Monday, October 03, 2005

Good Speech - er - Article

I received an eMail from a friend with the text of a speech supposedly made by The Chief of Naval Operations (currently Admiral Michael G. Mullen). The heading was simply

In case you haven't seen this's really good...

I thought it was an excellent speech, but I wanted to cite the date, time and location, so I contacted the Navy for the details. They replied that this was certainly NOT made by Admiral Mullen. Turns out it was not a speech at all. It was an article written by a retired Navy Chief (Petty Officer, that is). Thanks to LT Bill Couch, USN, for directing me to the source. Here are the author's* comments on the eMail confusion.

"Someone had either liked (or disliked) my words enough to copy them into an email, and forward it one or more friends. Perhaps the original forwarder was dazzled by my sterling wit and brilliant logic, and simply could not wait to share them with his or her friends. Or, maybe he or she found my writing disjointed enough or offensive enough to hold up as an object of ridicule. I cannot say, although I will admit to having a personal favorite among those alternatives.

Somewhere along the line, it picked up the headline "Navy Chief Lets Loose a Broadside." So far, so good. I am a retired Navy Chief, and you could certainly argue that I was loosing a broadside. If you haven't read it, "The Wrong Army" is a fairly opinionated piece. (Okay, it's a very opinionated piece.) So that header was appropriate, even if I hadn't chosen it myself.

If the shape shifting had ended there, nothing else would have happened, apart from a lot of people circulating an email from an old Navy Chief. But, after a few hundred bounces, the header of the email became "Navy Chief of Operations Lets Loose a Broadside." Now we were starting to get into the danger zone. Someone could look at that header, and easily conclude that the words that followed were straight from the mouth of the CNO. Not good. But the header of the email wasn't through changing yet. A few hundred bounces later, it had acquired another headline: "Speech by the Chief of Naval Operations." By this time, all mention of retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Jeff Edwards had vanished from the email. It was squarely marked as the work of the Chief of Naval Operations.

Be sure to follow the links above. I am sure you will enjoy reading the original article and the author's commentary.

Jeff Edwards is a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, and an Anti-Submarine Warfare Specialist.

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