A Valuable Reminder About The Internet

Recently the blog LezGetReal has reminded us of a valuable lesson about the internet that can never be forgotten — namely, that the normal user doesn’t know where content really comes from and whether it can be trusted.

LezGet Real published a blog entitled A Gay Girl In Damascus that purportedly was written by a gay woman in Syria who was dealing with the civil unrest there.  The blogger, who wrote under the name Amina Arraf, became a kind of minor sensation when she reported being arrested by Syrian security forces, and real people became involved in trying to investigate her arrest and campaign for her fair treatment.  But it turned out that Amina Arraf did not exist.  Instead, she was the fictional creation of Tom MacMaster, a 40-year-old student living in Scotland.  Then, days later, one of the editors of the LezGetReal blog, who wrote under the name Paula Brooks, also turned out to be a straight man — a 58-year-old Air Force veteran named Bill Graber.

What does it all mean?  It means that the internet is a vast cauldron of unvetted stuff of unknown origin, and the careful reader needs to always maintain a healthy skepticism about content.  Heart-rending stories can turn out to be hoaxes.  Bold assertions of fact may be exposed as falsehoods.  Photos can be doctored.  And a purported gay woman writing of her ordeal in a faraway, dusty, repressive land can turn out to be a 40-year-old guy in Scotland acting out some curious fantasy before his computer screen and sucking credulous people into his fantasy world.

Ohio, The Swing State

As the night progresses, we’ve seen significant swings in the Ohio Governor’s race.  In early returns, Republican John Kasich led, then incumbent Democratic Governor Ted Strickland surged into the lead, and now Kasich has moved into a slight lead.

In Ohio, the issue of where the votes have been counted can be highly significant.  Although Ohio, as a whole, is a swing state, the Buckeye State really is a bunch of enclaves.  When you consider interim statewide results, you must consider whether it is Democratic strongholds that been counted or Republican areas that have been tallied first.

Here in central Ohio, the Stivers-Kilroy case in the 15th District has not been called, although Stivers has a significant lead with more than half of the votes counted.  In our district, the 12th, about a third of the votes have been counted and Republican incumbent Pat Tiberi has a surprisingly small lead over Democratic challenger Paula Brooks.

As of 10:20 p.m. Eastern time, there is still a lot to be decided.