Sunday, September 14, 2014

Facebook Post Turns Misunderstanding Into Ridiculous False Outrage

Demonstrators at a Michigan gas station
inadvertently protesting an incident that didn't happen.  
We have a little bit of a parable from Michigan today.

People are up and arms and protesting a gas station because someone on Facebook said the store clerk, of Middle Eastern descent, would not sell gasoline to an American serviceman.

Such an incident would of course be an outrage. How dare anyone disrespect someone who has risked his or her life and served our country! I'd be pissed, too.

The only problem is, the gas station didn't refuse to sell gas to our military guy.

It all started with a Facebook post from the military guy's wife, according to the web site MLive

It read as follows. (The Flint Journal had to file a Freedom of Information Act demand to police to get it. The Facebook post had been deleted.)

"Jason had to report to army reserves yesterday, on his way home he stopped to get gas, a drink and some jerky. When he went into the gas station, and got to the counter, the Arabic man looked at Jason, then his uniformand told him 'we don't serve gas here.'"

It turns out the clerk would have loved to sell the military guy gasoline. But he wanted Premium gas, and the station was pretty much out of it. So no sale, since the gas didn't exist, at least not at this particular business.

The owner said there was probably a misunderstanding. The clerk speaks with an accent, and the clerk and the would-be customer probably didn't understand each other. So the story morphed into an account of one of these Evil Muslims disrespecting America. Or something. says Jason's wife said in a subsequent post that she wanted the original one deleted to the television station to where she posted it, that she didn't get the full story from her husband, and it turned out they were just out of Premium.

But once you start something on the Internet, however unintentionally, it's next to impossible to get rid of it. Especially when people have an agenda. To eradicate those Evil Muslims. Or something.

So the misinformation spread like wildfire on the Web, and drowned out any attempts at spreading accurate information about what happened.

Some of the reaction was just incredibly violent. Someone on Facebook suggested burning the gas station to the ground.  Guys with guns (all the better to advocate for open carry) protested at the gas station. The people who owned it and work there are understandably afraid.

And people are digging in, refusing to believe there was a misunderstanding. On the MLive page, a typical comment was like this one:

"I'm not buying that excuse. This store owner has bit off more than he could chew... and this was the best he could come up with. My opinion."

A lot of people also were outraged, OUTRAGED at the store clerk's English skills.  You know. Those Evil Muslims. Or something.

They're demanding he learn English. Actually the clerk does speak English, but it's tough to lose your accent even years after moving from your home country.

Frankly, had the gas station clerk or owner been white, not Middle Eastern, this probably would not have gotten so out of control. But it fits the narrative of some people, who believe all Muslims are terrorists and out to get America.

Yes, some Muslims ARE terrorists and out to get America. (See: Third beheading by Islamic extremists yesterday)

Just like some Christians want to kill the gays, subjugate woman and establish a theocracy. But most Christians are totally reasonable. And so are most Muslims.

But that doesn't matter. A misunderstanding fit the narrative. You know. Evil Muslims. Or something. So a stupid moment of communications failure that could happen to anyone turns life miserable for the owners of a gas station.

And a woman who momentarily didn't get what her husband was saying, which again, could happen to anyone, feels terrible that this is happening. And no matter how she, the media, the gas station owners and everyone else try to set the record straight, the original, incorrect narrative thrives.

Because of the Evil Muslims. Or something.


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