There are real victims in this world. There are people who have really suffered. There are people who have been preyed upon. There are people who have been hurt. Really hurt. There are people who have been raped, abused, molested, oppressed.
There are victims in this world, and I’m sure they’d agree with me when I say this: you shouldn’t want to be one of them. In America, we’ve turned Victimhood into a billion dollar business. We are apparently so bored and so comfortable that we gaze enviously at the “lucky” souls who have endured the slings and arrows of actual persecution.
Maybe it’s part of our obsession with being noticed. We find admiration too difficult to earn, so we settle for admiration’s whiny cousin: pity. Our grandparent’s generation never wanted pity, even when their situation warranted it. We, on the other hand, find it to be more profitable and less demanding to be pitiful than it is to be successful.
Exhibit A: Linda Tirado.
She wrote a viral blog post a few weeks ago called “Why I Make Terrible Decision.” It was, essentially, one long, eloquent, (deceitful), gut-wrenching laundry list of gripes about her lot in life. She’s “poor,” she insisted, and she’ll never not be poor. Her life is so hard. Everyone feel sorry for her. She has it worse than everyone else on the planet. Oh, you live in a mud hut in Guatemala and your wife just died of dysentery two days ago? Sorry, you’ve never suffered like Linda the Poor Huffington Post Blogger. She, like, has bills. BILLS. And she doesn’t like paying them. This is the stuff of Greek Tragedy, particularly because it was mostly mythological.
The internet rallied to donate her money. Her story was spread all over the web as “proof” that America is unfair to poor people. And then, predictably, it was revealed that Linda, uh, “exaggerated.” Turns out she lives in a nice house (paid for by her parental benefactors), she has a private school education, speaks three languages, she’s a Democratic activist, she worked in politics, and she bills herself as a political consultant.
But, you know, her life is still super hard and she’s a victim of the System. She also consults and works for the System, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t victimized by it.
Do you think your Facebook friends who posted her original essay will bother to post the truth about it?
Sorry, dumb question.
Of course, pretending to be poor isn’t the sexiest form of American Faux-Victimhood. Why tell lies about your financial situation when you could capture even wider fame, earn more sympathy, and make more money by fabricating a hate crime? The Hate Crime Hoax rivals fantasy football as our newest and greatest national pastime. The best thing about a Hate Crime Hoax is that it gives us all the opportunity to play along.
Here’s how it works: some desperate con artist invents a story of racism and/or sexism and/or homophobia and/or transgender discrimination out of whole cloth, and distributes the lie on Facebook and Twitter. Within minutes, national media outlets, with their rigorous ethical standards, take the questionable tale of prejudice and, without verifying anything, or following up with anybody, or questioning anything about any part of the clearly contrived narrative, they report the lie as fact. Immediately, the Mindless Mob carries the lie all the way to the viral promised land.
Then, inevitably, a few days later the truth comes out. The lie was a lie. The lie always sounded like a lie, and smelled like a lie, and looked like a lie, and that’s all because it was, in fact, a lie. But the truth never goes viral, so the lie metastasizes in the public conscience, and we all go about our days further convinced that we live in a country where gays, blacks and women simply can’t catch a break.
I’m not sure why, but over the last few weeks the Fake Hate Crime Fraudsters have stepped their game up considerably. Maybe it’s colder, people are spending more time indoors, so they’re getting bored. Hmmm, what should I do today? I could work on this jigsaw puzzle. Or I could go on Facebook and tell everyone that I’m being persecuted for my sexual orientation. Oh, I know! I’ll do the fake hate crime thing and THEN I’ll finish the puzzle!
Whatever the reason, here’s the rundown:
-A mixed race 8th grader in Massachusetts was upset to find racial slurs spray painted onto the side of his house. His mother tearfully spoke in front of cameras about the horrible hate crime. The community rallied around them and vowed to find the racist hatemongers who would dare do such a thing. Eventually, the police located the perpetrator. She lived nearby. Actually, she lived inside the house. She was the mother.
