There should be a contest for the most incompetent bogus hate crime perpetrator. These people get caught so fast the Fourth Estate can barely jump on the hate crime bandwagon before the damn thing is lurching to an ignoble halt, spilling gullible journalists into the gutter like medieval fishwives emptying slop buckets.
(What a first paragraph! If this was fiction I’d nominate myself for a Bulwer-Lytton award.)
In this particular case, the Amarillo Globe-News published an opinion piece on July 25, 1997, bemoaning the hate group Fist of God (which doesn’t actually exist) for attacking Miranda Prather, one day after other newspapers reported that Miranda was being charged with faking a hate crime. Oops.
Here’s what happened: Miranda Prather, a lesbian recently graduated from Eastern New Mexico University with a degree in English and little in the way of prospects, printed up some hate fliers in the name of a fictional terror group called the “Fist of God” threatening to kill campus homosexuals, and then posted them in a local laundromat… laundromats being the best place for disseminating homosexual threats, apparently.
Maybe homosexuals clean their clothes a lot? Was that her reasoning?
Miranda included a list of homosexual targets with herself at the very top, then added some dramatic language like, “Take us seriously, or we’ll begin executing one queer a week following this list,” and “Are you sick of queers polluting this great land with there filth? I thought so. Want to do something? Join the Fist of God. With his might, we can ride the world of there sickness. Ask around. We’ll find you.”
Snarkiness about twice misspelling the word “their” is unwarranted. Surely Miranda, holder of a degree in English, knows how to spell. Surely.
The posters were circulated on Sunday, Monday she faked an attack on herself in her apartment, by Tuesday the police had spotted Miranda circulating fliers on the laundromat’s security cameras, and by Wednesday she was under arrest for false reporting and seven counts of harassment.
Then, on Friday, two days after she was arrested, Elizabeth Jarnagin at the Globe-News published her commentary wondering what could make the Fist of God be so hateful:
“I’m trying to understand this "Fist of God” situation in Portales. I can’t. What could make anyone that hateful? That vengeful? That ready to terrorize other people? That fearful of people with a different lifestyle? The FoG compiled a list of allegedly homosexual faculty members and students at Eastern New Mexico University, then put up posters and circulated fliers with the list, including addresses and phone numbers. A woman was seen on a surveillance camera tape putting up the hateful posters.“
Sheesh. Read a newspaper, lady. The woman who was "seen on a surveillance camera tape” was Prather. There is no “‘Fist of God’ situation.”
Miranda Prather put people on a hit list, forced some of them into hiding out of fear, and spread dissension and animosity throughout the area. She’s a hateful little twerp, completely unconcerned about the fear and divisiveness she spread around the Eastern New Mexico campus, but…
But I don’t know who was dumber: Ms. Prather or Ms. Jarnagin. If journalists wouldn’t gift these phony hate crime incidents with a patina of reality by treating them as fact before they’re even investigated, much of the damage caused by the likes of Miranda Prather would be minimized.
On a side note, Miranda ended up as executive director of PublishAmerica, which many people consider a scam. PublishAmerica calls itself a traditional publisher, but is accused of being a vanity press that fails to honor contracts. So our bogus hate crime perpetrator found a position matching her character.