Link debunking the hoaxes and misleading posts about the nationwide police brutality protests (Non-fiction)

During breaking major events, rumors and hoxes seem to abound.  This week’s nationwide protests against the death of George Floyd and police brutality are no exception.  Here are some fact-checking sites debunking some of the misinformation:

  • BuzzFeed is updating this article as they get more information
  • These are the Snopes articles tagged “George Floyd”
  • Factcheck.org featured some of their articles in this post

I’m sure there will be many more hoaxes and “fake news” surrounding these protests.  These sites may not deal with all of them.  So as a good rule, remember that if a meme, post, or article seems to fit your views too perfectly, you might want to take a closer look before spreading it.

Sources: Village replacing furloughed workers with wereskunks (Fiction)

The Village of Bolingbrook denies it is using wereskunks to replace furloughed village employees:

Mayor Roger Claar’s memo announcing furloughs.

“There’s no such thing as wereskunks,” said Village Clerk Carol Penning.  “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to find the paperwork that proves (Mayor Roger Claar) can furlough any union employee he wants!  Why can’t people trust Roger instead of filing silly grievances?”

Despite the denials, some residents still claim that the village is employing wereskunk as temporary workers.

Dominique, a village employee who asked that we not use her real name, claims a wereskunk is covering her job:

“I was walking past Carol’s office and heard growling and things being tossed.  Then I heard Carol say: ‘Wrock, I’m giving you a choice: You can tear up that small pile of papers, or you can file them, and I will give you twice as much paper to devour.’  I know she was talking to a wereskunk.  Roger said he was reducing the staff to emergency levels, and then he hires wereskunk to replace us.”

Stephanie, a resident who did not provide her last name, claims a wereskunk employed by the village visited her:

“He was so rude!  First, he nearly scared me to death by approaching my home in his monstrous form.  Then he knocked on my door so hard that he nearly destroyed it.  He warned me not to let the storm drain get clogged, or he would flush my home down it.  I pointed a gun at him and told him he should leave.  He said it was against the law to harm a village employee.  Then he devoured my trash bags and tossed garbage all over my front yard.”

Stephanie added that she complained to Claar about the incident:

“Roger said he would look into it.  He also kept dropping references to his political “foes” and how well funded they are.  I told him I couldn’t afford to donate to his campaign fund, and he said not to worry because he would eventually talk to the employee.  I hate our Roger tax!”

An anonymous village employee confirmed that Claar hired wereskunk to temporarily replace the furloughed workers:

“We have saved up enough money to hire a new Building Commissioner.  Yes, there’s a hiring freeze, but Roger needs to make exceptions sometimes.  We just need employees who we can pay with garbage instead of cash.  You don’t want the board to pass another tax increase, do you?”

The person insisted that the furloughed employees would be brought back by no later than Phase 5 of Illinois’ reopening plan.

“Like Roger told me:  When life gives you a Coronavirus, make Corona beer.  I’m not going to argue with him.”

When reached for comment, a receptionist said Claar was busy and could not be disturbed:

“I’m thankful to still have a job serving the wonderful residents of Bolingbrook.”

In the background, Drake’s “Nonstop” played.

A man who sounded like Claar said:  “Charlene, did Bill Mayer really make this deep fake video?  My eye color is all wrong!”

Charlene replied: “No.  Officially, it was authorized by the Bob Bailey Project.”

“Bailey Project?”

“They claim to be former supporters who now want you removed from office.”

“Those turncoats!”

“But—”

“But?”

“They’re really funded by Jeff Bezos.”

“Bezos?  Oh my God!  That means—”

“Yep.  Don’t count on having the largest campaign fund if you decide to run for reelection next year.”

Also in the Babbler:

Babbler mourns the loss of over 100,000 lives to COVID-19
Russian bot seeks asylum in Bolingbrook Politics Facebook group
Claar orders Coronavirus testing for aliens
God will not smite Bolingbrook this week

Note:  This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

Alien calls God ‘evil” at Clow UFO Base’s COVID-19 Memorial service (Fiction)

By Reporter X

During a COVID-19  memorial service at Clow UFO Base, alien atheist activist Ja Locas accused Earth’s religions of promoting evil:

“Some human religious leaders say they must hold crowded services during a pandemic,” said Locas.  “If your God requires risking His followers’ lives for rote rituals of praise, then your God is evil!”