-You probably heard the story about the lesbian waitress in New Jersey who found an offensive note that a hateful Christian customer had written on a receipt. They couldn’t leave a tip because they disapprove of her “lifestyle,” the note read. She uploaded the image to social media, and the story went viral. There was just one problem: she made the whole thing up. Not only that, she also lied about her military service.
I’m no detective, but I knew her story was bogus from the get-go. How did I figure it out? Because I’m not a fool, and I can recognize horse manure when I see it spewing out of the mouth of a pathological liar. Besides, how in the hell would the customers know about her “sexual orientation” in the first place? Does she regularly work that into conversations with restaurant goers? Hello, I’m Dayna, I’ll be your waitress this evening. I’m a lesbian. What would you like to drink?
Attention internet: it’s called “critical thinking.” Try it some time.
-Vassar college has a thing called the Biased Incident Response Team. Side note: if you send your kid to a school with something called a Biased Incident Response Team, you obviously aren’t interested in making sure he gets a real education. But who am I to judge? The BIRT has been especially busy this year. Biased messages have been showing up all over campus. Horrible things like: “Avoid Being B*tches,” “F**k N*ggers,” and “Hey Tranny. Know Your Place.”
And guess who was found to be responsible for these acts of bias? That’s right: a member of the Biased Incident Response Team. The college reported that the BIRT had discovered the perpetrator, forgetting to mention that the BIRT was the perpetrator. Talk about finding the silver lining: yeah, a member of the Biased Incident Response Team is responsible for the Biased Incidents, but at least they’re the ones who found out that they’re responsible!
The transsexual Biased Incident Avenger/Biased Incident perpetrator has fled from the college in disgrace. Hopefully, the BIRT will be disbanded, which will leave them more time to write nasty messages to themselves.
Who could have predicted such lunacy on the campus of the college that employs a ragtag gang of Hate Crime Ghostbusters?
-Some more racist graffiti showed up on the side of a home owned by a black Baptist minister in Virginia. Do I even have to tell you about the next part?
I’m not sure if these incidents can rival some of Fake Hate Crime Inc’s greatest hits, like the gay college student who beat himself up, branded his own wrist, then reported it as a hate crime. Or the lesbian couple in Colorado that spray painted “Kill the Gay” on their own garage door.
Those are two of my all time favorites, but you can check out an abridged, incomplete list of recent Fake Hate Crimes and pick out your own.
I’m thinking we can invite this one to the party: a Red Lobster employee claims that a customer wrote the phrase “None N*gger” on the tip line of their receipt. In the following weeks, two separate forensics handwriting analysts have concluded that whoever wrote the word “N*gger” is not the same person who wrote “None.”
Did the young lady write it herself to get attention? There’s no reason to think such a thing. No reason, other than the fact that, yeah, that’s probably what happened.
I bring this all to your attention for three reasons: 1) These scam artists need to be publicly shamed. I don’t want to hear about how they must be “troubled,” or they are trying to “call attention to a real problem.” I don’t want to hear excuses for them. They want attention. They want money. They tell lies. They’re liars. No further analysis required.
2) If you posted the initial reports about any of these stories, you have a responsibility to post the follow up. You spread a lie, albeit inadvertently, and now you must spread the truth. It’s called integrity.
3) The neo-liberal social agenda is fueled by myths and fabrications like these. New policies, regulations and laws will often be passed on the heels of such stories, and the policies, regulation and laws don’t go away just because the stories are proven false. If we are going to beat these Orwellian ogres, we need to be diligent in defeating their lies.
People who fake hate crimes ought to be charged with hate crimes. They have literally committed a crime with the sole intention of spreading hatred. They are the worst sort of hatemongers. They are calculated, manipulative and exploitative. They peddle hatred for the sake of hatred; they try to reopen wounds and inflame old hostilities. If you can be charged with a federal crime for leaving a racist note on someone’s doorstep, they ought to be charged with a federal crime for pretending that you left a racist note on their doorstep.
Hateful bigots do exist in this nation. These people are proof of that.
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