How Myths are Perpetuated

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There’s an AP story making the rounds right now in various newspapers. Here’s the Washington Post version. And here’s the text of the story, in full:

Montana convenience store bans hoodies, ski masks

MISSOULA, Mont. — A Montana convenience store manager who is tired of being robbed has expanded the “no shoes, no shirt, no service” dress code to include a ban on hoodies and ski masks.

Joe Salisbury is the longtime manager of Noon’s convenience store in Missoula. He decided to post a sign on the door telling customers that no hooded sweat shirts or ski masks are allowed after a rash of robberies by hoodie-wearing thieves.

Salisbury says several times over the past two weeks, late-night visitors wearing hoodies have dashed into his store to swipe a couple of cases of beer, sometimes making repeat visits wearing the same sweat shirts.

Salisbury says the ski mask ban goes without saying, but he had room on the sign and so added it on anyway.

Notice anything suspicious about the story?

It just assumes that the manager already had a “No shirt, No shoes, No service” sign, and added the “No hoodies, No ski masks” to the existing sign.

Wrong.

Here’s the sign:

No Hoodies, No Ski Masks

What the sign does says is “REMOVE HOODS AND SKI MASKS BEFORE ENTERING THIS STORE.” There’s nothing there about shirts or shoes. That was just added by some cutesy reporter. You can see the original story, before it was picked up by AP, here. While that story also says something rather stupid about NSNSNS signs, it does not wrongly claim that there was a sign there that wasn’t.

Thus we see how the media feeds on and enhances myth-perceptions.

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2 Responses to “How Myths are Perpetuated”

  1. Sam Maloney Says:

    Missoula is as funky and laid back a city as you will find anywhere, and has always been very accepting of my barefoot ways. I’d wager this manager doesn’t mind a bit, either…

  2. Eric Says:

    I don’t like how these rules are just assumed. Usually, there is no rule.

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