In recent years, we've shared multiple reports about satirical marijuana hoaxes that plenty of people actually believed.
Note the March 2015 story claiming that pot candy killed nine people in Colorado and twelve at Coachella, or the bogus October 2015 item about a Colorado McDonald's with a pot-smoking section — basically giant plastic bubbles placed over tokers.
But while these articles were at least moderately amusing, owing mainly to the number of people suckered into believing them, a new hoax story about a transgender woman who was supposedly shot to death in the bathroom of a Colorado department store most certainly is not, since its existence has either intentionally or unintentionally spawned rivers of hate.
The original piece is on a site called Associated Media Coverage, whose other recent stories include phony salvos that seem intended to rile up libertarians and conservatives. They include "Multiple States Have Agreed To Implement A ‘Two Pet Maximum’ Ordinance," "Planned Parenthood Announces On-Site Partnership With Select Public School Systems" and "3 Critically Injured After Donald Trump Supporter Sets Mosque On Fire."
Here's a screen capture from its current front-page bombshell, "Transgender Woman Shot To Death In Department Store Restroom."
There's no shortage of clues that the entire story is fiction.
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For one thing, the report doesn't specify a city where the incident is said to have taken place. For another, Bradford's, the department store where AMC "reports" that a supposedly fearful "Kathleen Workman" shot "Donna Wright" (formerly "Don Wright") three times in the chest with a Kimber 1911 Ultra .45 caliber handgun, doesn't actually exist — something that can be confirmed by approximately one second's worth of Googling.
But as is clear from the comments that collected at the bottom of the post, lotsa folks took it as gospel — and used it as an opportunity to spread intolerance.
Responses range from garden-variety trans-phobia like the following....
IF YOU HAVE A PENIS..PLEASE USE THE MEN'S ROOM. I DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO EXPLAIN TO 5 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER WHY IT'S OKAY THAT GROWN BEHIND MEN WANT TO DRESS AS A FEMALE AND POKE AROUND THE BATHROOM.
ITS BAD ENOUGH AMERICA PAYS GAY MARRIAGE…TRY EXPLAINING TO A 5 YR OLD WHY ITS OKAY FOR A MAN AND A MAN OR FEMALE AND A FEMALE TO BE IN AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH NO MEANS TO REPRODUCE.
IT'S AGAINST NATURE.
...to notes that either justify the murder.....
To be honest, it’s probably for the best as hopefully these MEN will think twice prior to following our wives and daughters into the restroom.
...or revel in it:
Isn’t every day anyone gets to off a perv… I would suggest her to empty it… Then reload. Don’t want that man to suffer a whole lot of pain b4 biting the bullet! And yes, he was a man. If not was born with a penis, it’s man.
And that was just the beginning.
According to Buzzfeed, which used this sequence of events as an example of what's depicted as an anti-trans-hoax trend, the original AMC post was shared on Facebook 35,000 times — a number presumably amplified by the re-posts.
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Presumably, not all of these people liked the idea of a woman gunning down a transgender individual or even believed it had actually happened.
But comments like the ones above demonstrate that such authorial scams aren't always laughing matters.