Chap's Spidey Sense Was Right
Fellow sub-blogger Chapomatic had posted earlier this week about a claim from a Dartmouth student that federal agents had visited him because he had ordered Mao Tse Tung's "The Little Red Book" from his college library. Marquette Warrior had done a good job dissecting the claims, and decided that something didn't make sense.
Turns out the student in question made it all up.
"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."
If you'd like to do some interesting research on the evolution of stories like this in the blogosphere, check out these Technorati listings for "Dartmouth Student". The most recent entries, as expected, are from conservative blogs about the debunking of the story. As you go back through the listings, though, check out some of the apocalyptic rantings from some of the more "progressive" blogs... it'll be interesting to see which of them posts an update. I've posted before about the dangers of reconfirming your political belief system from stories that turn out not to be true... Everyone's guilty of that, including me, but stories like this should keep everyone on their toes.
Me, I'm waiting for word from Lawrence that the KU Religious Studies professor who was "attacked" for daring to confront fundamentalist Christians made the whole story up...
Update 0705 24 Dec: This post at Daily Kos is educational (as well as showing that some "progressive" blogs are admitting their mistake). In addition to providing the links to their earlier posts about the subject, the comments provide a microcosm of reflexive anti-Bush thought -- some people admitting their prejudices, some blaming Bush because (paraphrasing) 'I know he's probably done things like this, so it's his fault I believe anything bad about him', and a couple others who think that either the student was forced to untruthfully recant or that the professor who broke the story is a Bushitler plant.