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Hoax - '9 Year Old Suspended From School for Saying Merry Christmas'


Circulating report claims that a fourth grade San Francisco boy was suspended from school for wishing his atheist teacher a Merry Christmas.

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Brief Analysis

The claims in the report are false. No such suspension occurred. The story originates from the satirical fake-news website, National Report. None of the stories on the National Report website are true.


9-Year-Old Suspended For Saying ‘Merry Christmas’ To Teacher

San Francisco, CA — The ‘war on Christmas’ continues as a simple well-wishing of ‘Merry Christmas’ has led to big trouble for one fourth-grade San Francisco boy this week.

Boy Suspended Merry Christmas Hoax

Detailed Analysis

According to a report that is circulating via social media and being posted to various politically orientated blogs and forums, Timothy Dawson, a 9-year-old boy at a San Francisco elementary school was suspended because he wished Paul Horner, his atheist teacher a Merry Christmas.  Supposedly, the teacher was offended by the boy's Christmas greeting and arranged to have him suspended for the rest of the week as a punishment.  The report describes the incident as part of the ongoing "war on Christmas".

However, the claims in the message are nonsense. No such incident occurred and the story is fictional. Although it has now been posted far and wide, the story originates on the satirical pseudo-news website National Report.  All articles  published on the site are fictional. A disclaimer on the site notes:
*DISCLAIMER:  National Report is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways.  All news articles contained within National Report are fiction, and presumably fake news.  Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental.

Unfortunately, this silly hoax has caused real problems for a real school. The fake news story originally referred to the "Argon Elementary School", close enough to San Francisco's "Argonne Elementary School" for false assumptions to be made. To alleviate concern and confusion, the school was forced to publish the following notice on its website:
Dear Argonne School Community,

I am writing to inform you that a news story was published stating that a fourth grade student from Argon Elementary in San Francisco was suspended for saying “Merry Christmas” to a teacher. The incident did not occur at our school, Argonne Elementary or any school in the San Francisco Unified School District.

Thank you for continuing to support our school community.

Warm regards,
Cami Okubo Principal at Argonne Elementary

The National Report article has since changed the name of the school it mentions to "Anon Elementary School". But, alas, the damage is already done.
National Report has been responsible for churning out a series of false and fanciful stories in recent months that have managed to cause a good deal of angst and consternation as they travel.  The site's articles are presented as news and many readers tend to believe the information they contain.  Especially when the articles escape the confines of their original satirical context.

Paul Horner, the supposed atheist teacher, has featured in other fictional National report stories. He was supposedly the first man to marry an animal in a "State Recognized Human-Animal Marriage". And, in another article, a man of the same name won an award for having a very large appendage.

While satirical stories such as the above school suspension tale have their place and can be entertaining, it is rather sad that so many people seem so willing to use such obviously fictional pieces to promote their own political and religious agendas, including the mythical "war on Christmas".

Last updated: December 18, 2013
First published: December 18, 2013
By Brett M. Christensen
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