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April 1, 2010

HUTAREE MILITIA MEMBER BELIEVED BOGUS CHAIN EMAIL.... Nine members of a Christian militia group were taken into federal custody this week, based on evidence that the group was poised to launch a deadly plot. One of the nine was apparently enraged by a bogus claim she received a right-wing chain email. (via Justin Elliott)

A member of the Hutaree militia charged with federal crimes was upset because she thought that President Barack Obama had signed into law this month a bill that would spend $20 billion to help the terrorist group Hamas settle in the U.S.

There was never any such legislation, but Tina Stone believed it was the truth, according to her Facebook account.

Not quite two weeks ago, the woman posted to Facebook, lamenting the fact that H.B. 1388 passed. She wrote, "I'm peeved,,, when people in this country is getting kicked out of there homes everyday and our government passes a bill to spend more then 20 billion dollars to bring Hamas here and supplies them with food and homes that just wrong." [grammatical errors in the original]

Soon after, she added, "I'm so stressed I could KILL someone!!!!!!!"

For the record, H.B. 1388 was a national service bill, expanding AmeriCorps. It included no money for Hamas.

Now, Tina Stone was already part of a radical group long before she received this silly email with absurd claims. But it didn't help.

It also leads me to wonder just how much better off our collective national intelligence would be if ridiculous right-wing chain emails didn't exist.

Steve Benen 10:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (52)

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It would also be a lot better off if there were no wackos too stupid to understand that no American politician would ever support a bill bringing a bunch of Hamas guys to the U.S., even if that was a good idea. That is what is so ridiculous about this -- not that there was a stupid email, or that wingnuts don't do research, but that you can't know anything about American politics and take that email seriously.

Posted by: Mark on April 1, 2010 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

I got this email. Then again, I work indirectly with a right-winger, so I get them ALL. And he generally gets a reply with a link to Snopes. This person obviously didn't.

Posted by: Jeff on April 1, 2010 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Rhetorical Question: How are these Reichwing chain emails different from Fox News?

Posted by: DAY on April 1, 2010 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

The blame really rests with our abysmal educational system and our weird national culture that endlessly makes fun of education and venerates idiocy and ignorance instead.

At least 25% of all Americans are potential Darwin Award winners just waiting for their opportunity to shine.

Posted by: bluestatedon on April 1, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

I see an account of what was seized by the FBI from these defendants, and while it was a lot of guns and ammunition, I gather that they did not seize any actual "weapon of mass destruction" even under the broad statutory definition of that term, nor does it seem that they seized the materials for making such a device. So I am curious about the basis for charges of attempting to "use" such a weapon.

Posted by: David in NY on April 1, 2010 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

All the email did was confirm what Snow already believed to be true about Obama, beliefs which are really nothing more than a psychological attempt to justify racism.

Posted by: doubtful on April 1, 2010 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

My conservative family members get and forward these emails constantly. It's like an alternate universe. I try to present facts to them to debunk them but they prefer to believe some anonymous winger somewhere.

It seems pretty widespread.

Posted by: AlphaLiberal on April 1, 2010 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Snopes.com, factcheck.org, and politifact.com are all left wingnut funded websites. It doesn't matter that they refute both sides. I've used them all and the answer I receive is my first sentence. The Internet is a wonderful thing until it becomes abused by the crazy uncle folks.

Posted by: flyonthewall on April 1, 2010 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

And he generally gets a reply with a link to Snopes.

I doubt if he really wants to know the truth. There is pride and comfort in being a Believer.

Posted by: qwerty on April 1, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Idiocracy: THE DOCUMENTARY

Posted by: John R on April 1, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

The internets are a fantasy world which works most easily as edutainment. They differ from the printed word in the appearance of an abundance of information. That Stone received the email is insignificant; the important fact is that she was predisposed to believe things like this, and therefore predisposed to ignore or reject contrary data. While in the past she would have had to wait until this month's JBS Bulletin arrived and laboriously read through its bile- or, alternatively, because she did not live in Orange County, fail to subscribe-now she can bathe it it.

