So a bunch of GOP bloggers - and Serious Media People too - fell for a hoax so obvious that the proverbial five-year-old child on retainer to the competent Evil Overlord would have seen through it.
I will say only this - I knew it was faked as soon as I saw her photograph. It wasn't just the blatantly-obvious falsity of the B "carved" into her face - more on that in a bit - and I hardly glanced at the black-eye long enough to notice the hallmarks of that fraud, until after it was all over bar the shouting, because I was transfixed by her expression. No, the thing that clinched it for me was her smirk. I've seen that expression before, and all too often: that little smug pursed-lips pout of victory and scorn. I saw it on the face of the classmate in second-grade, the "good kid" who had taken my homework and torn it up and denied it, because the class pariah was a safe target, the argumentative one with the shabby things whom the teachers wouldn't defend, not against someone as sweet and polite and mannerly (and from such a good family) as little So-and-so - I saw it on the face of the kids I babysat when they lied in my eyes about what their parents allowed them to do, or pushing their baby brother or sister, or stealing stuff from my purse; I saw it on the face of the coworkers who made shit up about colleagues to get ahead in our office.
That was not the expression of someone who has just been through a terrible trauma. That was not the expression of someone who was first robbed, then "brutally beaten" about the head by a large fierce stranger for their political views, molested and marred. That wasn't even the expression of someone who's survived a non-lethal accident with minor injuries. That was the expression of the trickster who has gotten away with it (or thinks they have, at least) and is reveling both in their own mendacity and the sympathy they are stealing away like sweet, sweet candy from those they have gulled. Jane Austen and Henry James might have written such a smug little smirk for one of their villains; Becky Sharp might have worn exactly such a look in contemplation of a scheme successfully carried off, or Sophronia Lammle. (But Alfred Hitchcock would have told a leading lady to tone it down a little, because such a look would have given the game away entirely, as too blatant on screen. Not even Angela Lansbury went quite so far, in her turn as the unscrupulous housemaid in Gaslight.)
But leave that hypnotic little sneer of triumph aside, and let us consider the forensics. Has nobody on the right ever seen evidence photos? Have none of them seen actual injuries, ever? I've hardly led a wild life and I'm not a true crime junkie; yet I have seen bruises, including black eyes, from fights and from accidents, roughhousing and working and playing, and know what hematomas look like, and did when I was in high school! I've been hit hard enough to knock my glasses into my skin, and it does leave a bloody dent where the point of impact against the eye's orbit was.
And there's no way that you can be beaten repeatedly with no marks but a tidy little circle of shadow. Does. Not. Happen. There was no swelling, for crying out loud! No redness whatsoever! Debunkers were pointing out that it takes days and days for a bruise to age to that blackened look, but others were saying maybe she had gotten hurt somehow else and made up this "mugger story" to cover it.
There was no black eye - unless you mean one created with eye shadow, which isn't exactly what the term usually means. You don't get black eyes without broken blood vessels! You don't get punched in the face once, let alone repeatedly, without there being multiple impact points from all those knucklebones! Only a child - and a particularly young and naive one, at that - should have been taken in by this! Don't any of these cons ever watch sports? Haven't they ever seen the results of a hockey scrim or a collision in a grade school soccer match? Let alone a boxing match, when flipping channels? (Haven't they ever had a sty before? Eyelids are fragile, and swell up at the least trauma!)
But I said I was mostly caught by that "carved" leter B - not so much by the fact it was backwards (I allowed that it could be a flopped photo as some of the defenders argued) but by its perfect right-angledness and roundness, and the lack of almost any slippage. I have done calligraphy, I have carved letters into things. There is a reason that the runic alphabet, including the "B", is made of triangles, and that is that it is damn hard to carve a curve. It requires patience and steadiness - something that someone in a passionate rage, in the dark, doing to someone frantic and unwilling is NOT likely to have the luxury of!
But even more I was caught by its superficiality. I have seen kindly sorts on dKos saying "more to be pitied than censured she," as now she will have to wear this B scarred into her face for the rest of her life, and arguing that this proves her madness and thus innocence--hah!
No. There will be no scar. I am, remember, a former cutter; I am also an artist/artisan, and have been since I was a kid. I have many scars on my hands and arms, mostly not from deliberate self-harming behavior, because I quickly figured out how to do it without leaving permanent marks in places that showed. The scars that show are from a variety of causes - slips with craft knives, leather tools, chisels, dropped dishes, tuna can lids, stove burns, soldering irons, and cat claws - but what they all have in common is that they went below the first layer of skin. In consequence, they oozed like hell, and itched when they started to heal up, and they all had dark brownish-red centers from dried blood and scabbing and they all had crusting along the edges from dried serum that reformed no matter how often it was rubbed away. (Also puckering, as there was a difference in tension between the hard scabbing and the healthy skin.)
