Early Morning Open Thread: Poe’s Law

Nathan Poe formulated it on a Christian website: “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.” The NYTimes(“A Niche of the Unreal in a World of Credulity”) reports on the latest test of this hypothesis:

Since 2008, ChristWire.org has emerged as the leading Internet site for ultraconservative Christian news, commentary and weather reportage.
“Hurricane Earl Projected Path, Gay East Coast of America,” ChristWire opined on Monday. One headline in late August proclaimed, “Warning! Black Music Infiltrates the Minds of Future Homemaking White Women.”
Oh, by the way: ChristWire is all one big joke.
Not the readership — which hit a high of 27 million page views in August — but the content, the opinions and the fake authors who write the stuff… Neither of the two founders is a conservative Christian. They are just like-minded 28-year-olds who met on the Internet, have never seen each other in person, and until this week had never given their real identities to a reporter. Bryan Butvidas is a software developer who works out of his house in Southern California. Kirwin Watson is a former Pepperdine student who moved back home to Kansas, where he now works “on the patient-care staff” of a local hospital…
Neither Mr. Watson nor Mr. Butvidas is a crusading atheist. Mr. Watson calls himself “an observant Catholic,” and Mr. Butvidas is a nondenominational Protestant who is “religious for the most part.” Their target, they say, is not Christians but those who do not question what they hear on the news.
“There’s just rampant idiocy in the media sometimes,” Mr. Watson said. “People watch their favorite news channels, don’t question it and will regurgitate it the next day at the office. That is no good at all.”
“Our main culprit,” he adds, “is Fox News.”

Needless to say, Christwire is fighting back against this vile slur.

Happy Sunday morning, y’all!

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42 replies
  1. 1
    Yutsano says:

    Kirwin Watson is a former Pepperdine student who moved back home to Kansas, where he now works “on the patient-care staff” of a local hospital…

    freelancer is that you??

  2. 2
    auntieeminaz says:

    I’m intrigued. This could be interesting.

  3. 3

    You know who else believed in Poe’s Law?

  4. 4
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: That was quick! That site is a hoot. I firmly believe it’s all satire (based on the few times I’ve read articles there).

  5. 5
    patrick II says:

    Marie Jon, a right wing writer for drawingclose.com was actually writing straight-up posts for Christwire and did not catch on that the rest of the site was satire until recently and no longer posts there.
    Just amazing.

  6. 6
  7. 7
    Yutsano says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: You just can’t help yourself. I find this quite endearing. Plus you haz a very cute kitteh.

  8. 8
    Xenos says:

    I miss Scrutinater.com. Or was it Scrutinizer.com? Scrutator? I don’t remember — I was not part of that in-group, but thought it was funny as hell.

    Did anyone archive it?

  9. 9
    Anne Laurie says:

    @patrick II: The mention of Marie Jon’ actually made me nostalgic for Sadly, No! — she was one of HTML Mencken’s favorite targets, for excellent reasons. To be fair, if I read the article correctly, she wasn’t actually writing for Christwire, just letting them reprint her work. Although her very serious earnest work is so godsdamned badly written, there were a few Sadly-nauts who argued Marie Jon’ (and her apostrophe) was a very deep-cover satirist herself.

  10. 10
    patrick II says:

    @Anne Laurie:
    Do think she knew? My take was, whether original or reprint, she thought they were earnest. Perhaps she never read the site, but the fact that they mixed in real and satire and the audience did not pick up on it just adds to the depth of Poe’s thesis. It’s like the Onion had a reprint of the latest George Will column and it fit right in.

  11. 11
    stickler says:

    Anne Laurie — isn’t SadlyNO still up and running?

    Not that I look at ’em everyday anymore, but I think they’re still toiling away in the vineyards of the Lord.

  12. 12
    patrick II says:


    Sadly Nois in fact still going.

  13. 13
    Anne Laurie says:

    @stickler: Bad phrasing on my part. I should’ve said “nostalgic for the days when I spent most of my blogging energies commenting on Sadly, No! , which is still very much an active blog, as linked in the right-hand column here…”

  14. 14
    Platonicspoof says:

    Have you searched here?

    Other archive sites at the end of this wikipedia page.

  15. 15

    @Anne Laurie:
    Sadly, S,N comment threads fill up so quickly and with so much comedy/snark that it’s a little intimidating even trying to comment anymore there.

  16. 16
    bryanD says:

    “…but no one bats an eyelash when Jesus Christ Himself is strung up like a pinata for…”

    Yep. It’s a spoof “Christian” site, alright. “Pinata”! Oy vey!

  17. 17
    Starfish says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: That’s how I feel about commenting here.

  18. 18
    JamesC says:

    I think this qualifies for “blogging as art.” Even the comment section becomes a necessary component of a performance art piece in the form of a hoax.

    Beautifully done. Truly, beautifully done.

  19. 19
    wilfred says:

    Here’s something for Christwire:

    A 2006 Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation into the purchase of child pornography online turned up more than 250 civilian and military employees of the Defense Department — including some with the highest available security clearance — who used credit cards or PayPal to purchase images of children in sexual situations. But the Pentagon investigated only a handful of the cases, Defense Department records show. The cases turned up during a 2006 ICE inquiry, called Project Flicker, which targeted overseas processing of child-porn payments. As part of the probe, ICE investigators gained access to the names and credit card information of more than 5,000 Americans who had subscribed to websites offering images of child pornography. Many of those individuals provided military email addresses or physical addresses with Army or fleet ZIP codes when they purchased the subscriptions.

