Saturday, November 05, 2005


And more from the land of chain e-mails

Who writes these things anyway?

I picture workshops, or more likely boiler room operations, filled with little gnomes, laboring around the clock to weave cautionary stories of gang-banging motorists who drive with their highbeams to entice would-be initiation victims and tales of kidnappers/child molesters who operate out of Wal-Mart restrooms, secreting away their boy victims by disguising them as girls. When said gnomes have a few spare moments, I suppose they doctor those photos to make it look like John Kerry and Jane Fonda really are standing alongside each other at the podium.

While some cater to the fantasies of liberals, most seem to play into the dreams of right-wingers, eager to send these dispatches on as some sort of proof that once and for all, their vision of the world has been proven right. See, they say, that World War II vet has a "bullshit protector" over his ear as he listens to Ted Kennedy speak. That just proves these left-wing faggot Bolsheviks really are bad people. And with a quick click of the mouse, people spread these missives out to friends and family, accepting them as gospel and never questioning their veracity.

I bring this up a couple of days after I received one of these e-mails from someone claiming to be an emergency management director in North Dakota. Apparently, folks up there recently weathered a bad blizzard, and this director asserts in his e-mail that North Dakotans would never think of accepting help from the federal government. I went on to provide links to press releases from the governor of North Dakota, as well as FEMA, outlining how Uncle Sam had indeed spent taxpayers' money on aiding North Dakotans after disasters. In one instance, I mistakenly said that people in Grand Forks had received $51 million after a 1997 flood. Actually, Grand Forks received more than $1 billion(!) from Washington following the flood.

Anyway, I received another of these chain e-mails yesterday. This time, the alleged author was comedian George Carlin. In this dispatch, "Carlin" gives seven rules for people caught in hurricanes. One rule lambastes folks who build expensive homes on the beach and expect taxpayers to rebuild after they are washed away by the tidal surge. The other six rules have a common theme, that is, You n*****s in New Orleans need to get off your lazy asses. It's a common right-wing rant we've been hearing since Katrina and Rita, a sort of veiled racism no doubt directed at New Orleans' underclass, and it makes me question why conservatives could ever seriously wonder why black folks steadfastly refuse to vote for their candidates.

Well, like most of these e-mails, this one turns out to be a scam, also. George Carlin writes the following on his own web site:

Floating around the Internet these days, posted and e-mailed back and forth, are a number of writings attributed to me, and I want people to know they're not mine. Don't blame me.
Some are essay-length, some are just short lists of one and two-line jokes, but if they're flyin' around the Internet, they're probably not mine.

Occasionally, a couple of jokes on a long list might have come from me, but not often. And because most of this stuff is really lame, it's embarrassing to see my name on it.

And that's the problem. I want people to know that I take care with my writing, and try to keep my standards high. But most of this "humor" on the Internet is just plain stupid. I guess hard-core fans who follow my stuff closely would be able to spot the fake stuff, because the tone of voice is so different. But a casual fan has no way of knowing, and it bothers me that some people might believe I'd actually be capable of writing some of this stuff.

Just so you know that this response is on the level, here's a link to his website where I lifted it.

Honestly, folks, did you really think that if George Carlin has something to say, he's just going to float an e-mail through cyberspace? I mean, really, this being America, Carlin's going to put it in a book and sell it to you for $24.99 at Borders.

A good rule of thumb with these chain e-mails is to ignore them. Most of them are fakes, and really are variations on urban legends and myths that have floated around for decades. The story of gang-bangers flashing their brights predates the web by several years at least. Other e-mails are just plain fraud, completely fabricated stories and doctored photos. Some of these stories and photos are real, however, so here's how to find out whether they're on the level or not. Check out The folks at Snopes are in the business of confirming and debunking these stories, and they're considered to be a highly credible source of information. If you get a chain e-mail, you can probably find it referenced on their site.

Here's their page on George Carlin's seven rules. Here's their page on the North Dakota blizzard.
Snopes is lots of fun to look at. And at the very least, if you plan to send out this junk, at least consult them and make sure the facts are true.

By the way, you know that veteran I told you about photographed with the bullshit protector over his ear? According to Snopes, the photo is indeed real, but the man wasn't listening to Ted Kennedy. He was listening to President Bush, who was speaking on the war in Iraq. You can view the photo here.

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