New York, NY — Joe Franklin, a comedic writer working for The Onion, found himself the latest victim of an uncanny trend afflicting the popular humor magazine. Franklin, who works at The Onion’s New York offices and writes political satire, had just finished a piece about a fictional 75 year-old widow in Saudi Arabia sentenced to 40 lashes and four months imprisonment for speaking to two men.
“The piece was finished, and the editors had signed off on it, and it was all set for publication. And then I got an email from one of our fact checkers, and he’s like: ‘Joe, you’re not going to believe this. The Saudis have done it again.’”
The Onion fact checker (whose responsibility is to ensure that no story in the magazine might accidentally be true), had discovered that a 75 year-old widow in Saudi Arabia had recently, in fact, been sentenced to 40 lashes and four months imprisonment for speaking to two men.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Franklin. “After all my work… I was really frustrated.”
This is the ninth article about Saudi Arabia that The Onion has had to cancel, after discovering that it was true. Previous canceled stories included a piece about a woman sentenced to 200 lashes for being gang raped, and another about the Saudi government convening an international conference about religious tolerance.
The foreign editor at The Onion could not be reached for comment, but an informed source who asked to remain anonymous confirmed that the magazine would not be commissioning any more satirical stories about Saudi Arabia.
“We just can’t take the chance,” he said. “Especially in this economic climate, we want to make sure that every story we commission is guaranteed to be so outlandish that there’s no fricking way in hell that it could be true. With Saudi Arabia, you just never know.”