Mailbag: Rumors spread as fact quickly online

I'm sorry. Sometimes I just don't care what's been said.

Growing up, my two brothers and I got into our fair share of trouble — occasionally, when deserved, to be corrected by a well-placed persimmon switch or dad's belt. Word spread quickly over backyard fences from one mother to the next of our mischievous behavior. We were always amazed that our parents knew what we'd been up to before we managed to get home.

With today's technologies, the entire world might know of our smallest oops or misstep in the time it takes to tweet or blog — making the communication network of yesterday's mothers pale by comparison. Much like a spark in a Southern California windstorm, fire (and falsehoods) spread rapidly and out of control.

Unfortunately, people have not learned to verify the truth before they pass along the next juicy rumor that they've read or heard. Once tweeted or blogged, no one's fire hose can reach all of the fires that erupt.

A recent blog reported that the city of Costa Mesa and the Chamber of Commerce were responsible for the cancellation of a radio show by local pro-marijuana activists. The writer of the blog did not verify the source of the information nor inquire of the validity of the claims attributed to the chamber. Both were untrue. Nonetheless, all across the Internet came reports of the chamber's complicity in having the FBI shut down a radio broadcast.

It's too bad that some bloggers do not practice what the print media have learned over the years — to verify a story. The Daily Pilot and a few individuals have shown the wisdom in asking before printing.

I've been asked repeatedly what do I intend to do about the misinformation. My best answer is: Not a damn thing. Let it burn itself out.

Having grown up in Southern California, witnessing the uncontrollable nature of brush fires in a Santa Ana wind, there simply are not enough fire hoses to put out all the fires. I think that the chamber has a reputation in the community that can stand against erroneous claims and falsehoods. Let the dead wood burn itself out.

Ed Fawcett

Costa Mesa

The writer is president and chief executive of the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce.


Muslim divorce is not egalitarian

Re "Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in O.C.: Dating while Muslim is complicated," Feb. 4:

Interesting column in today's paper. Mona Shadia makes it clear how careful a Muslim marriage is handled, but fails to mention Muslim divorce. I understand, and she can correct me, that a Muslim husband can effectuate a divorce by saying three times, "I divorce you." Muslim women cannot effectuate a divorce. Then the wife must return to her family.

Hank Gordon

Las Vegas

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