Sarah Palin will not relent in defending her revisionist history of Paul Revere's ride from Boston to Lexington, in which Revere "warned the British." And her supporters similarly will not relent in revising the history of the event on Wikipedia in order to reflect Palin's version. Wikipedia editors are fed up with the flood of poorly sourced changes to the Paul Revere page--many point to Palin herself as a history expert--and have called for a lock on the page and an end to the discussion.
Charles Johnson reported the volley of Palin-inspired changes to Paul Revere page and Dave Weigel offers a quick snapshot of the controversy. Here's a quick summary. Last week, Palin claimed that Revere warned the British not to take Americans' arms by "riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells." In questioning Palin's understanding of the Revere's midnight ride--an event historians have undeniably studied in depth, leading to ample academic debate over the specifics--critics point out that Revere definitely warned the colonists and probably did not do so by firing guns. This likely would've spoiled the clandestine nature of the mission. Here, one editor points out how a Palin supporter's attempt at bending the narrative towards her version:
In the article on Paul Revere, someone has added false information in an effort to support Sarah Palin's FALSE claims about Paul Revere.
"Accounts differ regarding the method of alerting the colonists; the generally accepted position is that the warnings were verbal in nature, although one disputed account suggested that Revere rang bells during his ride."
This must be removed as it is a LIE designed to mislead.
The behind-the-scenes discussion on Wikipedia starts here but rages as editors deleted false claims, users added them back pointing to Palin as a source, and everyone argued over who was less wrong. As replies to the post above reiterated, Wikipedia requires users to cite reliable sources when making claims and also to remain neutral in depicting historical events. The case for Palin-as-reliable-historian is pretty thin, but Palin's defenders sure tried. Here's an abbreviated thread in reply to the original complaint:
I kindly remind people that it's not our job here at Wikipedia to decide what's true, but to report what reliable sources say, such as the LA Times, WDHD TV in Boston, numerous others. And they quoted an American politician saying that bells were used. --Tomwsulcer (talk) 15:09, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
It's not the LA Times that's questionable as a reliable source, it's Palin herself. Even if the Times (& others) quoted her accurately, her off-hand, poorly-informed view doesn't belong here, per WP:UNDUE, and I have reverted. Hertz1888 (talk) 15:30, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Sarah Palin is a former governor of Alaska as well as a presidential candidate of one of the two national parties in the United States. Her account of Paul Revere's famous ride has achieved national attention from most mainstream media -- LA Times, CNN, you name it. There are numerous reliable sources quoted her exact words on this subject. This article has HUGE attention (55K readers in one day) as a result. Clearly, there should be some mention given its obvious importance. And I remind people, kindly, that it's not up to us contributors to determine who is and isn't a "poorly informed view" and to try to determine truth. Rather, Wikipedia is about verifiability.--Tomwsulcer(talk) 15:37, 5 June 2011 (UTC)