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

Truth and Lye: New perspectives on the brilliance of Len Lye
85816 2018-01-19 00:00:00Z Arts

Truth and Lye: New perspectives on the brilliance …

by Sally Blundell

New essays on New Zealand-born US artist Len Lye elevate him to the status of Australasia’s most notable 20th-century artist.

Read more
Brain activity may hold the secret to helping infertile couples
86046 2018-01-19 00:00:00Z Health

Brain activity may hold the secret to helping infe…

by Nicky Pellegrino

For about a third of infertility cases in New Zealand, there is no obvious reason why seemingly fertile couples struggle to conceive.

Read more
Farewells on the Auckland wharves, captured by photographer John Rykenberg
85964 2018-01-19 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Farewells on the Auckland wharves, captured by pho…

by Frances Walsh

More than one million images from Rykenberg Photography, taken around Auckland, are now in the Auckland Libraries Collection. But who are the people?

Read more
'Termite hell' for Golden Bay man after he woke covered in insects
86027 2018-01-18 11:59:55Z Environment

'Termite hell' for Golden Bay man after he woke co…

by Hamish Cardwell

A Golden Bay man spending his first night in his new house says he woke to find his bed, walls and floor covered in hundreds of creepy crawlies.

Read more
Ten ‘stealth microplastics’ to avoid if you want to save the oceans
86015 2018-01-18 11:18:49Z Environment

Ten ‘stealth microplastics’ to avoid if you want t…

by Sharon George and Deirdre McKay

There's a growing movement to stop the amount of wasteful plastic that goes into our oceans, but what about the tiny bits we can hardly see?

Read more
It's time to chlorinate New Zealand's drinking water
86001 2018-01-18 09:41:15Z Social issues

It's time to chlorinate New Zealand's drinking wat…

by The Listener

The inconvenience to chlorine refuseniks is tiny compared with the risk of more suffering and tragedy from another Havelock North-style contamination.

Read more
Climate change: New study finds worst case scenario might not be as bad
85994 2018-01-18 08:27:48Z Environment

Climate change: New study finds worst case scenari…

by Charlie Dreaver

Global warming's worst case scenario may not be as bad as previously thought, a new climate change study says.

Read more
The science of sibling rivalries
85949 2018-01-18 00:00:00Z Science

The science of sibling rivalries

by Sally Blundell

Who was the favourite? Who got the most? Sibling relationships set up patterns that last a lifetime.

Read more