Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Listen to the right sources

One of the hallmarks of any crisis is the appearance of rumor and innuendo. It is all too easy to become alarmed by giving credence to the latest unofficial document making its rounds on the Internet. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to verify the origin and reliability of anything that comes through chain E-mails or any other rumor mill. Here are a couple of examples of the process:

Years ago I was contacted by a near relative who was visibly upset because Madalyn Murray O'Hair was going to force the FCC to remove all religious programming from the airwaves.

As shown in Wikipedia:

Madalyn Murray O'Hair (April 13, 1919 to September 29,1995)was an American atheist and activist. She is best known for the lawsuit Murray v. Curlett which led to a landmark Supreme Court of the United States ruling and ended the practice of daily prayer in American public schools. She was murdered in 1995 along with her son and granddaughter, for reasons unrelated to her public image and activism.

For years, this rumor was and still is circulating. I personally called the FCC about the rumor and found out that they had a department specifically established to try and stop the rumor. The rumor was and is without any basis at all in fact. The whole episode has now passed into the realm of urban legend. Notwithstanding, the efforts of the FCC, I recently received an E-mail claiming that the FCC was going to ban religious programming due to the efforts of the now, long dead, O'Hair.

All it took was my call to the FCC where the issue was immediately laid to rest to my satisfaction.

Recently, I received another Internet document with some highly inflammatory statements. This document purported to be a report of statements made by a prominent religious leader. Fortunately, the validity of the material could be easily ascertained. In a matter of minutes, I had a response confirming my suspicion that the document was not an official statement and contained misstatements.

The rule is simple, verify your source and verify the content. Do not be alarmed by rumor.

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