A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Blogging and honesty

Do you believe everything you read on a blog?

Should you?

Some followers of a blog that spoke of refusing to abort a fetus with a severe abnormality are finding out that the story was not true.
Rebeccah Beushausen wove a tale for two months about being an unmarried mother who chose to carry her child who is now terminally ill to term rather than have an abortion because of her deep Christian faith. She posted her story on a blog that got nearly a million hits until one of her followers exposed the lie last week. Now the suburban Chicago woman is apologizing for the hoax.

Beushausen posted a lengthy apology on her blog Sunday, saying she had lost pregnancies in the past.
"I have suffered this type of loss, more than once, to varying degrees, and while the circumstances and the times vary ... the pain is very constant," Beushausen wrote. She had said her baby was diagnosed with Trisomy 13 syndrome, a chromosomal defect that can cause severe mental retardation and death. Followers promised to pray for her and her baby, April Rose, and sent letters and gifts to a post office box she listed online.

But when she wrote about the child's birth and posted photos last week, one reader recognized the baby as a lifelike doll.
Jennifer McKinney, of Mound, Minn., followed Beushausen's blog and helped promote it. She said the apology did not include enough information to explain why Beushausen lied. "To be honest, I think she is far from recognizing the true gravity of the situation," said McKinney, who writes a Christian blog that dealt with her own difficult pregnancy. Beushausen's sister, Anna, said Monday that the falsehood began before the blog and that her sister has dealt with a lot of pain in her life. She said the blog, which she didn't learn about until last week, was a way for her sister to work through it.
"I do understand why people are mad, and so does she," Anna Beushausen said. "I see pieces of her life in there. She is so remorseful, and she is in immense pain."

Rebeccah Beushausen didn't respond to an e-mail sent Monday. A woman who answered the phone at a number listed for her mother declined comment.

In her apology, Beushausen said she began writing the story as therapy but became addicted to the attention it generated. She said she lied "to a community of people whose only intention was to support me through this time and that is wrong, and for that I am sorrier than you could know."

Beushausen was living in Lockport but moved back to her family's home in Mokena after her hoax was exposed. It doesn't appear that Beushausen profited in a substantial way from her blog. She said she made an agreement with an advertiser but was never paid because the ad was not up for the required minimum 45 days.

Lockport Police Sgt. Bruce Kruizenga said he didn't know if the department had received any complaints about Beushausen. Mokena Police Sgt. Randal Stumpf said his department was not investigating. Don Blumenthal, an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University who specializes in Internet security and cybercrime, said it's difficult to prosecute such cases. It's hard to establish jurisdiction and even that a crime has occurred, and few people have the legal skills to prosecute such cases, said Blumenthal, who previously led the Internet investigations center at the Federal Trade Commission.

"It's an area of law that needs a lot of development," Blumenthal said.

As I understand it, way back in the day, a website such as mine was known as a "personal web log." That means it is one person's opinion, or stories, that are contained therein. Anyone can write anything on a blog, and many people do. A while back I was nominated for a weblog award, and when I went to the site and saw all the different categories, I could not believe it. I mean, there really is something for EVERYONE. I don't care how many subcategories in which you put yourself demographically, there is someone else out there who is blogging in just the same sub-specialty. And they may disagree with you completely. They could be making it all up. Who knows?

But this case is different. This lady led people to believe that she was actually going through this experience right now, and she solicited gifts and sympathy and advertising. That's where it crosses the line. She was trying to make a religious and political point as well, and the irony is, whatever you believe about abortion, she has probably harmed the cause she wished to promote. She may not be a "well person," as my granny would say. But she still tried to profit from lying (see the previous post below for more on dishonesty). I personally pray for EVERYONE who finds out they have problems with their pregnancy, as I had a devastating miscarriage once that shook me to my core.

Now for some disclosure: Unfortunately, everything I have written about on this blog actually happened, as much as that may leave you all (and me) shaking our heads in disbelief. I can't make this stuff up. I do obscure identities, and I sometimes don't post about something until later to let my feelings cool and to help protect my anonymity as well as the anonymity of those about which I may write.

I hope this lady gets some help. And returns anything she received.



At 6/16/09, 10:43 AM, Blogger Val said...

I heard about this yesterday and it just made me sick. I understand a blog is inherently a place to put your personal views, but this was propaganda to the extreme. And it's so demeaning to the women and families who have gone through this tragedy. What an awful situation.

At 6/16/09, 5:57 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

I was profoundly bothered by this. That people in the anti-choice movement are hailing what she did as a good, awareness-raising thing sickens me further. It's disrespectful to people who have gone through similar experiences and, really, is the worst kind of lying.

Fiction is one thing; this was something entirely different.

At 6/18/09, 8:48 AM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Since I haven't read the blog entries, I do not know, but I wonder: was her agenda to try to encourage women to continue pregnancies such as the one she claimed to be having? If so, claiming to be experiencing a tragic event in order to encourage people who actually ARE experiencing that situation to behave according to your religious beliefs is just appalling.


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