It’s been a while since we’ve gotten one of those emails with a subject line beginning with FWD: fwd: fwd: FWD: re: FWD (or the like), perhaps because we have a cranky tendency to respond to those missives with “I find it useful to consult the Internet Website before forwarding items of this nature”*

But this one was too good to pass up:

Date: Thursday, April 2, 4:48 AM
Subject: FWD: fwd: fwd: FWD: re: FWD San FranSicko Cares More About Being “Green” Than Human Life

I heard about this on the radio on my way to work and had to make sure you knew about a hospital in San Francisco shutting down all the power for an hour in observance of National Power It Down Day, thus dooming all those on life support. They said all the family members of people on life support agreed to this, they had someone saying that the sacrifice of their family members was necessary for the good of the planet.They even said that any battery operated support systems were disabled because, according to one hospital official, using battery power went against “the spirit of Power It Down Day.”

This doesn’t surprise me coming from San FranSicko.

Hahaha that last part is our favorite. Well, let’s follow our own advice, and: oh, there you go: false. Snopes traces this urban myth to a persistent earlier one centered around a South African janitor using the life-support systems’ outlets to plug in his floor polisher.

From Snopes:

The “Earth Hour” version does the “Polished Off” legend one better, however: It holds that the patient fatalities were not the product of a mysterious accident, but rather were an anticipated result which was fully agreed to in advance by the families of the affected patients who opted to sacrifice their loved ones “for the good of the planet.” That additional layer of outrageousness is a clue that this is neither a true account nor an ordinary urban legend; it’s a bit of satirical humor poking fun at the overzealousness sometimes exhibited by participants in such “awareness” events.

While the rational people at Snopes shake their heads at folks who miss this clue (probably based in this joke article), it seems like a lot of this story is based on how our City’s perceived as crazy by much of the country.

Oh, and speaking of not believing everything you read on the TV with the typewriter, we took things a step further and called several local hospitals to confirm that lives had not been lost in observation of this Hour. While most of the folks answering the information lines contented themselves with a simple “no,” a rep of SF General, never one to disappoint, said “Girl, where did you hear that? I do not even know what this Earth Hour is! We don’t mess with that stuff.”

You heard it, folks. SF General: “We don’t mess with that stuff.”

*This correspondent once even sent that note to her mother, with devastating results. In defense, extreme irrationality due to a high-protein diet (god, we sound like Ed Jew) made us especially crabby that day, but, still, no excuse for being a snot to your mom.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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