Ten years ago I wrote a piece here at Skeptophilia about the mysterious Georgia Guidestones, a granite monument that since 1980 has stood on a hill in Elbert County, Georgia. People have called it "America's Stonehenge," which in my opinion gives it more gravitas than it deserves. It's got a set of ten inscriptions that seem to fall into two categories: (1) not bad ideas but impossible to achieve (such as "Unite humanity with a living new language") and (2) vague pronouncements that seem to be attempting profundity but don't quite get there (such as "Prize truth -- beauty -- love -- seeking harmony with the infinite").
The building of the monument was funded by one "R. C. Christian," almost certainly a pseudonym. But a pseudonym for whom? No one knows for sure, but there's some speculation it it's either Ted Turner or a white supremacist doctor from Fort Dodge, Iowa named Herbert Kirsten. The mystery adds to the site's appeal, and it became quite a tourist attraction, attracting thousands of visitors per year.
Unfortunately, it also attracted the attention of conspiracy theorists and evangelical wingnuts, who promptly proclaimed it as (respectively) an icon of the Evil New World Order and a manifesto from Satan himself. Both of these impressions were enhanced by one of the inscriptions, which recommends keeping the human population at five hundred million "in perpetual balance with nature," a move that would probably be highly unpopular with the other seven billion humans on the planet.
This is how it came to the attention of one Kandiss Taylor, unsuccessful candidate for governor of Georgia, whose motto "Jesus Guns Babies" made her the target of hundreds of posts on social media such as the following:
Apparently, though, sometimes The Almighty needs help from a random wacko with dynamite and some county workers with bulldozers, and "ANYTHING" doesn't include putting Kandiss Taylor in office, given that she lost the Republican gubernatorial primary to Brian Kemp after receiving only 3.4% of the popular vote. Even with that poor showing, however, Taylor has refused to concede, claiming that she actually won but was cheated out of the election by voter fraud.
After reading all this, I've come to the conclusion that one of the two following conclusions has to be true:
- The aliens who are running the computer simulation we've all been trapped in for the last six years have gotten bored and/or drunk, and now they're just fucking with us.
- A significant percentage of Americans are absolutely batshit insane.
What's most striking about the Guidestones, though, is that things in this country are crazy enough that a story which can be summarized as "Unknown bomber destroys weird monument that far-right nutcake politician thinks is a message from Satan" hardly creates a blip on the radar. Are things this bad elsewhere? Or is my assessment correct, that somehow the United States has cornered the market on whackjobbery? It's getting to the point that I'm concerned my readers from other countries are judging me just because I'm American. I'm going to be taking a trip out of the country next month, and I'm wondering what I should tell people.
Maybe I could pass for Canadian. Although I wonder if I have the capacity for sustaining that level of niceness. I suspect I'd tolerate stuff for a while, then something would make me say, "Are you fucking kidding me right now?", and the people nearby would slowly turn to stare at me, in the fashion of the pod people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but instead of pointing and shrieking, they'd point and yell, "AMERICAN!!!!!"
Anyhow, if option one was correct, I'd like the aliens just to give it a rest for a while. I'm not sure how much more of this I can take. Maybe I'm looking at the past through rose-colored glasses, and things have always been this weird, but even so, I'm undergoing lunacy fatigue. So let's just have some normal news, of the kind Walter Cronkite used to deliver, for the next few weeks. Thanks ever so.