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No, English People, It’s Not Illegal To Masturbate In Texas

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The popular mythology of Texas around the world does include some less-than-flattering stereotypes. Some of these perceptions have at least a basis in reality; when Lewis Black took to the streets of New York for a Daily Show called “Fuck You, Texas,” he did so in response to ads run in that state by Governor Perry suggesting that jobs in New York would be better for everyone if they just moved to Texas. While aiming that segment at the whole of Texas may have been overbroad, you at least knew where Black was coming from.

It’s harder to know where The Guardian is getting their misconceptions of Texas, though. In a post on the British paper’s Shortcuts Blog called “Masturbation laws around the world: the penal code” (we see what you did there), they made the claim that:

“[A] new measure which will come into force on 1 January 2014 will make money forms of male masturbation illegal. ‘Exceptions include sperm donations, which now must only be performed at a designated hospital facility.'”

The source the Guardian cites for that tidbit—which, it should go without saying, is 100% untrue—is the website the Tribune Herald, a parody news website that runs on a basic WordPress template, has 75 followers on Twitter, and includes stories with other headlines like, “Obama to meet and personally arm Syrian rebels with special ‘first gun.'”

And while it’s always good for a laugh when a major news source gets snookered by a seemingly-obvious satire site, this isn’t the first time that the Guardian—the storied paper (only ten editors in nearly 200 continuous years of publishing) responsible for, most recently, breaking the news about the PRISM surveillance program
—has published facts about the Texas criminal justice system that have no basis whatsoever in reality.

 

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