Friday, November 9, 2012

If you're going to leave the country, do some research first

One of the interesting things to come out of the aftermath of the election was a simple 16 word tweet:
I'm moving to Australia, because their president is a Christian and actually supports what he says.
Doesn't take very long to unpack this:

"I'm moving to Australia" No, you're not.

"because" implies that what follows is the reason behind what came before but that can't be the case in this case.

"their president" they don't have a president, they have a prime minister.

"is a Christian" if by "Christian" you mean "atheist".

"and actually supports what" I'm going to leave it to Australians to determine the truth or falsehood of this.

"he says." If by "he" you mean "she".


More than a thousand people found something to respond to in those 16 words ranging from, "Our prime minister is a woman, an atheist who lives with a man she hasn't married. I don't think you'd like it here," to, "Not one word of that sentence is true. I'm not even angry, I'm impressed."

But I'm actually more interested in genre.  This is fairly representative of a larger genre of political reactions in the US that I first became aware of 'round about four years ago.  Sometimes, as in the case quoted, it's after the fact, other times it's before and thus conditional, "If X happens, I'm moving to [wherever]."

There always seem to be two things in common.  One is that it's never true.  The people never actually move.  The second is that they always seem to pick a country where their stated reason for moving simply isn't true. For example if someone said that they'd leave the country if universal healthcare were passed, the country that they picked was invariably one that already has universal health care.  If it's about taxes being too high they'd go to a place that would have them paying higher taxes.  If it's about not believing Obama is a Christian and wanting a Christian leader, they'd pick a place where the leader wasn't a Christian.

The second point is more interesting to me than the first.  How hard is it to find a country with a Christian leader?  How hard is it to find a country where you wouldn't pay higher taxes than the ones you're supposedly fleeing?  How hard is it to find a country where there isn't universal healthcare?  I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Somalia probably satisfies the second two conditions, and since the genre is usually defined by a single condition that's more than enough.

It's definitely not hard to find places with Christians in charge.  David Cameron, for example, stated, ""I am a Christian, I go to church, I believe in God..."

But the genre of, "I'm flouncing on the USA," always seems to be defined by picking a place where your stated reason for leaving is already in effect.  It's always something along the lines of, "They're going to let people speak French here?  I cannot bear to be in a country where people are allowed to speak French.  I'm moving to France right away because they don't let people speak French there."

Anyway, there's this genre out there, and it seems to be defined by these two things:
1 False claims of flouncing.
2 Painful lack of research about the place being flounced to.


  1. Most of the people I saw threatening to leave were talking about leaving if Romney won. To which I responded "Start now and maybe you'll be out by his second term."

    (The Bush speech ("either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists") to which Dad responded "That's it, we're moving to Canada": September 2001. The move into a Canadian house: September 2007.)

  2. I started planning to move out of London the day it was selected for the Olympics, and made it about a year later...

  3. As an Australian, that tweet amused me no end.

  4. Aargh, the grammar! The tweet is not Australian. I am Australian, and was no end amused by that tweet. There.