UPDATED: Anatomy of a right wing rumor

News & Politics

Someday, down the road, on a blog, overheard at a diner or maybe from some uncle telling a story, you'll hear: The Left wingers would come out and protest funerals, holding signs blaming the troops and dragging American flags... And it will be a lie.

Much as I'd love to, I can't really blame Blogs for Bush for it... yet. They did their bloggy duty and read the news report. Then they commented on it and... Alas, a blog post.

Here's the account of the recent funeral of Sgt. Jeremy Doyle in Martinsville, Indiana on the website of Indiana's WISH-TV:

"Emotions ran high for an army soldier's funeral in Martinsville Sunday."
"Sgt. Jeremy Doyle's sacrifice, brought many out to honor him but also sparked a standoff on a city street."
"People arriving to say goodbye to a hometown hero, met an altogether different scene in Martinsville. Demonstrators dragging American flags on the ground and holding signs opposing U. S. troops."
Sickening, isn't it? Protesting a funeral and intentionally provoking mourners. Except, the WISH-TV report left out some crucial information, leaving frothing right wing bloggers to gleefully assume that this was Left wing anti-war protesters.


These are the followers of the Church of "God Hates Fags," in Westboro, Kansas. How the WISH-TV report missed this rather spectacular facet of the story reeks of intentionality (and surprise! the CEO of LIN TV, which owns WISH, is one Gary R. Chapman, Republican...).

Okay, so shortly after midnight, 12:26 AM to be exact, Blogs for Bush picks up on it, squawking: "Is This What The Antiwar Left Consider Supporting The Troops?"

40 minutes later, a seemingly diligent commenter "CJ" notes that this is the church of crazies mentioned above and that: "With all due respect, these crazies are not from the 'left.' They are just plain nuts."

Until he finds out that Phelps is a registered Democrat, at which point his brain unhitches from the post and rides off into the sunset of stupidity.

Another commenter, "retnavy," notes that "this is immaterial," that he's just a loony. And here we are, 7-10 hours in, and the shoeshine boys at Blogs for Bush have left the post unchanged. It still identifies the Westboro loonies (whose ideology, let's face it, has much more in common with the homophobic right, than with the left...) as "The Antiwar Left." Let's see how long it takes them to change it. You can even go comment there if you like.

How do rumors get started? Just like this.

Quick question: How, exactly, do right wingers justify their anger at fantasies like this while sending hateful contingencies to go yell at a mourning mother camping out in Texas? Just curious.

UPDATE: So instead of taking down this mistake, BfB has adopted the technique of its namesake and "fixed the facts around the policy," as they say.

The writer of the post, Matt Margolis ("founder and editor" of BfB), writes:
"It may be a stretch to consider this group a member of the left wing... I've run into these people before. They protested Bush's inauguration, and I've seen them at a few other protests I've been to. Nevertheless, their actions are indistinguishable from that of Code Pink, who were protesting outside of Walter Reed Army Medical Center..."
Which is itself another product of crappy journalism (that time it was Fox News). What kind of a tool considers people from the church of "God Hates Fags" who celebrate the deaths of soldiers as divine retribution for our societal failures at funerals to a vigil held by women who want the costs of war to simply be visible so we can face one of the truths of our policies? Or, better question: Who reads that crap?

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