Queer kids often have a tough time with family members after coming out. Teens have been beaten, tossed out of the home, and even had parents claim their deaths with elaborate funeral services. So today, when the following piece made the Facebook rounds, it went viral and fast in LGBT as well as religious circles:
So, what's the scoop?
In reality, the piece was written by a Daily Bleach columnist who calls himself Tyson Bowers III. For those of you who don't know, the Bleach is a website that's sort of like the poor man's Onion- in other words, it's cooked up by a clever comic. "Tyson Bowers" is their anti-sex superconservative character. His pieces take stabs at the racist, sexist, and homophobic views of those on the Christian right. To put it succinctly, the articles and the Chadwell family are 100% fiction.
It takes a pretty talented person to cook up a scandal as cleverly faked as this one, but the internet is full of such silliness. From the canard about baggy pants being a sign of prison homosexuality (it actually is because a cost-cutting state reduced the number of sizes available to inmates) to this whopper, folks are quick to believe whatever is posted on a Facebook wall. Authors who have even posted "this is a work of fiction" have had their satire interpreted as fact.
With Bowers' piece, the reason why it went viral is believability. It is absolutely possible that some wingnut parents would attempt to give their teen to the state due to their sexual orientation; after all, kids are frequently surrendered to Children's Aid or institutions because of disabilities or behavioural problems. Despite being a swipe at terrible religious parenting, concerned friends asked me to blog about these horrible stains on childrearing.
So why do people fall for such silliness? Quite simply, we love to be outraged and we're willing victims of our own emotions. We're also gullible as hell. Our willingness to suspend disbelief is why Leo Fitzpatrick was repeatedly attacked in real life because of a terrible character he portrayed in the film Kids. Almost everyone retweets links or shares Facebook wall posts in our day and age. We blindly follow the mob, so much so that it's almost unconscious. I've even caught myself doing it until I take the time to gather facts before authoring a post such as this one.
So, were the folks who alerted me to this manufactured scandal doing so to be malicious or waste my time? Heck, no- they did it because they care about people they've never met, real or imaginary. And that's perfectly fine. But people need to take 30 seconds and wander over to Google, Bing, or whatever search engine they use and find out for themselves what is real and what is not. Also, if a website is called The Daily Bleach, you can be pretty sure you're dealing with someone's interpretation of humour. Look into the supposed author of the piece, and if he seems more extreme than Stephen Colbert, he's probably a cleverly-designed yet still very fictional character.
Use your minds before having a coronary about something that would make Vonnegut chuckle.