Has That T-Shirt Been Fact-Checked?
Sports fans went ballistic this week when they discovered that Old Navy had printed insanely incorrect information on a T-shirt honoring the Houston Texans as the 1961 AFC Champions. This was all wrong, as the Houston Oilers, not the Houston Texans, won the 1961 championship, and in any case there was no such team as the Houston Texans; it was the Dallas Texans, for crying out loud.
But it gets worse: The Texans didn’t make the playoffs in 1961, and the AFC (American Football Conference) did not even exist; it was the American Football League, which merged with the National Football League in 1970. All in all, this was a huge embarrassment for what one scribe referred to as the “morons” at Old Navy, which has since shamefacedly been forced to deep-six the preposterous garment.
A generation ago, before implacable football T-shirt fact-checkers existed, a flub like this might have slipped by. No more. Inspired by the remorseless fact-checking organizations that routinely call out Paul Ryan and Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Mitt Romney for their fibs, distortions and lies, grass-roots T-shirt fact-checking operations now make it impossible for anyone to print a T-shirt reading: “Milwaukee Brewers, Super Bowl XXXIV Champions” or “Montreal Expos, 1927 World Champions.” It’d be all over the Net in a minute.
Still, it would be nice if T-shirt fact-checkers extended their monitoring activities. Children need to be shielded from inaccuracies emblazoned on casual attire, because little kids always believe what adults tell them, even if the information is communicated via a cotton-polyester mix. If a kid sees a woman wearing a T-shirt reading “I’m With Stupid,” he or she might take the words to heart, thereafter treating the woman’s husband with scorn, derision and perhaps even contumely.
Similarly, the T-shirt reading “Pain Is Fear Leaving Your Body” is a baldfaced lie. Somebody, perhaps emboldened by the success of the slogan “No Pain, No Gain,” simply made it up, thinking that nobody would notice. But now that we have specialists fact-checking T-shirts, this will no longer happen. This is equally true of the shirt reading “Courage Becomes Greater Through a Wound” that Manchester United superstar Wayne Rooney once wore. The message is actually written in Latin. Rooney probably used Latin so T-shirt fact-checkers would not catch up with him. But they did, because a lot of T-shirt fact-checkers studied classics, and the message has now been exposed as a lie. “Virescit Vulnere Virtus” is not true. Neither is “In Vino Veritas.” It’s pure balderdash.
I went to Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. We hate people who go to Villanova, a poor man’s Georgetown. I even have a T-shirt that reads “Friends don’t let friends go to ‘Nova.” But this is not true. I have several friends who went to Villanova. I view them as deeply flawed human beings, true, but that does not mean we cannot be friends. I even let my daughter attend a one-week camp for teen medicine buffs at Villanova. So even though I love my T-shirt, it is built on a lie. If I wore it in public today, the T-shirt fact checkers would skin me alive.
Other T-shirts fall into the same category. “Jesus Hates the Yankees” is not true. If He did, why would He have let them win 27 World Series? “Sorry, Ladies, I’m Only Here to Get Drunk” is equally false, as any loser wearing such a garment knows. And I know from personal experience that the slogan “No Good Ever Came From the Words ‘I Don’t Have Enough Work to Do’” is completely wrong. If you don’t have enough work to do, you can go home early. How is that not “good”?
It would be nice if T-shirt fact checkers eventually moved on to the blatant falsehoods printed on bumper stickers. “If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention” is a lie. So is “If You Can Read This, You’re Too ***ing Close.” Finally, I would like the T-shirt fact-checkers to have a go at the ubiquitous “If You Think Education Is Expensive, Try Ignorance.” I’m not sure why, but I think education might still be more expensive than ignorance. I spent $250,000 putting my kids through college. Ignorance can’t possibly cost more.
quoting: JOE QUEENAN for http://online.wsj.com