artphoto by splunge
artphoto by TheophileEscargot
artphoto by Kronos_to_Earth
artphoto by ethylene





Mecha Wiki

Metachat Eye


IRC Channels



Comment Feed:


16 June 2008

Annoying political emails [More:]A friend I have known since junior high sent me an email the other day that said something like:

"Pictures of Obama's family NO JOKE!"

Enclosed in the email were several family photos of Obama's family along with a few lines of racist, mean-spirited, false bullshit.

I fired off a reply that said something like:

"I'm not sure what this email is trying to say. That Obama's family is black? Shocker! This email is mean-spirited, racist, and contains false information. What a turn-off."

I thought that would be the end of it, but today I get this:



I am so tempted to say something like:

"I get it. You're voting for the white candidate. I'm voting for the best candidate."

I don't want to be sarcastic though because it could be easily dismissed as sour grapes. I'm thinking of just ignoring it, but it still pisses me off.

The kicker is the person that originally sent it to her was perceived by me as half-way intelligent. I guess not. It's amazing what you find out about people.
I don't want to be sarcastic though because it could be easily dismissed as sour grapes

That's not sour grapes. It's the kind of superior intelligence that you should not hesitate to display.

But your proposed rebuttal is good too.
posted by mudpuppie 16 June | 22:40
"True American." Nice.
posted by Claudia_SF 16 June | 22:55
I thought the same thing, Claudia. I'm trying to come up with a reply that has "true American" included.
posted by LoriFLA 16 June | 23:01
What "true American" would take the time to assemble such a half-assed video? I bailed after about five minutes, but unless the second half came up with some stunningly awful footage - Obama taking a bite out of a child, say - there's not much more to it than "Did you know his middle name is Hussein?" and "OMG, NO FLAG PIN?!?!", which is about what I expected from your pull quote.
posted by bmarkey 16 June | 23:18
Also, someone needs to inform the pinheads responsible for this thing that "Islamic" is not a language, any more than "Catholic" or "Baptist" is. Obama's given name is Arabic, yes. And what of that? Would someone named Sean Padraig Monahan be pegged as an IRS guerilla simply because of his name?

Also, the US is not (officially) at war with Islam - it's a War on Terror. But then, what do you expect from someone who quotes Ann Coulter with a straight face?

If I were you, I'd send them a reply to the effect that you don't appreciate their leaving a flaming bag of dogshit in your mailbox every day.
posted by bmarkey 16 June | 23:56
I would just reply with "I'm sorry but I find this racist and very silly I would appreciate if you would not send anything like this to me in the future."

I can't see that trying to engage them in dialogue will lead to anything and snark will just make them feel superior.
posted by arse_hat 17 June | 00:04
bmarkey, I am afraid pointing out those things will likely not achive much at all. I lost what I thought was a friend because she suddenly, one night, unloaded a vitriolic stream of consciousness about "Arabs". I pointed out that most Muslims are not Arabic, that not all Arabs are Muslims and that Iranians are not Arabs and don't speak the same language.

She just refused to believe any of it. So bright and personable in every other way. Weird.
posted by arse_hat 17 June | 00:13
Actually, I was referring to the pinhead who made the video in the first place, although I'd probably unload on the person forwarding it to me as well.

I've been told I need to work on my people skills.
posted by bmarkey 17 June | 00:21
Some of these are on the Fight the Smears page like the hand over heart thing.

The problem is you're already on the defensive. There was an apocryphal story about Nixon's early years that he was running against a pig farmer, and instructed his team to start spreading rumours that his opponent enjoyed sexual intercourse with his livestock.

"But no-one's going to believe he's a pig-****er" they objected.

"They don't have to believe it. I just want him to have to deny it."

The more you deny this, the more the perception spreads that there's something to deny. You're better off making up some smears about McCain instead. Did you know that he wasn't really held prisoner by the Viet Cong, he was actually on a sound-stage in Florida the whole time?
posted by TheophileEscargot 17 June | 00:44
There was an apocryphal story about Nixon's early years

(A well-meaning error, I'm sure, but the "pigfucker" story is infamously attached to LBJ, in part courtesy of HST. Johnson was no slouch in the trenches, either.)

The first half of this was really garden-variety demagoguery. It's stupid, but it's the same stupid shit they've been throwing at him since last year, and look where he is now.

The second half wasn't even about him -- it was just a potted nasty history of liberation theology and black liberation theology.

