5 Insane Small-Town News Stories You Need To Know About

Most small town news headlines are like “Someone Won The Church Raffle,” or “Dog Noticed.” That’s part of the appeal of small-town living — it’s calm and uneventful. But every now and then, a story that affects the whole world starts unfolding right in the peaceful heart of Nowhere In Particular. Like how …

5

Montana Is Turning Into A Nazi Stronghold

Montana is one of the whitest states in the Union, and Flathead is Montana’s most vanilla county, with only 4.8 percent of its population being nonwhite. So while many Americans forgot that Montana existed until Far Cry 5 came out, neo-Nazis have known for quite some time. Those demographics (plus lax gun laws and the ability to live off the grid) encouraged American Nazis to move there, most figuring that the work of creating a whites-only enclave had already been mostly done for them. The official Nazification began small, with acts like sticking propaganda into the pages of children’s books or between nice pairs of jeans in stores, but eventually they escalated to screening Holocaust denial films. So Montana isn’t merely the whitest state in the Union anymore; it’s also the one with the greatest concentration of hate groups.

Noted jackass Richard Spencer moved to the town of Whitefish, hoping to make it the center of a white supremacist, anti-Semitic media empire.

Royalbroil/Wikimedia CommonsYes, Whitefish. The perfect scenic setting to get away, reconnect with nature, and amass a paramilitary militia in the service of Adolf Hitler.

Unsurprisingly, the town’s Jewish community wasn’t thrilled with the plan and tried to kick him out. That, in turn, led to neo-Nazis harassing and threatening local Jewish citizens and planning (although ultimately failing to hold) an armed rally, with the state’s non-awful citizens mounting a counter-protest. The head of Nazi website The Daily Stormer claimed this was all a Jewish conspiracy to make Nazis look bad, just because they said things like “We’re going to come cremate you.” Yes, because the only way to make Nazis look bad is via massive conspiracy.

Montana’s courts are currently trying to figure out where to draw the line between free speech and open threats, and the whole affair is an important reminder that the neo-Nazis you see online aren’t abstract. They have to live somewhere, and right now, they’re all about big sky country.

4

New Yorkers Who Sent Their Kids To Private School Took Over A Public School Board Solely To Gut It

Even if you don’t have kids, or don’t send your kids to a public school, you are still required to pay taxes to help fund public schools so that we don’t raise a generation of doctors who think that cancer is caused by the vengeful spirits of our ancestors. This is generally accepted as the price we pay for having educated citizens … but not by a group of Orthodox Jews in East Ramapo, New York.

The overwhelming majority of Hasidic Jews in the district send their kids to private yeshivas, but some of them decided that they were sick of having to pay for two school systems. So Orthodox candidates began running for the public school board.

Yes, the public board, as in the board for the schools that none of their children attended.

They bussed in supporters to ensure they got the votes they needed, and once they took power, they gutted everything while filtering public funds to their private school system. To keep their personal taxes lower, the school board cut hundreds of teachers and other staff members, full-day kindergarten, music, athletics, and extracurriculars. It was a minor miracle that the schools were allowed to acknowledge the continued existence of math, much less attempt to teach it.

All this nonsense eventually led to protests and the state government appointing a powerful fiscal monitor to … monitor the fiscal situation. Anyway, remember this story the next time you’re tempted to skip your local school board election because “it’s always the same.”

3

A Tiny Town In Ohio Was Making Nearly A Million Dollars A Year Through Speeding Tickets

Linndale, Ohio, despite having fewer than 200 residents, used to pull in around $866,000 a year from speeding tickets alone — most given to out-of-towners who sped through their meager 440 yards of interstate. The money was used to pay for almost everything in town, from civic employee healthcare benefits to public garbage cans. Linndale was circling the drain in the modern economy, and while their solution was preferable to starting a cult or getting mad at immigrants, it was still a pretty big dick move.

Google MapsNot a bad haul for a city the size of a mall parking lot.

The Ohio State Legislature argued that Linndale’s speed traps were designed solely to generate profit without any concern for encouraging safety. The state eventually passed a law preventing Linndale from profiting from the practice, but Linndale countered by installing speed cameras, which make them even more money, because tickets produced by cameras fall under a different legal category. Though the law does state that ticket cameras have to be monitored, which means that this tiny town has seven police officers and 27 volunteers, essentially making it the world’s smallest, lamest police state.

