Letter to the Editor

Your view: Wrong view

Monday, February 23, 2004

With so much disinformation circulating in our world today, I feel compelled to respond to the Your View letter appearing in the Feb. 16 edition of the Standard Democrat. The writer refers, erroneously, to the military service records of Lee Marvin, Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo) and Fred Rogers of "Neighborhood" fame.

The letter itself is almost an exact copy of an electronic mail piece which has been circulating the Internet since at least 2002. The plagiarism problem aside, even a cursory search of urban legend, internet fraud sites and the websites of the entertainers themselves leads one to quickly determine that: a) Lee Marvin was injured in Saipan, not Iwo Jima and discharged shortly thereafter, absent the Navy Cross; b) Bob Keeshan enlisted in the Army after the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan and therefore did not see combat, injury or Lee Marvin; and c) Fred Rogers was never in the military and thus is neither tattooed from wrist to shoulder nor responsible for the untimely deaths of anyone, foreign or domestic.

The Internet is a wonderful educational tool, full of opportunities for learning, discussion and intelligence discourse. Unfortunately, given the instant nature of the communication and the mysterious tendency of the American people to believe that Niemann Marcus sells a cookie recipe for $250, which some disgruntled employee is distributing for free, or Bill Gates will pay you $250 for every e-mail you forward to your friends, exaggeration, fraud and outright lies will continue to propagate until we learn to look at much of the information we receive in our in-boxes with a certain amount of healthy skepticism.

For those interested in learning more, www.snopes.com and www.urbanlegends.com provide a great history and timely evaluation of the urban legends circulating the Internet.


Paul H. Boyd,