A story has been spreading around social media about a complaint filed against Catholic University because they have too many crosses, creating an environment that prevents Muslim prayer. The headlines are as infuriating as they are misleading, just as they are intended to be. Astute internet users know by now that there are many websites that publish stories that aren’t newsworthy, and assign infuriating headlines just to get drive traffic to the site. In this particular case, there is just enough truth to the story to make it real, but it is certainly not what the headlines imply. An article in Breitbart explains what is actually going on:
The sixty-page complaint was filed with the Washington, D.C. Office of Human Rights by a one-man nuisance-lawsuit factory, George Washington University Law School Professor John Banzhaf. Muslim students are but pawns in Banzhaf’s game against Catholics. Taken to its logical conclusion, his lawfare would wipe out mosques and Islamic learning centers as well.
This story is illustrative of an important point. We have changed the way we learn about news and events drastically over the past decade or so, abandoning the evening news shows and to some extent even the 24 hour cable news networks in favor of the internet and various forms of social media. As we embrace these new sources of information, we must become wise in the ways of internet media, paying attention to the source of a story as much as we do the content, and to actually read an article rather than passing it on to others based solely on the headline.
Headlines are legitimately intended to grab a reader’s attention and draw them to a story, but they are neither intended nor able to tell the whole story. It is also true that there are a growing number of satirical news sites that deliberately write false or misleading stories to hook gullible readers and trick them into embarrassing themselves by spreading their lies. Don’t be one of them, on the internet a healthy dose of skepticism goes a long way.
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