Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How a Lie is Born

It's a testament to how far we've come as a nation that it only took three hours before we were blaming each other for Boston. A few have speculated that this was a domestic terrorist - a not exactly far-fetched hypothesis - while the bedrock conservatives over at Free Republic have been shouting "false flag" conspiracy theories and getting overly defensive about the domestic terrorists theory. At least when not trying to hang it all on some Saudi.

That last part is what I really want to talk about, because however else this goes he's already been convicted. Some foreign kid on a student visa ran for his life when the bombs went off - wouldn't you? - when he was tackled by a patriotic bystander. The Feds and the Boston PD are on record as saying he's not a suspect now, but that doesn't matter. The New York Post, that bastion of ethical journalism, jumped the gun and got #Saudi trending so all the other networks followed suit.

And that's how a lie was born. Too many Americans right now believe a "Saudi National" is the primary suspect and may already be in custody. Hell, this kid may turn out to be the culprit - rich Saudi students have a history of blowing shit up for God - but even if he isn't he'll still get the blame thanks to the great social networking echo chamber.

Access to information doesn't make people more thoughtful. In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, for every person counseling patience there were a dozen idiots eagerly parroting the "Saudi National" story. Now it doesn't matter if it's true, because it's already #true - it's been repeated enough and nobody cares to really follow up on the story even when joining the chorus.

This is how the internet makes you stupid.

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