Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chantilly Lace

I get those e-mails. I get many about interesting things from people who are bringing them to my attention, but I also get those emails. I also get way too many from list servers specializing on specific topics that I had a passing interest in once yet can’t really remember why. I also get LOLcats; lots of LOLcats for some reason.

Those e-mails are the ones presenting anecdotal evidence that either an extremely interventionist deity or a political conspiracy to undermine the USA exists. Judging by the impressive forwarding headers some of those e-mails have they have each circled the globe quite a few times. You know about those e-mails because you have gotten them also; probably lots of them like I have.

I usually delete them. Sometimes I check Snopes or something. It is amazing how long a discredited e-mail will continue to be forwarded in cyberspace. I am convinced that many people just forward the most amazing stories to as many people as they can in the hopes of finding out if they are real.

I got this one once about how “scientists” had proved that the earth really did stop rotating for several days as told in a minor old testament story. The story did not mention the terrible calamities that would occur if one were able to just instantaneously stop the earth’s rotation. For several days I imagined minor aspects of the devastation that would occur.

In the middle of a cup of coffee with good company I would burst out with something like: “And the tsunamis!!”.

I am still a little concerned with how difficult it was for my various companions to tell the difference between these outbursts and my normal conversation.

Sometimes I investigate those e-mails myself. This can be embarrassing.

I do like the awkward god story e-mails more that the conspiracy ones. Unfortunately, since this is an election year, the political conspiracy e-mails have become the norm. These are usually simply deleted.

Despite being expunged from my inbox the same lies keep popping up over-and-over like tap-rooted weeds. They also pop up on facebook pages and blogs.
The teabagger e-mail lie machine appears to work like this:
  1. Truth is based on belief. If you want to believe something it can be true.
  2. Things that support your belief should be sent to as many people as possible, and widely publicized.
  3. People who think the information is wrong are probably lying because they believe something you don’t
  4. If someone successfully proves that the lies you are spreading are wrong they are providing uninteresting information, which there is no need to share.

I just don’t care to even read much of the hyperbolic nonsense about how Obama is penning some new socialist executive order mandating gay marriage or forcing Christians into concentration camps. OK…maybe I do read some of them, if something really outrageous in it catches my eye

It depresses me, however, to read what was tagged onto bills like the 2012NDAA and realize some of the fascist hyperbole is a little too close to reality.

Some of those e-mails come festooned with pictures of of scantily clad young women.  Pictures of scantily clad young women in my inbox have a tendency to catch my eye. This will be a real problem when they finally do mandate gay marriage.

A few weeks ago I got an e-mail with a photo of a woman in underwear contorted into some yoga pose I did not recognize. When I got around to reading the e-mail it stated first lady Obama spent $50,000.00 in a couple hours at a lingerie shop called Agent Provocateur. It went on to describe TFL’s shopping trip as some sort of babe-bonding outing with the Queen of Qatar; another not-unattractive middle-aged famous woman.

I spent a couple moments imagining TFL and QoQ modeling skimpy underthings for each other while making bawdry remarks and giggling.

The e-mail went into the level of detail usually only seen on outright lies or actual truth. Detail, however, makes it easy to fact-check a story so I decided to investigate this story.

First I found out that the shop in question exists. It even has a website with more yoga-esque posing young women; though no pictures of TFL or QoQ. They apparently specialize in bondage-themed lingerie (accounting for some of the yoga poses perhaps), and one article about the incident mentioned a handmade Calais lace corset that went for around a thousand dollars. Would anyone really need a different corset each day for two months?

Next I found a couple of articles describing the event in more detail. There appeared like there could have been a single originating source: the UK’s Telegraph. The Telegraph’s webpage for the story features a picture of a fully clothed Michelle Obama, and another picture of a mostly unclothed woman wearing dark sunglasses.

The QoQ and TFL apparently even closed off a whole city block so they could have privacy while shopping. Privacy maybe, but that is not very inconspicuous.

So, like the memorable photo of god’s goatse, this story initially appeared to be accurate.

On February 10th the Telegraph issued the following retraction:

Further to our article “First Lady’s luxury buys boost Agent Provocateur” (Jan 30), we would like to make clear that the “shopping spree” involving Her Highness Sheikha Moza and Michelle Obama that we referred to in fact never occurred, and that Her Highness has never been shopping with Mrs Obama, at Agent Provocateur or otherwise, and has never sought to have any part of New York closed off to enable her to shop undisturbed. We apologize for the distress and embarrassment this article caused.

So they just made this up. Total fabrication, and of course it made it onto e-mail.

It is interesting to note that, upon further digging, I came across an official white-house denial of the story. Upon issuing a categorical denial of the story (“100% incorrect”) the white-house spokesperson was asked to provide proof. What do you think the reporter wanted as proof to show that TFL did not buy her underwear from Agent Provocateur?

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