… and Thomas Jefferson said, “Shut the hell up!”

Honestly? Can you not at least PRETEND to fact-check?

Honestly? Can you not at least PRETEND to fact-check?

Some days I just want to send out an email to the world, something along the lines of “you might be a moron if …” But then I might have to fight Jeff Foxworthy over it, and that mustache kinda creeps me out. (Not as much as clown magicians … if that’s a thing … but I think you get it.)

The assortment of material that comes in to just about any media entity would probably boggle the mind, full of dubious claims and fake quotes that would make you wonder how the hell anybody at least a little bit sane could possibly believe it. Then again, there appears to be a growing contingent of people who prefer to live far from reality, in a world where only their particular brand of Christianity exists, unbridled greed is good, and only people who agree with them have any power or say at all. (I’m guessing those who don’t are reprogrammed or exterminated … God, now I have the Daleks from the Tom Baker era in my head.)

Day of the Daleks

Day of the Daleks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let me be clear: I love dealing with 95-plus percent of the readers and letter writers I talk to. They’re unfailingly polite, often quite funny, and endlessly reasonable (or, if unreasonable, they’re entertainingly so); plus, if they disagree with you, they’ll cite verifiable information to support their case.

The remaining percentage? Well, they’re the very rude and misinformed minority who refuse to believe fact checkers unless they say something they like. They believe everything that drops from Rush Limbaugh’s lips is golden, even if it’s so out of touch with reality and historical facts that his mother would probably come back from the grave to smack him.

President Barack Obama has a discussion with s...

President Barack Obama has a discussion with students during a visit to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School in New Orleans, La., Oct. 15, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They’re certain that Barack Obama is the Kenyan Muslim Socialist Communist Fascist Anti-Christ intent on taking over the world and probably kicks puppies and takes candy away from babies. They’re the low-information voters they accuse everyone they don’t agree with of being.

Excuse me while I get the 50 pounds of attitude in 18 pounds of fur and claws off me …

OK, now that I can breathe again …
A lot of these people have the tendency to use quotes, most often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, that are just too pithy, too perfect for their point, and sometimes too ridiculous to be true. The man didn’t exactly speak in soundbites (even if one defender of fake quotes seemed to think tape recorders existed in Jefferson’s time).
English: A Portrait of Thomas Jefferson as Sec...

English: A Portrait of Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few things T.J. didn’t say:

“Some of my finest hours have been spent on my back veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as my eye can see.” (What? No Cheetos??)


“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” (News flash: He also didn’t say “There’s no I in team.”)


“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” (Yes! Immediately! Wait, what? Perhaps T.J. might have been a motivational speaker a la Matt Foley, minus the van down by the river.)


“If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.” (As long as being informed doesn’t mean having the intellectual curiosity to check if T.J. actually said these things.)


“By making this wine vine known to the public, I have rendered my country as great a service as if I had enabled it to pay back the national debt …” (Because when you’re drunk, you won’t care anyway.)


“Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.” (But taking the nation hostage and endangering the world economy to get what you want is patriotic.)


Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. Deuts...

Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. Deutsch: 1964: Martin Luther King Português: Martin Luther King (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All of which brings to mind one real quote, this one from Martin Luther King Jr.:

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Thank you, Dr. King, for saying what I couldn’t. Lord knows I wouldn’t want to put words in your mouth. Those other guys, though …