Needless to say this past week there were two such instances. One was a transcript about the alleged video that purports to show Ollie North warning us about Osama bin Laden when he testified before Congress. Well, it wasn't bin Laden you lazy ass victims of misinformation, it was Abu Nidal.
The second was The Last Will of an alleged attorney from Chicago named Charles Lounseberry [sic], which was found in his coat pocket or some such, after he died in a mental institution. It was recently printed as real in an AOL journal and linked to by a blogger I actually respect and like. Help me here, folks. Didn't anybody teach you how to check facts?
FIRST: I Googled "Ollie North and Osama bin Laden" and found the debunking from Urban Legends and Folklore, along with the email that keeps going around.
Here it is:
Subject: We should have listened to Ollie
You know, it's funny. I remember very vividly the Oliver North hearings, but did not recall the name of Osama bin Laden as the terrorist that North was threatened by. Has this slimeball been around that long? It's pretty evident, in hindsight that we should have listened to OLLIE!
In a lecture at UNC the other day where they played a video of Oliver North during the Iran-Contra deals during the Reagan administration. In this particular clip. There was Olie in front of God and Country getting the third degree. But what he said was stunning, as he was being drilled by some senator, who asked him;
'Did you not recently spend close to $60,000 for a home security system?'
Oliver replied, 'Yes I did sir.'
The senator continued, trying to get a laugh out of the audience, 'Isn't this just a little excessive?'
'No sir,' continued Oliver.
'No. And why not?'
'Because the life of my family and I were threatened.'
'Threatened? By who.'
'By a terrorist, sir.'
'Terrorist? What terrorist could possibly scare you that much?'
'His name is Osama bin Laden.'
At this point the senator tried to repeat the name, but couldn't pronounce it, which most people back then probably couldn't. A couple of people laughed at the attempt. Then the senator continued.
'Why are you so afraid of this man?'
'Because sir, he is the most evil person alive that I know of.'
'And what do you recommend we do about him?'
'If it were me I would recommend an assassin team be formed to eliminate him and his men from the face of the earth.'
The senator disagreed with this approach and that was all they showed of the clip.
It's scarywhen you think 15 years ago the government was aware of
bin Laden and his potential threatto the security of the world. I
like all great tyrants they start small but if left untended spread like
virus theytruly are.
Comments: Sorry, wrong terrorist. When Colonel Oliver North defended his government-purchased home security system before a Congressional committee in 1987, he cited threats on his life from the infamous Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal, not Osama bin Laden. The latter was busy fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan at the time. Bin Laden's fervent hatred of the U.S. is said by most sources to date from 1990, when American troops were stationed in his home country of Saudi Arabia in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
SECOND: The next load of crap -- Charles Lounseberry's [sic] Will was actually sent out this year in a holiday card to someone
who printed it in her journal. Come on folks, aren't you in the least
bit curious when something seems too good to be true?
When I Googled Charles Lounseberry, I found an interesting discovery about a Charles Lounsberry:
DO YOU REMEMBER
"THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF CHARLES LOUNSBERRY"?
In the July 2000 issue of Archives and History News, we printed "The Will of Charles Lounsberry Made While He was in the Asylum at Dunning." Our staff found it included in a 1930's WPA transcription of Mineral County, West Virginia, documents andfamily Bible records, and enjoyed reading it.
suspicious of the literary essence ofthe prose, we asked if any reader could
identify this as a published work of fiction or prose, rather than as an
actual legal document. Readers responded that they had enjoyed reading the
"will," but did not know of a published source.
Subsequent Internet searches show that this essay pops up all over, including
an on-line audio recording of a dramatic reading of the will by Gene Barry
on his fan Web site! It was read into the record of various state legislatures
and bar associations over the years. It was reprinted in Cougar Scream, the
shipboard newsletter of the U.S.S. Washington
in January 1942 with the heading "A Scrapbook Favorite." An "Ethical Wills"
Web site includes it as an example of an ethical will, said to have been
written in the early 20th century and found in the pocket of an old ragged
coat belonging to a former lawyer who was then an insane patient in the Chicago
A printed copy, probably once framed, is cataloged in the Lilly
Family Collection in the archives of Eastern Kentucky University. It is translated
into German on a Web site based in Germany. Many people have posted it as
a favorite inspirational piece on personal Web sites.
Then, a few months
ago, I was clipping old newspapers that had been recently microfilmed, and
found an article titled "Poetic last will from 1907," in the Mountain Messenger,
November 21, 1989, published with the following "Editor's Note": About 1907,
The Chicago Record-Herald
printed this 'last will and testament of Charles Lounsberry.' At that time
it was thought this 'will' was written by an inmate of the Cook County Asylum
at Dunning, Illinois. For years, the will cropped up in newspapers and magazines
throughout the country.
