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View Full Version : 'Syrian lesbian' blogger turns out to be...married, male, American knob-end



Mr. Tea
13-06-2011, 08:26 PM
Gay Girl in Damascus hoaxer acted out of 'vanity'

Tom MacMaster, heterosexual American, contrite over fictional lesbian blogger 'Amina Abdallah Aral al Omari'

Tom MacMaster: 'I regret that a lot of people feel that I led them on'

The male American PhD student who confessed to being an internet hoaxer masquerading as a lesbian blogger in Damascus has spoken publicly about the reasons behind his deception, saying he was motivated, in part, by his own "vanity".
(http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/13/gay-girl-damascus-tom-macmaster)
I'm sure most of you will have seen this by now, but I thought it was worth a mention in the context both of the ongoing MENA unrest/revolutions (and specifically the violent crackdown in Syria) and of questions about trustworthiness of information on the web, the anonymity/pseudonymity of blogging, etc. etc. Not to mention the issue of identity theft for the woman he'd never met or had any contact with, whose face he used for his fictitious 'Amina Abdallah Aral al Omari'.

Not sure what to think about this guy - did he at any time think he was really doing any good for gay rights activists in Syria, or anywhere? Or is he just a colossal tit? My girlfriend took the unusual step of sending me a link to the Daily Mail's take on the story just to show me his T-shirt:

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/06/12/article-2002854-0C87E31900000578-585_468x351.jpg

Jesus wept...

highhhness
13-06-2011, 09:34 PM
colossal tit. heard an interview with him on the radio today - he was speaking on the phone from turkey, where he and his wife are currently holidaying. I'm hoping somewhere near the syrian border, with a name tag on.

IdleRich
13-06-2011, 10:21 PM
I don't understand this guy at all. OK, he's twisting himself in knots to justify his actions but the lengths he went to are absolutely bizarre. It's been going on for, how long, it's years isn't it?


'I regret that a lot of people feel that I led them on'
Yes, they might feel that mightn't they. Classic disavowed apology - I regret what people feel not anything I've done.

sufi
13-06-2011, 11:33 PM
my mate reckons that the most part of the impetus built up on social networks that some say led to the uprisings in egypt & tunisia was created by an awakening of long-term sleeper spambots run by highly sophisticated cia software,
maybe more to this than meets the eye ;)

mistersloane
14-06-2011, 12:52 AM
long-term lesbian sleeper spambots ;)

That's a great idea sufi, hadn't heard that one, and a quick search shows that I can't find anything on the net about it either...

crackerjack
14-06-2011, 08:51 AM
Seems to be a lot of it (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/paula-brooks-editor-of-lez-get-real-also-a-man/2011/06/13/AGld2ZTH_blog.html)about

baboon2004
14-06-2011, 10:17 AM
this is so weird as to suggest chronic mental illness on his part.

highhhness
14-06-2011, 10:49 AM
it's all about fake lesbian revenge measures (http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/phi/39737071.html):

Dear Fake Lesbian:

I'll start with the back story.

My friend and I (we'll call her "Maria") just planned to have a quiet dinner at her house in West Philadelphia on a Tuesday night. This was to be the beginning of a new phase of entertainment for us; we're prone to meet for "one drink" and wind up slurring and irritating our mostly teetotaler boyfriends. So, in an effort to prove that our friendship isn't based on alcohol consumption, we had dinner. Pasta salad, if you must know.

Sidebar: I'd like to take a minute to explain that I'm close to boycotting West Philadelphia altogether. It's a pain in the ass to get over there; once I'm there there's not that much to do; and getting home late at night is either expensive or dangerous, depending on your mode of transport. On this particular visit, I was caught in a torrential downpour AND I lost my wallet. I'm pretty sure that the wallet thing was my own sorry fault, but it happened in West Philadelphia and I'm going to go ahead and blame her godforsaken neighborhood.

