Several days ago, a friend sent me this photo and the others shown here in an email. The text accompanying them read: "Wow! Your tax dollars at work! Can you guess what this is?? It is the new Cook County Correctional Center in Chicago, Illinois. This is where the Administration plans on putting the terrorists from Gitmo, and we have Americans living in cardboard boxes on the streets that have never killed anyone. Nothing makes sense anymore. How's that compare with "Sheriff Joe's" prison in Arizona???? PLEASE PASS THIS ON! MOST PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW THIS!!"
Well, there's a reason most people don't know this, and that's because it's not true. Oh, sure. If you live in Chicago, you'd recognize the pictures as false. For one thing, like a lot of states, Illinois is broke. It has no money to pay for new correction centers, nor does Cook County, the county in which Chicago lies, have any money. I know, because the Cook County Board is always pushing for new taxes to support itself.
To the right is a picture of a cell in the supposed "new" Cook County Correctional Center. To the left is a picture of a cell in the REAL Cook County Department of Corrections facility at 2700 South California in Chicago. Built in 1929 during the administration of Mayor Anton Cermak, the facility covers 96 acres, over eight city blocks, and looks its age.
Another picture of a REAL cell at the jail. Not quite as comfy looking as the one above, is it. And compare the below picture of the REAL cell catwalk in the jail with the second picture above, the supposed "new" cell catwalk. Again, no bright airy look to the scene as in the false pictures, just a no-nonsense walkway that restricts crowding by prisoners.
This is a view from the supposed "new" jail showing an inmate sitting on a porch looking out at the beautiful countryside. In reality, all prisoners can see from their windows in the REAL Cook County jail is blocks of old factories, railroad tracks, and parking lots. This next picture is what Cook County inmates see from the 'recreational' area of the facility -- no basketball courts or fancy running tracks as shown in the false pictures, most of which I've chosen not to include here.
The truth is, all those "false" pictures were of the Justice and Detention Center in Leoben, Austria. Designed by architect Josef Hohenstinn, the facility houses both court rooms and a penitentiary. More information on the center can be found at Snopes.com, the website that exposes urban legends and downright lies that float through space via the Internet.
The person who first put that email together obviously knew he was perpetuating a falsehood. But he was willing to lie because he had an anti-Administration agenda, and lies always help when you can't depend on the truth. Now, I don't agree with everything President Obama says or does. I didn't vote for him in the primary election because I believed Senator Clinton was more qualified than he. But I voted for him in the general election because I couldn't vote for a John McCain who, given the chance to select an intelligent, experienced, and truly capable woman as his running mate, chose instead to team up with a clearly inexperienced and unqualified Sarah Palin.
I'll be the first one to call out the President on a policy I believe isn't working. I have no problem with anyone else doing that too, as long as it's done in a civilized manner. Object if you will, but refrain from resorting to lies, crudeness, and bigotry to make your point. And the author of this particular email sought only to inflame passions against the Administration; i.e., President Obama.
I wrote back to my friend after receiving this email and told her to check Snopes.com. I do that with any emails I receive that falsely portray other people or their actions. Sure, I could simply delete them and forget about it, but isn't that avoiding responsibility? If we truly want to live in a country where we can discourse on politics and agree to disagree in a civilized manner, we all have to respond to unwarranted lies circulated by unprincipled people.
Falsehoods don't make you a patriot. They only make you a liar.