So, I had the misfortune to ‘share’ a link that I saw on my phone which turned out be ‘fake.’ It wasn’t until several hours later that I had a chance to investigate the details for myself. As usual, Snopes had spoken. As usual, Snopes had found a way to insert its bias into the article. Ironically, people trust Snopes in the same uncritical fashion that we tend to trust fake news stories. I am reposting my Facebook comment outlining my own research. The purpose is not only to skewer Snopes, which I do tend to relish, but also to call attention to the fact that the fake news story was more true than people might suspect, just not in the ways they could have expected. And certainly, you can’t count on Snopes to flesh it out!
What follows then is a slightly modified cut/paste from my Facebook conversation on the subject.
To which Snopes replied: A Florida teacher gave 6th grade students an explicit sex ed lesson involving a strap-on sex toy to satisfy common core requirements.
In what sense is this fake? Are we saying that the pictures are faked? Staged? Is it only the association with Common Core that is ‘fake’? Was it a real presentation, but not to 6th graders? And so on. How you answer these questions matters.
Now, the Snopes article on this is a good illustration for why Snopes itself can’t be trusted. Think of like Wikipedia: at best, a place to start your investigation. The insinuation made by Snopes is that it was all conspiratorial mumbo-jumbo (vis a vis Infowars). What Snopes fails to mention is that someone DID intentionally try to pass this off as news. Snopes links to them but fails to call attention to tidbits that would tend to make a story seem more credible. But if the story smelled ‘credible,’ one couldn’t attack Infowars. You see how it works?
“In an email exchange with Modern Woman Digest, Sandra Mercer insisted that her suspension was an act of bigotry, and a step back for gay rights in the workplace. Clinton Elementary School declined to comment on the teacher’s suspension, returning neither our phone calls nor our emails.”
One can easily see how such comments could lend credibility to the account. Indeed, there are 76 comments by people who were taken in on the original posting source. So, what we have here is someone deliberately trying to create a fake news story. I found the story on a variety of sites, including some that most would consider credible (opposingviews.com)
This is the world we live in.
And yet, the pictures were not staged. They really were taken during a presentation delivered to students. Not 6th graders, but how much better it was that it was college kids is something I don’t know. Allegedly, this was the original event:
But there is evidence that this woman has given plenty of presentations at high schools. Here is a very early article that seems (seems!) very credible:
“About a year and a half ago, Good For Her’s founder, Carlyle Jansen, started getting phone calls from an unlikely market niche: local high school teachers, asking if she would come by their classes and talk to the kids about sex. […] In her workshops, Jansen urges teens to ask about anything and everything, from masturbation, gender identity and same-sex feelings to sex toys (which they keep on hand in case the subject comes up), why people like oral sex, and why that particular act should go both ways. She encourages them to role play in order to learn how to broach difficult conversations.”
Perhaps Carlyle Jansen bent over backward and simulated anal sex in these workshops, too, but we just don’t have the pics. At any rate, it seems pretty clear that that was on the table for discussion… if not demonstration.
So, the original story and its derivatives are ‘faked’ and ‘contrived’, and the derivative went too far linking it to Common Core, but that doesn’t mean CC is off the hook and it doesn’t mean that the event(s) didn’t actually happen. In fact, it looks very likely that it did happen–except it was a real person who lived in Ontario, not a fake person in Florida, and in Ontario she was applauded and invited back, repeatedly.
It’s kind of funny, actually. The real story and the fake story are almost identical in content. The only difference is that the faked story had pictures and the ‘news’ that the teacher was suspended, when in fact, the ‘teacher’ continues to this day to give graphic presentations.
The faked article (by that, I mean the original in Modern Woman Digest) has additional credibility in that anyone who is paying attention is already aware of plenty of other stories that no one doubts. For example, this story made me think of this one, from Minneapolis:
Very real, I’m afraid.
And in Chicago, very graphic curriculum that taught 5th graders how to have anal sex (among other things) was submitted to the Chicago public school system. I myself documented that one:
In fact, I have a nice collection of graphic sex education curriculum/guidelines. Canada, U.S., and UK.
If I had had the opportunity to review the link that I posted here before posting it, I probably wouldn’t have posted it. However, I don’t think it does the issue justice to write it off as ‘fake.’ It was a faked news story (MWD), no doubt, but, strangely, that was almost the only fake part about it.