2

A Washington Town Spent Years (And 10 Percent Of Its Budget) Trying To Keep A Dude From Living In A Shed

Springdale, Washington has a population of just 280 people. Unfortunately for them, one of those 280 people was Dawud Ahmad, an Islamic convert who proclaimed that his religious freedom allowed him to live in a shed with no plumbing. Ahmad’s little abode is owned by a nonprofit called Muslim America, which thought it was doing a homeless member a solid. Springdale argued that the building was unfit for human occupation, and that Ahmad was violating their right to enforce their building codes. Beginning in 2009, the dispute erupted into a sprawling, years-long legal battle.

Springdale’s annual budget is around $150,000-$170,000, and they were spending 10 percent of that on legal fees each year. Ahmad won (or lost, depending on how you look at it) by dying in 2012 while still occupying the shed, but two of his pupils, as well as his wife, continued to occupy what she called “a cute little place.”

Up until 2014, the courts had been on Team “You Can’t Live In A Gosh Dang Shed,” ruling that Ahmad’s wife and Muslim America owned Springdale $23,000 in legal fees. But the shed supporters countered by arguing for a religious exemption to building and zoning codes. That plunged the case right back into a legal quagmire from which it has yet to emerge. Maybe they could solve the dilemma by instituting a merciless speed trap and using a fraction of the profits for proper housing?

1

An Idaho Town Became A Real-Life Infowars

Alex Jones’ Infowars constantly hawks ideas that would make a Flat Earther roll their eyes, like the time he interrogated an Amazon Echo to get Alexa to reveal her CIA handlers. It’s not exactly highbrow stuff.

We tend to think of reactions to Jones as binary: Either you’re crazy enough to believe him, or you’re not. But it’s really more like a sliding scale, as we can learn from Twin Falls, Idaho. In 2016, two boys from Sudan and Iraq, a seven-year-old and a ten-year-old, attempted some kind of sex act on a five-year-old white American girl. By law, the details are unclear; the police reports are sealed because everyone involved was a minor. But the media was able to piece together that the seven-year-old “touched the girl inappropriately,” while the ten-year-old used a phone borrowed from his 14-year-old brother to record it.

It was obviously a terrible situation, but as the case’s lead prosecutor pointed out, it’s not unheard of with children. Sometimes it’s all down to horribly misplaced curiosity, while other times the perpetrators have themselves been victims of sexual abuse. Whatever the cause, the boys pleaded guilty and were sentenced, and the situation was resolved as well as a situation like that can be.

Then thousands of shitty people, both local and not, did what thousands of shitty people will do: They started Facebook groups to advance an agenda. They quickly agreed upon a variety of nasty and far-fetched fabrications, including that the perpetrators were Syrian refugees, that a father had high-fived them in congratulations, that adult men had been involved, that the girl had been held at knifepoint, and that the municipal government and the police conspired to suppress the crime.

Infowars ran an article with the headline “REPORT: Syrian ‘Refugees’ Rape Little Girl at Knifepoint in Idaho.”

InfoWarsREPORT: INFOWARS FULL OF SHIT

Of course, neither of the boys were Syrian and there was no knife, but that was somehow the least of the article’s problems. Infowars claimed that an older brother had directed the younger boys to rape and then urinate on the girl, and that it was all part of a spate of crimes by Muslim refugees (refugees in scare quotes, naturally) that also included spitting in the faces of non-Muslims, as well as a rash of hit-and-runs.

InfowarsYet somehow, “Wealthy Media Figure Profits Off Abused Kindergartner” failed to get headline space.

Because of these baseless rumors, the town descended into anti-Muslim chaos. City council was harassed because they weren’t kicking all the immigrants out of town. The case’s judge was harassed and accused of corruption. The mayor was accused of being part of a globalist conspiracy to destroy America, and was also the victim of a widespread rumor that he was a convicted rapist. His wife received rape threats, and they both, in the worst possible form of marital bonding, received death threats. Local journalists tried to counter with actual reporting, but their reach was minuscule compared to Breitbart and Infowars.

Oh yeah, and fake Facebook accounts connected to the Russian government were later found to have helped spread this garbage. Do try to feign some surprise.

Jordan Breeding also writes for Paste Magazine, the Twitter, and himself, and he isn’t a huge fan of Nazis.

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