I digress. We had dinner, watched "America's Top Comic" or whatever the hell it's called (for a brilliant woman, "Maria" is embarrassingly addicted to even the most brain-deadening of reality programs). Around 10:30, we decided to go out dancing in Center City. On a Tuesday.

Did I mention that we drank two bottles of wine with our pasta salad?

So. We shot down to the Rittenhouse area on the trolley, because I remembered that Loie usually has some cheezy 80's-type music playing, no cover, and a decent-sized dance floor (which we needed, as "Maria" is partial to an Expanded Robot, and I like to pretend I'm an Olympic Gymnast doing cross-mat dance routines).

We were having a good old time, "Maria" and myself, when you and your other Fake Lesbian friend came along. You'd done a little too much tippling, I think, and you were off your gourds. You'd left your boyfriends on the side of the dance floor. I imagine what began as a little experimentation at the suggestion of the boyfriends had turned into a Full Show for the whole bar. You were on the dance floor, making out in the most inconvenient places. NOT dancing. I repeat: NOT dancing. Only grinding all over the dance floor in what was rapidly beginning to concern your respective Frat Boys.

I hate it when girls make out to excite the boys around them. There's nothing worse. It just serves to reinforce that stupid fucking "lesbianism is hot" thing that makes me believe we'll never break past the point at which the majority of the idiots in the world think that being gay is a choice. Lesbianism may be hot, but only when it's LESBIANS who are acting like lesbians.

Anyway, sorry. I took your Bedazzled Flip-Flop and put it in a booth down the bar right before I left. I feel a little bad about it, but not very. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Love,
The Shoe Bandit

:D

Mr. Tea
14-06-2011, 11:48 AM
Haha, "Pasta salad, if you must know" made me laugh.

This backlash against "fake lesbians"* is interesting. I remember Beth Ditto being really cross about Katy Perry's 'I Kissed A Girl' song promoting lesbianism as two-hot-chicks-making-out-for-the-benefit-of-the-men-watching-them - I thought at the time it would have been really cool if someone like Marc Almond or Pete Burns had responded with a single called 'I Fucked A Man'...

But yeah, I've met so many girls who reckon they're "bi" because they once drunkenly snogged their best friend at a party to impress some boys...sigh...


*usually meaning straight women, as opposed to straight men, pretending to be lesbians, I guess

highhhness
14-06-2011, 12:58 PM
I thought at the time it would have been really cool if someone like Marc Almond or Pete Burns had responded with a single called 'I Fucked A Man'...

hahhahahhhahh. please PLEASE let this still happen.

baboon2004
14-06-2011, 02:50 PM
Haha, "Pasta salad, if you must know" made me laugh.

This backlash against "fake lesbians" is interesting. I remember Beth Ditto being really cross about Katy Perry's 'I Kissed A Girl' song promoting lesbianism as two-hot-chicks-making-out-for-the-benefit-of-the-men-watching-them - I thought at the time it would have been really cool if someone like Marc Almond or Pete Burns had responded with a single called 'I Fucked A Man'...

But yeah, I've met so many girls who reckon they're "bi" because they once drunkenly snogged their best friend at a party to impress some boys...sigh...

Not Pete Burns, not Pete Burns. Marc Almond, excellent.

Yeah, it's a weird one that. An ex of mine went on about liking kissing girls, but in her case it was more an 'adoration from everyone' kind of thing, and a conflation of sex with adoration with power with....self-esteem? God, people are so fucked up. But yes, can see how that kind of thing is galling to lesbian and bisexual women, and even more so to lesbian men.

rrrivero
14-06-2011, 03:06 PM
A blogger's flight of fancy puts all of Syria's activists at risk (http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/a-bloggers-flight-of-fancy-puts-all-of-syrias-activists-at-risk?pageCount=0)

title's exaggerated but article's decent

Mr. Tea
14-06-2011, 03:15 PM
I've got a great image of Baboon tossing and turning feverishly in the grip of a nightmare, whimpering "Not Peter Burns, not Pete Burns!..."


