Posted by: reformedmusings | May 18, 2008

One born every nanosecond

With apologies to PT Barnum, I couldn’t resist updating him to the 21st Century. Remember the story about Jim Piculas, the substitute teacher in Florida who was supposedly fire for “wizardry’? A local “news” station decided that this sounded like a cool story, shot video based on Piculas’ story, and published it here on the Internet. This quote in the story from the fired substitute on his firing is just precious:

Piculas said he did not know of any other accusations that would have led to the action.

Done deal, right? Wrong. On the Internet, the game is to repeat what you hear as fast as possible. Apparently, no one wants to be the last to blog on the hottest topic. Few bother to check the facts. As a result, the story–based solely on the word of the man fired–took off like wildfire. Nasty calls and emails showered upon the poor school district officials. Ignorant and profane behavior reigned supreme. Big surprise on the Internet, eh? One problem–the story wasn’t true.

It turns out that the man was fired for incompetence. You can read the actual facts at the St. Petersburg Times. In a case of the chickens coming home to roost, not only do those who blogged on the lies told by Piculas have to now eat crow, but Piculas himself has become concerned that the publicity that he started may prevent him from finding employment:

That could have ill effects for both Piculas, who is applying for teaching jobs in Hillsborough and Hernando counties, and for the school district, which will be known as the county that fires wizards — at least until the next water-skiing squirrel comes along.

Maybe he’s figuring out that most employers have little use for those who tell publicity-seeking lies regardless of their intent. Ya think? I wonder if he can train squirrels.

School board member Marge Whaley, one of the victims of the hate campaign, made the observation for our time:

“You really can’t count on every Web site … because you’re likely to get information that isn’t true,” she said.

The Bible has a great deal to say about gossip and managing one’s tongue. James 1:26 comes to mind along with numerous Proverbs. They are hard instructions for fallen men and women to follow consistently. We all fall short, including this humble blogger. May we all be more diligent before repeating what we hear on the Net or otherwise.

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