Locas, who is the leader of the Interstellar Alliance for the Advancement of Non-belief, also said that he had a dim view of humanity’s future:

“Your secret societies tell me that humanity is ready to become an interstellar species.  But I look around and see protesters confusing reasonable stay at home policies with genocide.  I see anti-vaccination activists already working to derail mass immunization campaigns.  I hear Melania Trump selling Enceladus cheese from her factory as a cure for COVID-19.  I do not see a species ready for the stars.  I see a species about to be caught in the Great Filter.”

The speech was met with mixed reactions.  Oknak, a representative from the Universal Catholic Church, called for Locas’s execution:

“The real evil people are atheists who question our unquestionable God!”

Rabbi Ruth from the Interstellar Tribes of Israel, clad in a full biohazard suit, offered a different perspective during her speech: 

“Yes, God has unleashed a plague upon the Earth, just as He did to the lands of Pharaoh.  Like he did in Egypt, he will pass over people who leave a mark.  This time, the mark is not the blood of lambs.  It is the mark of science, medicine, and social distancing.  These are gifts from God, and humans who accept them will be passed over!”

Juanita Z. Patterson, the supervisor of the Clow staff members sequestered inside Clow, urged attendees not to focus on religious debates:

“On behalf of the Doomsday Crew, we are saddened by the deaths and suffering caused by the Pandemic.  We are angered by the politicians who cry ‘open the economy’ but really just want to deny poor people unemployment benefits and force sick people to work.  We look outside and see people who are numbed by the numbers:  Over 4000 dead in Illinois; 89,000 nationwide; and over 315,000 globally.  These were not actors.  They were not participants in a hoax.  They were human beings with families and loved ones. They had stories to tell, and now their stories have been truncated.  We are holding this memorial not to debate religion, but to mourn the loss of so many lives.  We may have lost not just so many souls, but the world we knew before we sealed ourselves inside Clow.”

After the speech, Patterson was heard saying that they should have had a teleconference with atheist PZ Myers instead of Locas.

When reached for comment, a receptionist for Claar said he was busy counting to fifty:

“This pandemic is so stressful that counting to ten doesn’t work anymore.”

In the background, a man who sounded like Claar said:

“Dear God.  I found out that Children aren’t immune to the Coronavirus, and some sailors may have been reinfected.  I’m being forced to choose between saving businesses and saving taxpayers—I mean residents.  I don’t know how much more I can take.  Please give me a sign.  Any kind of sign to prove that you’re not giving me the Job treatment.”

In the background, someone yelled: “Murder Hornet!”

After several gunshots, another person yelled:  “Officer down!  Pistols don’t work!  Unlock the shotguns!”

“Now you’re just (expletive deleted) with me,” said Claar. 

Also in the Babbler:

Mayor Claar and sentient coronavirus trade insults
Russian special forces spread anti-vaccination propaganda in Naperville
Edgar County Board denies dumping their COVID-19 patients in Will County
God to smite Bolingbrook on 5/20/20

Note:  This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

Bolingbrook residents see apparitions of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (Fiction)

File photo of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. MacLean Center / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

Many Bolingbrook residents have encountered ghostlike appearances of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

“It’s was horrifying!” said Liz, who asked that we not use her last name.  “First I saw one of her memes, then I saw her floating outside my window!  I’m never stepping outside again!”

Ellen, who did not say her last name, claims she saw an apparition of Lightfoot as she was leaving to go shopping:

“I opened the garage door and saw her floating in front of my car.  She demanded to know where my mask was.  I said I hate wearing masks and (Mayor Roger Claar) said I wouldn’t be arrested if I didn’t wear one to the store.  I told her it was none of her business because I’m a Bolingbrook resident.  Then her eyes glowed red, and I suddenly started floating in the air.  She said because Chicago and Bolingbrook are in the same recovery region, it was her business to make sure every Bolingbrook resident practiced social distancing. Now I will wear a mask every time leave my house.  I don’t want to see her ghost again!”

