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Americans With No Abilities Act Hoax

Summary:
Message claims that proposed legislation to be called the Americans With No Abilities Act is intended to provide wide-sweeping work-place benefits for "the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition" (Full commentary below).



Status:
False

Example:(Submitted, July 2006)
AMERICANS WITH NO ABILITIES ACT - CONGRESSIONAL ACT 2006

WASHINGTON , DC (AP) - Congress is considering sweeping legislation, which provides new benefits for many Americans. The Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA) is being hailed as a major legislation by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition.

"Roughly 50 percent of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society," said Barbara Boxer. "We can no longer stand by and allow People of Inability to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favors to a small group of workers, simply because they do a better job, or have some idea of what they are doing."

The President pointed to the success of the US Postal Service, which has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. Approximately 74 percent of postal employees lack job skills, making this agency the single largest US employer of Persons of Inability.

Private sector industries with good records of nondiscrimination against the Inept include retail sales (72%), the airline industry (68%), and home improvement "warehouse" stores (65%) The DMV also has a great record of hiring Persons of Inability. (63%)

Under the Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million "middle man" positions will be created, with important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance.

Mandatory non-performance-based raises and promotions will be given, to guarantee upward mobility for even the most unremarkable employees. The legislation provides substantial tax breaks to corporations which maintain a significant level of Persons of Inability in middle positions, and gives a tax credit to small and medium businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires.

Finally, the AWNA ACT contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the Nonabled, banning discriminatory interview questions such as "Do you have any goals for the future?" or "Do you have any skills or experience which relate to this job?"

"As a Nonabled person, I can't be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them," said Mary Lou Gertz, who lost her position as a lug-nut twister at the GM plant in Flint, MI due to her lack of notable job skills. "This new law should really help people like me." With the passage of this bill, Gertz and millions of other untalented citizens can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Said Senator Ted Kennedy, "It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her adequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation and also find a place for all illegal aliens no matter how useless they may be."




Commentary:
This email forward, styled in the manner of a legitimate news report, claims that the US Congress is considering legislation to be called the "Americans With No Abilities Act" that is intended to provide wide-sweeping work-place benefits for "the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition". According to the message, "50 percent of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society" and the proposed bill is intended to address this problem.

Not surprisingly, the claims in the email are totally untrue. A quick read of the message should be enough for most readers to identify it as satirical in nature. However, submissions indicate that a number of recipients believe that the new legislation described in the message is real.

In fact, the message is a slightly altered version of a satirical "news" article first published on The Onion website way back in June 1998. The Onion is a very popular publication that features funny and irreverent news-style articles that cleverly satirize many facets of contemporary life. In context, the original article, titled "Congress Passes Americans With No Abilities Act", was an enjoyable piece of political commentary. Even if a reader is momentarily fooled by one article featured on The Onion website, a quick read of other articles will, in most cases, clearly reveal its satirical nature. Only the most gullible of Onion readers are likely to take Onion articles at face value. Most would understand quite clearly that the articles do not describe real issues or events. Unfortunately, however, when such an article "escapes" into Cyberspace and begins circulating via email, the original contextual framework is removed and many more recipients are apt to believe its outrageous claims.

The version currently circulating has been "updated" to remove obsolete references to President Clinton. In the latest version, comments in the article are attributed to Senator Barbara Boxer and Senator Ted Kennedy. The original version quoted Bill Clinton as the person making these comments. Moreover, while the original had "nonabled person" Mary Lou Gertz as an ex "unessential filing clerk", the new version describes her lost position as a "lug-nut twister".

It is not uncommon for satirical "news" articles to escape the confines of their original settings and begin fooling recipients as they circulate. A 2004 "news" article from another satirical news site that told of the unfortunate demise of American Idol contestant William Hung continues to circulate and still regularly fools gullible recipients into believing its claims. Another fake report styled to look like a legitimate BBC article falsely claims that members of the "Cambodian Midget Fighting League" were killed or injured in a bloody battle with an African lion.

Thus it is wise to check the veracity of any supposed "news" report that you receive via email before you hit the "forward" button.

References:
Congress Passes Americans With No Abilities Act
The Onion
William Hung Is Not Dead
Fake News Story: Cambodian Midgets Fight Lion

Last updated: 25th July 2006
First published: 25th July 2006

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen