Monday, June 13, 2011

The MacMaster Scam

It turns out that the post I wrote earlier about the abduction of a Syrian blogger was based on a scam. The actual blogger was a man, not even in Syria:
Let’s start with what is a sound assumption: there are gay girls in Damascus, a city of more than a million and a half people with—at least until the regime started shutting things down—strong international connections. But the “Gay Girl in Damascus,” the supposed author of a certain blog, is not any of those things: he is a married American man in Scotland, one who has yet to acknowledge the way he may have hurt the sort of woman he was pretending to be. Her name was supposedly Amina Araf al Omari; his is Tom MacMaster. His hoax unravelled when he claimed that Amina had been detained by security forces, and people around the world rushed to her aid, only to find no one there.
My apologies for reporting on the abduction. That I based the report on the U.K. Guardian is not an excuse but an explanation.

The post I link to here discusses the negative consequences of the scam. The worst of them is that once someone has cried wolf like this we might all hesitate to rise up and defend someone the next time similar news appear. That is much worse than the obvious narcissism of the blogger and the other nasty things he did.