Saturday, December 24, 2005

Hoax People Right

Via Daily Kos, the UMass student who alleged he had been visited by DHS agents has admitted it was a hoax:
"The UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents over his request for "The Little Red Book" by Mao Zedong has admitted to making up the entire story.

"The 22-year-old student tearfully admitted he made the story up to his history professor, Dr. Brian Glyn Williams, and his parents, after being confronted with the inconsistencies in his account.

"Had the student stuck to his original story, it might never have been proved false.

"But on Thursday, when the student told his tale in the office of UMass Dartmouth professor Dr. Robert Pontbriand to Dr. Williams, Dr. Pontbriand, university spokesman John Hoey and The Standard-Times, the student added new details.

"The agents had returned, the student said, just last night. The two agents, the student, his parents and the student's uncle all signed confidentiality agreements, he claimed, to put an end to the matter.

"But when Dr. Williams went to the student's home yesterday and relayed that part of the story to his parents, it was the first time they had heard it. The story began to unravel, and the student, faced with the truth, broke down and cried."

I'm furious with this student, and not just because of the professional sympathy for professors who were lied to. There are serious civil liberties issues in this country, and this student has hurt the credibility of any story that comes out in the future. The local newspaper should also not have run the story without more verification. I also think we've all learned something about how easily the local can become global.


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