A Pack of Lies

  At the University of Massachusetts last month, a coed told police that a man had grabbed her from behind, slashed her face with a knife, and then ran away. At Duke University, in North Carolina, a black doll was found hanging from a tree near a gathering place for the Black Student Alliance. At North Carolina's Guilford College, a white student said she'd been assaulted by men who scrawled a message on her chest—one that suggested, to put it mildly, that she was too friendly with blacks. And at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, a lesbian coed told police that two men had punched her in the face while shouting anti-gay slurs. These stories are truly awful. But there's just one problem: They're all a pack of lies. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that every one of the students made up the supposed incidents, apparently for political reasons. Sad to say, concocting stories of slaps and slurs have become the latest trend on some campuses—a way of achieving political aims when other methods have failed. The worst of it is, the tactic is working. Students and even professors applaud outright lying as a good means of promoting a political agenda. Jon Sanders, a research fellow at the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, says that students fake hate crimes to "influence their campus's move toward multiculturalism." They're tempted to cook up these hoaxes, not just because they know they'll probably escape punishment, but because "they know they have advocates who will rush to their defense." That was surely the case at St. Cloud State University. There, $12,000 was raised for information leading to the supposed attacker of Jennifer Prissel. When Prissel admitted she'd lied, gay students rushed to defend her. After all, they explained, Jennifer's little white lie led to "a giant step forward" in community respect for gays. And Molly Martin, the Guilford student who claimed she'd been attacked by racists? She got what she wanted, too. A student leader, Martin had lobbied for a full-time director of African-American affairs. Even after her lie was exposed, Guilford created the position she had sought. Why is it that students think it's not enough to reason with their fellow collegians? Why do they think they have to create a drama, to appeal to people's emotions instead of their minds? These students have become part of the culture of sensationalism—and sadly, they've taken their drama lessons from their elders. Remember the sensation a few years ago when NBC rigged a GM truck to explode on camera? And politicians do it all the time, too. The whole point of campaign attack ads is to yank your emotions, not to stretch your mind. In Isaiah, we're told, "come, let us reason together." It means we should solve problems by appealing to reasoned debate—not by eliciting emotional outbursts. And, of course, it's wrong to lie, even if the ultimate purpose is noble. It's a lesson we need to teach our collegians the next time they stage an epic drama in support of a pet cause. We should warn them that if they continue to assault the truth, people who really are attacked will pay a heavy price. And if we reward them for fibbing, we're teaching them an ugly new motto: If at first you don't succeed, lie, lie, again.


Chuck Colson


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