Basically, if this is all they got, all I can say is good luck. I'm sure it's going to get even nastier toward the end, when real desperation sets in.

Look, I'm fond of this story about Alan Keyes. The man wasn't even from Illinois, and is about the fuckingest craziest Republican you ever did see, and he was all they could get to run against Obama. (The party was in disarray statewide, and the expected candidate was the guy who was found to have taken ex-wife Jeri Ryan to sex clubs.) He still got 29% of the vote! Twenty-nine percent. From this point on I think you can safely say that 29% is the base level of crazy we have in our electorate.

Anyway, dispute this as much as you like, but you're probably not going to make headway unless you have somebody who brings it to you with a "this can't be true ... can it?" demeanor. If they're already in "Holy shit, why hasn't the media told me this before?" you may as well write them off.

I remember my first experience trying to stop an internet rumor from spreading. A Rotarian in my dad's club wanted to get everyone to send Craig Shergold their business car. I patiently explained how it was originally real but Craig had actually been cured already, and the hospital now endured great expense handling the deluge of mail. I printed out stuff from Snopes (which wasn't even yet, I think) and so forth. It had absolutely no impression whatsoever, because at the next meeting he repeated the request. Some people are simply impervious to reason when it gets in the way of what they need to believe.
posted by stilicho 17 June | 01:14
Here's how I deal with the people who believe that kind of thing: I ask them where they heard it. And then they realize that they heard it somewhere, and that they didn't just know it from birth. Right on. I ask if they trust - really trust - the source (which is usually TV). And then I ask them if they think it would be in the interest of a news channel to, I dunno, invent controversies so they sold more ad time? They hesitate.

And then I give them homework. I tell them: watch no cable/commercial news this week. Listen to or watch NPR or PBS only (non-US bunnies: these are our publicly-funded media outlets; PBS is TV, NPR is radio.) for just seven days and tell me if you hear anything about what you read in that e-mail. And, of course, the hysteria level is way lower overall on PBS and NPR, so there's actually room for discourse and discussion that doesn't revolve around Flagpingate.

Two people have completed my challenge, and of them, one had never even heard of NPR before, but both have stopped sending me these e-mails, and both are a lot less explosive in their media-inspired hyped-up-ness.
posted by mdonley 17 June | 03:02
Hmmm, the pig story may well have been LBJ. One for the "too good to check" file anyway...
posted by TheophileEscargot 17 June | 03:40
The fall of 2001, I was engaged in along email conversations with a very intelligent old good friend of mine that suddenly veered out into "nasty Arabs kill kill" territory. I couldn't believe my eyes, I had known him for ten years, and while he was often quite outrageous he was never what I called him then - a memebot incapable of independent thought. We've never spoken since.

I miss him sometimes, but I broke that friendship by calling him out on swallowing propaganda whole - something he never used to do. I was doubly disappointed as he was the kind of guy who'd go against the grain all of his life.

If you have a racist friend, you ain't no friend of mine.
posted by dabitch 17 June | 05:17
Well, here's a photo of the guy who actually made the video:

≡ Click to see image ≡

From this Wired post.

He made this film (web site here) that is about various "extreme" groups, but which apparently seeks to promote the Zealot Movement, from his information here. (unfortunately it's flash, or I would copy the text.) You'll have to scroll down to read the part about the Zealot Movement, but here's a key (to me, anyway) bit of what he says, "Anyone serious about the Christian religion will avoid the pitfalls of American, effeminised Christianity, and join a serious movement. The Zealots are one of the best, compromising nothing, and obeying Scripture as Law, the same as the Early Church Fathers did."

This reads to me like a Christian Taliban sort of thing, but I'll try to find out more. He links to, but it seems that the Zealot Movement hasn't yet mastered the art of making sites that work. From what I gather so far: Men Should Be Men, embrace violence, anti-feminist, anti-gay, fire and brimstone.

At any rate, tell your friends that if they want to get their political propaganda from a guy who nuzzles an AK47 and has ZEALOT tattooed across his arm, good luck to them.
posted by taz 17 June | 05:20
Here's his Zanga site, though there are only a couple of posts on it.
posted by taz 17 June | 05:42
Why does the right wing seem to own the lame over-the-top crazed email forward market? This stuff has been going on for at least ten years and it's almost always from the right.
posted by octothorpe 17 June | 06:41
In light of TheophileEscargot's point, what do you think of this as a response:

In response to the attacks on Michelle Obama, some people have claimed that John McCain's second wife, Cindy, spent time in jail for stealing drugs from the charity she founded in order to feed her habit.