    But Julian Assange, well, you know.


  20. 20
    David says:

    Similarly, there is a website called ShelleyTheRepublican.com — I’ve looked at it occasionally over the years and can’t tell what is parody and what is sincere.

  21. 21
    RedKitten says:

    @Xenos: It was Scrutator. And I have no idea if it’s been archived — it probably has, but I wouldn’t know how to find it.

    This was a great post, though.

  22. 22

    It’s only a satire to we DFHs.

    That is the way they see the world.

  23. 23
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Open thread?

    So, MoDo’s column today is a review of Tony Blair’s new book — or maybe it’s a review of The Economist’s review of Tony Blair’s new book, it’s hard to tell. As usual when it comes to Dowd I came away feeling simultaneously depressed and angry. Depissed off, if you will.

    But her last paragraph made me laugh. Twice:

    Maybe Blair should have realized the destructive Oedipal path W. was on. At their first meeting at Camp David, W. screened “Meet the Parents.”

    First, I laughed at W.

    Then I laughed again at the rich irony of seeing MoDo write anything at all about anyone else’s daddy issues.

  24. 24
    Davebo says:

    Link to the Times article?

  25. 25
    Mike in NC says:


    At their first meeting at Camp David, W. screened “Meet the Parents.”

    Well, most of us already knew that the Bush family were a bunch of Fokkers.

  26. 26
    Chad N Freude says:

    Don’t fail to give a Hallelujah shout-out to Landover Baptist Church. I was led there to see The Light when a friend sent me a link to an item by Mrs. Betty Bowers.

  27. 27
    WereBear says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: MoDo. I will be depissed off myself, from now on!

  28. 28
    Perry Como says:

    @RedKitten: iirc, something weird happened to the DB and attempts to rebuild it all failed. It looks like archive.org has some of it, but most of the comments are missing (too bad, lots of lulz there). I think successfully trolling Duncan Black was one of the funniest things that happened.

  29. 29
    gocart mozart says:

    Blogs for Brownback also. Does anyone know if it is archived somewhere?

  30. 30
    morzer says:

    I think there are some very fine and spiritual articles on the website. For example:

    Are String Bikinis And Speedos Ruining America’s Summer at the Beach?

    It was a real eye-opener for me, and I have now looked at it five times. At some point, I may get around to reading the text.

  31. 31
    valdivia says:


    Depissed Off! Loves it. Hats off!

    ETA-MoDo is a scourge on us.

  32. 32
    Mark S. says:

    I’m starting to wonder if Marie Jon’ is a spoof. There are only three known pictures of her in the world.

  33. 33
    60th Street says:

    I just became immediately addicted to ChristWire…

    They’re duping right and left-wingers alike!

    Covered in coffee and tears with my sides hurting on a Sunday morning.

    Just like the good Lord intended.

  34. 34
    gnomedad says:

    The Google ads at ChristWire make it even funnier.

  35. 35

    From the ChristWire site:

    Jezebel, a real flussy

    Ooooh! Can I be a flussy when I grow up?

    On the topic of black music entering the minds of young girls:

    Too late! I know for a fact that it happened over a half century ago.

    In the summer time, when the cloud cover was just right and after my parents had gone to bed, I could take the family radio turned down pretty low and get a station coming out of Memphis, Tennessee. They advertised glass pack mufflers and hair straighteners. And they played this music, wild and exotic to my ears. We’d probably call it R&B now. So I got to hear Susie Q in 1956 or so. Cool!

    [this was before Creedence and Stones got hold of it.]

    I like the way you walk
    I like the way you talk
    Susie Q.

    Still a damn good piece of music.


  36. 36
    maya says:

    Christian Evangelical web sites that aren’t? Spoofs? Satire? Deep cover double agents of Satan or triple agents of the Lord? I tell ya, I just throw my hands up in complete bewilderment amidst this wilderness of deception. Then, I bring them down and clasp them together in the quite repose of thoughtful prayer and ask: What would Torquemada do?

  37. 37
    morzer says:


    All of our operatives are busy right now, but to leave a message:

    Press One for Agent Torquemada

    Press Two for Sheriff Arpaio

    Press Three for Candidate Tancredo

  38. 38

    To be fair, most of the posts are a good deal broader in their satire than is the denial linked to, approaching Landover Baptist Church at times.

    I presume they toned it down for the denial, for the benefit of the many people who would read that and nothing more.

  39. 39
    KV says:

    We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

  40. 40
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Davebo: Durrrr… Fixed, thanks!

  41. 41
    Objective Scrutator says:

    My favorite Poe is probably Objective Ministries, simply because it fools so many people. The numerous links to the crazier elements of the fundamentalists, coupled with the references it makes to real theologians, shows an impressive amount of work put into the website. It was done by the same folks from Landover.

    Scrutator and Blogs 4 Brownback were particularly well done, as well. B4B’s science threads are the funniest, but the earliest threads are particularly refined.

  42. 42
    Sr. Coconut says:

    @Objective Scrutator: Actually, the people behind Landover said they don’t know who created Objective Ministries, so it seems to be an independent site. The writing styles and humour seem different too.

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