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ನೂರೆಂಟು ಸುಳ್ಳು (nUreMTu suLLu)

You may not be a "Dhrutharashtra", but we want to be the Sanjaya for you!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How About A Special Olympics For Factually-Challenged?

Dear Readers,

The entire staff -- exactly one person -- of 108 Sullu World H.Q. is in a fairly good mood. Our favorite actress Madhuri Dixit is back with a movie!

If she can come back after so many years of hiatus, shouldn't we do the same? After all our hiatus isn't even that long. Relatively speaking, that is. Let's see how long this mood lasts!

Ok. Enough about our mood.

In today's (Nov 27, 2007) Vijaya Karnataka, in his ""ಕ್ಷಣ ಹೊತ್ತು ಆಣಿಮುತ್ತು" column, Mr.S.Shadakshari writes about a Special Olympics held at Seattle.

It surely is a very touching story about mentally challenged kids. When one of the boys participating in the 100 Meters dash, stumbled, all the other 8 participants in the race, came to help him rather than dashing forward to victory. Eventually, all the 9 participants, linking their hands together crossed the finishing line. All at the same time!

He concludes the story thus (before getting into the rather simplistic and obvious moral lessons):

"ಆ ಬೌದ್ಧಿಕ ವಿಕಲಚೇತನರ ಹೃದಯವಂತಿಕೆ ಗೆದ್ದಿತ್ತು. ಅಂದು ಒಲಿಂಪಿಕ್ಸ್ ಪಾಳೆಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಇದರದ್ದೇ ಮಾತು! ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ, ದೂರದರ್ಶನಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಇದರದೇ ಸುದ್ದಿ!"

Touching, though the story is, the facts are a bit different. First, it did not happen in the place where Mr.Shadakshari claims it happened. Second, it also did not happen the way he claims it happened.

Mr.Shadakshari's this "ಆಣಿಮುತ್ತು" is really based on an urban legend.
Do you want to know the details?
You know what to do here.

Is there more to this story? You bet.

A similar story was once told by our beloved (then) President Kalam. At that time, it was claimed this story of "ಬೌದ್ಧಿಕ ವಿಕಲಚೇತನರ ಹೃದಯವಂತಿಕೆ" happened at our own Hyderabad instead of Seattle.

If it's a touching story, don't you think it should be retold? Of course.

It was retold in the ನೂರೆಂಟು ಮಾತು column. This time made even more touching with additional (made up) details!

[The lone person who makes up our entire staff of 108 Sullu World H.Q. actually wrote about this as part of a longer article about hoaxes. You can read it here.]

Since Mr.Shadakshari's column is about morality, and this story actually kind of shows mentally challenged people in a good light, you might ask what's wrong with that even if it's not factual.

There are a couple of problems.

One, Vijaya Karnataka is a newspaper and the story is published as a fact. It's not published as fiction.

Two, even as a morality story it's kind of unfair to mentally challenged people. Snopes puts it well -
"Our guilt over having more abilities than others have been blessed with is appeased by the belief that the mentally handicapped are better natured or in another way of a higher order. As long as we can believe the scales are being balanced in some inexplicable way, we can feel comfortable with our comparative good fortune.

Such stereotypes no matter how comforting they are to us are unfair and dehumanizing. They cast the mentally disabled as angels who smile benevolently from among us instead of as very real people who are every bit as capable of feeling and expressing the same emotions everyone else does. Just as the 19th century belief that woman was of a higher order than base, animalistic man and thus needed to be placed on a pedestal where she could be sheltered from contact with a brutal world kept her from being treated as a person in those times, so does the currently common characterization of the disabled as smiling cherubs who might not be able to talk to us all that clearly but who are constantly whispering in God's ear.

Special Olympians train long and hard for their events and are every bit as committed as athletes who compete in any other athletic endeavors. The Special Olympics are not a casual get-together organized to give less fortunate members of the community a day to socialize and perhaps run in a foot race or two they're highly organized sporting events taken very seriously by all involved, with each competitor striving to do his best. It's about trying. And succeeding."
Tail Piece: We sent a note to V.K. Corrections department about this. Let's see what happens.

Tip Of The Tail: We want to know what's the policy that the Kannada newspapers follow in giving credit to original sources and what's considered as plagiarism.

On 30th Sep. 2007, The New York Times published an article by John Schwartz on Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. Interested in reading it? You know what to do here.

Two days later, on 1st Oct. 2007, ಹಾಲ್ದೊಡ್ಡೇರಿ ಸುಧೀಂದ್ರ in his weekly column ('ನೆಟ್'ನೋಟ) essentially wrote about the same college. You can read it here. (
Hopefully! We had trouble linking to the article)

Pretty much most of the facts and quotes (of the students named) that are in Mr.Sudhindra's article actually come from Mr.Schwartz's article. However, no credit is given to either Mr.Schwartz or the Times.


Blogger ಸುಪ್ರೀತ್.ಕೆ.ಎಸ್. said...

I agree with you that the kannada News papers (essentially and prominantly vijaya karnataka) needs to understand the importance of factual correctness because many readers consider the newspapers as a source to quote for their arguments and opinions...
about Mr.shadakshari`s article,what i feel is the stories which are meant only to serve the purpose of source of inspiration are tobe told as fictous...

Great work...

Dec 22, 2007, 1:22:00 PM  

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