Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Los Angeles has been targeted for terrorist activity on
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2001]
Origins: Once again, rumors were afoot about additional acts of terrorism looming on the horizon, and once again blabbermouth conspirators were supposedly passing along to ordinary folks mysterious warnings against being in a certain place at a specified time. This time the purported target was
A key element of the Mall-o-Ween rumor ("Stay out of shopping malls on Halloween") has been incorporated into many of these L.A. Confidential whispers; namely, the motif of the Arab significant other who issues a written plea for his loved one to avoid a particular venue on a named day. Likewise, other previously sighted forms of "warned to stay away from
Uncertain times breed rumors, and the lurking possibility of further terrorist action guarantees that "warned to stay away from
Folks who encounter such rumors need to keep two things firmly in mind. First, terrorists do not telegraph their plans to those who could potentially interfere with the success of their operations. Those who have devoted their lives to bringing about the downfall of a particular government or country will not jeopardize their thirsted-for goal merely to spare a stranger, a daughter of a friend, or even a wife. The terrorists who attacked America on
Additionally, society has a strong need for rumors of this nature because they tend to reduce the sword of Damocles hanging over all of our heads to a mere butter knife. The blood-curdling reality of terrorism — even outstripping the death, destruction, mayhem, and unspeakable tragedy in terms of individual lives lost — is its unpredictability. No one knows when or where the next strike will be. How comforting it thus is to entertain such tales that tell you the "when" and the "where" and thus return the issue of your own safety back into your own hands rather than leaving it to the whim of the homicidal. We like such rumors because they reduce the chilling reality of "Anyone could be a target at any time" down to a matter of "Don't be in
Until our sense of safety is regained, we will see wave upon wave of similar rumors, and in each case hearts a'flutter over them will not be mollified until each
Barbara "naught's landing" Mikkelson
Last updated: 7 April 2008
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.