On a comment section in Atlantic recently, I ran into the following claim about the creeping Islamic influence in "Western" societies:
...Islamists have brought about women-only classes and swimming times at taxpayer-funded universities and public pools; that Christians, Jews, and Hindus have been banned from serving on juries where Muslim defendants are being judged, Piggy banks and Porky Pig tissue dispensers have been banned from workplaces because they offend Islamist sensibilities. Ice cream has been discontinued at certain Burger King locations because the picture on the wrapper looks similar to the Arabic script for Allah, public schools are pulling pork from their menus, on and on...When I asked for sources for these claims, another person posting on the same thread pointed out that virtually exact copies of this same statement have appeared as cut and paste jobs in many site comments. After a Google search I tracked down the source of this boilerplate: a thriller by Brad Thor called The Last Patriot. Amazon describes it as the story of a US Navy Seal turned Homeland Security operative, searching for a secret way to halt militant Islam. That may or may not provide a diverting read. But when a sentence or two, lifted from a work of fiction, appears in dozens of comments as fact, it has the potential to distort discussions of public policy that matter.
This encounter with Internet fiction repackaged as fact has reminded me not to assume the assumptions that produce legislation such as the Conservatives' recent security bill have any basis in fact.