You know – because anyone with access to social media knows – that it was Obama’s secret hit squad of pillow-wielding assassins who took out Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
The timing of the “murder” seems a bit curious, so late in his second term that the president has little chance of getting a successor past the Senate. And, of course, Scalia was 79 years old with a history of serious heart problems. No matter. Rational thinking hardly keeps lunatic conspiracy theories like this from spreading through cyberspace like a brain-eating virus.
Speaking of which, apparently the Zika virus was spawned by an entomological experiment gone horribly wrong, after a British bio-tech company released genetically modified mosquitoes in a bungled attempt to control dengue fever.
The GMO Frankenbug theory was born last month on a Reddit post and has since been disproved by reputable science writers. But too late. Sinister plans to spread Zika have now been attributed to, among others, Bill Gates and the Rockefeller Foundation. Or to a larvicide manufactured by Monsanto, though Monsanto didn’t make the larvicide and that the larvicide can’t be linked to Zika.
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This Zika plot has some kind of link to the old one-world-government thing. Though a counter theory roiling through the blogosphere holds that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention invented the Zika sham just to scare us into submission.
Nutball conspiracies are hardly new. When I was a kid, the John Birch Society was sure that fluoridated water was a commie plot.
But nowadays, the digital age can lend even a few disparate paranoids the sense that they are one of many. Even the craziest notionsfind community on Facebook or Reddit or Twitter or beyond.
James Tracy, the infamous conspiracy-theorist professor whom Florida Atlantic University finally fired last year, has added posts about Scalia and Zika to his netherworld blog. Tracy’s prevailing obsession remains that “Nobody died at Sandy Hook,” that the awful elementary school massacre was only theater, so many fake deaths contrived to allow Obama to confiscate our guns.
It’s getting crazier. Maybe even scarier. On Wednesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report warning about the rise of “conspiracy-minded antigovernment ‘Patriot’” groups, going from 874 in 2014 to 998 last year.
Conspiracy theories have become so prevalent on the Internet that mainstream news outlets now spend time and space debunking rumors we once would have ignored. In the past week, The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, Fox News and other media deconstructed fantastic suppositions about Scalia’s death or the Zika virus.
Of course, out there in crazy land, The Times and The Post and the Miami Herald are all conspirators in the big secret plot.
Fred Grimm writes for the Miami Herald.