See any of that there? It starts forming as soon as the wound stops bleeding, btw, if you have ever had to pill or bathe cats you know what I mean. That "knife-carved" B never even bled. When I was a very young kid in central Texas, my friends and I used to give ourselves and each other "tattoos" with blunt twigs or plastic protractors, playing make-believe - a pirate needs a tattoo after alll! - one would scrape or scratch them into your arm over and over until it made a raised red line, which would last a few hours but be gone by dinnertime. Ashley Todd's "mutilation" will last less time than a bad sunburn - or a mosquito bite, which as a Texas resident I am sure she is very familiar with as well.
What naive fool who never saw blood spilled from a papercut could have believed that scratch was made with a knife by a strong angry man? Even a preschooler using a plastic butter knife would have gone deeper than that. Or slipped and gone into her clear unbloodshot eye.
Then, of course, there was the setup - the Twitter trail leading up to the blogpost, pulled down when doubts began to be voiced but nevertheless continuing in cache, the doubts being the kind of thing we in Left Blogistan are familiar with from when that rightwing politician posted a shot of a peaceful prosperous Middle Eastern metropolis and claimed it was Baghdad - only within hours bloggers had identified the very streetcorner in Turkey thanks to a combination of Sherlock Holmes style discourse and Google Image search of online photographs.
The neighborhood was not the dangerous and scary place she described it as, by any means - and lo and behold, there are lots of people from and in Pittsburgh online who are willing to talk about their hometown! The naive conservative fool (but I repeat myself, repeatedly) thought it was a plausible setup for her con, but you know, I drove for work for years in and around Boston (including Lawrence, and Lowell) at all hours of day and night, including in some "bad" neighborhoods, and often been the only white person, and/or the only woman, at the gas station or convenience store - and never been so much as menaced with a dirty look. Reality has this weird way of not being like TV.
And then of course there's the fact that she apparently didn't realize that security cameras are standard fixtures at banks, and that they can and will review footage in a police case. The other day I was in a fast-food place in Manchester grabbing a coffee and overheard a young man waiting for his order talking on his cell phone, loudly, and gleefully, about how he was hoping his ex-girlfriend would push things to court, because he had her on video violating her restraining order against him, breaking into his apartment and stealing his weed while he was being booked by the police for something else, thanks to the security cameras at the car dealership across the street that she didn't know about, and so he would be vindicated against her. (He was white, of course.)
After this, the fact that she refused medical assistance despite claiming to have been punched and kicked - there are two reasons for refusing medical assistance after you have claimed to be hurt to the police, and one of them is having neither money nor insurance, and the other is...well, I'm sure Sir Arthur has some pithy lines on the matter - and the boast on her Myspace page that “Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her cloths off, but its better if you do" are just sprinkles on the cyanide icing on the poison cake.
I will be charitable and not name names, but some readers will know what I mean when I say that this wouldn't have lasted an hour if it had been pulled in fandom, that kids many years younger than she are far more sophisticated when it comes to creating scenarios and backstories to support such tales of woe.
Now, I don't know if Ms. Todd came up with this "prank" herself - I strongly suspect so, since it has a combination of utter juvenility and incompetence that one would expect the heirs of Segretti would be able to surmount, from the stance of mere facility (it reminds me of the case in my town a few years back, when the teenage daughter of a local shopkeeper, sent to make a bank deposit, claimed to have been mugged on the way there...and was caught a few days later buying all kinds of expensive things with her boyfriend at the mall) - but regardless it appears to have been embraced by the professionals as a windfall, which makes it their ratfucking even if they didn't conceive of it.
And it was a nasty, vile attempt to inflame white fears of black men, an appeal to the old "Mandingo" mindset that could only have come from someone raised on this Coming Race War shit and nothing else, someone who never gets out and doesn't actually have any black friends or even acquaintances, online or IRL, and Todd may be too young/dumb to realize just what fires she was playing with, not having a memory of the Charles Stewart case, but I doubt it, post-Katrina - and the McCain campaign grownups, and Matt Drudge, and the guy from FOX and all the rest of them, they definitely know what they were trying to do.
And it is damnable, and they are damned, damnable liars.
The truth is not in them. Nor ever will be.