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Fool me once, twice, thrice, …

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.



  1. Oregonbird wrote:

    Today’s “journalism” reads like the sexist, jingoistic pulp magazines of the 1940’s. The actual announcements of politicians leave me looking for the humorous clue-in. We’re told for four years that Congress absolutely cannot work together, and then we hear of a quiet 100% vote to cut Iran off from the rest of the world. Why? /crickets/ A single democratic president has taken away more Constitutional rights than the last five Republican administrations, and coordinated armed attacks on American citizens both at home and abroad — tell me, how are we supposed to sort the horror from the outrageous satire?

    Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 4:16 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    I was with you until you claimed that Obama has taken away more constitutional rights than the last five Republican administrations. How do you figure?

    Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 5:54 am | Permalink
  3. oregonbird wrote:

    Just for instance: “[Obama] says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.” Mitt Romney

    Iron Knee, my google is handing me cupcake recipes (literally) when I ask for links to Nixon & constitutional freedoms. So it’s useless to me right now. However, flying by the seat of my pants, Bush challenged and set aside hundreds of statutes during his time in office, which is not a presidential perogative. However, he didn’t codify his excesses and make them into law of the land. Cheney, when history gets around to admitting his role in US history, will be found to have committed treason by accomplishing a de facto coup; plus, of course, the whole unconstitutional expansion of Executive reach and lack of accountability. Reagan ignored the Constitutional role of Congress to supply arms and funding to the Contras. But none of signed into law the declaration of US soil as a battleground, a law that strips any citizen of all constitutional rights and delivers them into military custody, without any legal recourse. Obama did. None of them made the confiscation of land, food, etc., possible without notice or the declaration of any specific emergency. Obama has.

    Hence my statement.

    Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Permalink
  4. Arthanyel wrote:

    Oregonbird – the part about Obama enacting something that “made confiscation of land, . . . possible witrhout notice” is conservative propaganda. Obama signed an updated emergency powers order that had been enacted decades before – and the ONLY thing that changed in the law was that it mentions the Department of Homeland Security, which did not exist when Clinton signed it. Other than that nothing changed at all.

    As for the law “stripping citizens of their constitutional rights” that was a GOP bill amendment attached to critical funding, and Obama signed the entire bill with a soigning statement that said his administration refuses to comply. Not as hard core a refusal as you might want, but hardly Obama’s decision to trample people’s rights.

    Monday, June 11, 2012 at 12:39 am | Permalink
  5. starluna wrote:

    OregonBird – I’m sorry but I really don’t trust “flying by the seat of [ones] pants” when it comes to claims like, “A single democratic president has taken away more Constitutional rights than the last five Republican administrations, and coordinated armed attacks on American citizens both at home and abroad.”

    That at the very least requires a decent Google search (and not one that involves Nixon).

    Unless you’ve got Lexis-Nexis in those pants, your claims are entirely without merit.

    Monday, June 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink
  6. starluna wrote:

    I don’t suppose any of those satirists were paid for the circulation of their work.

    Monday, June 11, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Permalink
  7. oregonbird wrote:

    … I counted. Nixon was one of the last five Republican presidents. Really. You can google for it. 🙂

    Monday, June 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink