Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Did a Patient Die Because His Ambulance was Blocked by Anti-Trump Protesters?

People taking advantage of their God-given right to be annoying

Yesterday, I ran a blog post that excerpted an alleged Facebook post by an emergency worker claiming that a patient had died because his ambulance was delayed to the anti-Trump protests.

The post was explicitly a reprint and link to an article by Paul Weston at Infowars. Uncharacteristically for me, there was no introductory commentary.

In less than 24 hours the post received more hits and more Facebook "likes," "reactions" and re-shares than any of the previous 653 Mahound's Paradise posts. It's still getting over a thousand hits an hour as it continues to be shared and re-shared on Facebook.

Thank you for sharing and commenting.

But without being too much of a goody goody, I need to say that I now suspect the original story was false.

Of course, in the post I didn't claim it was true (which isn't an excuse, I'm just saying) for the simple reason that I didn't claim anything of my own in the post. It was entirely a reprint. Interestingly, Paul Weston, in the post I reprinted, said,
The report of anti-Trump protesters blocking an ambulance has not been verified, but it’s not unlikely...
After reflecting on it, I actually think it is unlikely.

Do not misunderstand. I do think it is likely that something like it could have happened or might happen. I just don't think it happened in this particular case. There are videos of protesters blocking ambulances (and helpfully giving the finger to the drivers), as well as a video of one woman who claimed to be pregnant, desperately trying to get through the mob as people pound on her windshield.

And, of course, I believe that most of the protesters are anti-democratic thugs or (to put it more charitably) crybabies.

But in this case, no one has been able to track down the pixelated alleged Facebook post or "emergency worker." I understand that many of the media would have no interest in doing so. But still, I imagine some would have tried, etc.  Of course, it's possible that it still might be verified, but I have my doubts.

So I apologize. I either shouldn't have run it or should have run it with commentary to make clear that it hadn't been verified.

And of course, I'm not blaming Paul Weston. He at least did include such commentary. I didn't (though I did include his commentary).

But I have to take issue with many of the "anti-story" posts on my Facebook page:

1. "It was labeled a hoax by Snopes."

Well, no, actually, it wasn't. It was labeled "Unproven." I have my issues with Snopes, but in this case it accurately called it. The story was an unproven rumor, not, say, a hoax news story from one of those "fake news" sites.

UPDATE: Snopes just changed the status of the story to "False" but with precisely the same surrounding commentary as before. So, I guess with Snopes, something can change from "Unproven" to "False" without any change in the data (if Snopes wants it to). Don't bother checking this in the Wayback Machine. Or, rather, if you do, you'll see this: "Sorry. This URL has been excluded from the Wayback Machine." So much for the commitment of Snopes to bringing facts into the open. 

2. "Most stories on Facebook are false."

Actually, most "stories" on Facebook are simply links to posts or articles on the internet, as mine was.

3. "It's from Mahound's Paradise. Do you trust that source?" (said by a snarky anti-Trump leftist)

Well, actually, my blog isn't exactly a "source" or at least an original source. I haven't attended any of the protests, nor when I write about, say, France or the Middle East am I phoning in copy from Paris or Raqqa. Mahound's Paradise is of course partly an opinion blog. But when I report news or make factual claims that are controversial or not generally known, I usually source them (as I did in this case). And when I believe I've made a mistake or suspect that one of my sources may have been in error (not that it happens that much), I try to correct the record, as I'm doing now. If you, whatever "side" you're on, can show me that any factual thing I've claimed or implied is verifiably false or significantly unproven, I'll correct it. And if that isn't good enough for you because you don't like the "ideology" of the blog, then I would politely ask you to go to hell.  Which brings me to...

4. "I realized that I have been turning a blind eye to most of your posts for a long time. I can see there are political positions you and I are very far apart on. I have been happy with the direction our country has been going over the last eight years, so I haven't said anything. Given recent events I will have to be much more vocal in my disagrements. I can see this is going to put us into conflict. I don't like the idea of unfriending people, but I am sure that the future of our conversations on here will be unpleasant. I figured at the very least I owed you fair warning."

This was a message I received out of the blue from a real-world friend (not a close friend, but we'd spent some time socially in each other's homes over the years - as far as I know, we had never discussed politics). I had no idea he was reading my posts since I don't read his (I assume the algorithm probably buries them deep in my feed). But I understand from my wife that he's constantly putting up anti-Trump stuff.

How did I respond? You might find out in the next post. Or not. I should probably let it drop. Then again, it symbolizes perfectly the sort of passive-aggressive belligerence that anti-Trumpism (or just plain "liberalism") seems to create or foster in so many people.

Trump won, therefore I'm going to initiate vocal disagreement and unpleasant conversations with everyone I know who supported Trump (though I'll be sure to give each of them fair warning beforehand).

As my five-year-old daughter might say, "Oh, Man!"


  1. People today believe that their "rights" are absolute -- they're not -- and that they supersede the rights of others -- they don't. So I could see this story being true without too much of a stretch. I would certainly hope fort the best, but would not be surprised by the worst.

  2. If it wasn't so heartbreaking it would be funny that no matter where I read it online I default to not believing it. The greatest chance for dialog and communication between the disparate sons and daughters of the world has been ruined by those same people.

    No I am not bashing you or your blog so much as all internet users including myself. Normally I don't comment because your views (as much as I can know your's) and mine are different in the real world sense of you are to the left of me on some and the right on others. I am commenting this time because of point 4. I read your blog because you have a different view from me but are not an uncivil dick to those who don't share your view. I don't think a comment from some random guy on the internet should be more important or even equal to an actual human interaction but you should know you do manage to strongly present your opinions without offending at least one person for what it is worth.

    Besides if you moved from Boston to Chicago you must like hockey and therefor like Ray Bourque :)

    1. Thanks, I really appreciate that. I'm not sure I always succeed but let me know if I deviate, or at least if I deviate from my own average. :)

      When I was a young child my father worked for the brother of the owner of the Bruins. So, we went to many games. It was the Orr, Esposito, Sanderson era and I couldn't have been more than 5 or 6. But to be honest, we both fell out of hockey a few years later.

      One of my favorite movies is Miracle, if that counts. And I would be proud if my sons learned to play hockey.

    2. Eerie coincidences abound my dad worked for the Bobby Orr - Mike Walton Sports camp back in the day. When he left there so did the free tickets so we stopped going to the games but kept watching on TV. I have drifted away from most organized sports as I age, that pesky attention span thing, but I remain pretty amazed at the comparatively low number of NHL guys featuring in horrifying news stories so maybe hockey isn't so bad for kids.