Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Beating of anti-immigration student found to be hoax

To me, immigration is pretty much a cold-button issue: The new border fence is a waste of money, but I think a higher minimum wage and a repeal of work-for-less laws would do more for American workers than any new policies on newcomers. But when someone starts raving against immigration, I get a little suspicious, because sometimes there's foul ideas that seem to go along with this stance. They often view it as more of a culture war issue than an economic one, and that needlessly fans the flames.

So when a 13-year-old girl in Athens, Texas, claimed she was beaten up by schoolmates over her school project in which she protested immigration, I knew the alleged beating was a hoax. I just knew it. (For this assignment, she had made a poster that implored, "If you love our nation, stop illegal immigration.")

I knew it was a hoax, because stuff like this always turns out to be a hoax. Kind of like the time a conservative student at Princeton University beat himself up and claimed it was an attack by those "big, mean liberals." Or the time a GOP activist in West Virginia claimed the painters' union tore a Bush sign out of his daughter's hands, which also turned out to be a staged attack.

When the 13-year-old in Texas claimed she was beaten, the story made national headlines, and the media was too lazy to question her claim. But now the whole story has turned out to be a fraud. A videotape surfaced showing her scratching her own arm - which she blamed on the assailants. Now the school system is filing charges against her for creating this poorly executed hoax. However, the fact that the beating never happened isn't being reported outside of eastern Texas.

To be honest, I think somebody put her up to the whole thing. There's a whole yellow journalism machine that encourages people to stage frauds like this for political gain.