Fake Hate

It looks like we live in a culture where more and more people, many with a social agenda, are willing to deceive others by pretending to be victims of hate. Consider a few examples:

A threatening message posted to a student’s Facebook page — initially thought to be the work of hackers — was actually written by the student himself, University of Chicago officials said Monday.
[…]
The message was posted Nov. 18 and contained racial slurs and threats of sexual violence.

It prompted university officials to initiate an investigation with the help of federal law enforcement agencies and third-party website providers to determine who was behind the post.

When university officials initially learned of the Facebook post, they sent a note to students to assure them the incident was being taken seriously.

School officials sent out a follow-up note Monday after it became clear the incident was a hoax. Officials also took the unusual step of posting a Frequently Asked Questions section to help students understand the incident.

“Once University officials knew that the nature of the incident was different than it first appeared, the University could not allow the inaccurate story to stand. That would not have served our community,” a portion of the FAQ read.

“The owner of the Facebook account claimed responsibility for the posting,” it stated.

– Here

A strange controversy has been brewing at the University of Wyoming this week regarding social media and campus politics. Before being shut down, the non-university affiliated Facebook page UW Crushes, hosted a post by a commenter appearing to be conservative regarding an outspoken liberal student on campus.

The Wyoming Star-Tribune reports:

“I want to hatef— Meg Lanker- so hard,” the Facebook post said. “That chick that runs her liberal mouth all the time and doesn’t care who knows it. I think its hot and it makes me angry. One night with me and shes gonna be a good Republican b—-.”

Meg Lanker-Simons reported the post to university administrators and campus police, telling the Laramie Boomerang that as a rape survivor this is “one of the worst things someone can threaten.” The already weird campus development took a surprising turn Tuesday, though, when it was revealed by University of Wyoming Police Department that Lanker-Simons may have put up the threatening post herself. In a separate article, the Laramie Boomerang reported that police obtained a warrant to search the student’s computer and found substantial evidence verifying that the offending Facebook post came from Lanker-Simons’ computer, while the computer was in her possession.

–Here

Reports of bias incidents at Vassar College that involved hateful messages left on students’ doors were actually elaborate hoaxes — and the perpetrator is none other than the student member of the Bias Incident Response Team, The Daily Caller has learned.

–Here

After a gay server at a New Jersey restaurant said a customer denied her a tip and wrote her a hateful note on the receipt, a local family contacted NBC 4 New York and said their receipt shows they paid a tip and didn’t write any such note.
[…]
The husband and wife, who asked to remain anonymous, showed NBC 4 New York a receipt that appeared to be printed at the same minute, on the same date, for the same $93.55 total, except with an $18 tip.

They also provided a document they said was a Visa bill, which appears to indicate their card was charged for the meal plus the tip, for a total of $111.55.

The couple told NBC 4 New York that they believed their receipt was used for a hoax.

–Here

Jeff Jacoby, writing for Boston Globe provides more examples:

WHEN A racist slur was spray-painted on the home of a biracial Lunenburg High School football player last month, the reaction was predictable.

Hundreds of neighbors attended a candlelight vigil in support of 13-year-old Isaac Phillips and his family. Politicians and civic leaders expressed solidarity. The Lunenburg police — assisted by the FBI, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Worcester County DA’s office — opened an investigation. The school superintendent forfeited the football team’s remaining games and asked the Anti-Defamation League to provide educational materials for teaching tolerance. Editorials warned that “hatred and racism corrode communities,” and emphasized the need to “take a vocal stand against intolerance.”

Then, after two weeks of eating their hearts out over the apparent bigotry festering in their midst, Lunenburg’s residents learned that the “hate crime” was most likely a hoax. The football team had nothing to do with the odious graffiti painted on the house, police said. Instead they suspect that the boy’s mother, Andrea Brazier, may have painted the racist taunt herself.

