Sunday, August 13, 2017

#1883: Richard Lee

Most people are aware of conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11 or the JFK shootings, but it turns out to be difficult to find a major event in history that has not been subjected to conspiracy theory. There is a whole industry of conspiracies surrounding the suicide of Kurt Cobain, for instance, and Seattle public access TV presenter and independent journalist Richard Lee is probably its most famous promoter. According to Lee, Courtney Love collaborated with Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic – and probably many more whose motives and identities remain shrouded in shadows – to kill Cobain, and Lee will apparently stop at nothing to prove his hypotheses true, g the fact that they are obviously false and ridiculous notwithstanding.

To promote his ideas Lee produced a show called Now See It Person to Person: Was Kurt Cobain Murdered? (later the somewhat more assertive Now See It Person To Person: Kurt Cobain Was Murdered), which was running weekly for years (with some involuntary hiatuses) and might still be online for all we know; Lee is at least still pushing the conspiracy theories, and has over the years acquired a number of restraining orders for stalking people he thinks were involved or know something about Cobain’s death. There is a fine portrait of Lee here.

Over the years Lee has also tried to run for various political offices. He ran for Seattle City Council in 1999, but a judge ruled him ineligible because he reused old petition signatures to get on the ballot. In 2001, Lee ran for mayor of the city of Seattle, and used the opportunity to question other candidates about a supposed cover-up regarding the investigation of Cobain’s death.

Of course, Lee is not the only one to push Kurt Cobain murder conspiracy theories. Others include:

  • Tom Grant, a private investigator hired by Courtney Love to find Cobain after he went missing from a rehab facility, and then to investigate Cobain’s death. Grant came to believe that Cobain was murdered by Love.
  • Eldon “El Duce” Hoke of the band The Mentors, who claimed that Courtney Love offered him $50,000 to kill Cobain. Hoke’s later death in an accident only fuelled the conspiracy theorists.
  • Ian Halperin and Max Wallace, who wrote two books, Who Killed Kurt Cobain? and Love and Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain (2004), the latter with help from Tom Grant.

Richard Lee the conspiracy theorist should be distinguished from Religious Right figure Richard Lee, editor of the American Patriot’s Bible and paranoid persecution myth promoter.

Diagnosis: Colorful, belligerent and probably mostly harmless (except for the harassment issues, which I suppose are serious enough), but also representative for a mindset that is not particularly harmless at the scale we are observing at present.

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