A blogger's flight of fancy puts all of Syria's activists at risk (http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/a-bloggers-flight-of-fancy-puts-all-of-syrias-activists-at-risk?pageCount=0)

title's exaggerated but article's decent

As if they weren't *already* at risk? But yeah, good article. I hope to god no-one's been tracked and arrested as a result of communicating with 'Amina'.

highhhness
14-06-2011, 09:29 PM
of questions about trustworthiness of information on the web, the anonymity/pseudonymity of blogging

if anything it's just testament to the fact that you will get caught out eventually. read somewhere his emails got traced to edinburgh university server. that said even if no-one was put in danger directly by trying to trace him, like the article says there will be question marks over any similar blogs in future, which is a terribly damaging legacy.

OT and back to katy perry, if she did that tune to annoy her parents she did a cracking job (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1046018/Shameful-disgusting-The-No1-song-sparked-outrage--singers-parents.html):

Katy’s parents, both evangelical Christian preachers, say they are deeply ashamed of the star for ‘promoting a sin’. And her mother, Mary Hudson, declared: ‘I hate the song. It clearly promotes homosexuality and its message is shameful and disgusting.

‘Katy knows how I feel. We are a very outspoken family and she knows how disappointed her father and I are. I can’t even listen to that song. The first time I heard it I was in total shock. When it comes on the radio I bow my head and pray.’

Mr. Tea
15-06-2011, 02:13 AM
When it comes on the radio I bow my head and pray.

When you call my name it's like a little prayer
I'm down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour I can feel your power
Just like a prayer you know I'll take you there

padraig (u.s.)
15-06-2011, 08:46 AM
my mate reckons that the most part of the impetus built up on social networks that some say led to the uprisings in egypt & tunisia was created by an awakening of long-term sleeper spambots run by highly sophisticated cia software,
maybe more to this than meets the eye ;)

(this is all a bit o/t I guess tho maybe not given the issues this fake Syrian lesbian douche raises over reliability of Internet sources, anonymity, identity, blah blah etc)

not that I have been paying the closest tension to Syria/Yemen/Arab Spring everywhere etc and I know less than nothing about CIA sleeper spambots (which incidentally sounds like a potential plotline for the most boring Tom Clancy novel ever written) but it does all feel a bit like Iran 2009, Moldavia 2009 or going back further, Ukraine 2004-5. that is, folks -seriously- overrating social media and its impact. I remember josef k + vimothy + I (+ maybe some others I forget) had a pretty involved debate over this at the height of the Iranian election business and basically josef's position was a medium is the message kind of thing - I'm sure I'm doing him a disservice as it was far more nuanced than that, this being josek k after all, but nonetheless - and me mostly just stubbornly refusing to concede that it was a Twitter revolution, or whatever...this being at the height of the Western media screaming from the rafters that it was a social media revolution, I remember CNN actually gave up on trying to produce its own coverage and was literally just reading off a list of twitter feeds. I mean clearly these things are happening, all I'm saying is there's very much a mainstream news (CNN etc) invokes this social media revolution meme + people are like "yeah!". and clearly it's a good organizing tool - or, organizers will always seek out the most effective cutting edge tools with which to organize. but to say that social media led to the uprisings (not accusing Sufi of this tbc)...I dunno, I think Mubarak being both widely hated + very old - ditto Gaddafi - might have more to do with it, Yemen's perennial instability, Syria's Alawite minority dictatorship always being in a precarious spot, etc. and the news cycle might have a short memory but it's not widespread social/political unrest in the Arab world existed well before the advent of social media.

perhaps more importantly, the spur of the moment organizing at which social media networks excel is by its very nature poorly suited for the post-revolutionary struggle once the you've "won". witness Egypt, the twitter generation chafing under a military government (hardware still >> software when the hardware is military). I think one of the stranger consequence of this whole social media uprising thing has been the mistaken idea/perception that revolutions are these kind of neat, tidy, (relatively) bloodless affairs just because the participants are tweeting...Iran 1979, Mexico the entire decade 1910-1920, for crissakes Russia/USSR 1917, that's what a post-revolutionary scramble looks like, and to prevail you need actual organization with roots (+ preferably, $, guns + powerful international friends...) not just angry flash mobs. I dunno maybe I'm just talking out my arse but my .02 anyway.

