Having read the latest article on bogus Christian persecution here at Cynic HQ, I'm sure you're asking yourself, "How does he do it? How does that CC guy dig up that material? How on earth can he be so well-read? So dogged? So resourceful? So humble and self-effacing?"
Actually, it's not hard, once you develop the talent for reading the news as if you weren't a partisan, right-wing wanker with an agenda. A lot of the time, the clues that something is amiss are right there in front of you, if you would but only see them.
For example, take a few minutes and read this Nov. 24 MSNBC article about the mythical banning of the Declaration of Independence in a California elementary school. Really. Go read it. Carefully. I'll wait right here. Dum de dum dum ... OK, now that you're back, did you notice anything suspicious? Anything that might set off warning bells that there's more going on than that article is letting on?
Note first the subtitle, "Calif. teacher prohibited from giving Declaration of Independence." Sure sounds absurd. Why would anyone complain about giving students a copy of the Declaration? Actually, right there is your first warning sign -- it just sounds too damned stupid to be legit. And, like they say, when it sounds too stupid to be true, it probably is. But there's more.
Things take a weird turn in the very first paragraph, which states:
A California teacher has been barred by his school from giving students documents from American history that refer to God — including the Declaration of Independence.
Whoa, hang on: "documents ... including the Declaration of Independence"?? Suddenly, it's not just the Declaration anymore -- there are apparently other unnamed documents involved. Gee, you'd never have known that from just the subtitle, would you? Definitely something rotten in the state of Denmark. So you continue to read, but suddenly much more skeptically, until you get to the teacher's attorney, stating:
There is nothing in the Establishment Clause (of the U.S. Constitution) that prohibits a teacher from showing students the Declaration of Independence."
Whoa again. Now we're back to just the Declaration. What happened to those other unnamed documents? And was he giving his students or just showing them the Declaration? Even this one article can't seem to tell a consistent story, which makes it pretty safe to assume that someone, somewhere, is lying like a cheap toupee. But, hard to believe, it gets worse, as we read further down that:
Among the materials [the principal] has rejected, according to Williams, are excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, George Washington's journal, John Adams' diary, Samuel Adams' "The Rights of the Colonists" and William Penn's "The Frame of Government of Pennsylvania."
WTF??? "Excerpts"? What moron edited this piece? As you can see, in the space of a single article, we've bounced around to suggest all of the following:
- giving students a copy of the Declaration
- giving students a copy of the Declaration, and other stuff
- just showing students the Declaration
- either showing or giving them just excerpts of the Declaration, and some other stuff
At this point, you'd be pretty safe in concluding that this story is a steaming load of cow flop. I also sense a potential Gatsby award: "Most thoroughly self-contradictory and incomprehensible piece of right-wing journalistic hackery masquerading as real news."
There will be more nominations. Trust me.