Straight ducks, gay Romans, Kiwis, homeschooling, and the lesser Poe

By skepticlawyer

In Skeptical circles, Poe’s Law is an axiom suggesting that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between parodists of religious or other fundamentalism and genuine proponents, since they both seem equally insane.

‘Poe’ as a noun has become almost as ubiquitous as Poe’s Law itself. In this context, a Poe refers to either a person, post or news story that may cause Poe’s Law to be invoked. In most cases, this is in the sense of posts and people who are taken to be legitimate, but are probably parody. Hence a typical phrase would be ‘it’s a Poe, people, don’t be so stupid’ when a link to Landover Baptist Church or ChristWire is posted. A similar use is ‘I hope this is a Poe’, which refers to the desperate hope that humanity isn’t quite as stupid as what someone has just read or seen.

Keeping the above in mind, I’m pretty sure the following is a Poe:

The newspaper (The Northern Outlook of Canterbury, New Zealand) is genuine (at first I thought it was the Kiwi version of the Onion). The letter, too, was published (on October 3 this year). If you follow that link, however, you’ll see that the Poe-ish-ness of the piece was not immediately obvious, at least not to its initial readers.

On Facebook, there’s been a lively discussion, on my page and others’ pages: Poe? Troll? (And what’s the difference between those two categories?) Genuine? An Australian picking on Kiwis? All are plausible. One friend thought the obvious self-identification as ‘homeschooled’ was a bit of a giveaway. For my part, I thought the phrase ‘the powers that be’ in there, with its echo of Romans 13:1: ‘The powers that be are ordained of God’ stood out for Poe-ness. Romans 13:2 goes on to state ‘[w]hosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.’

Libertarian he wasn’t, old St Paul.

On one of the sites where the letter has been shared, a commenter suggested that the straight ducks vs gay Romans thingy needed to be added to the following fabulous spaghetti diagram of the equal marriage debate. I’m not sure where you’d put it in – maybe next to the little detail about San Francisco finishing up a smoking hole in the ground – but one suspects it would find a happy home in there somewhere.

In any case, the ducks will probably get you in the end.

21 Comments

  1. TerjeP
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Perhaps we should make a pre-emptive cull of the duck population.

  2. Posted October 16, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    In context, there is also this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXPcBI4CJc8&feature=youtu.be

  3. kvd
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Ducks are nasty vicious evil smelly malevolent little things which are only called duck because f-ck was already taken, so if I were gay I’d be quite affronted by this comparison. The only valid use for ducks is as a side dish for plum sauce..

    And if she’s 14 and worried about her children then I’d be investigating just what her home schooling consisted of. But I do like her last sentence with that great pun.

  4. Posted October 16, 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Ducks are nasty vicious evil smelly malevolent little things which are only called duck because f-ck was already taken, so if I were gay I’d be quite affronted by this comparison. The only valid use for ducks is as a side dish for plum sauce..

    Worse than geese? Or swans? (I was once attacked by a swan, while rowing. Bloody thing tried to climb up my oar and have a go at me. I caught a crab because of it.)

  5. Posted October 16, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Dear Leda, a crab? singular?

  6. Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Catching a crab in rowing: http://everything2.com/title/catching+crabs

  7. kvd
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Worse than geese? Or swans?

    They have a certain elegance entirely lacking in d-cks. Can you imagine Leda with a d-ck? No, nor can I. Stuff of nightmares.

  8. Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Ducks are nasty vicious evil smelly malevolent little things which are only called duck because f-ck was already taken

    This also made me laugh a great deal.

  9. Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    What I want to know is, how do the ducks resist the rainbows?

  10. kvd
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    desipis great link; words fail. So that’s what all those Rainbow Bright dolls were about?

    ps to answer your question: ducks can resist anything.

  11. Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I suppose ducks feathers are designed to resist water, and rainbows are made from water…

  12. Mel
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Three days ago I saw a mother duck and 8 little baby ducks come out from the reeds that edge my dam. So cute 🙂

  13. Posted October 16, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    [email protected]#6 – thank you. My area of expertise is more rock’n’roll than rowing.
    That NZ letter: 14yo home schoolie says she does not believe in evolution yet uses the word EIGHT times in discussing her concern for how it is … um … evolving. I pray she does not reproduce.

  14. Holden Caulfield
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Where do all the ducks go in winter?

  15. Jolly
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    @Skepticlawyer
    Well said. I fear swans more than ducks. Swans are conniving and untrustworthy and greedy. Ducks walk awkwardly and a wee bit greedy but swans are dangerous!!

  16. kvd
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Geese and swans are just very successful d-cks, evolutionarily speaking.

    I suspect this can be put down to their much touted ‘mating for life’ (which means they are probably bored witless or into board games or self-improvement courses in tai chi or the grafting of geraniums and such) as opposed to your ordinary d-ck who will quite happily attempt congress with pretty much anything with or without a heartbeat – and then kill it, even if it’s already inanimate.

  17. kvd
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Dissembling politicians are referred to as ‘duck shovelling’; medical fakers are ‘quacks’; out for ‘nowt in cricket, a ‘duck’; and if finally you do win anysomething, you ‘break your duck’.

    I mean, there’s a pattern here folks, and it’s not pretty…

  18. LJS
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    kvd: turns out swans (at least our black ones) might pair up for life, but it’s a pretty open affair. A friend was party to research into this and it seems everyone was grabbing quickies in the reeds. Err, the swans that is. Many signets were sired outside of the pair.

    There’s a particular drake that has taken exception to me on my ride to work and charges at me, hissing. I hiss and quack back good naturedly though I’m probably being obscene in duckish. I think it’s all very cute that he thinks he’s intimidating, though if he took to the wing it could get awkward.

  19. kvd
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] yes – I’ve a friend who did his thesis on some sort of tiny little finch, and it wasn’t until they started with the DNA testing that he realised just how much time the males spent ducking out for the (more than) occasional naughty sortie. So what you are saying doesn’t surprise; rather it reinforces the general devious nature of the beast.

    But do keep up with the duckish. That’s something I’d really love to watch: Man vs Mild 😉

  20. RipleyP
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    We keep ducks on our property and they are mostly harmless. Far less evil than Swans, and Geese are seriously nasty beasties.

    The interesting thing about our ducks is the perchant for this brood to indulge in sexual shenagians with most any gender of duck that takes their fancy at the moment.

    I wonder how my bisexual ducks fit into Ms Homeschooled’s thinking.

    I do find the use of cultural evolution but dismissl of biological evolution to be something that is possibe for a fundamentalist viewpoint.

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