Thursday, August 5, 2010

FW: Fwd:

just don't understand people who just indiscriminately forward emails that are jokes, or chain letters, or hoaxes without giving a thought to the people on their list who might not appreciate, and in fact might be offended, by some of the subject matter in the emails. Personally I have always been very selective about any email that I choose to forward - selective about its content, and selective about whom I think might appreciate receiving that particular content. In all honesty, it has to be a really special email to merit my decision to forward it on to anyone at all. AND, if there is any doubt at all about the authenticity of the email, before I send it on, I would check it out on or on or any other similar website which devotes itself to debunking hoax emails and urban legends.

A few years ago, a person kept forwarding me emails that were of questionable taste, but I finally had to put a stop to it when he forwarded me an email with a link to a website that was supposed to be funny - it had a cartoon with military guys blowing the heads off of Arabs. Yeah, real funny. I tried to be as diplomatic as I possibly could when I replied back to him - and everyone else that he had sent the email out to - saying that I found it offensive, especially since my husband is an Arab. I politely requested that he not send me any more emails like that.

I realize that there are some people who don't really think about the material they are forwarding on to others - but why don't they? Wouldn't that be the thoughtful and considerate thing to do? Gee, I would like to think that most of my friends are thoughtful and considerate. Why do some people feel the need to just automatically forward emails on to everyone on their list without giving it any thought at all?

A few days ago I got a forwarded email from a guy I went to school with many decades ago. He knows that my husband is a Muslim and that I live in Saudi Arabia now. The email from him contained a series of photos of a young Muslim boy in Iran supposedly being punished for stealing a loaf of bread. The punishment? A car tire was to run over the boy's arm, rendering the boy's arm useless for the rest of his life. The email contained derogatory remarks about Islam, which were also written in Hebrew. Hello? That alone struck me as a glaring clue to the fact that it was a hoax. I just simply Googled the scenario and immediately came up with an article explaining that the people in the photo were actually street performers - that the boy had not stolen a loaf of bread and was not being punished. The boy was part of a performance. And the final photo of the series which shows that the boy was apparently fine afterwards was of course left out of the email. While using a child in such a way and putting him in harm's way as part of a show may not be such a brilliant idea, spreading lies about the scenario and blaming it on Islam's barbaric punishment of a hungry child is even worse.

When I wrote back to my friend - and everyone else on his list that he had also sent it out to - I explained that it was a hoax, and I asked him to please stop spreading untrue hatemail about Islam. I also supplied the link on that came up on Google which debunked this hoax.

This was his exact response back to me: "Looks like I hit a nerve... to which I unfortunately have to reply, Everything I ever needed to know about Islam I learned on 9/11." Sounds like one of those quotes that he heard someone else say and liked the way it sounded, so now he uses it.

But the truth is, the man really didn't care that he was spreading lies about Islam. He was more interested in perpetuating hatred toward Muslims. It didn't matter to him that what was in the email wasn't true. Unfortunately his attitude is probably not as rare as I would hope.

Please think before you forward emails indiscriminately. Thank you.


  1. I saw this months ago.
    First reaction was 'this can't be true' and then I googled it and found out the same as you.
    We need more media reading skills.
    Everything is not true what we see.

  2. I agree. I had a discussion yesterday with my mother, trying to make her understand that when someone deliberately makes Islamophobic or racist comments about Arabs to me they are passive aggressively attacking me personally, as well as ignorantly perpetuating hatred, be they colleagues (who construe themselves as rivals) or the husbands of friends (who seem to think I am their email friend until they ask my analysis of some idiocy they have sent to make me aware of the way things are--in the US, the Middle East, or in medicine--and then don't like my careful rigorous debunking).

    At some level, this fellow wants to attack you and your life choices. I have never blocked anyone, but it might be the appropriate response now that he is clearly "obtuse".

  3. Susie...some people must not have anything better to than send out garbage. We do not like to receive it either and I'm sure a couple of our "friends" have been offended by our responses. They must not have much quality in their lives to spend time doing such things. Here in the states, there are still a bunch of idiots trying to convince the public that our President does not have a birth certificate when it has been published over and over.
    I guess there are JERKS everywhere.

