As the campaign season begins in earnest, you will find yourself daily bombarded with lies, zombie lies, smears, half-truths, distortions, remarks taken out of context, and text-book libels from your wingnut co-workers and family members. Usually such emails are met with simple deletion, sizzling invective, and/or obscene gestures at your monitor.
This is not the most effective way to deal with this problem.
No, rather than ignore them, or explain to the sender why he/she has the intellectual capacity of mentally-retarded plant life, you need to treat these emails as "teaching opportunities". Be polite and informative, not rude and snarky.
Always answer these lies with the clinical, unvarnished truth. Try to avoid sarcasm (which doesn't translate well to most people via email) or condescension. Simply dissect the lie and correct it. Meticulously document your answer with links to neutral sources (Youtube videos are good for placing remarks in context, as are transcripts of actual exchanges).
To see a great example of how to do this, check out this piece on Obama at Snopes.com
Snopes.com is your friend.
More importantly, note the tone of the response. Tone is critical in a response to email lies:
Right: The belief that Al Gore claimed to have "invented the internet" is a pervasive one in some circles. Fortunately, the claim is untrue, and easily disproved, the product of a misreading of what Gore actually said.
Wrong: Jane, you ignorant slut.
It is also VERY important to format your response so that the rebuttal appears under the claim, and not just at the top of the email as is the common (and very annoying) practice. Putting it at the top requires a person to re-read the lies in order to follow your rebutal, thus the last thing they read is the original lie. Format as I have described and the last thing they read is the truth.
Finally, and this is the most important part, when answering such an email, ALWAYS hit "Reply All".
Because the message was almost always sent to a number of people, people who are now equally as misinformed as the sender. By replying to all, your truth goes out to everyone misinformed. Yes, some people may then send you a rude message, disputing your facts, but that's OK, since they are still ENGAGED in a discussion.
If a lies goes out to 20 people and you rebut it with the truth to those same 20 people, you might get two of them to change their views. Two people with the truth means two less people believing a lie, something that may be remembered in the voting booth (and as we learned in 2000, EVERY vote counts).
Even if you don't change any minds, you have taught them a lesson in being active, rather than passive, consumers of information, and exposure to truth is cumulative.
1) ALWAYS respond to lies with the truth.
2) ALWAYS be polite and informative.
3) ALWAYS answer rudeness with textbook politeness.
4) ALWAYS use solid sources for the truth. YouTube and Snopes are your friend.
5) ALWAYS hit "Reply All"
6) ALWAYS follow up.
7) ALWAYS admit truthful claims detrimental to your side. Don't fudge, spin or tell lies of your own.
It is also a good idea to save your responses, since they can be re-used if the same email surfaces again.
And be careful out there. Constant exposure to wingnuttery can be hazardous to your view of your fellow human.