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Archive for Friday, April 30, 2010

Net Worth: Earthquakes, clerics and cleavage collide in Facebook protest

Jen McCreight, left, stages a Boobquake event on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Jen McCreight, left, stages a Boobquake event on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Indiana.

April 30, 2010

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Facebook is no stranger to goofball causes.

Things like “Can this moist lump of coal get more fans than Toby Keith?” routinely muster thousands of supporters on the social networking site.

So when blogger Jen McCreight came across a bit of international news last week, she decided to hoist the concept to a new level. The Purdue University senior happened upon a BBC report quoting Hojjat ol-eslam Kazem Sedighi, an Iranian cleric who recently delivered a televised sermon at Tehran University.

His speech made headlines when he said, “Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes.”

He went on to explain that the only way for people to avoid being “buried under the rubble” was to adhere to strict religious codes.

After addressing the cleric’s comments on her Blag Hag blog, McCreight kicked off a campaign to disprove the Iranian cleric. The self-described “liberal, geeky, nerdy, scientific, perverted atheist feminist trapped in Indiana” asked women around the globe to simultaneously brandish the most cleavage-revealing outfit they could find.

She dubbed the event Boobquake.

“With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake. If not, I’m sure Sedighi can come up with a rational explanation for why the ground didn’t rumble,” she wrote.

So on Monday Boobquake was launched, with events coordinated at college campuses and coffee shops and elsewhere. McCreight invited her 200,000 or so followers on Facebook to wear something “immodest” in the hope that a little light-hearted mockery was the best way to defuse the radical ramblings of Sedighi.

And so Boobquake commenced. Except hilarity didn’t exactly ensue.

The day began with an earthquake that measured 6.5 on the Richter scale hitting Taiwan.

The tremor caused no deaths and only light casualties (one involved a landslide that buried cars on a highway). But, still, it was a quake.

Then McCreight became the one who shifted into damage control. On her site she divulged how earthquakes between 6.0 and 6.9 magnitude happen 134 times per year. “That means we had about a 37 percent probability of an earthquake of that magnitude happening on Boobquake just due to chance alone — hardly an improbable event that needs to be attributed to an angry deity,” she wrote.

What are the lessons to be learned?

A. Cleric Sedighi was right, and cleavage causes earthquakes.

B. Don’t challenge God to a disaster contest.

C. Irony is funny in any context.

D. All of the above.

E. None of the above.

I’ll go with C.

No word yet on whether cleric Sedighi will be coordinating a similar protest event on Facebook. But even he might still be able to acquire more fans than Toby Keith.

— Entertainment editor Jon Niccum explores facets of pop culture that have established a unique niche on the Internet in Net Worth. He can be reached at 832-7178.

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