My father loved to give advice in pithy brief sound-bites, like “Neither a borrower or a lender be,” “If you break your leg, don’t come running to me,” and “Moderation in all things, including moderation.” One of our favorites was when he helped us do story problems in math, and we could count on him to say RTFQ (for “Read the F-ing Question”). And of course, he frequently admonished us to stick to the facts and refrain from exaggerating, particularly when it came to why we couldn’t help with the dishes (“I have 9 hours of homework!”) or what a fight was about (“she’s been bugging me for 3 days straight!”)
Adults are supposed to be role models for kids, so one would assume that grownups with a public platform would be very careful about exaggerating (particularly since the internet makes it way too easy to blow holes in tall tales). But in the latest media frenzy, another of my dad’s aphorisms would come in handy, which is the PT Barnum quote, “Nobody ever lost a dollar by underestimating the taste of the American public.” That’s right, Fox News has joined in the latest ludicrous attack on Girl Scouts.
In case you missed it, the Girl Scouts national office recently tweeted a link to an article about nominees for Woman Of The Year,” and the long list of accomplished women included Wendy Davis and Kathleen Sibelius. Conservative news-ish site Breitbart seized on the story, which prompted pro-life groups to erupt in outrage, leading Fox News ancor Megyn Kelly to convene a panel on why the Girl Scouts would endorse known abortionist Wendy Davis. Before you could say “Trefoil Shortbread,” conservative organizations had launched “Cookie-cott 2014,” a national boycott based on the idea that cookie sales would fund an evil agenda to turn every girl into a lesbian vegan homicidal atheist.
Okay, I’m exaggerating too – but just a little. (And exaggeration in the service of humor is at least more entertaining!) This tempest in a cookie-box has prompted some ridiculous accusations and hysterical over-reactions, which just make the boycotters look silly. Fortunately the backlash may even increase cookie sales – I know I’m buying a few extra boxes (although I don’t need much excuse – disclaimer, I was a Girl Scout for 5 years and have always struggled with my Thin Mints addiction!)