When you wish upon a Death Star

by Toby Manhire / 03 February, 2013
How the White House petition site became home to "epic quantities of taxpayer-funded trolling".
"The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon"


 

“The Administration does not support blowing up planets,” reads the official White House Statement. “Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?"

And they weren’t being frivolous – or not entirely, anyway. The petition at the US government’s “We the People” website calling for the construction of the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station from Star Wars had attracted more than 25,000 signatures, obliging the White House to issue a formal response, penned at some length by Paul Shawcross, whose business card reads “Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget”.

The threshold, reports Mother Jones, has now been lifted to 100,000. When first launched, it was 5,000 – but increased as the site received a range of impish petitions.

These include: a demand that Maryland’s state mascot be changed to character from Pokémon; that Vice-President Joe Biden star in a state-funded reality TV show; and that Beyoncé be barred from singing at the Obama inauguration – which looks strangely prophetic following the lip-synch kerfuffle.

There are numerous petitions calling for states to secede from the union, and another seeking to “Deport Everyone That Signed A Petition To Withdraw Their State From The United States Of America”.

Writes Mother Jones' Asawin Suebsaeng:

The White House saw the project as yet another avenue for digital civic engagement and as well-meaning outreach—a nice gesture, at the very least. What they did not foresee at the time of the launch was the extent to which the site would be co-opted for epic quantities of taxpayer-funded trolling.


While the officials tasked with overseeing the site confess some exasperation, it’s not all bad. It gains the project attention, and, one staffer tells Mother Jones, “For the most part, it's a good public service, and, hey—isn't it nice to show people once in a while that you don't lose all sense of humour just because you start working for The Man.”

 
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

Jane Goodall: We can live in harmony with nature
76836 2017-07-25 00:00:00Z Profiles

Jane Goodall: We can live in harmony with nature

by Sally Blundell

A world in which humans live in harmony with nature is still possible, says veteran environmental campaigner Jane Goodall.

Read more
Film festival 2017: David Larsen on the highlights (and lowlights) so far
76887 2017-07-25 00:00:00Z Movies

Film festival 2017: David Larsen on the highlights…

by David Larsen

The New Zealand International Film Festival is back for another year and Metro's David Larsen is in his happy place.

Read more
Richard Dawkins' truth, science and tediousness
76845 2017-07-25 00:00:00Z Books

Richard Dawkins' truth, science and tediousness

by Danyl McLauchlan

Richard Dawkins’ profound admiration for himself comes through loud and clear – with footnotes.

Read more
As anti-vaccination numbers rise, is it a case of herd stupidity, not immunity?
75047 2017-07-25 00:00:00Z Health

As anti-vaccination numbers rise, is it a case of …

by Sarah Lang

It’s astonishing just how many well-educated, presumably semi-intelligent New Zealanders subscribe to and try to spread this kind of nonsense.

Read more
The dreaded autocorrect disaster
76840 2017-07-25 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

The dreaded autocorrect disaster

by Joanne Black

Autocorrect may hide your texting and typing bloopers, but it won’t stop your blushes.

Read more
Retailers say competition laws block charge on plastic bags
76850 2017-07-24 16:14:42Z Environment

Retailers say competition laws block charge on pla…

by RNZ

1.5 billion plastic bags are used here each year and on average it takes just 12 minutes before a bag enters the waste stream.

Read more
Crossword 1037 answers and explanations
6 reasons your next family holiday should be in Taranaki
76777 2017-07-24 08:32:07Z Travel

6 reasons your next family holiday should be in Ta…

by Venture Taranaki

How to holiday like a local in the Naki.

Read more