Kudos to Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin and the Advocate for laying out how the LGBT activist beheading story has fallen apart and that reporters may have been scammed. When reporting from afar–especially in a place like Uganda–journalists rely on second-hand information and BTB thought they had a good story, but it now appears to be a hoax.
The story seemed solid. I first saw it on the Episcopal pro-LGBT site for Changing Attitudes , in a post written by the Rev. Colin Coward, who is the founder and director of the U.K.-based organization. I also found two Uganda media reports that confirmed that a headless body and a body-less head were found on and near a farm owned by the Uganda Electoral Commission chairman Badru Kiggundu. With three separate sources, that seemed like confirmation enough for me to go forward with yesterday’s story about a Ugandan LGBT Advocate found beheaded.
We Americans (and Westerners in general) can be a myopic bunch. Our ignorance about the rest of the world renders us naïve as a people, and vulnerable to scams and hoaxes. Nigerian scam artists figured this out more than a decade ago. And that is what this story appears to be, another scam.
The Advocate relied on Burroway’s reporting for its own story. While they have a new story up reporting the hoax, they have not yet corrected the earlier story.
Burroway believes that the story was planted by an Anglican church official in Uganda who was trying to discredit the Ugandan’s LGBT community and foreign bloggers, or was done in an attempt to raise money.
BTB, which has followed the situation in Uganda closely, deserves praise for recognizing the story it had was wrong and explaining how they’d been scammed. It helps their future credibility. Now, how will all the people who linked to the BTB story or the Advocate story go about correcting the record?