When Fools Rush In

April first is here, and that means that pranks and deceit are in plentiful supply for those with short-term memory loss. Seriously, if it was April Fool’s Day at eight o’clock this morning, it still is at six at night. You car’s tire really isn’t flat, and she’s not really pregnant. At least by you.

Anyway, now is a good as time as any to spring together a loosely related collection of current happenings based on fraud, lies, and miscommunication. Hey, I’m cranky and lazy. Give me an E for effort.

When we get fooled, we prefer it be by a professional so at least we feel a little better about ourselves afterwards, and there is no more professional huckster than the common elected official. (Getting hoodwinked by Uncle Albert or your five-year-old nephew doesn’t exactly do wonders for one’s self-esteem.) Most people kind of assume that politicians lie at a constant rate of 1:1. This is an expected but lamentable idea, lamentable because it speaks to the darker side of democracy and makes us cynical about the true nature of mankind. Expected, of course, because it is 100% true with unassailable accuracy.

So when Hillary Clinton—who you may not have noticed is running for president –decided on the spot during a campaign speech to make up an elaborate story about being shot at by snipers during a visit to Bosnia, most people didn’t have any reason to doubt it. Of course, she was hoping that this story was to highlight the fact that 1) she was in a foreign country during a foreign crisis, which oh by the way Barack has not; 2) despite the fact that she is female she is not afraid to engage herself in potentially dangerous situations, and 3) I don’t see Barack dodging sniper fire anywhere, now, do you?

Unfortunately, most people picked up on 4) it never happened. Seems an odd tale to tell, since it’s rather easily verifiable what with all those cameras following her around everywhere, even back when she was First Lady. She shrugged it off as a rather Nixonian “mistakes were made” kind of thing, simply stating that she misspoke. This is, to be blunt, an outrage; I can’t get away with that sort of talk, so I’m not quite sure why she can.

Me: I would like to return this microwave.
Clerk: Is there anything wrong with it?
Me: It wouldn’t work when I plugged it in.
Clerk: It looks like someone tried to dry their silverware in here. I don’t think that’s covered by the warranty.
Me: Sorry. I misspoke.
Clerk: Oh, OK then. Here you go.

Thankfully, no harm was done. It was a minor gaffe, which, granted, may cost her the presidential nomination, but at least no crime beyond gross misjudgment occurred. That cannot be said about the story from the Los Angeles Times, which ran a blow-the-roof-off-the-dump story about how Sean “Puffy” Combs single-handedly shot Tupak Shakur in the head at point-blank range then freestyles over his dead, blood-soaked body while all the girls said “Heeeeeey.” (I may be incorrect in this recounting.) Turns out that the documents proving that Combs was involved in the shooting were elaborate fakes, if by “elaborate” I mean “something a fifth grader cooked up in his basement which to be fair is still enough to stump your average newspaper reporter.” The documents looked as if they were typed on a typewriter, have rampant spelling errors, and was submitted by a man known for falsifying stories. (I mean, computers were around in ’94, and they all had spellcheck; otherwise, I never would have made it out of Management Techniques 101 back then.) Thankfully, the ethics and standards of the journalistic community vetted this as a sure thing and filed the story, of which numerous apologizes have been drafted, noted, and buried on page eight under the local sewage maintenance schedule.

While the Los Angeles Times story involved the crime of fraud, miscommunication by a lesser degree probably drives more human interaction than washed-up rap stars or presidential candidates. A study was recently released that men and women read nonverbal cues differently and have difficulty interpreting inflection and signals by the opposite sex. Or, in layman’s terms, every guy things every girl wants to sleep with him, and every girl wants to pretend she doesn’t but actually does. It’s hardly a new phenomenon, but that didn’t stop a collection of scientists to spend an insane amount of time and money to state the patently obvious. Witness the typical exchange:

Guy: Hey there.
Girl: I’m not interested.
Guy: She wants me so bad.

Let’s face it; this is the intricate symmetry that social evolution has produced for us over centuries of development. Without equal doses of needless resistance and blatant obliviousness, the act of procreation would never get us anywhere. Of course, I’ve been told that such misogynistic generalizations will do nothing but feed misinformation into the romantic cycle that prevents that perpetual dance of gettin’ it on in the first place. You could have fooled me.

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