  4. I have a "friend" who has started forwarding me multiple emails a day. I don't even look at them any more. Any time I see "FWD" in the subject line from anybody I just delete it. Your "friend" seems particularly insensitive

  5. this is so very true! Right before I came to check your blog, I somehow started looking through some facebook pages about the '9/11 mosque'.. and I could not believe the things people were saying about Islam; things that were sooo far fetched they looked like it came out of some Stephan King novel.

    The main point is; there will always be people who do such things, I have gotten emails about Christianity that I was 300% sure were not in the slightest bit true. But people will always chose to believe what they want to believe, and sadly continue to hit the forward button.

    Interesting post! Thanks.

  6. I don't even open most of the forwards I get. But this last one to you, or anyone else, is way over the top. People are not thinking just pushing buttons from inside their own boxes.
    I also don't like when my email address is listed with many others in a forward.
    Hope you are doing well. Coming to AZ?

  7. I remember an email going around recently regarding the razing of a building in New York city. Organizers tried to get it classified as a landmark and it didn't work. This all started because it is (may be) the future site of a Mosque next to the site of the World Trade Center. The photo that was part of that email was disgusting.

    Recent rhetoric in the Southwest U.S. regarding illegal immigration uses hateful "sound byte" barbs on both sides of the issue. Emails and photos there too are beyond tasteless.

    All that remains is the hate, not the facts. I find more and more that it takes far more time to debunk an idea than to present a fact and walk away. Yet, what other choice is there? To let stupidity rule?

    Fewer people are capable of honest debate and too lazy to research the issues. These email stealth attacks seem to be forming opinions in groups that are only interested in hateful confrontations. Worse, it seems to pass for communication.

    The natural inclination is to discard them, not to waste time on it. But, you're right. They are too dangerous and insidious to let stand.

  8. the desire to offend by some irrational individuals often sadly takes precedence over normal logical discourse

  9. I am an Iranian women. I live in US now. It is very sad.
    First of all this picture is very old (the cars' tag style changed around 10-12 years ago). In Iran we do not have this punishment at all.
    I am not happy with what happened on 9/11, but it is very hard to explain that it doesn't have nothing to do with Islam and also Iranian people.
    I hate the media all around the world.

  10. Some people need somebody to hate. If he wants to judge an entire faith based on the atrocities that have been committed in its name, then he needs to look at things like the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the Salem Witch Trials....the list could go on, but I think you get the point. There are lunatics in every faith, Christianity and Judaism not excepted. There are also good people that are doing their best to live their life in peace.

    People get all upset about the atrocities perpetrated in the name of Islam and the way that some Muslim countries treat their women, but don't bother to look into the fringe elements of their own religion. It wasn't all that long ago that slavery was preached as godly from American Christian pulpits, and it wasn't all that long ago that American women weren't allowed to vote. When our country was founded, women generally weren't property holders, either. There are plenty of groups out there that would love to see women returned to a state of "submission" all in the name of Christ. Take a look at what Bill Gothard has to say if you have any doubts about that (Institute in Basic Life Principles, or take a good long look at Bob Jones University (where students are segregated by gender, and up until recently interracial relationships were banned).

    A Jesus said, "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye."

    In other words, those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

  11. I ALWAYS check Snopes and Urbanlegend. Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see. In other words, always check your source.

    This person's closemindedness and indiscriminant hate are the real tragedies.


  12. I have 1352 new messages in my email. I hate those FW Fwd emails, many of which support the fact that this world is full of ignorance.

  13. "The email contained derogatory remarks about Islam, which were also written in Hebrew. Hello? That alone struck me as a glaring clue to the fact that it was a hoax."

    Why did the Hebrew text strike you as a "clue"?

  14. Hi Susie, Your opinion could have come from my mouth. Thanks so much.
    Your blog is wonderful.

  15. I'm so pleased, Susie, to see that some people have the same exact reaction to forwarded e-mails as I do...whether it's religious, political or another fake warning about the criminal world.

    I'm afraid my own reaction has sometimes been drastic, consisting of hitting a "reply all" with the actual facts of whatever the hoax is promoting and suggesting that people "just say no" to chain letters.

    Part of my anger and frustration is that the chain letter-mongers often send their drivel out with all the recipients clearly identified, which puts everyone's e-mail address at risk. So when someone complains that I have pestered the entire distribution list a second time, I then respond that they should be relieved that I'm doing that and not some spammer or phisher and that each and every person needs to take accountability for stopping chain letters and irresponsible forwarded e-mails.