In fact, she was never prosecuted.

She had her lawyer start a government investigation of the whistleblower who reported her stealing, and received lenient treatment from the Drug Enforcement Agency due to her wealth and connections.

The information at the links I provide should clear up any misunderstanding.

Remember: it is not true that John McCain's second wife went to jail for stealing drugs from her charity.

Whenever you hear rumors about political candidates, be sure to always CHECK FACTS and CONSIDER THE SOURCE!
posted by ibmcginty 17 June | 08:32
These are all good, and some lol, ideas. I took some of what taz and arse-hat said and some of my own brief thoughts and just sent an email. I honestly do not care if she writes me off.

I tried to keep it cordial and to the point and I asked her not to send me these type of emails in the future.
posted by LoriFLA 17 June | 08:53
the only response is to ratchet the crazy up until your friend is as uncomfortable as you.

You got to teach them to fact check by forcing them to disagree logically with you.

Don't know If this will work, but its worth a try.


I know. And a friend of mine told me that the secret police that have been tasked with protecting obama found a cache of pakistani made guns in his house in a secret room with a quoran. They can't say anything because its his job to protect them. But I know for a fact that all 3 of those secret security people have been given terrorist training in Iran and if obama loses they've got instructions to assasinate john mccain.

At the very least, you get to pollute the crazy with enough nonsense that normal people will stop believing the lies.

(actually I wouldn't do this. Its just another of my crazy ideas)
posted by seanyboy 17 June | 09:18
Obama's success relies partly on the fact that he refuses to trade smear for smear. Instead, he reframes debate completely.

I don't think we can ignore this kind of thing, and LoriFLA, it's awesome that you are replying. I do think that those who support Obama are going to need to adopt his own calm, reasoned strategy to combat this stuff, because we are only going to see more of it.

A vitriolic "you're an idiot" tone is probably not going to work, though. This time around I'm going with something more like:

"It saddens me to see people I know and like giving credibility to a smear campaign that isn't based in fact. [X statement] in this email is false; [here are the facts], which you can verify on [this website].

This time in our nation's history is too important to waste in petty insult-slinging. We have a lot of work to do to rebuild our nation's strength and pride. There is no place for shameful, mean-spirited, and sometimes racist slams in this important election year."

We are going to continue to see this, and we are going to have to calmly call it out and let it appear as what it is. Letting it go silently, without reaction, will only empower the smear-slingers. Responding (as Obama does) with straightforward and calm reframing that calls the national common good to mind is, I think, the best way to go.
posted by Miko 17 June | 09:52
My friend wrote back and said:

Ok. Thanks for the link. I don't know who I'm voting for. I think information is good. But better yet, I agree it has to be factual. I read to find out more. So, I appreciate your input and direction to the attached article. More information, right?

Maybe she will investigate further. At the very least I stated my beliefs about these type of emails and I'm glad I did. I did the first time she sent me racist propaganda and I thought she got the hint. We all have our prejudices to deal with and but it saddens me greatly that most of these people are schoolteachers. The disgust I feel sometimes that these racists are teaching children is overwhelming.
posted by LoriFLA 17 June | 10:49
More information, right?

God, I hate that there is just no critical thinking any more. People don't even know how to evaluate a source.

LoriFLA - maybe send her some links to some useful sites. For instance, there's plenty of information in Obama's own platform, which is available online in extensive form with PDFs. She might also want to give some thought to the potential Supreme Court appointment issue. There are a number of legitimate candidate comparison sites that look at candidates' records and stances on issues, like the New York Times', or VoteSmart, which has tons of links to voting records and organizational affiliations for both Obama and McCain.

We can't just rely on "more" information. We need good information. Heavens to Murgatroid - after the last 8 years of shallow messages, culture wars, and manipulative attacks, it's like we have to re-teach ourselves how to go about voting.
posted by Miko 17 June | 11:03
Well, yes, Miko is quite right. Measured, calm refutation is the way to go here. It's just that my way is so much more satisfying.

I think information is good. But better yet, I agree it has to be factual.

The mind boggles.
posted by bmarkey 17 June | 11:24
That's how I feel about good. Food is good. But better yet, it has to be edible.
posted by Miko 17 June | 12:17
festival job update || More missing feet wash up in British Columbia.