This is a letter I just had to send my local radio station, WABB , after they ran with the Pedobear story that is starting to take foot again. Parents, this is nothing but an urban legend, and NOT something new to be terrified about. (Yes, I trust YOU to be able to use Google correctly, but the people the radio station had do it obviously could not).
My name is Sara and I am the co-founder of ScrwMedia, a small startup in Mobile that does humor websites on different topics. I was driving to work this morning, and I heard the piece you did on Pedobear, and honestly I’m a little hot under the collar about it. The story that you ran as being completely real and giving parents something new to be terrified over, is nothing but an urban legend, more specifically, an internet meme. Meme’s are jokes that take hold and spread, usually based around a particular picture or phrase, and that’s exactly what happened with the Pedobear image. This is something that has been around for several years, and until an idiot at that news station in New Mexico grabbed it and tried to make a headline out of it, was well known by those in the online world that it’s nothing but an off-taste joke. (Funny enough, we ran their report on Urlybits this morning as a post itself before you did your report on it. http://urlybits.com/2011/11/krqe-news-gets-it-wrong/ )
While I understand that the way news often works is one outlet reporting what another outlet said, with little or no fact-checking done in between, I honestly expected a little better from WABB. The fact that you claimed Heather Bright had researched this and found it to be real speaks volumes about her intelligence. The very first hit on any Google search on this topic is the Wikipedia article which explains very clearly in the very first paragraph that it’s nothing but a meme.
“Pedobear is an Internet meme that became popular through the imageboard 4chan. As the name suggests (“pedo” being short for “pedophile”), it is portrayed as a pedophilic bear, and is used to mock pedophiles. Recently, particularly in America, it has been mistaken by some as a bait used by pedophiles to lure children.”
The ‘concerns’ over this started in California a few years ago, and since that report was issued, there has not been ONE single case where it was actually found that a pedophile of any sort has been using the Pedobear symbol to get to or using it as a mascot for molesting children. As quoted in a Gawker piece last year –
“Gawker confirmed with the police that they are aware that it is an Internet joke, but that they have still considered it a mascot for molestation.”
Clearly I am against pedophilia, so why do I care that this story has taken hold again? Because this is the sort of baseless, idiotic reporting that gets people hurt. You mentioned on your show today that there is a company that makes Pedobear stickers, and how people should watch out for them. What happens the first time someone takes this story seriously, and decides to slash someone’s tires, or worse, shoot someone because they have a Pedobear sticker on their car? A sticker that to most of the internet, just references a series of funny pictures and an off-color joke? You want to be responsible for that happening here?
Please do, gosh I don’t know, 5 seconds of real reading before you decide to push what you yourselves said sounded like screwy news as real reporting, every link on the 1st page of a Google search explains this is NOT real. And for the love of f*ck please don’t rely on Heather Bright to use Google, she clearly isn’t capable.
Harsh? Maybe, but Google is NOT that hard to use, and a few seconds of reading on their part could have made for a very different story which didn’t needlessly scare parents and put people at risk.