Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Ghost of Thanksgivings Yet to Come

It’s Thanksgiving in the United States, so blogs, Facebook, and any other communications medium you can think of is full of people telling you what they’re thankful for. That’s great, and I’m thankful for quite a few things myself. Fortunately for you, most of them are none of your damn business, and I’ll express my gratitude directly to those who should receive it instead of boring you with stories of how much I love my wife/daughter/parents/brother’s family, appreciate my health, or enjoy the NHL’s Center Ice package. (That’s Centre Ice for our Canuckistan readers.) I do all of those things, and make regular and sincere expressions where they matter, to the people involved. (Or by paying the extra charge on my cable bill.) You’ll see enough of that today. You don’t need me piling on. (This provides the obligatory Thanksgiving football reference.)

What I’d like to do this Thanksgiving is to provide something you can all be thankful for in years to come, so people will know to be aware of it, thus increasing its likelihood. So here—courtesy of PolitiFact—is a list of things everyone can stop forwarding in emails and on Facebook because, frankly, they’re pissing me off.

The messages in question are usually easy to identify through their heavy reliance of exclamation points and CAPITAL LETTERS!!!! Emails are most often sent by conservatives; liberals are more likely to use Facebook. The medium is less important than the bullshit quotient. PolitiFact has evaluated over one hundred of the most “popular” messages. Over 80% were rated either “False” or “Pants on Fire.” Only four percent earned a “True.” (The PolitiFact scale runs like this: True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False, Pants on Fire.)

Without further ado, here is a partial list of things I don’t ever want to see again. Senders will be subject to retribution.

  • Obama complained that the troops were whiners (Pants on Fire)
  • He refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance (False)
  • He wants soldiers to take a loyalty oath to him rather than the Constitution (Pants on Fire).
  • Because of "Obamacare," monthly Medicare premiums will more than double by 2014 (Pants on Fire)
  • Home sales will be taxed 3.8 percent (Pants on Fire) to pay for the new health care law
  • Obama's finance team is seeking a 1 percent tax on all financial transactions (Pants on Fire).
  • Members of Congress get full retirement pay after one term (Pants on Fire)
  • Congressional staffers and members don't have to repay their student loans (Pants on Fire).
  • The public option for health care coverage would have required everyone to be implanted with data-storing microchips (Pants on Fire)
  • Government had mandated everyone must get rid of their existing light bulbs (Pants on Fire)
  • You must list your guns on your tax return (Pants on Fire)
  • One percent of Americans are millionaires compared with 47 percent of House members and 56 percent of senators.( Half True)
  • Republicans in Congress have introduced dozens of bills on religion, marriage, abortion and gun control, but zero bills on job creation. (Pants on Fire.)

As PolitiFact points out, these messages have one thing in common: they’re spread by people who are passionate about their political beliefs. Here’s the key thing to remember: “passionate” should not equal “stupid.” The same Internet that has increased the speed of stupid to almost light speed also has easily found and highly respected resources that can tell you how much bullshit you’re spreading before you make an ass of yourself and bore/incite your audience. PolitiFact is one. Snopes and Truth or Fiction are just as good.

Everyone would be thankful, and the whole country would be better off, if our passionately held beliefs had a basis in fact. Let’s see what we can do to improve the level of civil discourse by promising to be more discerning in what we pass off as facts. Then at least I won’t be such a prick all the time.

(Thanks to the Show Tunes Correspondent for pointing this article out to me.)

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