The accepted definition of the term "online petition" reads as follows:
A document of tragic hopefulness consisting of two distinct parts:
1. The "introductory paragraph" or "asinine rant" in which the egregious sins of the petitionee are addressed with a motivational timbre.
ex: Tell fucking Fox that Andy Richter Controls The Universe should not have been fucking cancelled, and I remember reading that Andy Richter is really nice and Fox should let him keep his fucking job!!!! And Bill O'Reilly can eat a dick.
2. A list of losers who agree.
However, controversy quickly arouse around the definition above, as critics charged that it didn't accurately define the term. Supporters of the definition maintain that accuracy should not be a standard to which definitions are held. Meanwhile, the critics have rallied that their own, more succinct definition - "a useless document" - should become the new accepted definition. However, this struggle has been an arduous one, as this is also the accepted definition for the United States Constitution.
In 1992, a team of eight super-smart sceintists, led by Doctor Saint Burt Xavier Reynolds Jr. added "creating and/or signing online petitions" to the American Psychiatric Association's seminal textbook Symptoms Of Delusional Grandeur Disorders, With Foreward By Sean Lennon. Doctor Reynolds wrote excitedly about his discovery shortly after its inclusion into the APA's textbook, and also after waking up the next morning and having two bloody marys and a good shit.
"The ignorance these subjects maintain about the entertainment industry, and - by extension, their own importance in an industry that represents tens of billions of dollars is staggering and pitiable. And yet, I had to conceal my glee when I read 'Tell those asshats at CBS they had no idea what they were doing when they cancelled Evening Shade."
Since its inclusion in the textbook, online petition writing has been widely regarded as a sign of a dangerous and patholical disease, though efforts to quarantine those who engage in such behavior has met with limited success.
Petition Writers In The Military
In 1995 Then-President William "Godlike In Retrospect" Clinton, beleagered by ongoing Senate battles and blisteringly unfunny Leno monologues backed down partially from his promise of allowing petition writers in the military to a less-controversal "Don't Sign Your Real Name" policy, which stated that on-duty officers could be permitted to write and/or sign online petitions, provided that they use pseudonyms, perferrably those with a sexual-military pun, such as "Private Parts", "Corporal Punishment" or "Lieutenant Goatse.cx".
However, this compromise raised the ire of the famously touchy petition-writing public, and soon after signing the bill, Clinton found himself sieged with a flurry of petitions - some lambasting the "totally gay airstrikes in Bosnia" which were denounced as "YAWN! SOS, Bro - Same old shit :)", others criticizing the boring scenery of Darfur operations, but most complaining about the cancellation of World War II, which was described by petition author General Horniness as "another classic war cancelled before it's time because Washington suits didn't know how to promote it."
Swamped with an ever-increasing number of these petitions, Clinton found that he didn't have time to properly ignore each petition received, and so the bill was overturned. As of today, Military officers found writing or signing an online petition may once again be court-martialled, though because of a sloppy last minute addition those being court-martialled are allowed to petition to dismiss the trial of an officer other than themselves, and thus began the Military Trial Glut of 1997.
Petition Writers On Disability
With parallels to the laws in England qualifying people with facial tattoos as being eligible for disability, there have been hucksters who have taken advantage of this newly diagnosable neurological disorder. David Thomas (who lives in Rochester and wishes to remain anonymous) is one recent example. After being himself fired from a coffee shop for playing GG Allin's "Live! Surrounded By Piles of His Own Feces!", he used online petition writing as a way to find himself on disability. Not actually having a legitamite gripe, he simply filled 16 pages of typing pages with AAAAAAAAA!, and hoped the petition wouldn't actually be read. He now enjoys $350 tax-free dollars a week, which is more than I make, and he's a fucking asshole.
Office of Petition Ignoring Office
The Office of Petition Ignoring Office, located in a building, was created by Viacom as a way to take the burden of ignoring online petitions away from network programming executives, and into a centralized office where they can be ignored more efficiently. Several other Television Network Corporations (most notably AOL-Time Warner, Disney, and The Mark Burnett Oligarchy have also contributed to this project, and thus it is estimated than The OPIO can effectively ignore 2,000 online petitions every day, except on The Sabbath, when the office is closed.
List of Television shows which have been un-cancelled because of an online petition
Other Uses For Online Petitions
Though getting TV shows uncancelled is by far the most common use for an online petition, there have been other well known online petition files. Some examples:
• In 1994, a petition was sent to RJ Reynolds, demanding that cigarettes be stripped of all carcinogens, and instead filled with a substance that tells your mother to shut up when you go out for a smoke.
• In 2004, a petition e-mailed to Bono's Hotmail address demanded that the band U2 stop producing bullshit, this time for real, and that they should break up if they're not going to at least make something as moderately listenable as Zooropa, they should quit music altogether and live off Apple royalty checks. While thousands of these petitions are known to exist, this one is most well known for its introductory paragraph, in which U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr. incorrectly uses the word "their", when "they're" would have been correct.
• In 1995 petitioners e-mailed NBC executive Jeff Zucker demaning that the television show "WIngs" be brought back from cancellation. The petition stands out for a few reasons. First that the show "Wings" was still on the air, second that Jeff Zucker didn't work for NBC at the time, but moreover that it marked the first time in history that anyone gave a shit about the television show "Wings".
• In 2001, citizens of Ireland started a petition to change the Irish flag to something less boring. The petition was halted when the proposed new Irish flag, an inverted British flag, was mistaken for the actual British flag.
• Last year, my girlfriend and I petitioned my cat to stop coming into the bathroom when we were taking a piss, describing the activity as "odd" and questioning why he only seems interested in the bathroom when I'm peeing in there. The response from the cat in question was to lie on the petition, until I was trying to read a copy of the New Yorker, at which point he sat on that instead while sniffing my fingers.