Government-Themed April Fool's Day Hoaxes
Kokomo Police Cut Costs.
The Kokomo Tribune announced that the city police had devised a plan to cut costs and save money. According to this plan, the police station would close each night from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. An answering machine would record all calls made to the station during this time, and these calls would be screened by an officer in the morning. The police reportedly anticipated that the screening process would save the city a great deal of money, since many of the calls would be old by the morning and would not need to be answered. A spokesman for the police admitted, "there will be a problem on what to do in the case of a woman who calls in and says her husband has threatened to shoot her or some member of the family." But in such a situation, the spokesman explained, "We will check the hospitals and the coroner, and if they don't have any record of any trouble, then we will know that nothing happened."
Parking Fees Reduced.
A Vienna, Austria radio station reported that the city had decided to reduce parking permit fees, and that car drivers would be able to buy permits in tobacco shops and hand them to police officers in case of need. One police officer called the radio station to ask, "Could you please give me more details on the new order as I have not heard from my superiors yet." [The Washington Post, Apr 2, 1970.]
Dutch Government Shares Budget Surplus.
A Dutch radio program announced that the government planned to distribute its budget surplus equally among tax-payers. The announcement received an excited response from listeners eager for their share.
Pennsylvania Capitol Building Collapses.
The Patriot (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) published a photograph of the state capitol building collapsing. A caption below the picture read, “Custodian A.F. Day said the blast occurred during a joint House-Senate session addressed by Hubert Humphrey and Gov. Milton Shapp… Day attributed the explosion to an abnormal expansion of hot air which usually is absorbed by acoustic seats in the chamber.“ The hoax elicited negative comments from many readers who accused the paper of “confusing fun with irresponsibility.“ Two days later the paper apologized for the hoax and promised that it would never publish another. The hoax recalled a similar April Fool’s Day joke published by the Madison Capital-Times in 1933.
Families limited to .75 children.
The Rivereast News Bulletin (Glastonbury, Connecticut) announced that the city's Board of Education had devised a plan to eliminate overcrowding in classrooms. The plan was to forbid families from having more than .75 children per household for the next 15 years. The Board of Education admitted that it had not yet figured out how families could limit themselves to .75 children, but that a computer had determined that this was the ideal number. It was suggested that families unhappy with this ruling move to California. The Board added that the new ruling would not become law for another ten months. Therefore, parents who wanted more than .75 children were urged to "get started this afternoon."
The New York City Packers.
New York City Comptroller Harrison Goldin called a news conference at which he announced that the city was purchasing the professional football team, the Green Bay Packers. City retirement funds would be used to make the purchase, and the Packers would replace the Giants and the Jets. Reporters had already phoned the story into the New York Post and Daily News when a press representative in Golden's office announced that the news was an April Fool's day joke. The Post complained that they had almost put the story on their front page, a mistake which would have cost them $100,000 to correct.
Privatizing the Army.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Margaret Thatcher was considering privatizing the Army and selling off the Brigade of Guards. According to the article, "Strict flotation terms would prevent hostile foreign interests gaining majority control over the brigade."
PhDs Exempt From China’s One-Child Policy.
The China Youth Daily, an official state newspaper of China, announced on its front page that the government had decided to make Ph.D. holders exempt from the state-imposed one-child limit. The logic behind this decision was that it would eventually reduce the need to invite as many foreign experts into the country to help with the state's modernization effort.
Despite a disclaimer beneath the story identifying it as a joke, the report was repeated as fact by Hong Kong's New Evening News and by Agence France-Presse, an international news agency. What made the hoax seem credible to many was that intellectuals in Singapore were encouraged to marry each other and have children, and China's leaders were known to have great respect for the Singapore system.
The Chinese government responded to the hoax by condemning April Fool's Day as a dangerous Western tradition. The Guangming Daily, Beijing's main newspaper for intellectuals, ran an editorial stating that April Fool's jokes "are an extremely bad influence" and that "Put plainly, April Fool's Day is Liar's Day."
April 1st To Be National Holiday.
Radio Russia reported that the Russian parliament was considering a proposal to declare April 1st a public holiday: "Telephone jokes, absurd tasks for managers, warnings that the power, light or heat is to be cut off and other practical jokes are much more extravagant then than on other days. As a result, expert analysis shows, industrial efficiency in Russia falls," the report explained. By declaring the day a national holiday, efficiency would be maintained.
European Committee Bans Single-Shelled Eggs.
The European Committee issued a communique in which it declared that it was banning single-shelled eggs, in order to prevent cracked eggs being found in food stores. The ban was a play on the French word "coque" which means both egg shell and ship's hull.
Medical ID Chips.
Norway's Aftenposten reported a plan by government health authorities to implant electronic id chips under patient's skin in order to better monitor their medical needs. Health workers would be able to monitor their movements and know when they entered a hospital. Aftenposten later noted that over 2,000 people clicked on a link that accompanied the internet version of the story for people who wanted to participate in the project.
Lottery Tickets Instead of Pension Payments.
The Tokyo Shimbun reported this on its front page: "The government is seriously considering a project which includes issuing lottery tickets to citizens to balance the inevitable cuts in pensions counting on the fact that it would be better to give them dreams of future wealth instead of making them pay more in order to keep present pension figures." Readers were said to be hopeful that the joke didn't turn out to be a satirical prophecy.
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.