    Anything that goes out with your name as the sender gives you responsibility. So don't think you can hide behind weasly little statements like "this could be true" or "don't know if this is true but I'm passing it along just in case."

    There are real things to be worried about and to fight for without filling the cracks of the solar system with more misinformation, disinformation and outright lies.

    Which side do you want to be on?

  16. i have stopped forwarding messages long time ago, unless they are cute pictures or beautiful ones and jokes-which are racial or offensive in anyway-.

    as for your friend, i guess he and million like him stopped long time ago wanting to know the truth about anything . They say "ignorance is bliss" . That's true for such people.

  17. Hi, Suzie:
    I know exactly what you mean about FWDed emails. There's one that's been doing the rounds for months now, featuring graphic pictures of the Faroe Islands pilot whale massacre, with grammatically-poor factually-erroneous text.
    After researching to clarify things, I blogged the corrections - not to support the killings at all but to point out that in order to generate a global groundswell, one has to have one's facts right, or look stupid.

    It amazes me how many Faroese hit the blog to see what I've written! They may not like my opposing stance, but at least they can see that I'm coming from a position of clarity.
    I also post various examples of Nigerian mail scams, to alert others to this never-ending curse.

    Love your blog!

    PhilBee, NZ

  18. ug. i hate when people have such limited views of society. I could easily say the same thing about the man's faith. I learned everything I need to know about christians the day they blew up the abortion clinic. some people just can't seem to differentiate between the radical few of any group to know the truth and work for acceptance and peace, which is definitely going against God's commands, no matter what religion or culture you are. We are instructed to love and respect one another, despite our differences.

  19. I agree 100% Susie.
    I hate it when people forward random useless emails. The most annoying ones are the ones with "Don't answer the phone if a certain number calls you!" or "Don't open an email with so-and-so's name in it!"

    And as for your insensitive 'friend', I must say it's sad that people think like that. Even now with the rukus that a lot of Americans are raising over that mosque that's going to be built. People are just so closed minded.

    Anyways, there's over one billion Muslims in the world. If we wanted to take over America, like most of them claim, we would've done it by now!

  20. Hi Susie, unfortunatily this is happining all the time and people seems they even dont wanna think about whats going on. Its not just about Islam but i think every person when he put somthing in his head he wont see any thing else if he dont want to. Im trying as much as i can examin what i have before forwarding it. I cant imagine how people not think about it.... great post thanks dear.

    Canada ;)

  21. Very good post! I had something similar happen a few days ago. I'm still sick over it but don't know how to respond. A "friend" on facebook posted a link to some terrorists and went on a rant against Islam.. she is so hateful and nasty I have yet to come up with anything articulate to say back to her.. not that it would do any good.. someone like that is just wanting to spread hate. Very sad! I'm afraid those attitudes aren't rare also.


  22. I never forward chain-mails. and with the last one I was so pissed off I replied to all giving my unfettered opinion, including what I think about ''friends'' who bother me with them
    You would have to be very high up in my estimation of the rest of you not to be put into spam!

  23. I tend to delete most of the forwards I get because most of them are just junk. I do also try to google and wonder if its a joke/hoax and later send it to the person(s)who emeailed me. It's a shame how some people would send those chain letters out of fear. Some of those chain letters have the *warnings* if you don't send it within some minutes/days, something bad will happen to you. :O sf

  24. Susie,
    I'm an American expat living in Dhahran - I just got back from 6 weeks in the US. I found your friend's comment "Looks like I hit a nerve..." to be sadly reflective of of many of our family's attitude these days. The attitude toward Islam is absolutely horrific and not at all uncommon right now in the US. Someone/something/some group is fueling the hate, using topics such as the mosque on ground zero issue to fan the flames. We came back to Saudi with very heavy hearts, unable to convince most of our family that what they are buying into is lies and hate.

  25. Susie... I just read this and I'm deeply touched. I have often had forwarded emails, or saw hateful posts that hurt deeply. I have relatives who tell me how awful it must be for me to have a son who converted to Islam. My husband and I feel very alone when this happens, and our heart breaks, not only for my son, but for his wife and our beautiful little, innocent grandson. Thank you for this blog! I'll keep trying to "enlighten" the ignorant..... No matter how uphill the journey feels! ~Betty