Some people will believe anything.
I love reading PolitiFact, however, usually not for the humor. But there is a new posting that starts out debunking a birther chain email, but quickly turns hilarious.
It turns out that the email was originally a satire piece, published by a newspaper in Hawaii. The original article is pretty hysterical itself, but that didn’t keep people from taking it seriously:
We ran the piece on April Fools Day, in our comics section, and said in the story that it was satire. We did not expect people to take this seriously. But we still had people calling and emailing us demanding more information about the piece. We are still getting calls today. Most had a good sense of humor about it when we pointed out the April Fools Day note, but not everyone took it so well. We did get some nasty notes. Other than putting the very top in all-caps, ‘THIS IS AN APRIL FOOLS DAY JOKE,’ I am not sure what else we could have done to be more clear.
Apparently, the phenomenon of people believing outrageous satire is pretty common. PolitiFact goes on:
We’ve seen this phenomenon before.
One of the most long-lived chain emails we’ve seen circulating claims that Obama once said, “Nobody made these guys go to war. … Now they whine about bearing the costs of their choice?” That was originally published by Arizona-based satirist John Semmens. We gave it a Pants on Fire.
We have debunked other chain emails based on satires by Semmens. One claimed that that in a hearing, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., suggested to Gen. David Petraeus that the Army “put more emphasis on less environmentally damaging methods, like stabbing or clubbing enemy forces in order to minimize the carbon output.” Semmens’ work was also turned into chain emails claiming that Obama wants to redesign the American flag “to better offer our enemies hope and love,” and that he thinks the national anthem should be “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.”
Another satirist who saw his work go viral is Matthew Avitabile, who blogs his spoofs at Jumping in Pools. One satirical Avitabile post claimed that Obama wrote a thesis at Columbia University in which he criticized “plutocratic thugs” and said the Constitution gave Americans “the shackles of hypocrisy.” Another was that the Obama administration “wants to have soldiers and officers pledge a loyalty oath directly to the office of the President, and no longer to the Constitution.”
Anyone who believes one of these chain emails and forwards it on should be instantly disqualified from voting.