It’s an outrage. It’s an abomination. It’s utter B.S.
The short-lived hoax of Ashley Todd isn’t particularly interesting (nor unique), but the reactions it elicited in the blogosphere were quite revealing.
For those who missed it: Ashley Todd is a 20-year-old Texan, a member of the College Republican National Committee, and a McCain campaign volunteer. Two weeks ago, the CRNC sent her to Pennsylvania to recruit college students for McCain’s campaign. Last Wednesday night she reported to Pittsburgh police that as she stood at a Citizens Bank ATM in the city’s East End, she was mugged by a tall man. She gave him $60. When the man noticed the McCain bumper sticker on Todd’s car, he knocked her to the ground in a rage, blackened her right eye, and used a knife to carve a backwards, capital letter B on her left cheek. He indicated he was an Obama supporter.
There were niggling problems with Todd’s story from the very beginning. First off, the B was very neatly done, not at all the slice-and-dice affair you’d expect from a vicious attack in the dark. Secondly, records showed she had not used the ATM that night as she claimed. Asked to sketch her assailant, she seemed unable to do so.
The Drudge Report picked up the story on Thursday afternoon, and it immediately went viral. McCain and Palin reportedly phoned Todd to offer their sympathy, or maybe just to thank her for taking one for the team.
To their credit, some conservative commentators, like Michelle Malkin and Little Green Footballs, were suspicious of the story. But others made it clear that they thought Obama had a black eye, as well. Bloggers at redstate.com placed full blame for the attack on Obama, for encouraging his supporters to “get in people’s faces”; he should’ve known that a deranged supporter might take that literally. Riehlworldview.com posted under “Thugs for Change“: “Obama has run his campaign just like a street thug out of Chicago. Now we get to see what some of his worst supporters are like.” Atlas Shrugs initially expressed the same opinion, writing, “Shame on those who doubted this poor girl.” Similiar comments, even Todd’s entire blog, have been sucked down the memory hole since she confessed to faking the attack.
On Friday Todd finally admitted that she had given the black eye and backwards B to herself, and reportedly told one officer that she has a history of mental problems. Worst of all, Todd had taken the Susan Smith/Charles Stuart route by identifying her attacker as a black man.
It seems Todd has a history of political agitation. This spring, she notified a group of Ron Paul supporters in Brazos County, Texas, that her tires had been slashed because her car contained Ron Paul campaign material. She joined the group, but according to leader Dustan Costine she was asked to leave it in March after she repeatedly phoned Mike Huckabee’s campaign and pretended to be a Huckabee supporter in order to glean information about their campaign strategies.
While Michelle Malkin stated that most staged hate crimes are perpetrated by liberals, I’ve been noticing an uptick in conservative ones. For instance, there was last year’s horrific Orangina Abstinence Attack.
In November 2007 a Princeton junior named Francisco Nava phoned campus police to report a vicious, unprovoked attack by thugs who opposed his conservative lifestyle. He said two black-hatted men cornered him, battered him with a bottle of Orangina, and beat his head against a brick wall while warning him to “shut the f*** up.” He was covered in cuts and bruises. The impetus for the attack: Nava had recently penned an editorial on the perils of campus promiscuity (“Princeton’s Latex Lies“) for The Princetonian; he and fellow campus conservatives allegedly received death threats after it was published.
Nava was a member of Princeton’s
Never Get Laid Anscombe Society, a student group that promotes chastity and exalts sex as “the actualization of the marital union, concretizing the mutual gift of self between the partners.” (and if they keep talking like that, they’ll never get to do any “actualizing”…)
Anyway, leading lights of the right instantly rallied to the lad’s defense: Robby George, Harvey Mansfield, David Horowitz, Brit Hume. They excoriated Princeton for its liberal bias and its supposed record of discrimination against conservative students, calling the beating a hate crime against a (political) minority.
On December 17, Nava confessed to police that he had staged the entire incident and beaten himself black-and-blue.
