from the is-actually-<strike>Dolan</strike>-water dept
April Fool’s Day. Either you love it or you hate it. There’s not much middle ground. As a writer on The Internet, April Fool’s Day is a 24-hour deathtrap composed of plausible stories that will set you on fire the moment you press the Publish button. It turns even the most cheerful of writers into a deeply cynical curmudgeon, one who approaches each possible scoop with more suspicion than the heavily-bearded guy down the street who’s building a bunker under his garage and frequently answers the door wearing nothing but a shotgun. (Much of this reverts back to normal following the “holiday,” but each year adds another layer of resentful suspicion. In fact, if you cut open a writer, you can simply count the rings to determine how many years they’ve been in the business.)
For many people, though, April Fool’s Day is a 24-hour period filled with lighthearted pranks and sub-Onion quasi-satire. They love cheerful shenanigans and they love being fooled. Except when they don’t. Then it’s suddenly “gone too far” and concerned foolees start pressing for “something to be done about it.” This is one of those stories, the kind where you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, but you can temporarily fool enough of them that someone gets seriously pissed off.
Florida country radio morning-show hosts Val St. John and Scott Fish are currently serving indefinite suspensions and possibly worse over a successful April Fools’ Day prank. They told their listeners that “dihydrogen monoxide” was coming out of the taps throughout the Fort Myers area.
If you’re not familiar with the term “dihydrogen monoxide,” you’ll be thrilled to know that the compound is damn near everywhere. Not only that, but its ubiquity has prompted many a petition to be signed fervently in favor of banning the dangerous-sounding substance completely. No one’s really sure what makes it so dangerous, but anything containing two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen can’t be completely safe.
Of course, anyone who’s paid attention over the last couple of decades (at least) knows that dihydrogen monoxide is water. What’s surprising is that a couple of pranking DJs could find enough people unaware of this fact to a.) pull off the prank and b.) possibly face felony charges. Wait… what?
[A]pparently, the station, the water works, and perhaps the authorities are still trying to figure out if the two hosts could face felony charges for, again, reporting that the scientific name of water was coming out of the pipes. “My understanding is it is a felony to call in a false water quality issue,” Diane Holm, a public information officer for Lee County, told WTSP, while Renda stood firm about his deejays: “They will have to deal with the circumstances.”
It seems unlikely the DJ duo will actually face felony charges, but they are currently suspended after being yanked off the air in the middle of their morning show. Apparently, enough people expressed their concern about dihydrogen monoxide leakage that the local water utility was forced to issue a statement.
These reactions to an April Fool’s prank that occurred on a day when pranks are to be expected seem rather overblown. The DJs are suspended indefinitely for technically telling the truth and the station has indicated the pair are facing additional punishment. Sure, nobody wants to feel like a fool, but that is the totality of April 1st. If this many people can’t take being taken for a ride on the foolingest day of the year, then it’s a clear sign that the national sense of humor is in critical condition. (We’ve already eulogized the national sense of proportion and scattered its ashes across a variety of moral panics and Terms of Service outrages.) To put it in more familiar terms, “If you can’t laugh at yourself, the terrorists win.”
[It appears the terrorists have won. (Again.) A poll on the radio station’s website (warning: ads frickin’ everywhere even with Adblock) shows that 78% of the respondents believe the DJs should return to the airwaves “never.” (Poll is no longer live, but an “indefinite” suspension could technically lead to returning “never.”)]