Back when “the Internet” was Usenet and FTP sites, back when I was a newlywed holed up in an 800 sq. foot apartment off Briley Parkway, I spent my time downloading LOTR illustrations (one favourite took 10 minutes via Fetch) and bantering on alt.folklore.urban. That’s how I encountered the people who would become “Snopes”. We were all just nerds arguing about glass flow and $250 cookie recipes. It was like that for years, until HTML came along and The Internet as we know it began to happen in earnest.
The Snopes folks took what the alt.folklore.urban newsgroup did (debunking rumours) and put it on one o’ them fancy yooarells. All of us now had a way to prove wrong all those annoying chain emails our crazy Aunt Phyllis sent out.
–No, nobody had spiders hatch in their stomach after swallowing Bubble Yum.
–Yes, that is a Penis on the Little Mermaid VHS box.
And of course we used the “citations, please” method to debunk political emails. Back in 2000 I used Snopes’ research to counter several anti-Bush memes. Like the one where people were saying he refused to sell his home to black people.
Then came 2008 and Obama looked like a threat to the current structure. All of a sudden all the same rumour mills that had churned against Bush began to churn against Obama. I know you’ve gotten the emails. The ones that document the 50 lies told by Obama. That sort of thing.
Snopes did what Snopes does best. They researched the rumours, looking at original sources and documenting their findings. All of a sudden those get-your-blood-boiling tales that were making the rounds met the worst opposition a rumour has…the truth. But here’s the tricky part:
The rumour mill started saying that Snopes was funded by George Soros, working undercover for Obama. (Note the complete absence of “Snopes Is Funded by The Right, Working for Bush” in 2000-2007, even though they were oftentimes the best Internet friend George Bush ever had.)
I didn’t know about this lie until yesterday. I’ve often used Snopes to back me up, because I can point to their research when I get sappy stories about dead soldiers’ dogs that I know in my gut are fictional. People can’t trust my gut, but they can trust honest research. But then I got a bunch of flak and one person said she would trust me, but not trust Snopes. I honestly wondered WHY. Then I looked it up and found all this mess.
Here’s the thing. The only people I’ve heard saying that Snopes is founded by Soros are Christians. That’s purely because the only conservatives I know are also Christians; it’s correlation, not causation. But even the woman who told me that she “heard a rumour but I trust the source of the rumour” admitted she had no facts and hadn’t researched it. She just was happy as a clam to believe something negative about someobody else because they told the truth about a political adversary.
People, this is why I hate the Culture War. Because you have Christians who are happy to believe others who bear false witness. I do credit the woman who clued me in to the story for not spreading the rumour herself. I give her that. But even being willing to believe the worst about someone–when the answers are so readily obtainable is contrary to the principles of Grace.
This is what the low form of politics we call the “Culture War” has done. It shovels manure. It bears false witness. It puts another god before God. It corrupts the Sabbath day with vile talk about political enemies in the hallways of church. It teaches us to covet power.
I’m just way too disgusted to come up with a sound conclusion to this.