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Scouting out truth: Web plays fast, loose

Someone should take Bob Morris' computer away from him.

This week, Morris, a state representative from Fort Wayne, refused to support a resolution recognizing 100 years of Girl Scouting, saying that the Girl Scouts were a radicalized organization and nothing but an arm of Planned Parenthood that promotes abortion.

That conclusion, he said, was based on what he called some Web-based research.

I presume he is referring to a single article that was written a couple of years ago in which a writer claims that the Girl Scouts distributed a brochure from Planned Parenthood during a meeting at the U.N. promoting various types of sex, abortion and homosexuality. The article, which contains some over-the-top passages from the alleged brochure, has been picked up by a number of other websites, so it's gotten a bit of attention.

The article is pretty shocking, but then, it's easy to write shocking things when you aren't bound by the truth.

That's right. The article isn't true. Hear that, Bob?

The Girl Scouts of the USA is aware of the article, and in a Q&A on its website says that it has never had anything to do with such a brochure and never distributed such a brochure.

I called the Girl Scouts' national office for some further comment. Did such a brochure even exist? Has anyone ever seen such a brochure? Or is this completely made up?

Once again, the only answer I got was that the Scouts have never had anything to do with or distributed such a brochure.

This whole experience illustrates the problem with the Internet. Anyone with an ax to grind can post anything he or she wants on the Internet. If people want to reinforce their position by telling baldfaced lies, they can. No one can stop them. If they want to claim that the Girl Scouts are actually an arm of Planned Parenthood, no one can stop them.

Figuring out what is true, what is made up and what is an out-and-out lie is up to the individual.

Morris, relying on the Internet, fell for one of the big lies to be found there and turned into a Girl Scout hater.

This should teach us all a lesson. The Internet might seem a convenient place to do research, but it's often a perilous place if you're looking for facts and truth. The shortcuts lead straight to hell.

In a way, it's good that this whole flap happened, because it gave us a chance to expose a falsehood that was lurking out there.

Personally, I think the wisest thing for Morris to do would be to acknowledge that he had gotten bad information and made a decision that he now realizes was wrong.

Unfortunately, despite the revelation that he was guided by falsehoods, it doesn't appear that that is going to happen. Morris is sticking to his guns.

His current rationale: The Girl Scouts don't take a position on abortion, therefore, if they are not against abortion, they are for it, and he doesn't like them.

Well, stick to your guns if you must. But realize that you only run the risk of shooting yourself in the foot.


Frank Gray reflects on his and others' experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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