Posted by: Ron Mexico on April 1, 2010 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, you're posing a chicken and egg question here. Which came first, an American sub-population of half-wits or right-wing chain emails? My vote is for the former.

Posted by: Everett on April 1, 2010 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

The problem is, now that the media is discredited on both sides, there is no longer an arbiter of truth. There is nowhere to go that both sides can rely on for facts rather than one side or the other of any given story. The professional journalists prefer the "he said she said" way of telling it in an effort to look balanced, but will never point out when one side is consistently lying. Even snopes has come under fire from the right because they are too willing to point out the falsehoods.

Posted by: atlliberal on April 1, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Note that she also bumped up the expenditure by three orders of magnitude, from $20M to $20B. Don't know if that was an intentional lie or just a mistake due to carelessness/ignorance. I gather these folks don't do well with numbers bigger than will fit in an ammo clip.

Posted by: Stuck with "Big John" Cornyn on April 1, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Dude! the woman believed both that the antichrist was coming and that the creator of the universe needed the help of some ragtag, half-assed army to forefend the righteous (or something), how much more idiotic does this new information really make her look?

Posted by: jhm on April 1, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

I too "reply all" with Snopes. It eventually just gets me knocked off the list. If I get a protest response I search all over for verifying info. Usually takes about 10 minutes on the internets. Sometimes I can even find a right wing think tank (AEI in the case of the stimulus- found on PA) or website that will verify the conclusion Snopes makes. Believers just believe, when you are spoon fed "faith" as an answer it is not hard to take the leap of "faith" to anything.

Posted by: PhilMc on April 1, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

How many rhetorical and semantic steps is it between right wing bull shit and "i think 'cap and trade' is not in the lexicon anymore..." ?

How many steps away from right wing bull shit are Timmie Geithner's words that the 9.7% unemployment is "unacceptable" but will be around a whole lot longer?

Uh, Timmie, god damn it, if it's unacceptable, do something about it.

You can pick on the mental midgets in the vicious right wing militia movement all day long. About as easy as the game of "kick the can." They are as pathetic as they are dangerous...

But the slippery snakes in Washington continue to shuck and jive all of us...with impunity...

Posted by: neill on April 1, 2010 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure which part of this is more telling: Her deplorable grammar or the fact that she changed the original claim to $20 billion from the $20 million that it says in the email.

That's one of the weirder parts of these people: Not only do they believe this garbage the instant they read it, but they all slightly embellish these stories just a little, to make them even more egregious; without realizing they did it. And then some other twit reads the latest tweak, embellishes it a little more and passes it on to the next twit. It's like if the game Telephone was combined with a perpetual motion machine.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on April 1, 2010 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

David in NY wrote:


I gather that they did not seize any actual "weapon of mass destruction" even under the broad statutory definition of that term, nor does it seem that they seized the materials for making such a device. So I am curious about the basis for charges of attempting to "use" such a weapon.

Prosecutors have alleged the group's intention to use some sort of IED, which apparently fits the statutory definition under U.S. law. (I think that's a dubiously-broad definition myself; YMMV)

Posted by: Stuck with "Big John" Cornyn on April 1, 2010 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

I commented elsewhere that perhaps we should make would-be gun purchasers pass a test of the most rudimentary critical thinking skills. You fail, you stay unarmed. It's for your own safety, not just ours.

Posted by: shortstop on April 1, 2010 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

I got this email. Then again, I work indirectly with a right-winger, so I get them ALL. And he generally gets a reply with a link to Snopes. This person obviously didn't.

But Snopes is a radical left wing site! I saw it in an email, so it must be true!

Posted by: howie on April 1, 2010 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

What is the GOP's role in formulating and sending out these e-mails? Is this a form of viral marketing? Is this a way to catapult the GOP's propaganda using a gossip chain, in a way that will pass under the radar? Let's ask the question.

I've wondered about this all the way back to the GOP's drive to impeach Clinton back in the 1990's. These e-mail barrages always seem to proliferate in tandem with major GOP legislative or political drives (like, impeachment, the war with Iraq, providing cover to the Bush Administration for Hurricane Katrina ...)