padraig (u.s.)
15-06-2011, 09:05 AM
West Philadelphia...godforsaken neighborhood

also, I'm as much against fake lesbians as the next fellow - or at least I empathize with the frustration that they must cause real lesbians, as well as gender queer + transgender people, + so on - but having spent a fair bit of time living in West Philly I have to defend it against these slanderous accusations. there's plenty to do there (altho maybe not so much for downtown young urban professionals) and even if the part nearest the river w/the penn + drexel campuses is full of irritating college kids, the rest is x1000000 cooler than Center City, which is sheesh as hell and full of terrible restaurants clubs art galleries + so on catering to aforementioned young urban professional. as in, you're way more likely to find irritating fake lesbians + their irrtating bfs on the east side of the Schuylkill. -West Philly superiority rant over-

baboon2004
15-06-2011, 09:07 AM
Katy’s parents, both evangelical Christian preachers, say they are deeply ashamed of the star for ‘promoting a sin’. And her mother, Mary Hudson, declared: ‘I hate the song. It clearly promotes homosexuality and its message is shameful and disgusting.

‘Katy knows how I feel. We are a very outspoken family and she knows how disappointed her father and I are. I can’t even listen to that song. The first time I heard it I was in total shock. When it comes on the radio I bow my head and pray.’

I bow my head and pray when that song comes on too, Katy's mum! Albeit for entirely different reasons, but hey.

droid
15-06-2011, 12:10 PM
Since Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada and Benjamin Doherty unmasked Tom MacMaster, a married 40-year-old graduate student, as the fraud who pretended to be Amina, the “Gay Girl in Damascus,” MacMaster has been denounced by gay Syrian dissidents for doing untold damage to their struggle. By deceiving journalists and human rights activists around the world, it is possible that MacMaster harmed the entire Syrian opposition, enabling the Assad regime to tar them as Western-influenced charlatans. He also carried on a false online romance with a woman in Canada, duping her into believing she was having a relationship with a Syrian lesbian. Considering MacMaster’s professions of sympathy for the Arab Spring and frustration with “liberal Orientalist” attitudes, it is hard to understand what motivated him. Why did he take his hoax so far when it seemed obvious that it could damage a cause he claimed to care about?

While MacMaster has said he was driven at least in part by vanity, I have gained additional insight into his mentality by accessing his private Facebook page. I was able to view the page because at some point in the past, MacMaster friended me. Since I don’t recall ever meeting MacMaster and therefore didn’t know who he was until two days ago, he must reached out because he liked my work. Unfortunately, the feeling is not mutual.

At MacMaster’s Facebook page, which he administers under the pseudonym Tomas Mac Maighstir, he maintains only 153 “friends.” Most of them appear to be close friends and family members. Very few of MacMaster’s Facebook connections seem to have much interest in or understanding of the Arab Spring. Indeed, these people appear entirely detached from the complex historical episode MacMaster injected himself into, and are oblivious to whatever damage he caused. Some of them even reassured him that his hoax will eventually lead to profits and plaudits.

Since MacMaster was forced to confess to the hoax, he posted his widely disseminated apology statement on his Facebook page, then added a contrite status update: “I am quite possibly a contender for worst person in the world today.” His friends and family members responded with notes of encouragement that revealed a delusional, if not totally cynical, perspective on what he had done. “I’m glad you are finally being recognized for your writing!” wrote someone named Chelsea McKinnon. “I do hope that besides the attention (and scandal) you’ve brought to light on several different political and social issues, that you actually get to profit in some way for your efforts!” A family member named Jenn Miller Macmaster wrote: “You likely inspired compassion for an otherwise oppressed population…Be gentle and compassionate to yourself, Tom:)” Other friends joked about the situation. “This whole incident is starting to make me think that maybe I shouldn’t have given that Nigerian prince all of my bank account information. Nah, I’m sure it’s fine,” wrote a MacMaster pal named Al Freeman.

