The news on April Fools’ Day: Joke or no joke?

April Fools’ Day is getting harder and harder for readers of the news. Which story is meant as a joke of the day and which tells real news? This year, a look at stories in England and the United States reveals just how tough it has become to tell them apart.

Take these stories from the April 1 edition of London’s Daily Telegraph:

  • “Logo is a tool of Satan” claims a Polish priest with an unpronounceable name. The Polish element might push you to smell a joke, but then you recall pronouncements made by some of our own televangelists and you’re not so sure.
  • “Why Zebras Have Stripes” is presented in this story as one of nature’s stubborn secrets that now is unlocked by scientists. “Because stripes repel tsetse flies intending to bite” is the answer you wish you had thought of yourself, of course. Only zebra-hating bigots will laugh.
  • “British sniper kills six Taliban with one bullet” reveals this tale from Afghanistan. Those Brits, they’re still trying to show up the superheroes from their former colony. But then, it’s possible if …

A look at April 1 stories on the AOL/Huffington Post website told us:

  • “Experts claim they’ve found the Holy Grail.” Probably in the same place they’re about to discover Jimmy Hoffa? Haven’t the boys and girls watched the Monty Python movie about the Holy Grail? The joke’s been done.
  • “Kim Kardashian wades into Syria war debate” will not be well received in the White House. Can she do any worse than the president did on this issue? Her smiley face will get a better reception than the dour one of secretary of state, John Kerry. But be careful, or the earnest culture critics at our colleges will not have Kardashian to kick around anymore.
  • “Man sets new record for backward bowling with an almost perfect game” will not get a laugh from the liberal elites on either coast. They just can’t grasp that backward bowling is another step forward in the progress of our civilization as we know it. Or that it’s supposed to be funny.

After reading these stories, you’re hungry for something real, something that really concerns Americans. Thank goodness for Show-Me State Missourians. In the April 1 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, we found the following reader’s letter:

“Our nation has the technology to capture the telephone calls of an entire nation for a year, and the technology to retrieve and listen to any call it wants. It can listen to key words in any call and highlight that call for further analysis. Why can it not stop Rachel from Card Services?”

Because, as readers know, the joke in the letter’s story, not just an April Fools’ Day joke. It’s a joke on us on every other day of the year as well.

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