Thursday, October 21, 2010

How Rumors Start

Let me give you a real-life example of how rumors start, I saw it today.

First of all, let’s define the verb "rape" shall we? According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Rape: to seize and take away by force
And according to, to rape is:
to force to have sexual intercourse.
to plunder (a place); despoil.
to seize, take, or carry off by force.
Obviously the first one is usually what comes to people’s minds first when they hear the word "اغتصاب" although a person is not the only thing that can be raped yeah? A land can be raped, for example.

Now what happened today is that news sites published an item that said one of the candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections in Jordan, is running his campaign from jail where he will stay for 15 days after his wife filed complaints accusing him of “raping her signature” to be literal.

From “Al-Ghad” newspaper,

اضطر أحد المرشحين للانتخابات النيابية المقبلة لإدارة حملته الانتخابية من مكان إقامته في مركز إصلاح وتأهيل قفقفا، بعد أن أصدر قاضي محكمة صلح جزاء لواء بني كنانة زيد الذيابات أمرا بتوقيفه لمدة 15 يوماً على خلفية شكوى من زوجته.

ووفق مصادر أمنية فإن زوجة المرشح قامت بتقديم شكويين بحق زوجها الأولى تتهمه فيها بالإيذاء والأخرى باغتصاب توقيع بالقوة، مشيرة إلى أن القاضي وافق على تكفيل المرشح من التهمة الأولى فيما رفض تكفيله من التهمة الأخرى المسندة إليه.

Now, “raping her signature” or the term in Arabic at least, would mean that he forced her to sign papers, can you picture this with me, wife doesn’t want to sign papers, husband forces her to do so, she does.

Raping her (or another woman), on the other hand would be *cough* slightly different wouldn’t it? What with the actual forced intercourse that would be taking place, all the physical and psychological harm that would be done and so on.

So fortunately I had read the news before seeing this status message of some girl that is “angry” with a country in which rapists can run as candidates (and become parliamentarians). Needless to say it was viral and now lots of people actually believe it.

Now I’m not going to explain my stance of the whole election thing, not going to say my opinion about the government and not going to tell anyone why they should (or shouldn’t) boycott the upcoming elections, mostly because it’s not our subject now and also for other reasons that, again, I don’t want to get into here. 

But, to read one word of a whole sentence, to take that one word, get it into another sentence, spread that sentence on some social media platform where others read, share and start cursing a country where criminals are parliamentarians is just… I don’t know. 

I know the girl must have misread the news, misunderstood maybe, and I know that what the candidate did is still wrong, but for the gazillionth time, can we please check before we spread? (That is if we have to spread). And I'm not just blaming her, people still believe everything they hear/read.

Let’s see the following sentence,
I was sitting with Flan Al Folani who is a doctor in [insert your favorite hospital, markez se77i here] and he told this hilarious joke that almost killed me, I was laughing so hard.
A dude who is just so mad at doctors in Jordan comes to this blog, (hi there dude) he leaves the whole post and reads a part of the previous sentence, dude angrily goes and updates his Facebook/Twitter/Linkdin/YouTube/Wordpress/Buzz/MySpace/WhateverSocialSiteYouWantHere status to:
Dr. Flan Al Folani almost kills a girl by giving her a heart-attack.
Then people are outraged, furious, angry, how could he? I mean he’s a doctor! What kind of country is this where doctors are murderers? Where the hell is the Ministry of health? We demand that the Minister resigns. 

Can we please not? I thought we would learn from the “Sarkozy Proposes a French Version of Ramadan” story. Obviously I was wrong.