And every April, I get the same damn anti-tax broadsides.

When you get past the mispellings and grammatical mistakes and declarations of patriotism/ordinary peoplehood by the sender(which I suspect is sometimes camouflage), the content of some of these chain e-mails involve sophisticated lies and distortions. SOMEONE put the time in to construct these very deliberately. And that someone seems to know their subject matter pretty darned well.

Posted by: Bokonon on April 1, 2010 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

These people are dumb-asses, and they deserve to be called dumb-asses.

Posted by: kc on April 1, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

I've gotten snopes links IN HOAX EMAIL. No kidding; the text blathers on and on about how YOUR COMPUTER WILL BE TOTALLY DESTROYED!!!!!!! and concludes with a snopes.com link which proves that this is not some hysterical chain letter, buddy.

When you follow the link (after verifying it actually is a snopes link), the article totally debunks the email. But people will forward these things over and over again, with the tagline "See? Even snopes.com sez its true."

Posted by: Zandru on April 1, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

SOMEONE put the time in to construct these very deliberately. And that someone seems to know their subject matter pretty darned well.

Amen.

Posted by: oh my on April 1, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

These things are most definitely a plague upon our body politic, but they've been around in one form or another for years.

It used to be printed on pamphlets ... then newsletters ... then hate radio ... then just pieces of paper copied and handed to friends ... then those papers were faxed ... now they're emailed.

They're all the same -- they just use different delivery methods.

And all because people are more willing to or give them an Other to hate. So they refuse to consider anything that proves them wrong, no matter how irrefutable the evidence.

Of course, there's also the fact that some people are just overflowing with stupid. And, sadly, there's no way to empty them of it.

Posted by: Mark D on April 1, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

The blame really rests with our abysmal educational system and ...

I took one look at these bozos and 2 words came to mind: "home schooled". Then I read in the Detroit FreePress yesterday that the kids were home-schooled. Even if they managed to get an education from their moronic parents, by staying isolated in their little trailer-world, they never had to be confronted by peers who might have pointed out how loony some of their ideas were. Can't think of a better example of why our founding fathers thought that public schools were a good idea, than their brainwashed kids.

Posted by: G.Kerby on April 1, 2010 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Reluctantly , I suggest setting up an office of anti-propanganda to which people can forward these e-mails, debunk them, and post the results while sending the result out to a list of people who request results.


A better solution would be to make certain the population is trained in rudementary logic, history, psychology and sociology.

Eventually then the population would out grow this junk, like during the depression and post WWII people they outgrew the old new age mysticism of Madam Blatavski, et akl

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on April 1, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

These people are dumb-asses, and they deserve to be called dumb-asses.

I prefer the more PC, technical term "retards

Posted by: G.Kerby on April 1, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Americorps/Hamas.
Tomayto/Tomahto.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on April 1, 2010 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

It also leads me to wonder just how much better off our collective national intelligence would be if ridiculous right-wing chain emails didn't exist.

Given the so-called "liberal media"'s proclivity for uncritically repeating right-wing talking points, probably not much better off.

Posted by: Gregory on April 1, 2010 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

There's an interesting dynamic going on in the country today. Typically, there has been a "gender gap" in political attitudes of Americans. Men typically are more conservative, while women are typically more liberal.

But in recent years, women have been making a play for leadership in the wingnut community. There are still lots of prominent male wingnuts, but Sarah Palin is arguably the leader, followed close behind by Michelle Bachman. Also, members of the tea party movement are more likely to be female than male.

I have no idea what any of this means, but the discussion of crazy Tina Stone got me thinking about it.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on April 1, 2010 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

"Our collective national intelligence" would be better off if ridiculous right-wingers didn't exist.

Posted by: Catcher on April 1, 2010 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe the GOP cut their education funding.

