In what looked like a staged moment on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton fielded a question from a nine year-old boy at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire concerning pay inequity between the sexes. The boy, Relic Reilly, asked why his engineer father earned more than his mother, a pre-K teacher. “I think my mother is working much harder, is working more harder than my father and she deserves to have more money, like, get more money, than my father. Because she’s taking care of children and I just don’t think it’s fair.”
Mrs. Clinton used the opportunity, one that I’m pretty sure she created herself by placing the question in the boy’s mouth, to trumpet her support for yet another “equal pay for equal work” law that would make it even more illegal to pay women less than men. Paying women less than men for no other reason other than sex has been illegal at the federal level since 1963. It was made even more illegal by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and yet again more illegal by a slew of state and local laws. Still, if Hillary Clinton is going to make her campaign into another historic “first” for women, she needs to pretend that women such as herself are oppressed—hence the fake question about a fake issue.
Coming, as this question did, on New Year’s Eve, I saw it as a fitting end to 2015, the fakest year on record. Never before has the news been dominated by so many lies, hoaxes, and counterfeits.
When 2015 began, we were already in the midst of a rape hoax at the University of Virginia, where a college student claimed to have been raped on broken glass at a frat party that never actually happened. The woman’s story kept changing and she insisted that the reporter who broke the story, Rolling Stone’s Sabrina Erdely, not contact anyone involved to verify details. Erdely actually agreed to this. When the story became absolutely indefensible, Rolling Stone retracted it and conducted an investigation to determine what had gone wrong, though the investigation itself was pretty fake in that it didn’t recommend any changes to policy and no one got fired—not even Sabrina Erdely.
That rape hoax was followed by another at Columbia University, where a female student carried a mattress around campus to protest the university’s supposed refusal to address her rape at the hands of a former lover. Actually, the university did investigate and found that her story lacked credibility. The details did not stack up and her story was almost certainly a lie, a desperate act of revenge against a man she had been infatuated with—and probably still was.
Also in January, Muslim terrorists conducted a very real attack against the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo. What followed, however, was a completely insincere outpouring of support for the principle of free speech. Leaders from across Europe and the world converged in Paris to declare that they would not be bullied into censoring speech. That was a huge lie, of course, because nearly all European governments punish speech, especially speech that offends Muslims. Before, during, and after the attacks citizens were being arrested for mere words. In July, Charlie Hebdo announced that it would no longer draw Mohammed. In the future, they would self-censor.
Two thousand fifteen was also the year of fake women—by which I mean dudes who wear skirts and demand to be treated as women. Two high profile cases in American high schools involving transgender “girls” who were demanding to use the girls’ locker room were settled when the Department of Education required all schools that receive federal funds—which is nearly every public school in the country—to allow students to use the locker room of their choice. Another fake woman, Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner, won Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year Award. The husband of a former winner, NYPD policewoman Moira Smith who died in the 9/11 attacks, returned the award he had accepted on behalf of his deceased wife. “I was shocked and saddened to learn that Glamour has just named Bruce Jenner ‘Woman of the Year’…” said James Smith. “Was there no woman in America, or the rest of the world, more deserving than this man?” Indeed.
The catchy phrase “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” was found to be an utter fabrication after a lengthy investigation into the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer. Brown’s hands had not been up, he was not shot in the back, he had not been kneeling on the ground, and he was not “minding [his] own business” as Brown’s thug friend Dorian Johnson told reporters after the incident. Brown was fleeing a robbery when he attempted to murder Officer Darren Wilson with his own gun. The investigation revealed that witnesses lied in order to frame Wilson. The only element of reality in the entire Michael Brown case was all the mayhem and looting that followed.
In June a supposedly scientific study published in the peer-reviewed Science magazine was found to have been a graduate student’s concoction. The study, titled “When Contact Changes Minds” was designed to measure the degree to which entrenched opponents of same-sex marriage could be swayed by sob stories, or what they called “heartfelt, reciprocal and vulnerable conversations.” The study’s designer, PhD candidate Michael LaCour of UCLA, intended to show that mean old bigots (like me) just haven’t met many “gay” people. After a little contact with homosexuals and hearing them pour their hearts out about all the made-up grief they have to suffer through, we bigots usually relent. Or at least that’s what the study showed.
But the study was fake. The company that LaCour claimed to have hired to collect the data, Qualtrics, said that they had no record of the study. When LaCour was asked to provide his raw data he said that he had accidentally deleted the file from his computer. Another team of students at UC-Berkeley attempted to replicate LaCour’s results without success. As his story began to unravel, it became clear that Michael LaCour had fabricated the data out of whole cloth. How this study passed peer review is a mystery—unless peer review is basically a worthless ritual, as I suspect.
The news cycle was dominated for the better part of two weeks in mid-September with the tale of Ahmed Mohamed, a fourteen year old in Irving, Texas who was arrested for bringing to school what looked very much like a bomb. As it turned out, it was just a briefcase with the innards of an old Radio Shack alarm clock mounted inside. Young Mr. Mohamed claimed to have “invented” a clock, which wasn’t even true. It didn’t take long for the narrative factory to manufacture the story that Ahmed wanted—“Muslim Kid Genius Arrested by Bigoted Texans!” The story was absolute rubbish from beginning to end. Ahmed Mohamed was hoping and praying that his teachers would take the bait he was dangling before them—a briefcase with protruding wires. Prior to his arrest he was told by at least two teachers that the clock he “invented” looked like a bomb. Having succeeded in raising an alarm, he proceeded to play the victim, and is still playing the victim. Victimhood is a pretty good gig, if you can get it. Crowdfunding sites raised money for his college education. The White House, NASA, Facebook and Google all extended invitations to the supposed child prodigy. And of course—of course!—his family is suing for fifteen million dollars. Getting arrested is the best thing that ever happened to this kid.
The year ended with another disintegrating tale of anti-Muslim bigotry, also in Texas. On Christmas Day, a mosque in Houston burned down in an apparent act of arson. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) leaped on the incident as a possible bias crime. Unfortunately for CAIR, the feds arrested a devout Muslim named Gary Nathaniel Moore. He is the lead suspect. This one has self-victimization hoax written all over it.
Two thousand fifteen should be remembered as the Year of the Big Lie—the year the US Army’s once prestigious Ranger School debased the coveted Ranger tab by handing it out to women who failed to meet standards, the year in which black students posing online as angry white racists made terroristic threats to kill black people, and the year that the Supreme Court discovered a fake right to a fake marriages in the text of our Constitution.
This trend toward mendacity is truly disturbing. Are we becoming a nations of liars, or a nation of people who like being lied to? I say no. We’re merely victims of a journalistic establishment that barely even pretends to report the news anymore.