A Beating in Suburbia - Part Two: A Hoax Unquestioned

By Dick Radley | Freelance Editor and Journalist

In the weeks since Katrina Dubin Ardely's story of police brutality in Cajoling Tone magazine exploded onto the internet, as most readers know by now, evidence has emerged proving the article entirely false. Here's a brief summary of what we've all learned:

Jack was never beaten by police
Jack gave friends mixed accounts of being beaten, sometimes blaming the police and other times blaming a group of random men
Jack, in fact, was not beaten at the hands of another, but rather beat himself up and subsequently invented a crime

Whatever happened or didn't happen to Jack, and whatever motive he had to create a false narrative, all of that is, of course, a big part of the story. But what I'd like to know is how Ms. Dubin Ardely managed to hear Jack's description of events without questioning it, and what, if any, fact checking and due diligence she conducted prior to reporting it all as if it were truth?

I spoke with the man in her article called Joe, who said, "She quoted me directly in her story, but I never talked to her once. I have no idea where that quote came from. I don't know anything about any kind of ritualized police brutality in this town."

I also spoke with Suburbia chief of police Ben Modano, who Ms. Dubin Ardely claims "declined to comment" for her story. "She never reached out to me or to anyone at the department," said Chief Modano. "Had she contacted me, I would've been able to clear this up for her quite easily." Regarding the song Ms. Dubin Ardely quotes throughout the article, "Fraternally Yours," Chief Modano specifically asked me to mention that neither he nor any of Suburbia's other police officers have ever heard it or heard of it, let alone ever sung it.

Finally, I spoke with Earl White, the only person whose real name appears in Ms. Dubin Ardely's article. "She bought a story about Jack getting beaten by cops because that's what she wanted to hear. She wanted to do a story on police brutality in an upscale, quiet town, and Jack gave her what she wanted." Mr. White went on to note, "Look how she quoted me! I told her my real name and told her Jack wasn't beaten by cops, so she put my quote in, but twisted the way she did it to make it seem like I was denying the truth. But she was the one in denial. She was the one who couldn't see the truth even though it was right there in front of her, because she either didn't want to see the truth or didn't care about the truth. Maybe she cared about victims like Jack and helping to prevent future crimes, but mostly she cared about advancing her career. From what I've read lately, now that her article turned out to be a hoax, all she did for her career was ruin it."

(Click here to read the inspiration for this two part series. Thank you, Richard Bradley.)

3 comments:

  1. Now I wonder why someone would want to make something like this up and fool the public into thinking it happened, just a stupid step towards making a name for themselves eh! I read your inspiration for this which I found very interesting.

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  2. I went and read the inspirational post, and it didn't change my initial reaction to the Rolling Stone article: someone can be honest to goodness gang-raped *and* be wrong about several details of their experience. The glass table part doesn't sit with me either, but some of the rest does (the "it" part I can believe, because I've heard the same thing from the frat boys I went to university with). But as the blog post makes mention of near the top -- and then seems to forget about -- one can report badly and uncritically on a true story, just as victims of crime are often unreliable narrators to their nevertheless true experience. It's not as clear-cut as "she's making it up completely" vs. "it all happened just like that."

    Never mind criminal assaults: I know someone who was in a bad car accident and had to witness-prep just to get his full insurance claim. The accident happened because of sudden, severe weather, but the insurance company tried to argue it was the driver's fault. My friend had to memorise the weather report for the day the accident happened, as well as memorise things like the number of other accidents reported during the same time window, details from the police report about his accident, and so on. The insurance company backed off when they heard he had his story both straight and airtight. It was all about how reliable a witness he was -- not about what had actually happened with the black ice and his car.

    It's harder to work out how this goes with your two-part fictional example. You're the master of this fictional universe: if Jack beat himself up, then he did. For what it's worth, the only time I know of someone even trying to rape themselves is also fictional, in Gone Girl. I've heard of some false accusations (which real survivors hate more than anything, because it makes it harder for people who have actually been assaulted), but never someone actually faking evidence by hurting themselves. That's a whole other level, and although I'm sure there's some edge cases somewhere where someone has done it, it continues to strike me as odd that the inaccurate or outright falsifications continue to get more press than the ongoing, actual, too-common attacks.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Katherine, for your thoughtful comment. As you acknowledged, this piece presents a fictional universe in which Jack beat himself up. Though my two part series was inspired by the infamous Rolling Stone article, both of my little stories are meant to be outlandish, and Jack's complete fabrication of a crime is probably the furthest extension of my intentions. For better or for worse, I'll admit that my decision to make Jack's story a lie fed into my decision to make the lie police brutality rather than rape. Thanks again for taking the time to record your thoughts here.

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