The late comedian Bill Hicks and I had lot in common. Among other things, we both shared a morbid fascination with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

One of Bill’s funniest stand-up routines dealt with the reactions he used to get whenever he brought up the subject: “I love talking about the Kennedy assassination, man. That’s my favorite topic.

You know why? Because to me, it’s a great example of a totalitarian government’s ability to manage information and thus keep us in the dark… People come up to me: ‘Bill, quit talking about Kennedy, man. Let it go. It was a long time ago, just forget about it… it was just, you know… the taking over of a democracy by a totalitarian government, let it go.’ I’m like, alright, then: Don’t bring up Jesus to me. As long as we’re talking shelf life here…”

2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the military coup d’état which took the life of President Kennedy and toppled the democratically elected government of the United States. The facts surrounding this treasonous act have been kept from the American people for fifty years. Why does it still matter? Because it means that every subsequent U.S. administration since 1963 has been illegitimate.

This is crucial because if the government is still actively suppressing the truth about the assassination, it signifies that the people behind JFK’s killing are still in power today. The government continues to lie about it, even though public-opinion polls consistently show that a majority of Americans don’t believe the “official” version of events. Through the Freedom of Information Act, researchers have presented mountains of evidence which contradict the government’s conspiracy theory.

Even today, the mainstream media continues to endorse the highly dubious U.S. government-approved version of events. The narrative in which Lee Harvey Oswald was a “lone nut” assassin is patently false. Americans should once again seriously question whether freedom of the press still exists in this country.

JFK’s assassination was a pivotal event which altered the course of history and set the stage for our current political stagnation.

Many books have been written on the subject, but the best by far is JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by James Douglass. It tells the story of Kennedy’s transformation from Cold Warrior into an altruistic leader who was willing to risk his own life to avoid nuclear catastrophe. Douglass convincingly demonstrates the relationship between JFK’s progressive policies and his violent death. Every step Kennedy took toward world peace served to intensify the hatred and resolve of his domestic enemies — who ultimately betrayed him.

Not only did the people responsible for Kennedy’s death get away with it, they also took control of the country and orchestrated the cover-up. This conspiracy included some of the highest-ranking officials in the US government, such as former presidents Johnson and Nixon; FBI director J. Edgar Hoover; former CIA director Allen Dulles and future senator Arlen Specter: the man who originally promoted the ridiculous “magic bullet” theory.

Douglass validates the certainty of this conspiracy and explains exactly why JFK was killed. He examines the historical context surrounding the assassination, from the creation of the CIA to the gradual erosion of the freedoms upon which our nation was founded.

The democratic society Americans worked so hard to create was essentially voided the moment that bullet shattered President Kennedy’s skull. Since that fateful day in November of 1963, America has ostensibly been ruled by the same forces which outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower tried to warn us about in his famous farewell speech of 1961: “In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex,” he said. “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. Its total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every state house and every office of the federal government…”

It’s agonizing to watch President Obama’s futile attempts to instigate modest positive changes in this country, because we currently live in exactly the kind of society the plutocrats wanted to create: slave wages for the majority; massive corporate welfare; dismantling of the social safety net and a state of endless war, with codified inequality. Apologists for the one percent see absolutely nothing wrong with the dire economic situation we now find ourselves in. As far as they’re concerned, the only thing wrong with America is that the plutocrats aren’t getting an even bigger share of the nation’s wealth.

Had JFK lived — and for that matter, if Bobby Kennedy and MLK were still alive — America would be an entirely different country today. I’m sure Bill Hicks would’ve agreed. He probably would have made it sound a lot funnier than I could, though.