Anatomy of a paranoid urban (or, in this case, rural) legend

Have you heard the one about how the Obama administration is using aerial drones — the same kind used to kill terrorists in foreign lands –to spy on farmers in Iowa and Nebraska?

Well, it’s all the talk of the right-wing grapevine these days.

Andrew Napolitano, a former federal judge who now bloviates for Fox News, says “bureaucrats gave themselves the authority to capture images of us in the privacy of our backyards.”

The message implied by Napolitano and scads of far-right bloggers (including one from which the image above was borrowed) is that a sinister black guy from the evil city of Chicago is using unmanned drones to plot against decent, God-fearing folk in the American countryside.

But, of course, it simply isn’t true.

As we see HERE, this “hubbub over nonexistent drones provides a look at something hard to capture in American politics: the vibrant, almost viral, life cycle of a falsehood.”




  1. I’m neither liberal or conservative – I try to look at things from both sides – but I will say I surely do get more conservative bull reports then I have ever received from liberals……….and the sad part is you can prove that half of the stuff the conservatives are putting out there is false and they still don’t believe it’s false – sad for sure!

  2. Neftali

    We’re just at the beginning of the “drone wars” (apologies to George Lucas), and the right wingers hardly have a monopoly on the paranoia surrounding them. Expect the ACLU to get involved sooner or later because of the various privacy issues that will surround them because, well, that the thought or these aircraft cruising around really is kind of creepy.

    Much of the problem is just perception.

    The article mentions how the EPA is able to use small manned aircraft to legally fly over personal land to look for clean-water violations, like dirty runoff or manure dumped into a stream. That sounds like a good, idea. After all, who is against clean water? Now, as drones inevitably become more popular, and cheaper to build and operate, wouldn’t it make sense to save taxpayers potentially thousands of dollars using unmanned surveillance instead of paying for expensive pilots? How long until we see the first solar-powered drone? Then we wouldn’t have to pay for pilots or fuel.

    Imagine equipping heat sensing technology on these things, and you have a powerful tool in a search for escaped felons, or finding missing children, or endless other beneficial possibilities. But at what cost?

    In regarding potential drone technological advancements and further privacy issues surrounding them, I’ll conclude with a often used phrase in Lucas films: “I have a bad feeling about this.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *