In the pursuit of the truth in the Elliott Smith story, I realize how much it is easier for people to go with suicide rather than murder. Suicide is easier because the person you accuse of murdering himself is dead and so can’t speak up or argue anymore. Very few people will dare to speak up in the name of the dead for different reasons. First of all, once the idea of suicide has been established in the general opinion, it is very difficult to go against the grain and contradict the consensus, even though the consensus is based on very few vague things (a supposed suicide note, a personal journal, a depressive nature…) and not considering any evidence. Secondly, most people don’t care enough to take any risk… so fear and apathy reign and nothing happens. It takes a King Buzzo (Buzz Osborne who recently harshly criticized Brett Morgen’s ‘Montage of Heck’) to speak for Kurt Cobain, but these people are rarer than monkeys typing a Shakespeare play.
However, it is a very different story if you try to defend the murder version, since you accuse someone of a crime so it’s obviously a big deal, because this person is still alive and can vehemently fight back and even sue you for libel. And since the case is still unsolved, you can’t come up with a formal proof, which could definitively prove your point, and no matter how many circumstantial facts you can come up with, none of them is a formal proof.
In the Smith case like in the Cobain case (both cases have been heavily put in parallel lately because of these two recent movies), suicide is the easy way out for most people, suicide is more convenient, it is the lazy way of thinking since you could not have come up with an easier reasoning than this one: a depressed junky committed suicide, wow why would you believe anything else? And that’s the problem, at the end people pick what they believe, and believes work hand to hand with emotions, feelings, impressions and presumptions.
On the contrary people who are accused of being conspiracy theorists are the opposite of believers. They dig facts, you know these ‘little’ things that go in the way of most people’s opinions. I am among these people and we are fighting a very old and recurrent problem, people are so attached to their believes that they don’t care about facts, or worst they dismiss facts when they seem to contradict their believes. I see the same fight between science and religion sometimes, no matter the number of hard evidence proving evolution you can throw away at a creationist’s face, he or she will stay loyal to his or her believes because they are stronger than evidence, they are part of themselves and define their identity.
I see the fight between the ‘pro-suicide’ team and the ‘pro-murder’ team in these terms, we have believes against scientific evidence and it doe not mean that all people in the ‘pro-murder’ team are necessary restlessly pushing the murder theory, most of them are just asking questions because they use their critical thinking and have doubt as any true scientists should do! On the contrary, suicide believers never ask questions and are blinded by what they have been fed for years and go for the most convenient, may be the most reassuring version. Of course a depressed junky who has mentioned suicide many times will eventually kill himself!
And there is another aspect into this, the labeling, the putting down, not only we are the conspiracy theorists but we are the misogynists! Because in our ultra politically correct society doubting and going against the popular opinion is always regarded as having the plague, so we have to be labeled one way or another!! Misogynist is the word W.T. Schultz shamefully used in his Salon article: people who dare to think that there’s more than a suicide in Elliott Smith and Kurt Cobain’s sad demises are misogynist! Morgen has even said we are holocaust deniers! And these ideas are so ridiculous and weak that they seem to be the last refuge of persons who have no argument left and are ignoring the facts, but once again Brett Morgen has repeated everywhere he wasn’t interested by facts, and Schultz did not even address one single fact in his Salon article.
Someone who knew Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith once told me that people who believes that Cobain was murdered also believes Elliott was killed. And why should we be surprised by this? We are consistent with reality, we care about facts and truth matters to us. We don’t like to be told what to believe by some arrogant scholar, and we question authority. We are not misogynistic, we are the rebels, the truth seekers who don’t care about political correctness, and above everything we have no agenda, nothing to gain at proving one thing over another. Contrarily to those who are pointing their intimidating fingers at us, these people have a huge agenda. What would happen to ‘Montage of Heck’ and to ‘Torment Saint’, what would happen to Morgen and Schultz’s credibility if we were finally bound to learn that Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith hadn’t committed suicide?
Originally published on Rock NYC (June 13 2015)