Posted by: Cazart on April 1, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

OR...how about working to educate and inform the electorate in AMERICA rather than continuing the dumbing down that is so ably assisted by our paid for punditry and media...?????? The frustration more people should feel is that they do NOT get accurate information, and by and large are too lazy to question that which they receive and pursue accuracy IF it can be found...the resultant divisions and anger will NOT encourage this curiosity to grow and inspire folks to seek TRUTH...just get thee a gun and take someone out seems to be the best answer many can come up with...BEYOND SAD!!!

Posted by: Dancer on April 1, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Neill:"How many steps away from right wing bull shit are Timmie Geithner's words that the 9.7% unemployment is "unacceptable" but will be around a whole lot longer?"

What more would you have them do (without critizing for being socialism)? Passed a stimulus bill - would have been larger but had to be reduced to get necessary republican votes to thwart a filibuster; passed a couple more jobs bills.

what is needed is a longer attention span. Thankfully, Obama has one.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on April 1, 2010 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

...but Sarah Palin is arguably the leader... -Daryl McCullough

I was actually just pondering this topic with regards to the 'Tea Party' getting played. They look to Sarah as their leader, but in Arizona, when faced with the choice to support a 'Tea Party' candidate and a Republican, Sarah chose the Republican. It really makes me wonder just how much the Teabaggers really identify Palin as their leader and how much of that is media manufactured.

Posted by: doubtful on April 1, 2010 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

I prefer the more PC, technical term "retards
Posted by: G.Kerby


How dare you attack my family!

Posted by: Ungovernor Palin on April 1, 2010 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

What more would you have them do (without critizing for being socialism)?

Johnny, everyone in the Obama admin. is going to be called socialists no matter how Republican they act. Haven't you figure that out yet?

They might as well act like liberals. Well, if they were actually liberals, that is.

Posted by: kc on April 1, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Well, if they were actually liberals, that is."

Obama is conservative, in a good way. He is cleaning up an incredible amount of government mismanagement, and doesn't think wasting time on policies which can't pass accomplishes anything.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on April 1, 2010 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

First, and I bet she still thinks Microsoft is sending her $10k for every email she forwarded.

Second, if this is true, they need to track it's source and call them out on it.

And lastly and most importantly, this is pure non-sense. I am so tired of criminals not admitting that the blame falls squarely on their shoulders. How many people got the same email, how many plotted to kill a cop ? Ditto with drugs or music or cursing or nudity.

Her defense seems to be that the email made me do it. No idiot, your total lack humanity made you do it, the letter only provided you with cover for you own lack of common sense.

Posted by: ScottW on April 1, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

The Hutarees represent the violent faction of the agglomeration known as today’s Tea Party Movement. Sadly, these malcontents see themselves as modern day Minutemen, citizen-soldiers forced to bear arms in order to protect American freedom - freedom historically bestowed only on America’s white citizens. In the Hutaree Militia, we find the dangerous confluence of God and Guns driving many of the Tea Party crowd.

Posted by: BobbyV on April 1, 2010 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

What Montana said !!

Posted by: G.Kerby on April 1, 2010 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

The blame really rests with our abysmal educational system and our weird national culture that endlessly makes fun of education and venerates idiocy and ignorance instead.

The anti-intellectual tradition in this country has a long history. In the absence of any developed critical thinking skills or context, and a tidal wave of largely unvetted information, even an intelligent person has a problem deciding what to believe. Others just want the answers handed to them and will march over the cliff with the other lemmings.

These militia people are sad, but mostly they're angry and resentful because they can't seem to get what they think they deserve (as white Christians) while the 'others' do. It's class warfare seasoned with a heavy dose of racism. Very poisonous and very dangerous.

Posted by: rrk1 on April 1, 2010 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Absolutely, these e-mails are carefully crafted by someone. Just yesterday, I decided to peek at one (I usually resist, because I wind up wasting a bunch of time debunking the lies to my Mom). I play this little game with myself where I predict what the *last* photo or paragraph will be. Sometimes, it's a picture of a soldier, or a child praying... something to tug at the heart strings. Sometimes it's something more blatant.

