There is an Ethics Alarms post “going viral” right now, at least as viral as any post on an ethics blog is likely to go. For two weeks now, my post at the end of July about how the “urban legends” site Snopes had descended into dishonest, spinning, fact-distorting partisan/ left “factchecking” hackery has lapped all others here, and been shared to record levels on Facebook (nearing 11,000 shares) and Reddit.
This is nice, of course. It has brought a few (though not many) new commenters to the blog, and presumably more readers who stayed to peruse other topics. It has made August 2016, usually a fairly dead month, the most heavily trafficked month in Ethics Alarms annals. The post alerted some people to why Snopes is untrustworthy, though not, apparently, the Washington Post, which cited it as authority just a few days ago. It also prompted, on Reddit and Facebook, several thousand smug “this is not news, I’ve known this for years” comments. Where were your blog post, jerks?
The post’s wide circulation through the web also made me aware that a conspiracy theory holding that Democrats and the Hillary Corrupted maintain a team of attack commenters who go to blogs and attempt to muddy the waters when the truth about Clinton threatens to break through the denial dam might be accurate. I have received four or five almost identical comments on that post attempting to deny my dissection of Snopes’ pathetic attempt to prove that Hillary didn’t defend a child rapist, didn’t discredit his young victim in the process, didn’t know he was guilty when she did it, and didn’t laugh about the case in a recorded interview. None of the four commenters read all of my post, which echoed a previous one in pointing out, as I always do, that a lawyer defending a criminal is not unethical, that the attacks on Hillary for doing so were ignorant and unfair, and that Hillary Clinton has nothing to apologize for in this case. Never mind: all four of these commenters ( and some others which never made it onto the blog) shifted into similar boilerplate language claiming I was attacking her too, and preceded to repeat Snopes’ dishonest “factchecking” as if the documentation of its falsity I presented in the post didn’t exist.
Nonetheless, the Snopes revelation was not the Ethics Alarms post I would have chosen to “go viral.” There have been many essay in the last six year that I was, and am, especially proud of and believe were original, perceptive and important, and that have been barely read by anyone, never linked to or shared, and that have had all the impact of a shell thrown into the surf. How I wish my warning to the Republican Party , for example, urging it not to permit Donald Trump to participate in the primaries, had received similar attention. Not a single editorial board or pundit saw the peril looming, or at least they didn’t write or talk about it if they did, because having The Donald spouting his inanities would be good copy and “fun.”
One such post dates back to the first full year of Ethics Alarms: The Amazing Mouthwash Deception: Helping Alcoholics Relapse For Profit, from August 2010. In six years, it has amassed about the same number of views that the Snopes piece amassed in half a month. Yet the topic, how mouthwash manufacturers profit significantly by hiding the widespread use of their product by alcoholics who use mouthwash to conceal their destructive disease from family members and co-workers, is barely mentioned on the web—a few places, and almost all of them since the post. Still, Congress hasn’t held hearings, regulatory agencies haven’t noticed, and the products still carry warnings that fool non-alcoholics into believing that the stuff is poison, so nobody drinks it. Lives could be saved, marriages rescued, and endangered businesses might survive, if what I wrote was generally known
I’ve done the original research and put the problem out there. At least I’ve tried, and I will continue to write about the problem, which I have learned about first hand.
My efforts haven’t been completely futile. I have received some gratifying comments and off-site e-mails from family members who read the article, discovered that a loved one was secret drinker, and got them help. I have also received a few responses that confirmed my work, though none quite like this one from new reader Dave, an alcoholic himself.
Here is his remarkable and cryptic Comment of the Day on the post, The Amazing Mouthwash Deception: Helping Alcoholics Relapse For Profit. Is it intentional irony? Is it sarcasm? Is it support, in the form of criticism? You decide:
Halfway through your article I decided it would be a good idea to go to shoppers and grab myself a bottle. I’d been so triggered today, only being a week sober prior. It’s great, you know, the mouthwash deception as you call it. I spend roughly $3.50 on a bottle of Life brand yellow mouthwash and it gets me radically twisted, with zero hangover. So not only does it make it easier for me to be a functioning alcoholic based on its inexpensiveness and zero hangover qualities, it is also amazingly convenient in that within 10 minutes I have three different 24 hour grocery stores I can go to in order to get a bottle.
Alcoholism is a shitty disease, believe me, I have lost much at the expense of it.
I am not trying to come off here as if it is something desirable. I am more saying, in the misery that is alcoholism, at least this is some sort of a seeming oasis. Because why should I go broke from alcoholism, why should I be forced to break into businesses and do all sorts of crazy things in order to get a drink, because the liquor stores are closed? This addiction is bad enough, why do there have to be all the fucking hoops to jump through, these tight operating parameters to be met? I still want to have a life.
I have to meet the challenges that the rest of you do. Job security, financial security, family life. We all know this shit is hard to begin with. So this fucking guy’s idea, or at least encompassed within it, is to shutdown the mouthwash drinking trade. Get the fuck out of here. Ya know, I appreciate where you are coming from, it’s just your approach is all wrong. if you want to help people and make a dent in this monster, exposing the truth about mouthwash truly isn’t the way to do it.
I have a friend, who is a fellow alcoholic, and his father works for Johnson and Johnson, so he has a few boxes of name brand Listerine at home. The company gives them to his father to hand out to potential customers of course. Once the father realized the son was an alcoholic , he had them all removed from the house. Not because the son was drinking them, because he wasn’t— it wasn’t until he met me later on in AA that he became aware that drinking mouthwash was an option, because I informed him. So then why did the father do it? Because he is upper management, and yes they are aware, as you say.
And knowing that corporations are evil in today’s world does not qualify someone to be some sort of paranoid conspiracy theorist, it merely shows that they are living in the real world. The ignorance is really from the ones who think this world is some sort of ethical and just place. I am not being cynical or bitter in this statement. Do your research, educate yourself on what’s up, dig. Dig to find the truth.