In or about 1929, a state senator from the great state of Tennessee introduced a bill devoted to protecting the citizenry from the fearful menace known as the bogeyman. The bill contained no precise details of how to spot a bogeyman, or what to do if you encountered one, but was peppered with suppositions as to what actions by the populace might attract bogeymen, what legislative philosophies could be considered as aiding and abetting bogeymen, and which of his fellow senators might be bogeymen, based primarily on his own suspicions of what a bogeyman agenda would entail. Also, I just made all of that up. If there is one thing Fox News has taught us in this glittering new millennium, it is that making something up is just as noble as saying something true, so long as it all sounds good in the end.
Sadly, we are indeed now at the point where states are creating new legislation premised entirely from conspiracy theories. To wit:
A final legislative vote is expected Monday on a bill that would outlaw government support of any of the 27 principles contained in the 1992 United Nations Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, also sometimes referred to as Agenda 21. [...]
At a March 15 hearing on the bill, [State Sen. Judy Burges] said an executive order signed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1993 started the implementation of Agenda 21 after the Senate refused to pass a treaty ratifying it.
“Any way you want to describe it, Agenda 21 is a direct attack on the middle class and working poor” through “social engineering of our citizens” in “every aspect” of their lives,” she told the hearing.
Agenda 21, for those of you not versed in the more ridiculous extremes of wingnuttery, is a conspiracy theory blaming a forced environmental agenda imposed by the United Nations for everything from proposed bike paths in Colorado to manatee-friendly powerboat speed limits in certain Florida waterways. It supposes the United Nations to have absolute power over such things, which is quite possibly the most flattering conspiracy theory the United Nations has ever been suspected of, and supposes that all world governments are in secret cahoots to bring this militant agenda to fruition. According to the tea party version, humans are going to become a subservient species (presumably because the United Nations and/or all world governments are secretly staffed by marmots or some other nonhuman group bent on our destruction). That the means of our destruction consists of providing humans with more bike paths and slower powerboats seems to suggest a plot that is inefficient at best, however, leading once again to the prime dilemma of all such conspiracy theories: how the conspirators can be so all-powerful, and yet so very incompetent, at the same time.
This, then, is what has the crackpot state of Arizona in the latest tizzy. The notion that the president of the United States is a secret Muslim Kenyan who is not really an American after all satisfied them for a while. Their own politicians essentially declaring the state a lawless hellhole thanks to illegal immigrants chopping off people’s heads in the more imaginary parts of the Arizona desert was titillating, since all good conspiracy theorists love imagining themselves as facing imminent and horrifying dangers around every turn and behind every weedy shrub. But even those have their limits, and besides: the one thing conspiracy theorists the world over all have in common is an astonishing ability to multitask. A person who finds one conspiracy theory soon finds another, and then 10, and then 20, all connected by the lynchpin of batshit implausibility, all presumably proven by the sinisterness of nobody else being able to find a speck of corroboration anywhere.
(Continued below the fold.)