Fake Hate Receipts and Hate Letters: The New Fake Campus Hate Crimes

Katy Perry is a big supporter of gay rights. (AP)

Katy Perry is a big supporter of gay rights. (AP)

Perhaps you heard about the waitress who was not only left no tip but also viciously insulted by a family of bigots who didn’t approve of her gay lifestyle. It was really horrible! Here’s the important part of the story:

Earlier this week, a server at a restaurant in Bridgewater, NJ looked at a check to see that the family she had just served completely stiffed her on the tip. And the awful thing was the reason the diner wrote on the check: “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and how you live your life.

Server Dayna Morales sent the check to Have a Gay Day, which posted the offensive check on their Facebook page. Morales, who works at Gallop Asian Bistro, also revealed that when she got to their table, “NEVER in a million years did I think this would happen. Not only was it a family with two kids, but as I introduce myself and tell them my name is Dayna—the mom proceeds to look at me and say ‘oh I thought you were gonna say your name is Dan. You sure surprised us!’”

Emphasis in the original, and for good reason. Because that is really and truly a horrible thing to say to someone! Except that, welp, turns out that it wasn’t actually said.

That’s right: The hate receipt is a fake. Here’s the follow up:

The husband and wife showed NBC New York ”a receipt that appeared to be printed at the same minute, on the same date, for the same $93.55 total, except with an $18 tip. They also provided a document they said was a Visa bill, which appears to indicate their card was charged for the meal plus the tip, for a total of $111.55.”

This is not the first time someone has faked a hate receipt. And faking hatred is not limited to encounters at restaurants, of course. Gawker’s Nick Denton highlighted* a series of  ”too good to verify” viral letters promulgated by the group FCKH8:

Sorry, I find this story even less credible than the last of its type. Yet another heartwarming letter via FCKH8? That’s the same apparel company that published the touching note from a father to the son who couldn’t bring himself to come out. In that case too, the company refused to allow independent verification of the source — also out of professed concern for the privacy of the family.

FCKH8 — apart from these viral handwritten notes — is mainly known for late delivery of product. It is run by a longtime activist and gadfly, Luke Montgomery, who changed his name to Sissyfag to prove a point about discrimination and whose Wikipedia page is a catalog of stunts.

These letters are well-written. The hatched paper is a nice touch. The sentiment is almost too touching to be credible — but too viral for most outlets to check. At least twice now Neetzan and other reporters have been thwarted in their efforts to run down the origin. And I do hope an expert can weigh in on the similarity of the handwriting.

Definitely fake? Hard to say. Impossible to verify, distributed by a known provocateur, and therefore useless as even anecdata? Absolutely.

Faking hate crimes is, of course, nothing new. It is something of a scourge on college campuses. For instance, there was the recent “hate crime” at Oberlin, the falsity of which was covered up Oberlin’s very own administrators:

According to police reports published by Chuck Ross of the Daily Caller News Foundation this week, two students had fessed up to most of the incidents (and fellow students suspect they are responsible for all of them). The Oberlin Police Department identified the hoaxers as Dylan Bleier (a student worker bee for President Obama’s Organizing for Action and a member of the Oberlin College Democrats) and Matthew Alden. Bleier told police the pair posted inflammatory signs and a Nazi flag around campus to “joke” with and “troll” their peers.

Investigators “caught them red-handed” trying to circulate anti-Muslim fliers, and a search of Bleier’s e-mail confirmed he had used a fake account to harass a female student. Cops told Oberlin president Marvin Krislov, but he failed to pursue any criminal action. The two students were removed from campus before the bogus “KKK” brouhaha and news-making shutdown.

Oh, and let’s not forget the Montana man who faked a hate crime because he was acting the drunken fool and embarrassed about it:

Baken’s original case had prompted immense support from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community when a photo of his badly bruised face was uploaded to the “Wipe Out Homophobia” Facebook page and subsequently shared on a number of other social media outlets. The page’s organizers also noted that Baken’s assailants hurled anti-gay epithets like “faggot” at him during the attack. “Nobody deserves this, especially not just because of your sexuality,” the group’s organizers wrote in their original post.

However, local law enforcement began to openly doubt the specifics of the case after a video that apparently showed Baken attempting to do a backflip off a curb emerged (that footage can be viewed above). He is believed to have sustained the injuries seen in the widely circulated photograph after falling to the pavement during the attempt.

How ’bout the Montclair State students that scrawled racist graffiti on their own doors?

Two Montclair State University students who reported racist graffiti written on their dorm room door are facing charges after campus police determined they were actually responsible for the message, authorities said.

Olivia McCrae and Tanasia Linton, both 19 and from Newark, were arrested on campus Tuesday afternoon and charged with making false reports, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, according to the university.

I could go on and on and on. (Luckily I don’t need to: David Freddoso has a solid roundup here.) The problem with all of these stories, of course, is that they cast instant doubt on actual victims of hate crimes. Frankly, if you’re not instantly skeptical when you read the words “hate crime” and “college campus” in the lede of a story—or “bigotry” and “receipt,” for that matter—you’re a sucker.

The proliferation of fake hate shouldn’t be all that surprising. In our culture there is no quicker or easier way to gin up sympathy than being the subject of bigotry. And for good reason: attacking people for their race or their sexual orientation is gross. But the lowlives who fake these stories aren’t doing anyone any good—indeed, they’re probably doing distinct damage to race and gender relations. So knock it off, dummies.

*There’s an entirely separate post to be written about why Nick Denton is allowing things he believes to be false to be posted on a website he owns, but that’s a story for another day, I guess.