September 2018 marks the 45th anniversary of the 1973 coup in which the CIA helped remove the democratically elected (but leftist!) president of Chile, and replaced him with the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. We're celebrating the anniversary by having Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings school us all month on real-life dictators of all kind. Autocratic leaders always have a dim view of actual facts, from ancient Rome up to, well, today, but that's no excuse for us to believe all kinds of silly fake news about them.
The Debunker: What's a Fatwa?
Salman Rushdie was already one of the world's most acclaimed authors in 1988 when he published his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses. The book was immediately controversial among Muslims for various blasphemous elements—including the title, which referred to a disputed tradition that a few verses of the Qur'an had been retracted by Muhammad once he realized they had been inspired by the devil, not divine revelation at all. The same month that the book was published in the United States, Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran's Islamic theocracy, issued a "fatwa" in which he decreed that Rushdie, "along with all the editors and publishers aware of [the book's] contents, are condemned to death." Muslims were called upon to execute these killings "without delay."