Andrew Z. Stiller claims Lightfoot appeared when he was about to post in the Bolingbrook Politics Facebook group:

“She asked me why I was about to share a video.  I said I liked what the video had to say, so I wanted to share it.  She said the video was filled with lies, and posting the video would only put more Bolingbrook residents at risk of infection.  I said I have a First Amendment right to post whatever I want in Bolingbrook Politics.  She pointed at my computer and it shorted out.  Then she said she had a Second Amendment right to protect the residents of the Northeast region.  The weird part is my computer works again, so I can’t sue her.  Chicago politicians are so evil!”

Not all the encounters were described as horrifying.  Paula, who asked that we not use her last name, claims Lightfoot complimented her:

“I was working remotely from home when she appeared.  I was startled, but she said not to be afraid.  She just wanted to thank me for not commuting to Chicago for my job.  She said I was saving lives.  Then she added that even people who don’t die from COVID-19 can suffer long term consequences from the virus.  I thanked her and she disappeared.  Maybe this is a sign that the suburbs and the City of Chicago can work together.  After all, the virus can’t tell the difference between Chicago and Bolingbrook.”

When reached for comment, Lightfoot laughed and said: “Stay home.  Save Lives.  Stop calling me.”

A receptionist for Claar said he was on a conference call and could not be disturbed:

“I guess some residents have moved up from Coronavirus nightmares to Coronavirus hallucinations.”   

In the background, a man who sounded like Claar said: “Governor, maybe you should reconsider your regions.  We’re not the same as Chicago.”

“Exactly,” said a man who sounded like Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico.  “We’re Naperville.  We have a reputation to uphold.  Quarantining with Chicago and Bolingbrook is not part of that reputation.”

“You just had to phrase it that way, didn’t you?”

Also in the Babbler:

Babbler mourns the loss of Krist Angielen Castro Guzman
Bolingbrook to hold zombie drill in July
Mayor Claar defies Trump order to reopen Clow UFO Base
God to smite Bolingbrook on 5/13/20

Note:  This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

Satire during a pandemic (Non-fiction)

Fake Tweet

Not a real tweet from President Trump.

One of my friends, who is very active in the skeptical movement, recently shared this alleged tweet from President Trump:

“American shops want to open! Hair needs cutting. Demokraps don’t want to bite the bullet but that’s the price we have to pay. Some oldies will have to die. We’re in God’s hands, folks! Liberate America!”

The image she shared made it look like an actual tweet from the President, and it reads like something he would write.  My friend believed it, and while we’ve had our disagreements, her judgment is usually sound when it comes to sharing articles on Facebook.

In this case, however, the tweet wasn’t real.  It came from a blog post on the Laughing in Disbelief blog.  Now there were clues that the article was satire— like the slogan “Liberte, Egalite, Absurdite;” the cartoonish religious figures in the sidebar; and a link to the about page saying that it is a satirical blog.  But to someone casually skimming the post, and the blog in general, it looks real.

Now, as I mentioned, my friend is normally careful about what she shares on her Facebook page, and she has a firm understanding of skepticism.  Yet she didn’t initially see that this post wasn’t real.  Based on the comments to the post, she wasn’t alone.

While the writer might have felt the satire was obvious, the truth is that it’s not always obvious. Most people skim posts and don’t take the time to check all the links in a post.  So it is possible that anyone can miss that an article is satirical and take it literally.

Over the years, I’ve experienced people who thought a Babbler article could be real.  Eight years ago, I wrote about the Lost Tribes of Israel returning to Earth, and a commenter asked if it was real, adding: “Either way, I’m amazed that this is truly happening. Why hasn’t this received more media time, if any?”

Today, the World Health Organization says there’s a “pandemic of misinformation” around the COVID-19 outbreak.  Judging from the posts in the community Facebook groups I follow, I can believe it. Even people, like my friend, can end up unintentionally spreading misinformation.  I don’t fault her for it, as she did acknowledge her mistake, which is a very good thing.

Knowing about this human tendency, whenever I write one of my fictional articles, I have to ask myself if the article has the potential to be believed.  Even when I’ve put the word “fiction” in the title, some will miss that.  I can’t stop everyone from believing a work of fiction, but I do make an effort to minimize the risk.

“Satire” is not an excuse to post anything you want and laugh at anyone who mistakes it for reality.  Writers, myself included, should do their best not to contribute to the misinformation that is already running rampant on the Internet.  I may not always succeed, but I will make the effort.

