I don’t know who coined the phrase “question everything” but that is how I approach life. That is my motto.
If someone is claiming to have new information about something, I don’t just accept their claim at face value. I want to know where they got their information and why they think it means what they are claiming. I ask myself if it makes any sense, if the source of the information is credible and if there are other sources of information to back it up.
Saturday night, an adviser to President Obama resigned from his job, due in large part to a smear campaign by Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck. Progressives were very angry about the situation.
Almost immediately, I began to see a rumor about Glenn Beck making the rounds on Twitter. According to the rumor, Glenn Beck raped and murdered a woman back in 1990. It was tweeted by someone with a large following and it provoked a retweet chain reaction. Glenn Beck soon became a trending topic on twitter; the rumor had gone viral.
The rumor is not true – Glenn Beck did not rape and murder a woman in 1990. The site that is the main culprit in spreading the accusation says (all the way at the bottom of the page): “This site is parody/satire.”
I am disappointed in the progressives, the atheists and, most especially, the skeptics who believed that rumor. Not only was the rumor complete bullshit, it was obviously bullshit. It took me less than five minutes to debunk it.
Part of the rumor involved what was supposed to be a police incident report. Take a look at this picture of a piece of paper and ask yourself if that looks real. [Update: It turns out that does look real] The faked President Obama Kenyan birth certificate looked more realistic than that.
While looking for an example of an actual Durham police report from 1990 to compare with the fake, I found a rightwing blog which debunks the rumor. That blog points out a problem with the address listed in the report. The address is that of a house involved in another false accusation of rape from three years ago: the 2006 Duke University lacrosse scandal.
The Glenn Beck rape rumor is false, so drop it. Glenn Beck does a fine job of making himself look like an idiot; he doesn’t need our help.
To my fellow progressives out there, don’t become a left-wing version of the birther. The birther phenomenon is one of the best things to happen to us in years. The right-wingers are making such fools of themselves that we hardly have to say anything. That foolish behavior is going to make it harder for them to recruit young people in the future.
As for my fellow atheists and skeptics who believed the rumor, I am really disappointed with you. We are supposed to look at things with our bullshit-o-meters running at full throttle. We don’t take things on faith; we look for proof. We are supposed to accept a claim when it is backed up by credible evidence. We are supposed to reject a claim when it lacks credible evidence or when the evidence refutes it.
Believing in that Glenn Beck rape rumor is no different than believing President Obama was born in Kenya. Spreading the rumor is little different than showing up to a town hall meeting waving tea bags and screaming that you want your country back.
As I said on Twitter, those of us on the left are the ones who argue things based on facts and on reality; it’s the right-wingers who have to make shit up. So stop acting like the right-wing.