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Saturday, December 20, 2014
Southwest Louisiana ,
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Editorial: Endless amount of hooey on the Web

Last Modified: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 7:15 PM

Caveat emptor. Translation: Let the buyer beware.

That ancient advice aptly fits what’s purported to be, in some cases, news on the Internet these days.

Case in point: a hoax that is besmirching the good name of DeQuincy and its residents. An Internet site, www.NationalReport.net, posted Tuesday that twerking, the suggestive dance made famous by Miley Cyrus at MTV’s awards show, has been banned by DeQuincy officials.

The story identified Maynard Wilkens as the mayor of DeQuincy and quoted him as telling CNN that ‘‘twerking is a defiant act against Jesus and his teachings’’ and that it would not be allowed in the city limits. It also quoted Bobby Joe Williams, identified as the town’s sheriff, as saying a violation would cost the offender a ‘‘mandatory 30 days in the county jail.’’

Anyone with any local knowledge would see through the ruse. DeQuincy’s mayor is Lawrence Henagan, and there’s neither a town sheriff nor a county jail in DeQuincy or anywhere else in Louisiana since we have parishes, not counties.

The report does mix facts with fiction. It says DeQuincy has a population of 3,398 as of the 2000 census and is part of the Lake Charles Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Sadly, DeQuincy has become the subject of several Internet hoaxes. Earlier his year, an online report claimed the town had banned Koreans from living there. Last month, a report said all DeQuincy students would be issued guns in schools.

Preposterous, you say. Most assuredly.

But judging from the comments that the twerking story on the National Report site generated, the wag who said there’s a ‘‘sucker born every minute’’ underestimated the birth rate of the gullible.

The website also reports that Hurricane Ingrid is part of President Obama’s immigration plan and that Tim Tebow was cut from the New England Patriots by Satan-worshiping head coach Bill Belichick.

This is the type of material that normally appears in rags that line grocery store checkout lines.

Some might argue that this is good, clean fun and that the satire is harming no one.

Try explaining that to Henagan, who has been fielding, along with other town staff, telephone inquiries from around the nation. Henagan said the flood of calls has been disruptive.

DeQuincy certainly doesn’t deserve to have its good name and reputation sullied, even in jest.

Meanwhile, the National Report bills itself as America’s No. 1 independent news source.

‘‘Where the ‘lamestream’ media leaves off, we pickup,’’ it brags.

The lesson here is that though the Internet can be a tireless fount of information, there’s also an endless amount of hooey on the Web. Discerning readers must separate the wheat from the chaff. What they’ll find is the ‘‘lamestream’’ media leave off the fiction that is often portrayed as fact on the Internet.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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