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YouTube / Kirby Ferguson

This is Not a Conspiracy Theory

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YouTube / Kirby Ferguson

Kirby Ferguson has been making wonderful bite-sized documentaries for years. His latest project is This is Not a Conspiracy Theory, a documentary film released in parts, examining the phenomenon of the conspiracy theory in culture.

In this first short installment, Ferguson traces the origin of the conspiracy theory to a certain assassination in November, 1963. This is well worth a look, and I can't wait for the rest of the series. Have a look:

I saw an early cut of this some months back at a festival. I think it's going to be great -- crop circles, Roswell, The Matrix, Bigfoot, all cut from the same psychological cloth? Sign me up.

(If you're curious about that teaser at the very end, go watch this.)

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Mary, Queen of Scots Not a Murderer, Inquiry Finds
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Scottish experts have handed down their judgment on a crime that occurred almost 450 years ago. Mary, Queen of Scots has been exonerated of any involvement in her husband’s murder in 1567 by a group of investigators convened by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

After the death of her first husband, King Francis II of France, Mary returned to Scotland and married her cousin, the earl of Darnley. Lord Darnley later died in the wake of a mysterious explosion, and Mary has always been suspected in the plot—not least because she married one of the main suspects, James Hepburn, just three months later.

Darnley was not your average innocent victim. He was a jealous, violent man, who had killed Mary’s secretary, David Rizzio, the year before. In front of the pregnant queen, Darnley stabbed Rizzio 56 times because he believed Rizzio and Mary were having an affair. When Darnley himself was found dead in his nightshirt, it made sense that the crime was retribution of some sort for Rizzio's murder. 

A 1567 drawing of the crime scene. Image Credit: National Archives via Wikipedia // Public Domain

Modern experts examined drawings of the location of the murder, Kirk o’Field in Edinburgh, and a recreation image of the crime scene based on original sketches. They determined that Darnley’s body, along with his squire’s, had been dragged into the orchard after a mysterious explosion struck his house. Their injuries didn’t indicate that they had died in the explosion, though—they seemed to have been strangled or suffocated.

The investigators, led by forensic anthropologist Sue Black of the University of Dundee, concluded that the murder wasn't arranged by Mary to make room for a new romantic alliance. Instead, they believe the killing was carried out by Darnley’s own relatives, who were angry about his involvement in Rizzio’s murder and needed to keep the powerful, out-of-control noble in check.

[h/t: Scottish Legal News]

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A Teenager's Assassination Attempt on Queen Elizabeth II
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As of June 12, Queen Elizabeth II has been reigning for 63 years. She’s ruled through the administrations of 10 U.S. presidents, 12 British prime ministers, and countless world events.

But on June 13, 1981, it could have all been undone by a teenager. On that day, the Queen was riding her horse on her way to the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony when six shots rang out. She was unharmed, and though her horse was spooked, the sovereign was able to calm him and continue along the parade route.

Security rushed into the crowd to find the would-be assassin wearing a “Charles and Di” pin—and they were surprised to discover that he had fired six blank shots. Seventeen-year-old Marcus Sarjeant was obsessed with the assassination attempts on Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, and idolized Lee Harvey Oswald and Mark David Chapman.

After the attempt on Reagan in March 1981, Sarjeant remarked that he wanted to be the first one to “have a pot-shot” at the Queen. Hoping to reach the same levels of fame as his idols, the teen wrote about his plans to “stun and mystify the world with nothing more than a gun” and even sent photos of himself posing with his father’s revolver to various media outlets prior to the attempt.

Fortunately, Sarjeant was unable to obtain ammunition in the U.K. Instead, he settled for the next best thing by carrying out what the judge later called “a fantasy assassination” via blanks. Sarjeant was sentenced to five years under the 1848 Treason Act, but was released in October 1984. After his time in a psychiatric prison, Sarjeant apparently changed his mind about wanting fame and notoriety. Upon his release, he changed his name, and, according to the BBC, started a new life.

A tourist was later looking through the photos he had taken and discovered that he had inadvertently snapped a chilling shot of Sarjeant taking aim. You can also watch the incident unfold in the video below. 

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