Another Todd (Not The First Dude Remix)
I was particularly discomfited by the whole Ashley Todd attack hoax this week, but it took catching this post linked on Rachel Maddow’s Twitter that really helped me figure out exactly why I was bothered.
For those not playing along at home, Ashley Todd is a 20 year old McCain supporter from Texas, working in Pittsburgh for the College Republicans. She claimed to have been assaulted at an ATM by a tall black man who robbed her, then saw the McCain sticker on her car and punched her, then scratched a backwards B into her cheek, saying he was an Obama supporter and that she was going to learn a lesson.
Except none of this actually happened, say Pittsburgh police. Todd admitted today that she made the story up, and that she has had some ‘mental problems’ in the past, and believes she may have made the mark on her own cheek. She’s charged with making a false report to police.
Okay, with me so far?
There’s several things that are highly fucked about this whole thing: race (as really well explained in the blog post linked above), assault of women, mental illness, the idea that Obama supporters are rabid and violent, and how the conservative media reacts to these things.
Since others have talked about race and assault, and how willing people are to assume that of course a big black man would have been a mugger of a young white woman, I’ll just direct you to the blog post I linked above. At the same time, it’s hard to say no one should have believed her, because women get assaulted on a regular basis–it’s a sick sad fact. And we sure as hell don’t want to start from the assumption that a woman who has been hurt is lying. I worry about this, and I don’t know how to feel about the Pittsburgh police’s statement that they didn’t believe her entirely from the beginning, but kept sorta following through.
In other words, there’s so many sides to this die that we might as well be playing D&D.
Ashley Todd, by the way, was doing a little blogging for the College Republican National Committee, who have now taken it down. Shocker. I won’t link, but you can Google her name and check the cache. I won’t link to the copies of her MySpace, either, but it basically just confirms my theory.
Which brings us to mental illness: young lonely college student aching for attention, probably has some issues with depression or bipolar disorder, in search of immortality, like anyone else. Basically, and no offense meant, a good tenth of the people I knew in college fit into this category in some way. She may not have even planned it, may have self-injured and then came up with a bullshit story for her friends so that they didn’t freak out. And then it all began to snowball–they told her to call the police, finally convinced her, and then the national media caught it.
Basically, I’m not here to hate on someone who I’m sure has some problems. But I hate the shit that’s brought to the forefront: that one example of a lie could throw many people into a guilty-until-proven-innocent mindset, that society automatically sees a black man and thinks trouble, that people with mental illnesses are just ‘crazy bitches’, that Barack Obama’s charisma is entirely suspect. I hate it. And I hate that we’ll learn nothing from it.
I also hate that I’m not so far out of college that I’m willing to accept as possibility that the whole thing could have been planned by Todd. Considering the martyr complexes belonging to all of the College Republicans I knew in school, it’s not entirely wiped from my mind. But Occam’s got a razor, and the idea that Todd tried to cover up some SI and her story snowballed seems far closer to a reality that I know. And maybe I’m willing to accept some combination of the two–a story that snowballed and then was deliberately exploited.
I don’t know. It’s just all fucked up.
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Tags: oh no you didn't, politics