United States Senator Ted Cruz, with his scientifically unappealing face and enthusiastic support for the Targeted Regulation for Abortion Providers restrictions that have shut down dozens of reproductive health clinics across the nation, is indeed an ominous character. But activist Tim Faust (and many people on Twitter) believes he's something much worse: the Zodiac Killer, who terrorized the residents of northern California in the late 60s and early 70s and avoided getting caught… until now?
"Ted Cruz is a terrifying monster. You know who else was a monster? The Zodiac Killer, who claimed to have killed 37 people in the Bay Area. Ted Cruz has never denied being the Zodiac Killer. The conclusion is simple—and Ted Cruz has never publicly refuted it," Faust writes on his website where he's selling shirts that say "Ted Cruz was the Zodiac Killer."
Faust might be joking, but the proceeds from the shirts are for an earnest cause. All the profit he makes goes to Ted Cruz' real victims: the women in Texas who are in desperate need of reproductive care. So far, Faust has raised nearly $30,000 for West Fund, a non-profit that helps pregnant people in El Paso, Texas—one of the poorest cities in the United State—access affordable abortions.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Broadly: What's the story behind the shirts?
Tim Faust: Folks have been making "[unlikely person] is the Zodiac" jokes for a long time. (I know Letterman made one in 2002 and surely there have been more before that.) But some folks I follow on Twitter had been joking about Ted Cruz being the Zodiac Killer off and on for a few weeks, and I thought it was both interesting and plausible. I told my friend Rory about my idea to make t-shirts and he sent me a sketch the next night. I think he was also carving a huge cyclops skull out of foam at the time. He's a dang ol' talent.
Ted Cruz' adamantly "pro-life"-centric campaign does seem like it could be an elaborate coverup for many murders.
Realistically, the Ted Cruz indirect body count (by rejecting Affordable Care Act expansion, anti-choice ideology, etc) is way higher than anything the Zodiac could have dreamed.
That being said, of all the candidates of the past few election cycles, it's funny that only Cruz really fits the mold [of the Zodiac Killer]. You could say, I dunno, "Dennis Kucinich is the Zodiac" and someone may reply, "Haha, that's funny. That's so wacky." But when you say, "Ted Cruz is responsible for the murders of up to 37 people in the Bay Area" and the reply is, "Haha… wait, are you serious?"
Why do you think that is? Is it his unsettling face?
I don't know why. I first saw Ted Cruz speak in the flesh back in 2013, when I was covering the GOP convention in Texas. He is extremely lifelike.
You're donating the proceeds from the shirts to West Fund, to help women get abortions in Texas. Was that more serious aspect of the project important to you?
That's the only reason I'm doing something like this. I'm not going to sell t-shirts of an online joke if I don't think that, one, the joke is funny, and two, it goes to something important. Commercializing memes for personal profit is pretty gross.
I moved to Texas in 2013 to get involved in reproductive rights. I saw Wendy Davis filibuster HB2 and quit my stupid tech job in San Francisco. I worked for Planned Parenthood for a bit—though for their advocacy arm on the Affordable Care Act, not in the clinics—then got involved in healthcare data work.
Realistically, the Ted Cruz indirect body count is way higher than anything the Zodiac could have dreamed.
Texas is an abortion wasteland—and not in the cool way, because absent context "Abortion Wasteland" sounds pretty cool. The state's anti-abortion laws are barbaric and cruel. [Taking away access to abortion care] is a cudgel levied disproportionately upon those who can afford it least. At West Fund, the average monthly income of patients is $930. The average abortion procedure cost is $950. [Ed. Note: Faust is not a spokesperson for West Fund or officially affiliated with the organization.]
Has anyone from Ted Cruz' camp reached out to you?
Nobody from the Ted Cruz campaign has said anything to me, but my Twitter account did get reported a bunch. I'm going to presume there's just under a 70 percent chance that someone running the Cruz campaign has had to say the words "Zodiac Killer" aloud at least once this week.
Are you paranoid that Senator Cruz' people might be trying to shut you down?
Nah, it's probably just some extreme dweebs online. I don't believe in conspiracies, except for the ones which demonstrate a serious bulk of evidence—like Ted Cruz being the Zodiac Killer.