Wolf Wolf Wolf
A week ago, a story *came out*. The title was A Teen’s Brave Response to “I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay”. It told the story of a Christian, homophobic mom, who decided that she loves her queer son after all. It was passed around, tweeted and retweeted, liked thousands of times, and got 3700 comments at the seminal blog. Friday, The Daily Beast took a look at the man behind the curtain. TDB suspects that this inspiring story is a hoax.
“My first instinct: bullshit. The whole thing just read too clean, too easy. Are we really to believe that a woman with deeply-held ultra-conservative Christian beliefs (she wanted the gays shipped off to their own private island!) found out her son was gay, read a single blog post by a tolerant author, and voila? It took her less time to see the light than it would’ve to watch a couple reruns of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”
Plus, the writing is rejected-Hollywood-script cheesy—“a change is starting to happen around here and it’s because one teenage boy finally had the courage to stand against what he felt was wrong.” And OPM often comes across more as a caricature of a religious conservative than as a real one. “I got madder and madder as I read it as I felt like it was a direct attack against our beliefs and our Christian religion and that it was promoting homosexuality, a practice that around here is a huge ‘sin,’” she wrote, before explaining that she gave her son “an earful about homosexuality and G-d.”
Dan Pearce, aka Single Dad Laughing, published Teen’s Brave Response. Daily Beast writer Jesse Singal contacted him. “I called Pearce and asked him to put me in touch with OPM and her son (on the blog, the son is represented by a stock photo of a blue-eyed, shaggy-haired teen). Pearce told me that would be impossible: The note was sent anonymously to his blog’s contact page, and he said his contact-form software doesn’t capture IP addresses.”
Mr. Singal thinks it doesn’t matter if the story is technically factual. “In the course of reporting last week on the many conflicting stories swirling around the Trayvon Martin shooting, , I received an email from Princeton psychologist Danny Oppenheimer, who wrote, “When it comes to deciding what we believe is true, whether or not it’s actually true isn’t nearly as important as whether we want to believe it.”
The original title of the piece linked in the quote above was “How Psychology Explains the Slander of Trayvon Martin”. How we frame a story is often more important than those pesky facts. Many people think that Trayvon Martin looked like an adorable 14 year old when he was shot. Does the “stock photo of a blue-eyed, shaggy-haired teen” look like the actual kid in the story? What if that kid had thick glasses, messy hair, and a look on his face that “projects negativity”? Would we have the same warm fuzzy feelings for him, in his brave stand against homophobe for Jesus mommy?
We get a story that makes us feel good, we want to believe it, and we do. What happens the next time someone comes peddling a feel good story? Do we believe it? And when do people learn how to think, and not believe everything they read on the internet? From the look of things, not anytime soon. The boy who cried wolf wails on.
Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. The Cartoon is from Jesus and Mo