Monday, June 01, 2009

Magnetic Strips, Black Helicopters, and the Right-Wing's Tenuous Grip on Reality

Amidst the horrific revelations surrounding the murder of George Tiller, one truly bizarre tidbit describing the suspect caught my attention:
“He told me about a lot of conspiracy stuff and showed me how to take the magnetic strip out of a five-dollar bill,” Leach said. “He said it was to keep the government from tracking your money.”
Clearly, I need to get out more. I had no idea that this urban legend, which may have got its start in a 1994 episode of the X-Files (apparently the go-to source before 24 came along), had become standard lore among right-wing conspiracy theorists. An article advancing this truly moronic notion even appeared in the May 2000 issue of The American Spectator. (Never mind that the suspect strip is made of polyester--to foil counterfeiters rather than counteract tin-foil hatters.)

Perhaps the inability to distinguish between fiction and fact, between fantasy and satire is endemic. I suppose such stupidity goes a long way to explaining the belief among conservatives that Steven Colbert is really one of their own or that there exists an Obama-Chrysler conspiracy against Republican car dealers.