Truth About Computer Security Hysteria
3/28/05 apologyVea Culpa, Corrections editor
Monday, 28 March 2005
In the "Humor Control" section of our 3/28/05 newsletter, editor Rob Rosenberger used a school shooting in Red Lake, Minnesota as the pretext for a computer security parody. Rosenberger essentially turned the deaths into deleted term papers. Reader F.A. Carroll complained:
I believe the "April Fool 'story'" about Red Lake is distasteful and way below the quality you normally put out. The pain of the People is palatable even 1000 miles away...the isolation of that child and is severence from his spirit is not something to crack 'wise' about. You owe the surviving family of that child, the survivors of his rampage, and the peoples of Red Lake specifically, and generally to all the people of the 500 Nations, a huge apology and a retraction of that horrible attempt at "humor."
Rosenberger asked JokeADay.com owner Ray Owens to arbitrate the matter for Vmyths. Rosenberger offered no defense in his email to Owens:
One of my readers bashed me over a joke I wrote in the "Humor Control" section of my weekly newsletter. May I get your ruling on it? Your decision will appear on our website along with a link to you. If I'm in the wrong, I'm in the wrong. I only want a fair judgment. Attachment #1 is the reader's verbatim complaint. Attachment #2 is the verbatim newsletter.
Owens responded as follows.
To me, the joke you wrote is right down the line with the other stuff in that issue. It wasn't "rolling on the floor / laughing out loud" humor, but, rather, wry and extremely biting satire. No different, in my opinion, at the jokes that came out of the woodwork about fifteen minutes after the WTC came crashing down. [portion censored]
Owens' statement on "tragedy + sufficient amount of time = comedy" leads Vmyths to conclude Rosenberger broke an established norm for humorists. He did not wait before turning the tragedy into a computer security parody for our readers. His apology follows:
Vmyths routinely documents people who insist Osama bin Laden will terrorize the world in his next attack with a laptop and a 56k modem. We've repeatedly shown the U.S. government considers "cyber-terrorism" to be as dangerous as e.g. a radiological bomb. I launched "Humor Control" to point out the sheer absurdity of these oft-repeated claims. I glean newspapers and online news sites for any topical issue and I parody it as a computer security story while it's topical. For example, I took on the tsunami disaster one week after it occurred and I parodied it as a cyber-terror attack. Last week I humorously blamed a computer virus for one of the controversies in the Michael Jackson molestation trial.
Owens believed Rosenberger's joke was "right down the line with the other stuff in that issue." Vmyths will not force a retraction.