Sally C. Pipes - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research Institute]
C. Pipes is President and CEO, Pacific
Research Institute [go
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at Forefront of Hoax Industry
[Sally C. Pipes] 5/14/04
The latest evidence seems to indicate that women are better
than men at faking stories that cast themselves as victims and
cast aspersions on others. Take the strange case of Kerri Dunn,
visiting assistant professor of psychology at Claremont McKenna
College (CMC) in southern California.
March professor Dunn told police that vandals had damaged her
car, stolen more
than $1,700 worth of her personal property,
and sprayed the vehicle with racial slurs. The professor, who
is white, told the police she had been the target of "a
well planned-out act of terrorism," for speaking out against
racism on campus.
The story drew a 1,000-word news story in the Los
replete with photos. Police called it a hate crime. Officials
at CMC and all the other Claremont Colleges canceled classes
and posted a $10,000 reward for apprehension of the vandals.
The FBI joined the hunt.
the violence would not drive her away, and she became a hero
a champion of the battle against oppression.
A week later it emerged that the "act of terrorism" had
indeed been planned - by professor Dunn herself, but not very
Two witnesses told police they had seen Dunn driving the car,
already adorned with hateful graffiti, into a parking garage.
There she savaged her own vehicle, smashing the windshield and
slashing the tires. Then the supposedly stolen items mysteriously
turned up in the possession of Dunn, who still denied she had
staged the attack.
reporters who had been taken in by Dunn’s antics
started looking into her background. The professor, they found,
had experience in both denial and theft.
taught criminal justice at Cal State San Bernardino, where
bachelor’s and master’s degrees
before going on to earn a law degree and PhD in psychology from
the University of Nebraska. During her time there, she was arrested
for driving with falsified license plates. She was also arrested
for shoplifting, found with, among other things, a pink sweater,
three Liz Claiborne bracelets, a necklace and a pair of earrings,
$403 worth of steak knives, and a pair of Enzo Angiolini shoes.
The creative shopper was belligerent with police, three times
failed to appear in court, and, as in her current tangle, she
denied any wrongdoing.
Hoaxes involving racism and sexual assault have become common
on college campuses. Some of the hoaxers are male, such as Ahmad
Saad Nasim, the University of Arizona student who faked assaults
against himself, hoping to show himself a victim of 9-11 backlash.
Women, however, appear to have the upper hand.
of Wisconsin student Audry Seiler faked her own abduction.
surveillance tape revealed that she herself had purchased the
knife, duct tape, and rope supposedly used in the
crime. At the University of Iowa, Katharine Robb faked a story
about being raped by four black men. At the University of California,
Davis, Angela Hartley made up a story about being kidnapped at
knifepoint and assaulted.
and their defenders claim that the hoaxes don’t
matter because racism and sexual assault do happen. Yes, they
do, but lies, fake reports, and self-inflicted vandalism will
not help actual cases, to be taken seriously. When the FBI and
police are chasing imaginary villains, they are not stopping
real crime and are wasting public resources to boot. That is
why filing a false police report is a crime.
In late April, the district attorney charged Kerri Dunn with
that crime, along with two felony counts of insurance fraud.
Such prosecutions, believes Anne Hendershott, professor of sociology
at the University of San Diego and author of The Politics of
Deviance, will help remedy a wider problem.
"Perhaps if we can stop venerating victims and begin prosecuting
perpetrators," writes Hendershott, "we may begin to
move beyond the politics of victimhood." In other words,
even female, politically correct hoaxers should not be separated
from the consequences of their actions. CRO
2004 Pacific Research Institute