There was a time not long ago when we could rely on written information because we knew it was from a reliable source. Whether in the form of personal letters sent by postal mail, or printed in our newspapers, we most often knew the writer, or were familiar with the media outlet, to be aware of any cultural bias or negative slant of the person or publication that provided the information.
But today, the torrent of misinformation that floods our computer mailboxes is disheartening.
An old friend has taken to forwarding un-sourced and anonymous e-mails that are personal attacks on the president of the United States. He’s foreign-born, they say. Or he’s not a Christian. He’s unpatriotic, or simply embarrassed at being an American.
The e-mails are usually presented in upper-case letters, often in red or in other bright colors for emphasis – and they always are filled with inaccuracies, distortions, and lies.
My friend passes along these heinous viral e-mails, adding his own comments, such as: “While America slept – if we, as a nation, don’t wake up b/4 the presidential elections this fall, it may be too late to save our nation.” Or, “If this can be proven, Obama will be impeached & hopefully go back to Kenya.”
Such hateful language, from a person who, otherwise, is a well-educated, thoughtful, generous older American.
I have told my friend that almost everything he sends is false, that there’s an entire cottage industry that creates these e-mails. It’s the worst sort of rumor-mongering; the source is always anonymous, the target is always our country’s duly elected President, and the information is full of lies.
There are several useful internet sites that fact-check such insidious e-mailings (snopes.com is a handy one to have bookmarked on the computer) and I have suggested that my friend check things before he endorses these wild, hate-filled screeds and sends them as if he believes them. If he is unable to verify the source, I have asked him to stop sending them to me because he is embarrassing himself.
– Ed Forry
Ah, yes, ‘The Quiet Man’
The huge flow of information on the internet can also be quite useful. In this age of almost immediate access to all sorts of knowledge, information can be had with just a few keystrokes.
Case in point: Some friends were trying to recall some of those wonderful lines from the movie “The Quiet Man,” the 1950s John Ford film about the ancestral country of Irish Americans.
An online search for “Quiet Man quotes” yielded a treasure trove of memorable quotes. Here are a few:
“He’ll regret it till his dying day, if he ever lives that long.” – Red Will Danaher
“Ah yes… I knew your people, Sean. Your grandfather, he died in Australia in a penal colony. And your father, he was a good man too.” – Father Peter Lonergan
“No patty-fingers, if you please. The proprieties at all times. Hold on to your hats.” – Michaeleen Flynn
The movie, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, is always available on television around St. Patrick’s Day, and while it does not reveal much about contemporary Ireland, it remains great fun to watch, a nostalgic, idealized look at the way things were in the Emerald Isle of old.