I hope the author of Laughing in Disbelief will make the effort moving forward as well.

Note:  All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

Village of Bolingbrook slashes covert budget (Fiction)

Bolingbrook, IL Mayor Roger Claar

File photo of Bolingbrook Mayor Roger C. Claar. (Image from the Village of Bolingbrook web page.)

Despite disaster relief funds from the Illuminati, the Bolingbrook Village Board approved a drastically reduced covert budget for the fiscal year 2021.

The vote was 5-1 with Trustee Robert Jaskiewicz, a member of the New World Order, objecting to the Illuminati’s aid terms:

“This bailout gives the Illuminati part ownership of Clow UFO Base for at least 100 years.  Even if the residents elect a New World order slate, the Illuminati will still have a stake in Clow.”

“That board could vote to remove the Illuminati’s ownership stake,” replied Mayor Roger Claar.  “And don’t call it a bailout.  Call it a disaster relief grant.”

“Then if the board voted to remove their ownership stake, their relief grant becomes a high-interest loan, and the interest payments alone would bankrupt both our budgets.”

“Not my problem, Dabrowski.”

“Jaskiewicz.”

“Close enough.”

The approved budget furloughs 99 percent of Clow UFO Base’s staff; cuts the Department of Paranormal Affairs’ funding by 50 percent; cuts the Department of Interstellar Affairs by 40 percent; and eliminates village funded pensions for covert employees.  Employees will have the option of signing up for an Illuminati managed pension.  Additionally, all android doubles of the village board members will be placed in storage for at least a year.

“Let’s face it,” said Claar.  “We’re probably going to be doing most of our meetings online for at least a year.  The whole point of having android doubles was to allow my trustees to spend time with their families while the androids voted with me.  Since we’re all at home now, It’s cheaper to put them in storage.”

Trustee Sheldon Watts replied, “I’m going to miss controlling my android, but we have to set a positive example.  This virus is more dangerous than the flu!  I don’t care what the bad Facebook groups say.”

“While they’re being negative,” added Trustee Michael Carpanzano,  “I’m secretly working on a plan to reopen every business in the village— Because we have to stay Bolingbrook strong!”

“You never pass up an opportunity to attach your name to something,” said Jaskiewicz.

Carpanzano held up a rubber carp to his webcam for a few seconds then set it down.

“Even Bob is silent when confronted with my positivity!”

“Wow.  You just carped me again.”

“Silence is bliss!”

Ghost hunting license fees will also be doubled.

“I promised not to raise taxes on residents,” said Claar.  “I didn’t say anything about not raising fees.”

Claar warned that there could be more cuts in the future, especially if the COVID-19 pandemic lasts two years:

“The Interstellar Commonwealth has banned abductions of humans.  That’s one of Clow’s major sources of revenue.  They’ve also banned transporting humans off-world.  That’s another source of income down the drain.  They won’t lift these restrictions until the virus morphs away, or there is a vaccine.  I told them they were hurting our economy.  They said there are more important things in the universe than Earth’s economy.  Amazing, I know.  Anyway, until they change their position, there’s simply no demand for our services.”

“And it’s all Bob’s fault,” said Trustee Mary Basta.

“How?” asked Jaskiewicz.

Basta looked at a sheet of paper on her desk and then said:  “Sorry.  That was last week.  This week the Illuminati wants us to blame the Chinese government while exempting Chinese Americans from the backlash.  They keep changing our orders.”

Before the budget vote, QAnon addressed the village board on behalf of the Illuminati:

“We didn’t create this virus, but we’re grateful for the opportunities for chaos it has presented us.  Last year, I couldn’t even imagine armed protesters storming the Michigan statehouse, or someone holding up an Auschwitz sign in Illinois.  However, I’m sure the Illinois militias will appreciate it if you accept our disaster aid.

“That sounds like a threat,” said Jaskiewicz.

“I’ll give you a clue, Bob.  The best sub sandwich isn’t in a sub.”

“Huh?”

“Trust me.”

Also in the Babbler:

Bolingbrook to hold zombie drill in July
Governor bans fishing on Bolingbrook’s emergency command pontoon boat
Chicago ghosts help enforce stay at home order
God to smite Bolingbrook on 5/7/20

Note:  This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group.