David Hundeyin

David Hundeyin



Sometimes people make up stories about you just so you deny it, then they can put you on the defensive by repeating the accusation multiple times. The more you deny it and defend yourself, the more they repeat it until a "scandal" starts to develop out of absolutely nothing.

In journalism we call this the "Peter Fucks Goats" paradox, and this is the story of this paradox: Peter is a normal, unspectacular, everyday guy who has a wife, 2 kids and a job in HR. He pays his taxes, goes to church and obeys the law. He does absolutely nothing wrong. BUT -

One day Peter's coworker receives an email from an anonymous sender which only says the following: "PETER FUCKS GOATS." At first the coworker ignores it, but the same email comes in everyday at 10AM unfailingly. "PETER FUCKS GOATS." Eventually he decides its a funny prank BUT-

He shows the multiple emails to Peter, just to be sure. Peter reacts angrily and appears flustered. The colour of his face changes. He cannot understand why anyone would make up and circulate such a story about him. Everyone else seems to find it funny, but he doesn't.

Meanwhile the emails keep coming in, this time to all of Peter's coworkers: "PETER FUCKS GOATS." They find it hilarious, but Peter reacts with anger and frustration each time someone references the email or his alleged goat-fucking. He does not find it funny at all!

Eventually people stop laughing as they notice his distinct lack of amusement. The emails are now going out to Peter's wife, in-laws and church members, with new descriptive details. "PETER FUCKS GOATS. HE HAS SEXUAL INTERCOURSE WITH GOATS AT JIM'S FARM." Now it's not funny.

People start quietly wondering, "Could this actually be true? Does Peter actually do this? If he doesn't, why would anybody make up such a story about him? With such details?" New details are added to the emails. "PETER STARTED FUCKING GOATS LAST YEAR. HE GAVE HIS WIFE AN STD."

Peter's father-in-law confronts him angrily, wanting to know if its true that Peter fucks goats and gave his daughter an STD. Peter denies it, but his anger is starting to give way to despair. People now avoid him at work and neighbours exchange whispers about his alleged habit.

Nobody wants to sit next to his family at church and his kids are mercilessly bullied at school for being the children of that goat-fucker Peter. Eventually Peter's boss has to lay him off because even though he knows Peter doesn't fuck goats, his coworkers don't.

The emails now contain graphic descriptions of how Peter supposedly fucks goats at Jim's farm including pictures of goats and photos of Peter coming out of his house dressed for work, only to supposedly go fuck some goats instead. "ONE OF THE GOATS PETER FUCKED DIED YESTERDAY."

In the space of two months, Peter has gone from respected middle class family man to unemployed social pariah and presumed sexual deviant. Peter goes home to deliver the bad news to his wife, but when he gets there, he meets an empty house. She has taken the kids and left him.

She has left a note saying that while she loves him and she knows that he did none of the things he is accused of, life has become intolerable because of how people treat them She promises to return when things calm down, but Peter knows at this point, that this may never happen

Peter writes a suicide note apologising to his friends and family for all the pain the accusations have caused them. He maintains his innocence but says that everyone will probably be better off this way. He hangs himself, hoping that this will clear his name.

Another anonymous email goes out: "PETER COMMITS SUICIDE AFTER RECEIVING TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS FROM STD AFTER REPEATEDLY FUCKING GOATS ON JIM'S FARM." Jim takes out an advert in the local paper stating that he runs a vegetable farm and has never had any goats. Nobody reads it.

Peter is buried as a pariah. His family and friends are too ashamed to even show up to the funeral. His headstone reads: "HERE LIES PETER WHO FUCKED GOATS."

The moral of the story is that certain rumours have zero downside to those who spread them, while those affected stand to lose everything simply because a completely fictitious tale is repeated continuously until it becomes accepted as fact. That's how human minds work.

The solution to the "Peter Fucks Goats" conundrum is to deny oxygen and attention to such stories. Don't defend yourself or acknowledge it in any way. Your own angry reaction to being lied against is what will fuel the "Peter Fucks Goats" sequence. Resist the urge to shalaye.

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