With this blog’s occasional focus on flag etiquette and my concern for faux patriotism, I’ve been getting barbs all day on a story out of Clark County, Nevada (home of Las Vegas).
It’s a threefer of hatred, slamming President Obama, teachers, and public schools, all at once. Plus it is rather disrespectful of the U.S. flag.
The Clark County School District calls the story “bogus!!” with the exclamation points clear. Spokesmen for the district complain they’ve been fielding calls all day, none with details. Their check of the district’s schools turns up nothing.
The claim is that an elementary school student wants to drop out of school after being “forced” to say the Pledge of Allegiance to a picture of President Barack Obama backed by several U.S. flags.
Bloggers fume. “The gall!”
Press spokesmen for the district say they encourage parents to call any principal of any school in the district with any complaint. A survey of principals finds none who knew of such a complaint.
None of the bloggers bothered to check the facts, it appears. The story so far checks out to be a hoax. No one can name the school, no one can name the kid, no one can corroborate the story.
U.S.. Nevada and Clark County flags fly at Moapa Valley High School in the Clark County School District, Nevada. Wikipedia image
Students in Clark County schools say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning as a usual practice. School officials were unsure whether this is done by state law, district ordinance, or tradition. Through much of the 20th century, it was common for schools to have a picture of the sitting president in every classroom. That tradition fell to budget cuts years ago.
What motivates people to invent such stories? What motivates bloggers to spread stories without bothering to make the simplest check to see whether the story is accurate? One of the things that screams “Hoax!” in this story is the complete inaction of the student and parent. Were they worked up about it, why didn’t they bother to complain?
Here’s the wall of shame, bloggers who got suckered and repeated the story without bothering to check it out (isn’t it odd that they all seem to know exactly what photo of Obama was used, and they show it on their blogs, but they don’t know where it was used? Isn’t it odd that they use a color photo while saying it was projected on an overhead projector, which would turn that photo into gray and white mush?):
I’ll wager that’s just the tip of a very mean-spirited iceberg of calumny.
Update, January 30 – More hate-filled spreading of the story:
Still the gullible fall, on February 1:
Nearly responsible skepticism:
I spoke again with David Roddy at the Clark County School District offices. He confirmed that as of late this afternoon (January 30) no one had stepped forward to identify the school where the event is alleged to have occurred, nor the name of anyone involved, nor any other fact that could be corroborated to vouch for the accuracy of the story.
See “7 Signs of Bogus History.” Notice any of these characteristics in this story’s allegations?
Update, September 5, 2009: No evidence of this event has ever been produced outside of the original two anonymous blog posts. My investigation found no such incident in any school in or around Las Vegas, nor anywhere else. Pure hoax.
Don’t let others be misled; spread the word: