Break the Chain A History Lesson?

Created 9/30/2003 (9/30/2003) "One problem with spreading information via e-mail chain letters is that, too often, the chain is so quickly and completely removed from its original context and is mistaken for something its not. Parody, satire and even flat-out comedy often can be - and is - mistaken for fact.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Administration In Crisis Over Burgeoning Quagmire

August 12, 1945

WASHINGTON DC (Reuters) President Truman, just a few months into his young presidency, is coming under increasing fire from some Congressional Republicans for what appears to be a deteriorating security situation in occupied Germany, with some calling for his removal from office.

Over three months after a formal declaration of an end to hostilities, the occupation is bogged down. Fanatical elements of the former Nazi regime who, in their zeal to liberate their nation from the foreign occupiers, call themselves members of the Werwolf (werewolves) continue to commit almost-daily acts of sabotage against Germany's already-ravaged infrastructure, and attack American troops. They have been laying road mines, poisoning food and water supplies, and setting various traps, often lethal, for the occupying forces.

It's not difficult to find antagonism and anti-Americanism among the population--many complain of the deprivation and lack of security. There are thousands of homeless refugees, and humanitarian efforts seem confused and inadequate.

[Full text not posted to respect author's copyright]

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

The above is not a 60-year-old Reuters news article, but rather a July 28, 2003 weblog entry by Rand Simberg, owner of the Transterrestrial Musings weblog. Simberg's original playfully spelled the source as "Routers," as a clear indicator that the article was fictional. Unfortunately, as it was converted to e-mail chain letter format, someone saw fit to "correct" this spelling error, making the article's origins and intent less obvious.

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It's skillfully crafted to look like an authentic archival piece to draw parallels between President Bush's current foreign policy and that of Truman, six decades earlier. Particularly at issue is the resistance to U.S. occupation given by those being occupied.

The jury is out on whether any true parallels do exist, but before you decide to share this with other because "it might be true," consider this: It is copyrighted material and is circulating changed from its original and without the author's consent. Break this chain.

What Do You Think?


References: Transterrestrial Musings, Snopes.com

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