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Darrell Huckaby - The Internet perfects the art of lying

My daddy loved old sayings. If he had been around in the 18th century, Poor Richard's Almanac would have been his favorite literary work. One of his favorites was "A lie can get half-way around the world before the truth can get his pants on."

And that was back in the 18th century when lies were still having to travel by foot, horseback and sailing vessels. Imagine how quickly a lie can travel in this new age of technology.

Speaking of lies, and their siblings - half-truths, rumors, and innuendo - I have heard some doozies in my day. I am sure you have, too.

Remember the one about JFK being a alive? Millions of people were convinced that he didn't die at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. According to the myth, Kennedy's brain was so severely damaged that he would have to live as a "vegetable," so they pretended he was dead and sent him down to Brazil. Or maybe it was Argentina. That's the problem with lies. You never can keep them straight.

Some supermarket tabloids even published pictures of him, hanging out in a nursing home with Adolph Hitler, who was also still alive.

Now see - that's how these things get started. I don't actually remember seeing pictures of JFK and Hitler; I just think I do - but a lot of people will read this and in their minds it will become gospel.

Speaking of rumors about the undead, remember that whole Elvis thing? My lovely wife, Lisa, and I were on our way to sign the mortgage papers for our very own home when some guy came on WSB with "proof" that The King was not dead and had been spotted in Kalamazoo, Mich. Turns out, according to the guy on the radio, that he had been living in self-imposed exile in Hawaii and the guy had "testimony" from several of his close friends, including one who swore that there was a wax figure of Elvis in that coffin.

I have a friend named Gary who is still convinced that Elvis is going to make a comeback one day with a Christmas Eve concert in Aloha Stadium. Gary won a million dollars last year on a scratch-off lottery ticket, so if Elvis does make a comeback, I suppose Gary can afford to go over and see him. I'm a huge Elvis fan, though, and our home loan almost fell through because all I could talk about at the closing was the possibility that Elvis was still alive.

I know now that he wasn't - or isn't - of course, because his baby girl, Lisa Marie, grew up and married Michael Jackson. If Elvis had been alive, we would have heard from him, y'all. Trust me on that one.

Well, those lies - the ones about Elvis and JFK - did travel speedily around the world, but nothing like the one that was circulating on the Internet this past Thursday.

I first heard it at about 10:30, I think. One of my colleagues stuck her head in my classroom door and told me that the Rockdale Citizen was being lampooned - and worse - all over the country because we were "the only newspaper in America - and they think the whole world - that didn't have Barack Obama's picture on the front page Wednesday."

Now that was a pretty amazing statement. Usually we have to have a school shooting or a syphilis outbreak to get that kind of recognition here in Conyers. I didn't think twice. I just reached in my pocket and texted my lovely wife Lisa and my two college-aged kids with the news that we were making the news. Of course, I didn't know what news agencies were actually reporting the "fact," so I might have said that CNN is reporting it. See how it works?

Then I actually looked at the paper and was amazed to discover that Obama's picture was, indeed, on the front page. It was just below the fold and there were no giant headlines. Those had been reserved for the local candidates that made history - and the kids getting attacked by a bad dog, of course.

Imagine my surprise when I further investigated and found out that all the bloggers and Internet junkies that were hounding us were doing so because, according to them, we are just a racist, deep-South newspaper. Give me a break! I am sick to death about everything being about race. The two people whose pictures were above the fold, Mr. Richard Oden and his wife, are African-American, for goodness sake - probably more so than the new president-elect. And the fact that Mr. Oden was elected to the county commission is the type of local news that our paper reports. We are not a national newspaper - or even a state newspaper. We are a local paper, and our focus always has been and always will be local news.

And I realize that we seldom please everybody, which brings up another of my daddy's favorite sayings - "I don't know what the secret of success is, but I do know the secret to failure. Trying to please everyone."

So the New York Post - which did report the lie about our paper - and the Drudge Report and the Smoking Gun, and all the other bloggers who believe everything they hear or read - well, believe this. Why don't you just kiss my grits!

Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.