Conspiracy Theory in Action
The Georgia Guidestones, a mystery-shrouded Stonehenge-like granite monument and roadside attraction in rural east Georgia, was destroyed Wednesday after an early morning blast reduced one of its four 19-foot-high granite panels to rubble. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said the panel was damaged by an explosive device, and the entire monument was later demolished "for safety reasons" as investigators searched for clues to the vandal.
The GBI released surveillance footage showing the 4 a.m. explosion and a silver sedan driving away.
The Guidestones, outside Elberton, had attracted visitors but also conspiracy theorists since an anonymous patron, using the pseudonym R.C. Christian, paid for its construction in 1980. The four panels were inscribed with instructions for "the conservation of mankind" in 10 parts and eight languages, and the monument also served as a sundial and astronomical calendar.
"The inscriptions urge humanity to live harmoniously, rule fairly, and protect the environment," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. "But further instructions to limit the world population to 500 million and establish a world court have attracted criticism from fringe groups who fear the rise of a one world government or other baseless conspiracies."
Interest in the monument grew after Kandiss Taylor, a Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate, released a campaign ad in May pledging to destroy the Guidestones, which she linked to "the Satanic Regime," an apparent QAnon reference. Taylor, who came in third in the May GOP primary, tweeted Wednesday that God "can do ANYTHING He wants to do," including "striking down the Satanic Guidestones."
The destruction of the Guidestones shows that conspiracy theories "do and can have a real-world impact," Katie McCarthy, a researcher at the Anti-Defamation League, told The Associated Press. "We've seen this with QAnon and multiple other conspiracy theories, that these ideas can lead somebody to try to take action in furtherance of these beliefs." Right-wing personalities like Alex Jones had mentioned the Guidestones in years past, she added, but "they sort of came back onto the public's radar" because of Taylor.
Lee Vaughn, chairman of the Elbert County Board of Commissioners, agreed that Taylor's ad brought a lot of unwanted controversy, including from a pastor who came to a commission meeting from a neighboring county last month and talked for 20 minutes about the "evil" monument and why it should be removed. "Just thank goodness nobody was hurt," Vaughn told the Journal-Constitution.