Only one person in MacMaster’s inner circle criticized his actions. It was someone named Samir Moukaddam — and it’s significant that unlike those who posted messages of support, this person might have a stake in the events transforming the Middle East. “Do you get the depth of the situation?” Moukaddam asked MacMaster. “I’m not sure…I am afraid you may one day… [J]ust think for example: take people who do not know you personally, then they hear you may want to write a novel — how is that helpful right now?” Besides calling MacMaster selfish and amoral, Moukaddam raises the question of whether the fraudmeister had told his friends and family that he hoped to exploit his hoax to score a lucrative book contract.

Of course, decent people feel inclined to support those they care about during times of distress, and usually do so without reservation. But if MacMaster is experiencing any pain, he brought it upon himself by hatching a scheme to gain attention and recognition for his writing (as one of his friends acknowledged) that ended up undermining a revolutionary movement already confronted with brutal state repression. MacMaster’s family and friends should have told him the hard truth, but they don’t seem to know what it is. Instead, they impulsively coddled him and praised his actions. For all they seem to know, Syria is a far away place filled with a faceless “oppressed population.” So who are the “liberal Orientalists?” And to what degree did MacMaster share their sensibilities?

Here’s MacMaster’s “worst person” post and the responses (sorry for the poor formatting; I was unable to enlarge the screenshots any further so I had to post the threads in several parts)...

http://maxblumenthal.com/2011/06/inside-tom-macmasters-facebook-world-where-friends-and-family-support-his-hoax/

Mr. Tea
15-06-2011, 12:43 PM
but it does all feel a bit like Iran 2009, Moldavia 2009 or going back further, Ukraine 2004-5. that is, folks -seriously- overrating social media and its impact.

Are you watching Adam Curtis' new series, padraig? The last episode touched on this.

IdleRich
15-06-2011, 05:51 PM
"But if MacMaster is experiencing any pain, he brought it upon himself by hatching a scheme to gain attention and recognition for his writing (as one of his friends acknowledged) that ended up undermining a revolutionary movement already confronted with brutal state repression. MacMaster’s family and friends should have told him the hard truth, but they don’t seem to know what it is. Instead, they impulsively coddled him and praised his actions. For all they seem to know, Syria is a far away place filled with a faceless “oppressed population.” So who are the “liberal Orientalists?” And to what degree did MacMaster share their sensibilities?"
Broadly agree with this but I think it's a bit much to say that he has "undermined a revolutionary movement". I'm with Padraig, the twittering and facebooking etc don't make the revolution and for the same reason they can't destroy it either. Not to say that he hasn't possibly endangered individuals or further confused understanding between people in the West and those in the Middle East.

Mr. Tea
15-06-2011, 07:17 PM
But he has undeniably given ammunition to all the authoritarian regimes in the region who love to say that pro-democracy protesters are all stooges of the West, hasn't he?

vimothy
15-06-2011, 07:21 PM
The reason that MacMaster is getting so roundly condemned in the courts of public opinion is not that he "undermined a revolutionary movement", but rather that he made us all look like a bunch of idiots.

mistersloane
15-06-2011, 08:27 PM
I don't get what the fuss is about. Does anyone think blogs are real? If identity is fluid through internet then all he was doing was writing a book, and carrying on that process. I love the fact that the other woman was a guy as well. It's great.

And surely it should have been 'I fucked a woman (and I liked it)'. Though Pete was married for years, he only caught gay through watching Dr Who and having botox.

vimothy
15-06-2011, 08:36 PM
The bird flies free
Knowing no boundaries
Borders mean nothing
When you have wings

--Amina Abdallah Arraf

http://cdn.theatlanticwire.com/img/upload/2011/06/screen-shot-2011-06-12-at-53317-pm/large.png

Blog seems to be down now (can't imagine why) but I like this entry (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/13/gay-girl-damascus-blog):


10 April

My hijab, my choice

I consciously considered myself as a feminist and as someone who believes in human rights and the equality of all. But I'm also an Arab and a Muslim. And I covered. And no one made me do it; I chose it.