These politically charged cases of staged attacks and what I call “self-stalking” are rare, but far from unique:
In late September, 42-year-old Michelle Renee Wood of St. Johns County, Florida, was found beaten, with ropes knotted around her wrist and ankle. She said a “Satanic Santeria Voodoo” group to which she had once belonged before becoming a born-again Christian last year had abducted and bound her, beaten her, and taken her to a home in Flagler Estates where she was forced to participate in a Devil-worshipping Autumnal Equinox ritual that involved drugs, a bonfire, and the summoning of spirits. The group included several men and a petitie blonde woman they called Sky.
The sheriff’s department Criminal Investigation Unit supervisor, Major David O’Brien, found the story highly suspect. “Voodoo” and Santeria and Satanism are completely different, and investigators had been unable to uncover indiciations of any abberant occult activity in the area. Also, Wood had a history of making false reports to police. The case was dropped. (Source: “You Mean There Isn’t a Satanic Santeria-Voodoo Pagan Cult?” @ The Wild Hunt Blog)
O.C. Smith was a Memphis coroner who played a key role in the mysterious death of Don Wiley, the case that sparked the Murdered Microbiologists conspiracy meme. In late 2001, Smith declared Wiley’s death accidental. The following year, Smith was involved with the equally mysterious death of Katherine Smith (no relation), a Memphis woman accused of providing fake drivers’ licenses to suspected terrorists. He had been receiving bizarre, religious-themed hate mail for about a year. So it came as little surprise when Dr. Smith was attacked outside his office in June of 2002 by a crazed assailant who threw acid in his face, bound him with barbed wire, and attached a bomb to his chest. The investigation dragged on for over a year before Memphis police decided to go with their gut instinct: Dr. Smith staged the attack, for reasons unknown. How could an assailant have escaped notice while hauling around barbed wire, a bomb, and acid? Why was Smith virtually unharmed in the attack, sustaining only a few superficial scratches and burns that healed quickly? Smith firmly denies any wrongdoing.
New Zealand’s “Mars-Venus case” created a nationwide backlash against Satanism and the film Reservoir Dogs in 1995. 32-year-old Palmerston police detective Brent Garner was found bound, gagged, and soaked in gasoline in the yard of his home, which was ablaze. He said a man with a “cultured voice” had attacked him and left him in the house to burn, but he managed to wriggle out of a window. It was assumed that the assailant was The Executioner, the letter-writer who had been sending threatening missives to Garner’s police station for a month. Public fears of occult violence erupted when police psychologist Ian Miller issued his profile of the attacker: A well-traveled, educated man immersed in the Satanic and occult, who considered himself an “agent of the devil” and was acting out a “Satanic fantasy” in his persecution of Garner. Condemnation of Reservoir Dogs followed an observation that the attack on Garner bore some resemblance to the “Stuck in the Middle With You” scene.
Police organized a task force codenamed Operation Venus to solve the crime, but Senior Sergeant Grant Nicholls was skeptical of Garner’s story and secretly launched “Operation Mars” to examine it. It didn’t take him long to discover that Garner had purchased gasoline, duct tape, and a timer shortly before the arson. The following month, Garner confessed that he had staged the attack by cutting himself with a scalpel, dousing himself wth gas, and setting his own house on fire. Why? He wanted the insurance money so that he could leave his wife and marry a mistress. The Satanic stalker had been an elaborate ruse. Garner was fined, charged, and fired.
To date, no one has apologized to Quentin Tarantino, Barack Obama, or the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (makers of Orangina).
– “McCain Volunteer Admits to Hoax” by Michael A. Fuoco, Jerome L. Sherman and Sadie Gurman. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Oct. 25, 2008.
– “Terror at the Morgue: Did A Medical Examiner Strap a Bomb to His Own Neck?” CBS News. July 8, 2006.
– “The Venus Case“. religioustolerance.org.