘Racist Incident’ in Coeur d’Alene With Utah Basketball Team.”

It gets worse — or better, depending upon your sense of humor.

“It has been one week since Tony Stewart of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations proclaimed that there had been ‘horrendous acts of hatred’ in downtown Coeur d’Alene, against a Women’s Basketball team,” the article opens.

“Now, almost two weeks since the incident occurred, there remains no evidence to support these claims.”

The article, which goes on for hundreds of words building a breathtaking, brain cell killing case that the whole thing was a hoax to boost the liberal hordes and undercut persecuted conservatives, was published Tuesday. Had it been presented 24 hours earlier, April Fool fans could’ve just chuckled it off.

Instead, 24 hours later, Coeur d’Alene police verified that the most alarming racist incident allegations match what many hours of investigation have so far uncovered through video and audio evidence. 

Police aren’t done. They’re asking the public for information about a silver sedan in the vicinity that night, March 21 (https://shorturl.at/ceY02). If you can help, call 208-769-2320.

This case is far from over. There’s still plenty of room for more “fake news” labels to be applied, conspiracy theory eggs to be hatched and, back in the real world, the perps to be identified and dealt with appropriately.

But an important reminder is rising from these ashes: If we’re going to fix problems, we must first acknowledge that they exist. 

It’s OK if we have to hold our noses in the process.