Ever read Politifact or Factcheck.org, the sites where they dissect a public figure’s pronouncements and rule on whether or not they’re accurate? It’s fascinating work, but they’re only working with public officials and political candidates. Who’s fact-checking internet memes? Who’s weighing in on whether that cat can have the cheeseburger, or whatever?

The Smoking Gun brings us a story about a woman who called the Tulsa Emergency Operations Center 59 times over an 8-hour period – that works out to a new call every eight minutes. Why? Well, here’s what she told the operators:

Criminal complaint says woman told 911 operators "My job is to harass you b____es"

I’m neither a police officer nor a district attorney, so I won’t weigh in on the merits of the criminal case. My focus is on her stated rationale for the calls – “my job is to harass you b____es.” Now this wouldn’t be the first time someone was arrested for what they claimed was a job, in this case it is hard to take the claim seriously. The North American Industry Classification System does not include “harassment” as an employment category, and while there are industries sometimes considered akin to harassment by the public – telemarketing, debt collection agencies, the Etrade baby – in those industries there is at least a financial motive at the core of the activity. There is no evidence that this is the case here, making it unlikely that someone hired the defendant to harass Tulsa’s 911 operators.

It is, of course, entirely possible that this individual was self-employed as a 911 harasser, and placed those 59 calls for a client. But this, again, stretches logic: for one thing, the caller would probably have said “my client wants me to harass you b____es” if this was on someone else’s behalf. And the business model for a company specializing in 911 harassment is simply not practical – the market for such services would be incredibly small, as most people who reportedly wish to harass 911 seem to take on the job themselves rather than seeking out a service.

Therefore, we have to rate this woman’s claim that harassing 911 operators is her job as False.  Next time she picks up the phone to call someone, might we recommend a different phrase?

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