Fact Check: 'The Squad' Does NOT Want The Bible Deemed Hate Speech

Hoax Alert

  • by: Victoria Eavis
Fact Check: 'The Squad' Does NOT Want The Bible Deemed Hate Speech Trolling

Does "The Squad" want to deem the Bible as hate speech? No, that's not true: This is a made-up article published by a known network of satire writers. These stories are often re-published by other people and websites without the satire label. "The Squad" -- U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib -- have never said they want to label The Bible as hate speech.

The claim originated from an article (archived here) where it was published by bustatroll.org on October 24, 2019 under the title "The Squad Wants The Bible Deemed To Be 'Hate Speech'". It opened:

Proving once again that they are enemies of America and of all that is good in the world, 'The Squad' - Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and the other one - have started on a new crusade. The four want the Holy Bible to be declared material containing 'hate speech' and dealt with appropriately, either through thorough censorship or an outright ban.

The four progressive Democratic congresswomen have become known as "The Squad" on Capitol Hill due to their unity on various issues, and have drawn the ire of the Trump administration and Republicans for their "drive to move the Democratic Party leftward," according to a July 2019 profile of the four on CNN.com.

The bustatroll.org site is part of the "America's Last Line of Defense" network of satire websites run by self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair from Maine, along with a loose confederation of friends and allies. He runs several websites and Facebook pages with visible satire disclaimers everywhere.

Each article bodes this satire disclaimer:

sat·ire ~ˈsaˌtī(ə)r
noun
the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, OR ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
If you disagree with the definition of satire or have decided it is synonymous with "comedy," you should really just move along.

Blair and his colleagues mostly publish made-up stories with headlines specifically created to trigger Republicans, conservatives and evangelical Christians into angrily sharing or commenting on the story on Facebook without actually reading the full article, exposing them to mockery and ridicule by fans of the sites and pages.

Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down in the past but new ones keep cropping up. One of the most persistent networks of such sites is run by a man from Pakistan named Kashif Shahzad Khokhar (aka "DashiKashi") who has spammed hundreds of such stolen stories into conservative and right-wing Facebook pages in order to profit from the ad revenue.

Blair runs several other websites, including wearethellod.com, dailyworldupdate.us or bebest.website. He often goes by the nickname "Busta Troll". A second man working on the sites is John Prager, as revealed in this earlier Lead Stories report.

Blair and his operation were profiled by the Washington Post on November 17, 2018 by Eli Saslow:

'Nothing on this page is real': How lies become truth in online America

November 17 The only light in the house came from the glow of three computer monitors, and Christopher Blair, 46, sat down at a keyboard and started to type. His wife had left for work and his children were on their way to school, but waiting online was his other community, an unreality where nothing was exactly as it seemed.

If you are interested in learning more about Blair and the history of his sites, here is something to get you started:

The Ultimate Christopher Blair and America's Last Line of Defense Reading List | Lead Stories

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Yesterday Eli Saslow at the Washington Post wrote a fantastic article about Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has been trolling conservatives and Trump supporters online for years and occasionally even made a living out of it.

If you see one of his stories on a site that does not contain a satire disclaimer, assume it is fake news. If you do see the satire disclaimer it is, of course, also fake news.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes bustatroll.org as:

One in a network of sites that publish false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news, run by hoax perpetrator Christopher Blair.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

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  Victoria Eavis

Victoria Eavis is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She recently graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. In her last few months at Duke, she was a reporter for a student news site, The 9th Street Journal, that covers the city of Durham, North Carolina. 

Read more about or contact Victoria Eavis

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