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Home Hoaxes ‘Fire the Cattle Guards’ Hoax

‘Fire the Cattle Guards’ Hoax

by Brett M. Christensen

This story was first published on July 2nd, 2010

This entertaining little story supposedly exposes the foolishness and telling lack of insight displayed by our political leaders. 

One version lampoons former Australia Labor Party leaders Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.

According to the story, when he was informed that there were more than 10,000 “cattle guards” in the Australian states of Queensland and NSW, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd ordered that half of these “guards” should be fired immediately, supposedly in retaliation for grazier opposition to government policy changes.

The story then claims that Minister for Employment Julia Gillard (later Prime Minister) suggested that the “guards” should be retrained for six months before being fired.

Here a transcript of the circulating story:

Your government at work………

 

You will love this one, I haven’t stop laughing yet………….

 

For those of you who have never travelled to the west, , cattle guards are horizontal steel rails placed at fence openings, in dug-out places in the roads adjacent to highways (sometimes across highways), to prevent cattle from crossing over that area. For some reason the cattle will not step on the “guards,” probably because they fear getting their feet caught between the rails.

 

A few months ago, Kevin Rudd received and was reading a report that there were over 10,000 cattle guards in NSW & Queensland. Graziers had protested his proposed changes in grazing policies, so he ordered the Minister to fire half of the “cattle” guards immediately!!

 

Before the Minister could respond and presumably try to straighten him out, Minister for Employment Julia Gillard, intervened with a request that…. before any “cattle” guards were fired, they be given six months of retraining.

 

And they are running our country, OMG!!

 

Passed on to you without further comment….

Of course, the “cattle guards” that the Prime Minister was supposedly intent on dismissing, are in fact not human workers at all, but instead simple steel grate devices that are used in rural areas around the world to control the movement of cattle and other livestock.

The devices are used instead of gates on many rural roads. Livestock is usually unwilling to attempt to cross the grates, so the integrity of the fence is maintained without the need for drivers to stop to open and close gates.

However, while it may be entertaining, there is no truth to the story whatsoever. 
In fact, the story is just an Australian version of an old prank message that has been aimed at several American political figures over a number of years.

A popular US version of the hoax targets President Obama and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi :

Administration Follies (IDIOT’S)

 

AND THESE PEOPLE ARE RUNNING THE COUNTRY??

 

For those who have never traveled to the great West, cattle guards are horizontal steel rails placed at fence openings on highways to prevent cattle from crossing. For some reason the bovines will not step on the guards, probably because they fear getting their feet caught between the rails. We need to make that clear in order for everyone to appreciate the following story.

 

President Obama received a report that there were over 100,000 cattle guards in Colorado. Because Colorado ranchers protested his proposed changes in grazing policies; he ordered Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar to fire half of the guards immediately.

 

Before Salazar could respond, and presumably straighten him out, California’s congresswoman Nancy Pelosi intervened with a request that before any were fired they be given six months of retraining.

And, there is also an Obama and Biden version:

Awhile back, President Obama received and was reading a report that there were over 100,000 cattle guards in Colorado . The Colorado ranchers had protested his proposed changes in grazing policies, so he ordered the Secretary of the Interior to fire half of the cattle guards immediately!

 

Before the Secretary of the Interior could respond and presumably try to straighten President Obama out on the matter, Vice-President Joe Biden intervened with a request that…before any cattle guards were fired, they be given six months of retraining to become Arizona border guards. “Times are hard”, said Joe Biden, “it’s only fair to the cattle guards and their families.

A 1990’s version targeted then-President Bill Clinton along with Congresswoman Pat Schroeder:

For those who have never traveled to the great West, cattle guards are horizontal steel rails placed at fence openings on Hi-ways to prevent cattle from crossing. For some reason the bovines will not step on the guards, probably because they fear getting their feet caught between the rails. I need to make that clear in order for everyone to appreciate the following TRUE story.

 

President Clinton received a report that there were over 100,000 cattle guards in Colorado. Because Colorado ranchers protested his proposed changes in grazing policies, he ordered Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt to fire half of the guards immediately. Before Babbitt could respond, and presumably straighten him out, Colorado’s congresswoman Pat Schroeder intervened with a request that before any were fired they be given six months of retraining!!

And they get paid to do this!!!!!!

Yet another version made former President Bush the butt of the joke. In an unusual twist, it appears that President Bush liked to tell the joke himself, perhaps because he was once the target of it.

A March 15, 2005 article in the Washington Post notes:

Richard Leiby writes in The Washington Post: “A joke President Bush told recently in Montana struck several readers as very familiar when it was recounted in yesterday’s Style section. In Bush’s telling, the joke involved a city slicker asking for directions in Livingston and being told to look for two ‘cattle guards.’ Now, everyone in cowboy country knows a cattle guard is a metal grate that keeps livestock from straying. But this fellow is so clueless, he asks: ‘Hey, what color uniforms do those cattle guards have on?’

“In 1978, when Dubya was running for Congress in Texas, the very same joke was on him.”

And, in fact, the story has circulated for many years purely as a joke that is not directed at any particular political leader. The joke was included in James Hoy’s 1982 book, “The cattle guard: its history and lore”:

A woman stopped to ask him how she and her party could view the major sights of the park in the least amount of time. Walker gave them directions, beginning with the phrase, “Go down to the first cattle guard and take a left turn.” The woman repeated his instructions down to “the first cattle guard,” at which point she asked, “Will he be wearing the same uniform as you are?”

Thus, neither the US leaders featured in earlier versions of the hoax nor the Australian leaders targeted in this variant actually made the dumb mistake that has been attributed to them in this old joke. A fatal flaw for the Australian version of the joke is that Australians refer to the devices as “cattle grids” rather than “cattle guards”.

Of course, the prankster who decided to create the Australian variant of the story was obligated to go with the American terminology since calling the devices “grids”, immediately renders the joke meaningless and unfunny.  

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer