Remember how Dave Weigel of Slate mocked Charles C. Johnson for falling for a hoax story from a satirical edition of The Daily Princetonian? I do. Even though the link is now broken, it’s still available in Google’s cache.*
Yet when Slate itself linked a hoax story — and explicitly said that the hoax story wasn’t fanciful, did you hear about that? Me neither. Even though it happened a month ago, I can’t find any discussion about it on these here Interwebz.
I think it’s time we corrected that oversight, don’t you?
The piece in question was titled Ross Douthat’s Canny (and Utterly Dishonest) Defense of Homophobia by Mark Joseph Stern, whom Andrew Sullivan has amusingly described as “the gay politburo official at Slate.” Stern opens his piece with a hypothetical in which a host at a restaurant refuses to seat a lesbian couple and their child, and is reprimanded by the restaurant’s management. Who is the victim in this situation? Stern asks. The family? The child? The restaurant? He continues:
None of the above, according to New York Times op-ed columnist Ross Douthat: By his moral calculus, the host would be the true victim, the family the “victors,” and the hypothetical—which is far from fanciful—demonstrates not the continuing threat of discrimination in America, but, rather, the marginalization of devout Christians at the hands of bellicose pro-gay forces.*
At the bottom of the article there is now a correction:
*Correction, March 4, 2014: This post originally linked the words “far from fanciful” to a TopekasNews article that claimed a restaurant had ejected a gay man telling him “no gay eating here.” The article is a hoax. The words now link to a Chickasha Express-Star article about a gay man who alleges he was ejected from a Walmart store.
In other words, Stern linked the words “far from fanciful” to a hoax article that was pure fantasy.
The publication linked by Stern was TopekasNews.com, which bills itself as “A Progressive Voice for the Free Thinker” . . . but which is, in reality, a poor man’s The Onion: an obvious hoax publication. I took this screenshot from the main page of the publication today:
In addition to the stories in this screenshot, including the one about the gay relationship of Vladimir Putin and Kin Jong Un, or the one about the “local cat” who is “traumatized” upon seeing his owners have sex, the publication also has stories such as:
We have a new crusade for you, Mark Joseph Stern! The bigoted author of the story blaming chicken-puppies on gay marriage laws simply must be taken to task!!!
The Slate correction does not provide a direct hyperlink to the article, but I found it. It is titled Kansas Restaurant Kicks Gay Man Out, Tells Him “No Gay Eating Here.” In Stern’s defense, while the piece tries to be funny, it fails, as do most of the articles on this extremely amateurish satire Web site. The
“What is wrong. What is this sign meaning,” Quinns-Smith asked, feeling uncomfortable as eyes rested on him.
“It means you and your boyfriend can’t come eating in here no more, unless you find God,” a customer seated offered a response before staff said anything.
“You need to find God and the Bible,” someone else yelled out. The floodgates were open.
“We don’t want your germs on the silverware.” ”Just repent son, you can still be forgiven and be normal.” ”Being gay is not natural. It is not God’s way.”
The numerous comments to the story include dozens of comments detailing reasons that the story is an obvious hoax: the fact that it is set in “Franton, Kansas,” which does not exist; the rather obvious Photoshopping of the sign referred to in the story; and so on. Most of these comments were left in February 2014, before Stern’s March 3, 2014 article was published — meaning that if Stern had read any of the comments, he could have saved himself some embarrassment. Here is a typical comment:
There’s also the fact that virtually every story at the publication is an obvious hoax, meaning that the publication didn’t get trolled — the publication is doing the trolling.
To me, the first point made by the commenter above is the critical one: the idea that an entire restaurant would suddenly start heaping abuse on a gay patron should draw skepticism. The commenter notes that this is unlikely “even in deep KS” — but note that it is not alleged to happen in “deep Kansas” but in Topeka, a capital city with over 100,000 people and a Democrat mayor.
In short, it would take a fairly clueless gay-mafia ideologue to believe this story. Oh, hi, Mark Joseph Stern! We were just talking about you! Are your ears burning?
When conservatives fall for a hoax, it generally makes a splash. When Larry O’Connor linked an article which in turn was based on a hoax article, Media Matters blasted O’Connor — even though the publication he himself had linked was a supposedly reputable news source: Boston.com, a Web site launched under the auspices of the Boston Globe. And we have already seen how Dave Weigel blasted Charles C. Johnson for relying on an article from a satirical edition of a normally straight-news publication: The Daily Princetonian.
Yet when a hard-left scold at Slate.com gets snookered by a piece from an obvious hoax site, there is, seemingly, not a peep about it.
I hope this post provides a corrective to that collective oversight by the Internet.
*UPDATE: I don’t intend to suggest that Weigel is hiding something because the link was broken when I wrote the post. Oddly enough, it works for me now.