Daily Kos is a powerful forum. Through the magic of this site, even an occasional diarist can initiate something that leads to an actual change: in this example, the Heartland Institute, a billionaire-funded conservative free-market think tank, actually APOLOGIZED this morning for posting a meme that falsely quoted George Carlin (and made it sound like he was "on their side" when he would have despised everything they stand for)!!
Today's story began this weekend, when a conservative Facebook-friend of mine "liked" a meme from the Heartland Institute: a George Carlin photo and purported quote that immediately struck me as "off." When I did a little digging, sure enough, I discovered that the meme was a dishonest twist on Carlin's words that totally subverted the meaning. Knowing a little bit about the Heartland Institute, I couldn't say that I was surprised!
So first, I fixed up the meme a bit for them (my additions from Carlin's original quote in red):
And then, I diaried it: George Carlin Quote Bastardized on Facebook by Heartland Institute The diary points out in some detail how the Heartland Institute meme played fast-and-loose with pronouns and antecedents, turning Carlin's rant against the wealthy business owners who want you not to question "all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it" -- into an attack on public schools and a tacit argument for school privatization!
As it turned out, the meme wasn't original to the Heartland Institute, but their use of it was particularly egregious given who they are and who funds them (Walton, Koch, etc.)
Well, Daily Kos fans of George Carlin began flooding the Heartland Institute Facebook page with outrage combined with evidence of how the meme had twisted Carlin's righteous rant.
And then Karoli over at Crooks & Liars picked it up (Heartland Institute Edits George Carlin's Words For Cheap Facebook Hits), and the flood got bigger.
And then George's daughter Kelly Carlin got wind of it, and whoa-doggies did the fur begin to fly! Jump beyond the tangled orange skipping-rope to see more...
Facebook post by Kelly Carlin
Help me spread the truth about these evil cocksuckers
Her 4,471 Facebook followers, however, are dwarfed by her 21.4K Twitter followers, and here's what she said over there:
and then (very politely!)
The ensuing tsunami was a joy to behold!
I'd show you the offending meme-page with the flood of comments, but Heartland has since taken it down.
What I can show you, though, is what Kelly Carlin calls their "mealy mouthed apology."
Heartland Institute's Facebook apology post
A recent post on this Facebook page has caused some controversy. We posted an image of George Carlin along with a quote attributed to him. We discovered, thanks to the diligence of Carlin fans following us that the quote was taken out of context.
In addition to producing extensive original commentary, we attempt to serve as a clearing house for interesting and informative quotations and thoughts by academics, statesmen, and other public figures. It was through that latter endeavor that we came across the quotation in question. Ordinarily we check carefully to establish the veracity of these posts before reusing them, but in this instance we failed to do so.
Our intention is always to provide accurate quotes and information, and we acknowledge our failure in this instance. We did not design the meme we posted, but because we did post it, we own it. We apologize for the error.
I gotta say, I highly doubt that any Carlin fans are actually following the Heartland Institute on Facebook! I know I'm not. And I also highly doubt that they've been checking their meme-posts to ANY extent -- though maybe they'll start actually doing so now!
I am also having a hard time bringing to mind another occasion on which a billionaire-boys think-tank has EVER been induced to say, "We own it" and "We apologize for the error." Anyone have evidence to the contrary?
Meanwhile, take a look at the comments on the apology post, it's rather a delight!
And finally, here is Kelly Carlin's heartfelt thank you to all the fans who helped make this rare apology possible:
Facebook thank-you by Kelly Carlin
Thank you Carlin fans for helping to set the record straight over on the Heartland Institute's page.
They have issued a mealy-mouthed apology this morning. We know it's bullshit, but at least we got them to say it.
The best part is that over 300 of you commented on their page and let them hear from people who care about truth and accuracy. Well, actually the best part is that there were lots of "motherfuckers" and "cocksuckers" thrown onto their page. Well done!
Here is the original article that revealed what they did:
I'll add my thanks to hers -- thanks to everyone who spread the word and added to the comments at the Heartland Institute page, and thanks to Daily Kos for providing the forum to air this in the first place!
And I'll let George Carlin himself have the last word, as is only appropriate.