[…]
In a Jersey City prep school earlier this year, a black 16-year-old running for student council reported receiving racist text messages taunting him with the N-word, mocking him as a “slave” and “a waste at this school,” and warning him to “drop out right now.” In the sympathetic backlash that followed, the student was elected vice president. But police and school officials later confirmed that he had sent the venomous texts to himself.

Oberlin College in Ohio cancelled classes in March after swastikas and vile racist graffiti appeared around campus. The supposed eruption of hatred at the noted liberal-arts school drew wide media coverage, but the perpetrators — caught in the act — turned out to be two progressive Oberlin students.

And there is more. For example:

Two women who claimed to be the victims of an anti-gay hate crime in Parker last year have pleaded guilty to false reporting.

In October 2011, Aimee Whitchurch, 37, and Christel Conklin, 29, told authorities that vandals spray-painted “Kill the Gay” on their garage and left a noose on their doorstep.
In television interviews, both women said they felt the incidents were in retaliation for disputes they were having with their Homeowner’s Association and neighbors.

“Through the investigation and from witness statements, it was determined that allegations of the incident were false,” said Douglas County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Cocha Hedyen. “Detectives were able to determine that the two women involved were responsible for the words that were spray painted on the garage and the placement of the noose on their own front door.”

Whitchurch and Conklin received 12 months supervised probation and 24 hours of community service. There will be a future hearing regarding restitution.

This is one of many examples listed here.

So why is all this Fake Hate occurring? I think Jacoby raises a thought-provoking point:

Hatred and bigotry really do exist, of course. Every society has some lowlifes and bullies. But by and large, America’s racist past is dead and gone. This is not a nation that conspires to keep blacks and women down, let alone to terrorize or humiliate them. Anyone seeking genuinely racist or misogynistic hate crimes in America today is likely to be disappointed. It is precisely because America is no longer steeped in racism that those who believe it is must resort to fakery. And even when they do, what is the result? Great outpourings of sympathy and solidarity — neighbors by the hundreds coming together in candlelight vigils, strangers donating thousands of dollars to a waitress they’ve never met.

With racial oppression vanishing from American life, being seen as the victim of racial oppressors can be a powerful source of acclaim and attention. That’s especially true on the left, where practitioners of identity politics insist on sorting people by groups — racial, ethnic, sexual, economic. Phony accusations of racism empower those whose identity revolves around a feeling of persecution.

There is no conspiracy that led these hoaxers to deceive others and pretend to be victims of hate. Instead, it could very well be that we live in a culture where being seen as the victim “can be a powerful source of acclaim and attention, especially on the left.” And if the “victim” also happens to be an activist, or someone deeply invested in a social cause, the Fake Hate can be a very powerful tool to Serve The Cause.

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3 Responses to Fake Hate

  1. Though there are plenty of cases of deceit like the ones you’ve mentioned, it’s still a very small sample in a statistical sense. And virtually everyone lies to some degree in some situation to make themselves look better. Sometimes those psychologically self-preservative behaviors get out of hand.

    I do think the number of hate crimes is indeed smaller than it used to be when racism was more acceptable in general. But the great historical improvement isn’t very comforting when you are the one being profiled out of a job, loan, housing, or stopped for driving (or walking, or standing) while black.

  2. Michael says:

    And virtually everyone lies to some degree in some situation to make themselves look better. Sometimes those psychologically self-preservative behaviors get out of hand.

    And this dynamic is vastly amplified when dealing with social activists who believe the ends justify the means.

  3. Isaac says:

    I read a study that says that you are far less likely to be hired for a job if you mention anything about religion on your resume (a religious charity you worked at previously, etc.) That’s real. Is there any data showing that even THAT level of discrimination is occuring towards the minorities who feel the need to fake-hate-crime themselves? Because I don’t see anyone rallying against the employer bias against religion. What does or doesn’t constitute a crisis here?

    Also, I’m surprised that so many hoaxers got CAUGHT. How did the police figure out that the lesbian couple faked the spraypaint on their house? That’s excellent police work. It seems likely that a greater number of false accusers get away with it. These wouldn’t be the only ones.

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