The fake news that "Muslims want to ban Peppa Pig" has been spreading like wildfire, but the whole thing is a load of sensationalist synthetic outrage nonsense that brazenly misrepresents reality in order to create a mind-winnet of anti-Muslim propaganda for right-wingers and Islamophobes to get absolutely furious about.
The reality of the situation is that a small Islamic organisation in Australia is crowdfunding to develop a low-budget Islamic cartoon about the adventures of two kids who live in a predominantly Muslim town.
Hatemongering right-wing tabloids like the Daily Express leapt on this low-interest story and decided to portray it as Muslims trying to ban people from watching Peppa Pig rather than Muslims trying to crowdfund a new cartoon. The Daily Express headline wailed that "Muslim leaders tell children to turn off Peppa Pig".
Once the extreme-right hate brigade on Twitter got hold of the sensationalist stories in the media the embellishments got even worse. Furious right-wing blowhards further exaggerated the story to claim that "Muslims want to ban Peppa Pig" and then used this absurd fact-free narrative to justify their hate filled diatribes about how "multiculturalism is an epic failure", "Muslims will never be part of Western society" and "they can't even tolerate a cartoon pig".
The Buzzfeed* writer Aisha Gani then did a bit of digging to determine where the "Muslims trying to ban Peppa Pig" angle came from and how a news story about a low budget Australian cartoon got blown up into a full-scale right-wing Twitter hate mob.
Gani found that the whole Peppa Pig angle was strung out of nothing and then repeated by a bunch of lazy hacks churnalising the same story with the addition of ever more dramatic embellishments each time.
One of the promoters of the project Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman said that "These days, in this modern age, our children have been embedded and very well occupied watching different cartoons on TV and it’s our responsibility not to stop them from watching, but give them another alternative".
It's pretty extraordinary how "it's our responsibility not to stop them watching" morphed into the Daily Express headline "Muslim leaders tell children to turn off Peppa Pig" and then into countless "Muslims want to ban Peppa Pig" Twitter diatribes.
Such a progression is extraordinary, but sadly it's unsurprising given the way the right-wing hate brigade are so susceptible to mindlessly accepting any old nonsense that confirms their prejudices without even the remotest effort to fact-check the information beforehand.
Alarmingly fake news spreading isn't just confined to cognitively stunted right-wing hate merchants either. A November 2016 study by Stanford University found that students (middle school, high school and college) suffered a "bleak" and "dismaying" inability to reason about information on the Internet. It turns out that there are vast numbers of people who are incapable of differentiating between a "sponsored content" article and a real news item, let alone spotting the difference between a fake news story and a real story based on verifiable facts and reliable sources.
It's hardly surprising that top-down education systems that encourage children to rote learn and regurgitate information that is handed down to them by authority end up churning out people who are incapable of asking fundamentally basic questions like "who is telling me this?", "why are they telling me this?", or "is what they're telling me based on facts and evidence or opinion and emotive language?".
I'll finish with a quote from Subhi Alsheik who is the director and producer at the company hoping to start producing the low budget cartoon about the adventures of two Muslim kids, and leave you to draw your own conclusions about whether Muslims really want to ban Peppa Pig.
"We don't eat them [pigs] that's all ... I've patted pigs. I've watched Babe. We just don't eat them."
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* = A lot of people tend to scoff at Buzzfeed because of all of the stupid "listicles" they host, but in this instance it's undeniable that the Buzzfeed article was the real news, while elements of the traditional mainstream media were guilty of spreading fake news in order to stoke up anti-Muslim outrage.