Many years later, The Saturday Evening Post
reprinted the Lounsberry Will and said the writer 'was once a prominent member
of the Chicago legal profession, who lost his mind and was committed to the
insane asylum where he died penniless.'
It wasn't until much later that the
true author of the will was discovered to be a writer by the name of Williston
Fish. Mr. Fish created the character of Charles Lounsberry and wrote the
will for his imaginary character. Regardless of the origins of this piece,
the sentiments are worthy and hopefully of interest to modern-day readers.
The Mountain Messenger then reprinted "the text, reproduced from the original 1907 printing."
Armed with the author's name, I searched the Internet and found that the
work of Williston Fish is included in a number of poetry and prose anthologies.
The most enlightening entry is from the library catalog of the Lillian Goldman
Law Library at Yale Law School: Ostensibly the will of one Charles Lounsbury,
this work by Williston Fish was written in 1897 and published first in Harper's Weekly,
Sept. 3, 1898, under title, "A last will"; subsequently published under titles,
"A legacy to mankind", 1907, "A last will", 1908, and "The happy testament",
1913. Slight textual variations in different editions and printings.
Next I looked up Williston Fish, author, in the Library of Congress on-line
catalog. The first entry listed is the autobiography of his father, Job Fish,
which was "partially narrated to his sons, Williston Fish and John Charles
Lounsbury Fish." (Well, now we know where he got the name!) The Library of
Congress holdings include the ones listed above, plus several more, including
a 1935 edition located in the Law Library Reading Room and cataloged asif
it were a genuine legal document. It seems to have been a popular gift item,
either published in a decorative book or as a framed print. Together with
the story of Mrs. O'Leary's cow, Chicago was ahead of its time in terms of
developing "urbanlegends!" If you would like to read this famous testament,
you will find it in the text of the June 2000 issue of the Archives and History News posted on our Web site.
Here's the supposed will:
I, Charles Lounsberry, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do hereby make and publish this my Last Will and Testament, in order, as justly as may be, to distribute my interests in the world among succeeding men.
That part of my interests which is known in law and recognized in the sheep-bound volumes as my property, being inconsiderable and of no account, I make no disposition of in this, my Will. My right to live, being but a life estate, is not at my disposal, but, these things excepted, all else in the world I now proceed to devise and bequeath.
ITEM: I give to good fathers and mothers, in trust to their children, all good little words of praise and encouragement, and all quaint pet names and endearments; and I charge said parents to use them justly, but generously, as the deeds of their children shall require.
ITEM: I leave to children inclusively, but only for the term of their childhood, all, and every, the flowers of the field, and the blossoms of the woods, with the right to play among them freely according to the custom of children, warning them at the same time against the thistles and the thorns. And I devise to the children the banks of the brooks and the golden sands beneath the waters thereof, and the odors of the willows that dip therein, and the white clouds that float high over the giant trees.
And I leave the children the long, long days to be merry in a thousand ways, and the night and the moon and the train of the Milky Way to wonder at, but subject, nevertheless, to the rights hereinafter given to lovers.
ITEM: I devise to boys jointly all the idle fields and commons where ball may be played, all pleasant waters where one may swim, all snow-clad hills where one may coast, and all streams and ponds where one may fish, or where, when grim winter comes, one may skate, to have and to hold the same for the period of their boyhood. And all meadows, with the clover-blossoms and butterflies thereof; the woods with their appurtenances; the squirrels and birds and echoes and strange noises, and all distant places, which may be visited, together with the adventures there to be found. And I give to said boys, each his own place at the fireside at night, with all pictures that may be seen in the burning wood, to enjoy without hindrance and without any incumbrance of care.
ITEM: To lovers, I devise their imaginary world, with whatever they may need, as the stars of the sky, the red roses by the wall, the bloom of the hawthorn, the sweet strains of music, and aught else they may desire to figure to each other the lastingness and beauty of their love.
ITEM: To young men jointly, I devise and bequeath all boisterous inspiring sports of rivalry, and I give to them the disdain of weakness and undaunted confidence in their own strength. Though they are rude, I leave them to the powers to make lasting friendships, and of possessing companions, and to them exclusively I give all merry songs and brave choruses to sing with lusty voices.
ITEM: And to those who are no longer children, or youths, or lovers, I leave memory, and bequeath to them the volumes of the poems of Burns and Shakespeare, and of other poets, if there be any, to the end that they may live the old days over again, freely and fully without tithe or diminution.
ITEM: To the loved ones with snowy crowns, I bequeath the happiness of old age, the love and gratitude of their children until they fall asleep.
LIKE SOME POOR MOPE IN AN INSTITUTION COULD HAVE WRITTEN THIS. NOT LIKELY.