The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

On the Internet, Nobody Knows You’re a Dog (or a Make-Believe Syrian Lesbian)

Posted on | June 12, 2011 | 17 Comments

Why do people never learn to be skeptical of stuff like this?

In recent days, the world has followed closely the saga of Amina Arraf, the blogger who presented herself online as “A Gay Girl in Damascus” and who drew attention with her passionate writings about the Syrian government’s crackdown on Arab Spring protesters. Those writings stopped last Tuesday, and a posting to the blog, ostensibly written by a cousin, said she had been hauled away by government security agents.
News of her disappearance became an Internet and media sensation. The U.S. State Department started an investigation. But almost immediately skeptics began asking: Has anyone ever actually met Amina? Two days after her disappearance, images presented on her blog as being of Amina were revealed to have been taken from the Facebook page of a London woman.
And on Sunday, the truth spilled out: The gay girl in Damascus confessed to being a 40-year-old American man from Georgia. . . .
[Tom] MacMaster, a Middle East peace activist who is now working on his master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, wrote that he fictionalized the account of a gay woman in Syria to illuminate the situation for a Western audience.

How many times do people have to make fools out of themselves over these “too good to check” stories before they wise up to the telltale clues of a hoax?

Whatever happened to common sense? Shouldn’t it be obvious, for example, that the son of the late oil minister of Nigeria isn’t going to send e-mails to random strangers asking for their help in recovering a multi-million dollar fortune? And shouldn’t it be obvious that the sex-crazed teenager in the online chat room is actually an undercover cop working on a Dateline NBC sting?

On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”


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