Who Cares if it’s Parody if it Feeds Our Paranoia?


Ok, confession time. The other day I fell hook, line and sinker for a parody article. However, in my defence, it wasn’t that I believed the content of the article, just that it was entirely plausible that somebody actually meant what was written there.

It was a classic example of Poe’s Law, which states “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.” In this case, I was that someone.

You see, I was spending some time trawling the collected insanity over at the Tea Party Collective (the anti-social Facebook-esque network for right wing fuckheads) – which has really degenerated into a kind of Conspiracy Theory Central, when they aren’t:

  • clamouring for an armed uprising,
  • clamouring for Obama to be impeached,
  • clamouring for their respective State to secede,
  • becoming sexually aroused as they talk about their Second Amendment rights,
  • calling Obama a Kenyan Marxist Muslim Atheist, who’s going to instigate martial law and become a dictator any day now,
  • Photoshopping fat pictures of Michelle Obama,
  • or any combination of the above.

These are people who hang on every word people like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Bryan Fischer and their ilk utter and I’ve long since learned that nothing is too batshit insane for somebody on that site. As you may well imagine, they are all having a collective heart attack over there, over the phone tapping thing that’s going which, which is – of course – all Obama’s fault. What caught my eye was an article headed “Obama’s Birth Certificate Created in Adobe Illustrator Obama Guilty of Committing the Biggest Crime in American Presidential History.” It came from a site calling itself the National Report, which I took to be just another bunch of raving right-wingers, producing their version of the news, al a World Nut Daily and Red State. If only I’d taken the time to actually look at their main page, instead of taking the story at face value.

Anyway, the story basically rehashed the old story of how Sheriff Joe and his posse had proven that the birth certificte, which they’d “downloaded from the White House website,” was a fake, created in Adobe Illustrator. Nothing too weird there – we all knew that the so-called experts that had been called in to prove the document a forgery were looking a pdf document and not the original.

“Is this still a thing?” I thought to myself (because who else am I going to think to?) and then I noticed a follow-up article from the same site.  This one claimed that within hours of their printing the birth certificate story, their offices were raided by the the FBI, who carried off files and computer disks.Needless to say, the comments were awash with outrage and cries of “Here comes martial law!” – I wish I’d kept track of the thread, because the comments alone would have been worth a few blog posts.

Unaware of the trap I was falling into, I duly rushed off to inform the gentlemen over at a George Soros-funded liberal wiki. There it was soon pointed out to my chagrined self that a site with headlines such as “Reports Of Infant Formula Tainted With Cat Semen On Rise” could not possibly be real… even taking right-wing batshittery into account.

However, I wasn’t the only one taken in. Enter “Mr. Conservative” – another right-wing news aggregator and birther. In fact, the National Report cited MC in its original article, which is why he no doubt responded in kind. His own post ended:

It will be interesting to see what further information becomes available about the raid on the National Report. Considering that the “Obama’s birth certificate” story simply recited publicly available facts about the Cold Case Posse and the Alabama Supreme Court case, it would be very disturbing if that story triggered the raid. And if it wasn’t the birth certificate story, one wonders what else could have been going on at a conservative online publication to bring about a full-fledged, armed FBI raid on a news outlet.

Somewhere down the line, somebody must have pointed out to MC that the National Report was taking the piss. However, that didn’t phase him. Instead of having an embarrassed laugh at being caught out and quietly deleting the post, he doubled down:

We’re not beating ourselves up too much, though, for having reported it here.  The fact is that, with daily reports about the Obama administration’s heavy-handed approach to anyone or anything that challenges the administration, whether using the IRS to harass conservative or the criminal justice system to harass journalists, it was actually reasonable to believe that this could happen — and if that’s not a sad commentary on life in America today, we really don’t know what is.  

We’re not withdrawing this story from publication because the fact that it is false but still believable, is in and of itself, newsworthy.

Except, of course, that it is not believable. Not to anybody sane, anyway. Nor is it likely to happen any time soon – not unless the security bodies have proof that a criminal act is about to be committed. And given their record lately… well… enough said.

You want to know what the really sad commentary on life in America is – that there’s people who are so upset about there being a Black Man in the White House, that they’ll even turn parody in to fact, to fuel their raging bigotry and paranoia.

About PsyGremlin

PsyGremlin is a former Conservapedia sysop (although the position was earned nefariously), stand up comedian, DJ, and is currently a self-employed financial adviser, who impersonates a responsible adult at least 5 days a week. However, highlighting and poking fun at the crazies out there remains his first love. Well besides pork crackling. And custard. And cricket.
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3 Responses to Who Cares if it’s Parody if it Feeds Our Paranoia?

  1. armondikov says:

    This is the thing about Poe’s Law that I feel people miss. If it’s revealed as parody, you need to update your beliefs accordingly – you can’t just turn around and call it believable, that just means you’re perpetuating a straw man. Not only that, but you *know* you, are *happy* you are, and even think this is now even more valid.

    It’s a well-known fact that people double down on their beliefs when proven wrong, though. That’s a thought that keeps me up at night on occasion, wondering whether every time I question something it’s actually actually making me more wrong.

    • PsyGremlin says:

      I think the difference is you (and most rational people) are open to, and receptive of new ideas, and yes, some of them may challenge your own preconceived notions, but once you’ve satisfied yourself that they are indeed correct, you’ll adopt them and move on.

      You certainly wouldn’t hang on to something that’s been proven to be bullshit, merely because it agrees with your POV, which is what’s happening here. It’s exactly the same as Schlafly’s “la-la-la-la I can’t hear you!” tactic.

      Another example is a Truther I came across over on Teabagger Facebook. He was claiming that thw WTC was rigged with explosives to blow and when several people called him on this, his standard reply was “I question everything.” Problem is, he hadn’t questioned the logistics involved, the fact that the workers might have noticed holes drilled into the walls and miles of fuse wire, not to mention the sheer number of people who’d have been involved in the cover-up.

      Stupid is as stupid does.

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