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Archive for November 7th, 2012

They tell tall tales in Texas!
They love to stretch the truth.
They have an appetite for hype;
They learn it in their youth.

They tell tall tales in Texas!
They lie so easily.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the tales
From true reality.
  –  Sharon Warner

The tall tale is an old and venerable tradition in folklore which is chiefly characterized by exaggeration; the art of the “whopper” lies in telling a ridiculous story so convincingly that the more gullible members of one’s audience may actually fall for it.  This is what chiefly distinguishes it from the three other major forms of folklore:  fabliaux and jokes are understood by both teller and listener to be fiction; fairy tales are accepted literally by children and symbolically by adults; and legends are believed both by teller and listener.  The tall tale is most common among largely-male groups on the frontiers of civilization, and can be understood at least in part as a game or contest; the teller is in a way intellectually “wrestling” with his listeners, trying to defeat their skepticism with his yarn-spinning ability.  But just as there’s a huge moral difference between horseplay and physical assault, so there is a vast gulf between tales of Pecos Bill and the outrageous lies Texas politicians and cops routinely tell; the former are good-natured and intended to amuse, while the latter are serious attempts to exert harmful control over unwilling victims.  Obviously, politicians and cops everywhere are well-known for their habitual practice of deceit, but in most places they at least try to make their lies believable; in Texas, however, they seem to enjoy stretching the truth far past the breaking point, as if to test just how much the credulous public will allow them to get away with.

There are numerous examples, such as Texas politicians’ repeated attempts to install creationism in its schools or their insistence that every single person convicted in Texas courts or executed in its prisons is truly guilty (to the point of attempting to cover up evidence to the contrary).  And thought the “gypsy whore” myth has reared its moronic head on every continent but Antarctica in the past decade, Texas “authorities” embraced it with a fervor their counterparts in Indianapolis and London could not hope to match, and even had the colossal gall to insist that the reason no such strumpet invasion materialized was due to their “precautions”.  Furthermore, while officials in other places hasten to change the subject when the subject of their failed “predictions” arises, in Texas they just keep telling the same old tall tale:

Austin police are partnering with local non-profits to fight an expected rise in human trafficking during Formula 1 weekend.  It’s a crime that grows anytime Austin has an influx of visitors…[police are] unsure how many trafficking victims they will rescue during F1, but the department is preparing for a busy week.  “It could be one victim.  It could be 200,” said APD Victim Services Supervisor Dolores Laparte-Litton.  Human trafficking is also known as modern day slavery, underage prostitution and sexual exploitation.  Four out of five victims are U.S. citizens.  Up to 300,000 girls between 11 and 17 are lured into the sex industry every single year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice…Sex trafficking was a huge problem at the Super Bowl in Dallas in 2011.  Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott called it the single largest human trafficking event in the United States.

In case you don’t recall, the total extent of this “huge problem” was one wannabe pimp who was inspired by the hype.  But neither blatant falsehood nor demographic absurdities can stop those tall-tale-tellin’ Texans, who apparently also compete to see who can tie the largest number of moral panics together in one yarn:

…Police in Texas today are warning that girls are being lured into prostitution by gang members trolling their social media profiles.  According to San Antonio Police Detective George Segura, gangs look for girls on Facebook who are showing off a bit too much skin, and are possibly seeking attention.  Gang members then approach the girls on Facebook, befriend them, and convince them to meet up in person.  No one is too young to be exploited — police say girls as young as 12 are being recruited.  The sex trade is big business for gangs…[who] “can easily make hundred [sic] of thousands of dollars per girl, per year”…

So let’s see, we’ve got white slavery, the internet and gangs, and this hat trick is then embellished with slut-shaming, the old “average age of entry” myth and the relatively new “all whores dependably make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year” one.  This stuff is as absurd as Davy Crockett’s killing a bear when he was three years old or Bigfoot Wallace defeating forty-two Comanches with hickory nuts; no adult brain in proper working order could believe such rubbish.  Unfortunately, “common sense” is an oxymoron, and the average person is generally willing to accept any tale, no matter how ludicrous, as long as it’s told by someone with a title.

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