This particular e-mail was a list of supposed (and quite ironic) anecdotes about stupidity. Some were hilarious and completely innocuous. But many involved fast food employees (a *possible* racist dog whistle but hard to make the case). Finally, the last paragraph was about a child somewhere named 'Le-a' (pronounced Ladasha). Setting aside the fact that someone supposedly ignorant enough to name their child 'Le-a' was actually quite clever to create a name using a symbol, the story is of course completely untrue and something the likes of which I've become quite familiar in my years living in Southern rural areas... using made-up names in an attempt to paint all blacks as ignorant.

The last 2 lines:

"If dey axe you why, tell dem de dash don't be silent."

"They walk among us .... and they VOTE"

Posted by: JTK on April 1, 2010 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK
Zandru@11:25: When you follow the link (after verifying it actually is a snopes link), the article totally debunks the email. But people will forward these things over and over again, with the tagline "See? Even snopes.com sez its true."

I've been trying to figure this one out for years. I'm not sure whether it's because they simply don't understand 'two-way' communications media (from years and years of staring at a TV or passively listening to radio; they get to say there "on da innernet", yet they use it in a completely non-interactive way), or whether they're merely afraid of what they might see "out in the wild".

I've learned also, that if you want to reach "them", it helps to not only include *all* of the content inside the e-mail (links don't get followed), but I've actually begun to prepend my subjects with 'Fw/Fwd' whenever I send something I want the yokels to read. No joke.

Posted by: JTK on April 1, 2010 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

She has a facebook account, yet is incapable of finding out the facts on H.B. 1388 on the internet. Whatever the reason for that failure; that's what I find to be both astonishing and horrifying.
Mostly horrifying.

Posted by: Doug on April 1, 2010 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

GAH! I'm so fed up with these far-right radicals and their stupid chain letters, and that not nearly enough right-leaning centrists are speaking up against this junk, so that Christians and republicans keep getting a worse and worse repution on the net for stupid chain letter activity! There needs to be more non-leftists and Christians calling this bullcrap for what it is and telling the far-right to STHU with the chain letters already!

Posted by: Capri on April 1, 2010 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Heh that was "reputation" not "repution" Just brain getting ahead of the fingers again. But seriously. Call out to Christians and republicans - stop with the chain letters! You don't believe your crush will call you at midnight just because you forward something to 15 people, right? You might as well if you're going to pass on every lie-filled far-right chain email! I do not subscribe to left-wing politics, so am utterly sick of the whole non-left getting muddied by the stupid actions of the far-right extremists who are acting just as ignorantly as the Peta people.

Posted by: Capri on April 1, 2010 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Wait a minute. We are giving some $750 million that no one knows about to a George Sorros-owned(partially) oil drilling company to explore & produce oil wells off the coast of Brazil. First, he doesn't need the money....second, it's for Brazil! Is it that far flung (I admit it is far flung) to think that these lazy politicians in Washington would vote for a Hamas bill (perhaps failing to read it?)? There is $7 billion in the HealthCare bill that no one knows about for 'construction of infrastructure devices that promote physical activity & the wellness of children in school playgrounds'...... slides, monkey bars & swingsets (something more exotic)?? First its $7,000,000,000.00; next, what business does the fed have involving itself in school construction...... and third what does this have to do with a healthcare bill? The bottom line is that 'we the people' have let the politicians get this all convoluted and out of control. They have purposly constructed these omnibus-mega monstrousities to hide their corruption; and most do not even read the document. Therefore spin-meisters from either side can claim provisions that although seemingly beyond-the-pale, are in final analysis not beyond belief given political precedent. We need to wait and see how this Hutaree thing shakes down, but something seems very strange in the initial reports..... killing PD's & pipe bombing funerals to kill more? How does that start a 'revolution'? Their plan was set to go in April but according to ATF they were just starting to figure out how to make pipe bombs? They are charged with 'conspiracy to commit' crimes but also with using a firearm in the commision of a crime. They are charged with sedition & making war on the United States..... how can a bunch of yahoos planning to kill some local (or even state) PD be construed to be 'making war on the United States'? Like I say, strange days.

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