The friend who recommended I comment on the tax protestor case in NH was remarkably prescient. After commenting cold on the subject, the real-world situation fell into my lap almost immediately after. (Socially, not professionally, for those who leaped to the wrong conclusion). The son of one of the oft-quoted protestors, who is one of the few trusted friends in contact with the principal who has barricaded himself in his home, is a friend of my sons and I think, a friend of mine as well despite our difference in age. He has been nurtured on the tax-protestor rhetoric, and passed along a DVD for me to watch “with an open mind.”
Well, that lasted about 3 minutes, but there were already enough logical fallacies to send me to the escape key. More fascinating to me is the commonalities of conspiracy theories. They follow patterns – one pattern especially. There are always only a few individuals – sometimes very few – who control and manipulate forces to their own benefit. Sometimes it is the Bavarian Illuminati, sometimes bankers or plutocrats (and Jewish names seem to pop up among the suspects frequently), or the Pope. These individuals work through some larger, though still statistically insignificant, group which in itself manipulates the world – the EU bureaucracy, Freemasons, the Vatican, the New World Order, or often, some combination of these. The few individuals exert enormous control over the small group. The small group exerts enormous control over a larger group. The larger group appears to be in charge of the governments, armies, and markets of the world, but this is all a sham.
There is a fascination with details and small technicalities they think that others have missed, but if known, would blow the whole conspiracy open. The evil forces try to obscure these details or distract us from them, but for those In The Know, the truth is there to see. How these master manipulators are supposed to be able to control everything but overlook just enough details for the alert to save themselves is not explained.
These technicalities also work in reverse. They think if they just send a letter to the government announcing what they’re going to do, if the government doesn’t stop them, it means the government has tacitly agreed. Or they won’t apply for a Social Security card or a driver’s license, because that way they technically haven’t entered into any agreements with the government, and they’re scot free.
Example: a foundational point of the tax protestors is that the Sixteenth Amendment was passed illegally. They base this on slight variations in the texts of the ratification documents of the various states. I mean really small: commas instead of semicolons, different words capitalized such as “States” or “states.” Because the documents were not absolutely identical, then the whole deal is supposed to be legally off. It is as if the tax protestors made up the rule that all laws must mention a blue hat, or they are not real laws. This law does not mention a blue hat, therefore it is not a real law. Well, Who made up that rule? It is the same with the punctuation differences. Who made up the rule that this invalidates the whole deal? There is an additional technicality by which they maintain that Ohio was not “really” a state until 1953 because they didn’t wear blue hats – I’m sorry, because they didn’t send a letter to Congress in 1803 telling them exactly what date they became a state. Not that Congress required states to do that, but the tax protestors made up a rule that without that, Ohio didn’t count as a state in 1913 when the 16th Amendment passed.
No, really. They teach this. The fact that the Sixteenth Amendment was clearly the will of 37 states means nothing. They didn’t wear blue hats, and the whole thing’s illegal. The various court decisions that rule to the contrary don’t count, because the courts are corruptly trying to preserve…something. Somehow having an income tax is a great benefit to judges and lawyers, who were apparently not paid before that. Evil bankers intervened in 1913 to make sure that the amendment looked like it was passed. Because they also benefited somehow. The tax protestors have a little trouble describing the mechanism by which the bankers benefit, but it must be true, right? I mean, there are rich people now, who got rich in ways that they don’t understand and so much be corrupt. It all adds up if you’re willing to face the truth.
It would have looked more like a conspiracy if someone had intervened the opposite way, preventing via a technicality the occurrence of what was clearly the will of the American states.
I am familiar with this from my early Jesus-Freak days. Hal Lindsey was the most often read, but Salem Kirban had to be the most whacked out. The “Left Behind” series, if I can guess from reading back covers, owes much to these 70’s prophecy-mongers. In the Armageddon conspiracies, the number of evil manipulators is reduced to one (or two in tandem), owing to the assumption that the Antichrist of the Revelation to John must be a single individual. But the groups behind groups, the forces which control world events, are common to this genre as well. The EU was big for awhile, because of the horns of the Beast matching the number of EU countries at the time, but that’s long gone. There are still a selection of Pope-As-Antichrist groups, but these are diminishing. The passing of 40 years since Israel’s refounding, and the collapse of the Iron Curtain shortly after, knocked out the whole Gog and Magog on horseback trope.
I still have contact with some folks who are big into the endtimes scenarios. Hey, it has to happen sometime, and one group of Predicters will be right by accident.
There’s a second commonality, or two similar ones smushed together. They congratulate themselves on how brave they are to be even saying these things. This always sounds to me like the guy in highschool telling you how many times he gets laid. Okay, maybe it’s true, but…? They also seem to think the whole issue revolves around them. “The Devil has really been coming against me because I preach this to you.” With the tax protestors, it’s along the lines of “Well, why don’t they just send someone out to show me the law, then? What would be so hard about that? Just show me the law.” Okay, sure. There are thousands of you guys every year, and you want the IRS to hire people just to drive around and show you documents that you’re going to insist aren’t valid. Why would anyone think they were so important that the government has to grind to a halt to deal with them? This is why these guys – it is usually males – like to escalate the situation. They want to show that the government really did care about them all along and they were too being brave. C’mon, try and close down my school. Step on my property, I dare ya. I double dare ya. We’ll chain ourselves to the fence to prove that we’re persecuted. You’re afraid of what we have to say, you fascist bastards. We’re brave.