I like much of the blogosphere I latched onto the tale of Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari who presented herself as a "Gay Girl in Damascus", with great interest. Here was a woman who's religion and sexual politics put her in harms way and who blogged about her experiences with clarity and spirit.
I felt particularly moved when I read the post covering a night-time attempted abduction by Syrian governmental agents and how her father had saved her life with words and composure.
Then I felt the outrage only a liberal can know when I read a post from her cousin detailing Amina's abduction from the street. I felt a cold sense of dread that the next post would be a requiem, describing how her body was found in a back alley, obviously tortured and abused.
Except it wasn't.
The whole thing was a literary exercise by an 40 year old American man, studying in Edinburgh.
I couldn't have felt more angry, though I wasn't sure if I was more angry at myself for having been so credulous and breathlessly ready to repeat "her" story to coursemates, or the guy who made this story up for the untold damage he has wrought on anyone who tries to tell a similar tale (except truthfully).
When the abduction tale was posted, Syrian officials were quick to say "We've looked into, this person doesn't exist." I, like many I suspect, thought to myself "Well, they would say that wouldn't they?" Turns out they were telling the truth. And the next time another person in an oppressive regime speaks out online and provides insight to living in danger because of their political belief, sexual persuasion or whatever, well that person will have to fight that bit more to get people to heed their call.
So any number of limp, ashen-faced apologies from Tom McMaster will not appease my annoyance with him. Especially as he had the gall to chastise his readers (and subsequent critics) in the initial post where he coughed to his "brief experiment in nerd psychology".
Okay, I'm spent. Back to your regular programming.