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Where Did The Ted Cruz-Zodiac Killer Meme Come From?
Don't put anything past a toddler Ted Cruz.
OK, OK, Ted Cruz is not the Zodiac Killer. Unless of course, he began killing before he was born.
The first murder attributed to the Zodiac Killer occurred in 1968 in Northern California. Ted Cruz was born two years later, in 1970 and a country away — in Alberta, Canada. In 1974, Cruz and his family moved to Houston, Texas, but also far pretty far for preschool-age Cruz to be responsible for the Zodiac’s spree. It is believed that the Zodiac Killer is responsible for five brutal murders between 1968 and 1969, though he claimed to have killed 37 people in his letters. Victims were found in Benicia, Vallejo, Lake Berryessa, and San Francisco. Police initially believed the slayings were random, but local newspapers later received coded letters and ciphers from someone calling themselves the “Zodiac Killer,” who took credit for the murders and demanded press attention.
So, where did this mock-conspiracy originate from?
Cruz was elected a Texas senator in 2012 and in 2013 he gave a speech promising to help repeal funding for the Affordable Care Act. During that speech, he said "count me a proud wacko bird," in response to being called a “wacko bird” by John McCain in an interview.
Someone who watched that speech made up the first rumor that Cruz wasn’t just a wacko bird but one of America’s most infamous unidentified serial killers. That person decided to take the leap from "wacko" to homicial and "wacko." While not exactly a linear jump in logic, it kicked off quite the meme (I mean, we've all seen Ted Cruz).
A year later, Cruz stated, "The biggest regulatory threat to the internet is ‘net neutrality.' In short, net neutrality is Obamacare for the internet," the initial rumor appeared to gained momentum.
It really took off in 2016 when Cruz was trying to become the next President of the United States.
A 2016 National Public Radio story noted that most people involved with the meme knew Cruz is not the Zodiac killer. “But they say it's all about a feeling they have about Cruz: they think he's creepy,” the story states. “And they want to point that out, as clearly as they can.”
The mock-conspiracy was so widespread that an activist Tim Faust even started selling "Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer" T-shirts to support a nonprofit which helps women access safe and affordable abortions. Faust said he heard of the theory on Twitter. A Ted Cruz/Zodiac killer romance book was also created because, why not? Public Policy Polling even asked Florida registered voters in a 2016 survey whether it's possible that Ted Cruz was the elusive Zodiac and 10% believed he was and 28% were not sure.
That same year, in April, comedian Larry Wilmore referenced the meme during a comedy routine at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. He joked that Cruz was not campaigning to win the presidential nomination, but to instead to keep on his murder spree.
Soon after, Cruz quit his attempt to become president, just because of this meme (we kid, there were lots of other reasons).
Even though the facts clearly indicate that it is unlikely Cruz is the infamous killer, people still have fun showing the “link.”
Even Cruz has fun with his reputation as shown by this 2017 tweet.
It’s a meme that still lives on to this day.
[Photos: Getty Images]