I find myself wondering whether it was a good idea for our president to dignify the silly “birther” myths by publicly refuting them — and thereby acknowledging their existence.
I am reminded of a time, many years ago, when a false rumor started that MacDonald’s had rats in their food. MacDonald’s was in a tough spot. If they said anything, even to say it wasn’t true, it would only increase the visibility of the rumor.
So instead they ran a series of ads about how clean they were. It was very clever. They were floating a countering meme into the public consciousness, without ever having acknowledged the existence of the false rumors. If you watched carefully, you knew what was going on — but that’s not at all the same thing.
What is the best course of action when one is falsely accused of something completely nonsensical? Does it ever do any good to acknowledge idiocy, even to refute it?