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Cannon: Cats, devil worshippers and other conspiracy theories

By Ann Cannon

| Tribune Columnist

First Published Apr 08 2014 08:48 am • Last Updated Apr 15 2014 09:12 am

Today I’m going to talk about cats. And also devil worshippers.

Did that get your attention? Good!

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Anyway, a little over 10 years ago, people in my Salt Lake City Avenues neighborhood were worried. Why? Because pet cats (and the occasional small dog) went missing — only to turn up later in the cemetery. Dead.

Not only were these pets dead, but they’d also been mutilated. Multiple reports of animals surgically cut in half with their organs removed surfaced, thus creating a deep sense of unease in pet owners throughout the Avenues. Who would do such a thing?

Answer: Devil Worshippers. OBVIOUSLY. Killing cats was (no doubt) a part of their ritualistic satanic ceremonies, performed in the cemetery under the cover of darkness.

People took extra pains to keep their cats indoors during that period — especially at night when Devil Worshippers got into their Devil Worshipper-mobiles and trolled the Avenues for stray cats. A task force (consisting of members of the SLCPD, the Humane Society and county animal services) was formed to address the problem. And the Humane Society even posted a generous reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone involved in the cat killings.

Eventually the task force released its findings. People weren’t killing the cats. Foxes were. A den of foxes had been discovered in the cemetery, and in fact, I had seen them there myself on my morning walks, peering silently at me over the top of grassy knolls.

Avenues residents were relieved by the Task Force’s conclusions, of course. But you could almost hear a collective sigh of . . . disappointment when its findings were released. Cat Death by Satanists is a lot more interesting than Cat Death by Foxes.

I’ve been thinking about this lately as I’ve (obsessively) followed the news about the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. There have been all kinds of theories about what happened and why. For a while, CNN turned the story into a cottage industry, featuring aviation correspondent Richard Quest, whose British accent and eccentric presentation sometimes made me feel like I was watching members of Monty Python discuss the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow.

There are all kinds of theories about what happened, ranging from the plausible to the truly outlandish — which leads me to ask the following question: Why do human beings love a good conspiracy theory?

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There are plenty of insightful answers, I’m sure. But it occurs to me that all good conspiracy theories are, at their heart, narratives — stories with good guys and bad guys (lots and lots of bad guys) involved in thrilling activities where the stakes are high, just like the plotlines of our favorite TV shows. And we, as human beings, gravitate toward stories because stories have points. Stories have purpose, which makes life feel a lot less random.

And senseless.

Seriously, what could be more senseless than boarding a flight to return home to see loved ones and have that flight end up on the bottom of the ocean floor because of non-sexy mechanical failure? Better to think, somehow, that the plane was used for some higher purpose — even an evil purpose such as terrorism.

We may never know exactly what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. But as long as people are people, there will always be stories to tell about its disappearance.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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