What can you say about this pair of sentences? Their combined effect is so squishy and feel-good, if Amina didn't exist it would obviously be necessary to invent her...

vimothy
15-06-2011, 08:41 PM
I love the fact that the other woman was a guy as well. It's great.

Werd. That was really bwahaha. Like the entire thing was scripted by /b/ (http://www.trollface.net/trollface.png)


Rules of The Internet (http://rulesoftheinternet.com/index.php?title=Main_Page)

28. Always question a person's gender - just in case it's really a man.
28.5 If it TRULY is a girl, then this is an INCEPTION!!! Only way out is to die, so look at Chuck Norris the wrong way.
29. On the internet, all girls are men, and all kids are undercover FBI agents.
30. There are NO girls on the internet.
...
33. When in doubt, it's a man. (Also see Rule 30)

Mr. Tea
15-06-2011, 09:06 PM
And surely it should have been 'I fucked a woman (and I liked it)'. Though Pete was married for years, he only caught gay through watching Dr Who and having botox.

He's married to a bloke now, they were on Celebrity Wife Swap. It was brilliant, Pete was the 'wife' but he's just a total lad - he got on really well with the ex-Chelsea footballer living the dream in a grotesque 'mansion' in Essex with his former Page 3 model wife (paired off with Pete's super-fem 'husband') and loads of huge dogs. He didn't have a clue what to do with the guy's baby and was totally lost in the kitchen, so they just ended up ordering a curry, drinking lager and watching football. It was beautiful.

highhhness
16-06-2011, 11:35 AM
The reason that MacMaster is getting so roundly condemned in the courts of public opinion is not that he "undermined a revolutionary movement", but rather that he made us all look like a bunch of idiots.

and is also a complete cock. in a couple of different ways.

highhhness
16-06-2011, 11:40 AM
He didn't have a clue what to do with the guy's baby .

which - a quick youtube search based on your brilliantly enticing description reveals - was called pebbles. i love it.

luka
16-06-2011, 11:43 AM
i also had to watch the wife swap episode today on youtube.

luka
16-06-2011, 11:45 AM
tea forgot to mention that the footballer was none other than razor ruddock which made the whole thing even funnier. i wouldnt describe burns as a lad but i did enjoy th episode, my favourite bit was
'if i go tenereife, you gotta go elevenerife'
which is the sort of line you'd hear every night at the dogs. sort of vaudeville but i like it anyway.

mistersloane
16-06-2011, 04:03 PM
That was a great episode, might have to watch it again now. I was secretly hoping that Pete was gonna turn Razor and they'd run off together. Pete Burns was made for television, he was great on Big Brother was well, like a moving Westwood dummy.

Mr. Tea
16-06-2011, 05:46 PM
I was secretly hoping that Pete was gonna turn Razor and they'd run off together.

That would be amazing...like Thelma and Louise...

I think Playboy should break out from the stifling conventions of heteronormative soft porn and do a centre-page special featuring Pete Burns and Genesis P-Orridge.

Edit: this has to go down as one of our most-derailed threads ever.

IdleRich
16-06-2011, 10:14 PM
Obviously I missed this but are you saying that the woman who thought that she was in a relationship with the fake Syrian woman was also in fact a man? That's brilliant.

mistersloane
16-06-2011, 11:51 PM
Obviously I missed this but are you saying that the woman who thought that she was in a relationship with the fake Syrian woman was also in fact a man? That's brilliant.

Great isn't it? It's like a brain fart by Donna Haraway.

e/y
26-06-2011, 05:28 PM
Gay Girl in Damascus hoaxer accused of defending himself with new persona

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/26/gay-girl-damascus-accused-defending?CMP=twt_fd