WaPo: Tinfoil-hat brigade building a community online

I thought they already had one.

Actually, the article’s about the real tinfoil-hatters: people who hear voices in their heads and are convinced beyond any doubt that those voices are (a) real and (b) being beamed in by the government as part of a clandestine military experiment in mind control. Another, inexplicable facet of the experiment: remote, electronically engineered genital stimulation of the test subjects. DARPA might be slow in bringing lightsabers to market, but it’s good to know they’ve got the orgasmatron on the horizon.

One sufferer says he’s essentially been imprisoned in an “electronic concentration camp.” Really? Then how come all the Jews are on the outside?

Gloria Naylor, a renowned African American writer, seems to defy many of the stereotypes of someone who believes in mind control. A winner of the National Book Award, Naylor is best known for her acclaimed novel, The Women of Brewster Place, which described a group of women living in a poor urban neighborhood and was later made into a miniseries by Oprah Winfrey.

But in 2005, she published a lesser-known work, 1996, a semi-autobiographical book describing her experience as a TI. “I didn’t want to tell this story. It’s going to take courage. Perhaps more courage than I possess, but they’ve left me no alternatives,” Naylor writes at the beginning of her book. “I am in a battle for my mind. If I stop now, they’ll have won, and I will lose myself.” The book is coherent, if hard to believe. It’s also marked by disturbing passages describing how Jewish American agents were responsible for Naylor’s surveillance. “Of the many cars that kept coming and going down my road, most were driven by Jews,” she writes in the book. When asked about that passage in a recent interview, she defended her logic: Being from New York, she claimed, she can recognize Jews.

A minor, complicating factor in this descent into amusing madness — the technology to do all this (except for the genital stimulation, damn it all) either already exists or will exist in fairly short order:

In 2002, the Air Force Research Laboratory patented precisely such a technology: using microwaves to send words into someone’s head. That work is frequently cited on mind-control Web sites…

A former Green Beret who served in Vietnam, [John] Alexander went on to a number of national security jobs, and rubbed shoulders with prominent military and political leaders… Now retired from the government and living in Las Vegas, Alexander continues to advise the military. He is in the Washington area that day for an official meeting…

Alexander also is intrigued by the possibility of using electronic means to modify behavior. The dilemma of the war on terrorism, he notes, is that it never ends. So what do you do with enemies, such as those at Guantanamo: keep them there forever? That’s impractical. Behavior modification could be an alternative, he says.

“Maybe I can fix you, or electronically neuter you, so it’s safe to release you into society, so you won’t come back and kill me,” Alexander says. It’s only a matter of time before technology allows that scenario to come true, he continues. “We’re now getting to where we can do that.”

Thanks to Attila, who has a photo series with balloon captions up that really brings back memories.