Cleon Skousen
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Basic Information

Cleon Skousen was an ardent anti-Communist and conspiracy theorist who lived from 1913 to 2006.

Early in his life he worked for the FBI (until 1951), which later in his life would keep a file of him with a length of more than 2000 pages. From 1951 to 1955 he taught at Brigham Young University at Provo, Utah. In 1956 he was invited to become the police chief of Salt Lake City, where he stringently enforced anti-gambling laws until he was fired in 1960 after he raided a poker game the mayor of the city attended. He returned to Brigham Young University in 1967 where be became a professor in the religion department until his retirement in 1978.

He was widely admired by members of the John Birch Society, although more mainstream conservatives avoided him because they worried that his conspiracy theories would damage the credibility of the conservative movement. He wrote numerous treatises about alleged Communist attacks on groups he was associated with, such as The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society when the Society faced criticism, or The Communist Attack on the Mormons when the Church of Latter Day Saints (which he belonged to) was criticized for refusing to ordain blacks into its priesthood. He remained convinced that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a Communist agent and believed that the US Department of State was committing treason by opening diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China.

His writings remain influential even after his death. His The Naked Communist was seen by many as proof of the New World Order conspiracy theory to create a World Government, and his The 5,000 Year Leap, which claims that the U.S. Constitution was primarily based on Christian virtues instead to Enlightenment ideals, was heavily promoted by talk show host Glenn Beck and is currently a major bestseller.


Game and Story Use

  • A conspiracy theorist can enliven any setting and campaign, and the life and work of Cleon Skousen make a good model for such thanks to his lasting influence and popularity.
    • However, for an alternative approach consider avoiding your conspiracy theorist NPC into merely making him a Strawman Political by giving him political views that the PCs (or the players…) are likely to disagree with. Instead, give him views that they generally agree with - but exaggerate them and make them over the top to such a degree that the PCs are likely to be embarrassed to be associated with him in any way (the same way many conservatives felt about Skousen). This situation is likely to be much more amusing for the GM… and in the end, isn't that all that matters? ;)
      • Of course, the real fun begins when they denounce this guy. Suddenly, he no longer lauds them for their views, but accuses them of secretly being agents of Communism/Fascism/whatever. And unfortunately, many people (who once might have supported the PCs) actually believe him…
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