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Another roadside conspiracy

Proponents of the deranged QAnon theory take to Wisconsin’s highways.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

This is our newsletter-first column, Microtones. It runs on the site on Fridays, but you can get it in your inbox on Thursdays by signing up for our email newsletter.

QAnon is a baseless, far-fetched conspiracy theory that fuels dangerous corners of the far right. But I may have found a small, inconsequential use for it.

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I won’t go into much detail about QAnon so I can avoid amplifying the message. In short, QAnon supports the idea that a deep state including political elites, executives and movie stars—who are all pedophiles and get high on a chemical compound derived from child torture—runs all government, business, media, and Hollywood. Adherents to the theory believe President Trump is coordinating with the U.S. military to stop them.

It’s really out there and people are getting banned from Twitter for spreading it. A Twitter account supporting the effort to recall Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway shares QAnon stuff too.

I’m not interested in QAnon but I am interested in completing the Alphabet Game while driving with my daughter. The object of the game is to find, in order, words on signs that start with each letter of the alphabet. Q is usually one of the harder letters to find—you get no help from Kwik Trip and its stylized spelling. Enter the roadside QAnon shrine we recently saw on Interstate 90.

Pro-Trump signs often dot the shoulder of major roadways, particularly when traveling through counties that voted for him. Some of those signs are professionally produced and others are kitschy DIY projects. While driving recently —I want to say we were somewhere on 90 between Wisconsin Dells and Mauston —we saw a homemade Trump poster stuck to a tree off the side of the road. In between “Trump 2020” lettering and American flags, the sign had a big “QAnon” printed on it. Boom! QAnon. That’s Q! Now be ready because you’ll probably see R, S and T all together on the next sign. 

By the time I realized what I was seeing, we were already zipping by too quickly to snap a picture. So, I recognize the irony of telling you there’s a conspiracy theory sign next to the highway but not having any evidence. This display isn’t nearly as well-documented as one of the other roadside oddities on this stretch of interstate, the “For Sall” sign. But if you’re in the area and need that Q, keep a lookout. And if there are any future right-wing conspiracy theories in the works that might inspire similar roadside shrines, it would be really cool if they could start with X.  If the grand American tradition of conspiracy theories must continue to poison our public discourse, it might as well have unintended benefits for the grand American tradition of car games.

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