Victimization Nation

by A. J. Delgado
Why does America keep falling for politically correct con artists?

Earlier this month, the story of a little girl’s experience at a local Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) went viral. According to reports, three-year Victoria Welcher, who had been disfigured in a pit-bull attack, was kicked out of a Mississippi KFC restaurant because her face was making the other diners uncomfortable.

Victoria’s family posted a photo of the child on Facebook with the caption, “Does this face look scary to you? Last week at KFC in Jackson MS this precious face was asked to leave because her face scared the other diners. I personally will never step foot in another KFC again and will be personally writing the CEO.” According to the grandmother accompanying Victoria: “I ordered a sweet tea and mashed potatoes and gravy. I sat down at the table and started feeding her and the lady came over and said that we would have to leave, because we were disturbing other customers, that Victoria’s face was disturbing other customers.”

Many media outlets carried the story, and nearly all reported it as if it were fact — no “allegedly”, no “reportedly”; the family’s story was simply taken as fact and reported as such.

As reporter Sean Murphy notes:

National and world media such as CNN, Nancy Grace, Huffington Post and The Today Show jumped on the story, lambasting the employees, KFC and YUM! Brands, KFC’s corporate owners.

“What, did they walk over to the table and say ‘hey, you’re ugly, you have to leave.’ What happened Dave?” wailed Grace, the HLN hysterical talk show host, which was answered by little-known talk radio host Dave Maxson.

“No, Nancy, it was even worse than that. It wasn’t ‘you’re ugly.’ It was ‘you are scaring people. You must leave.’”

Now, anyone with an IQ in the triple digits would know something was fishy here. First, if you’ve ever dined at a KFC, you know the employees don’t care much what you do after handing you your food. They’re certainly not looking at you once you’ve sat down — nor are other diners — and, should a crusty, cantankerous jerk be offended by the physical appearance of another person, the manager might stop long enough to listen, roll his eyes, ignore the fool, and continue tending to the biscuits. The idea that any diner complained, and that an employee would walk over and ask a little girl to leave due to her scarred face, is hard to believe both because it’s far too much effort for any fast-food employee and because it would require a truly evil, sick individual.

We have also seen several cases of such complaints turning out to be false after the hoaxer got a financial windfall.

As if on cue, as soon as the story broke, donations poured in from the gullible, to the tune of $135,000, thanks to a Facebook and Go Fund Me page, in addition to gifts and offers of free surgeries. KFC, facing a public relations nightmare, pledged to donate $30,000 to Victoria.

Surprise, surprise: It seems to be a hoax. KFC diligently investigated and found absolutely no footage of the girl and her grandmother at a local store, nor any order for the items the grandmother claimed to have purchased. In fact, on the day in question, Victoria and her grandmother were elsewhere, according to the grandmother’s Facebook timeline. The grandmother also claimed it happened at a KFC restaurant which — as it turns out — has been closed for three years. The family then tried to change its story and claim the incident occurred at a different KFC restaurant. And there are even more discrepancies, all detailed in a news story in the Laurel Leader Call. Many of those who donated are now hoping Go Fund Me will refund their donations.

While we empathize with Victoria, there are many families with equally tragic stories who are in need of additional funding or even, unlike Victoria, lack health insurance. They do not, however, resort to lies, trickery, and disturbingly elaborate falsehoods in order to scheme others out of their cash. A con man’s motives matter not — only the con.

In our politically correct society, however, there are two options when these stories surface: 1) Play it safe and avoid any aggravation by sharing the story along with an “Horrible. OMG, totally boycotting KFC! Prayers up!” Tweet, or 2) Be the voice of reason and nervously pipe up: “Well yeah, this sounds horrible but why do you automatically believe the family’s story?” Of course, that’s the point in the party where the music comes to a screeching halt and you’re suddenly a pariah for not buying the story hook, line, and sinker.

Because, in our culture, part of being politically correct means never questioning certain narratives. You must sacrifice your common sense on the “Feel Good / I Believe You No Matter What” altar.

The story must fit a liberal-issue checkbox. Notice the family did not claim a random stranger told Victoria he found her face disturbing — they cleverly claimed it was an (evil) corporation’s employee. And not just any corporation but one that earns the disdain of liberal elites.

Two similar hoaxes last year captured national attention. Dayna Morales, a gay waitress in New Jersey and former Marine, claimed a family stiffed her on a tip and instead left a nasty, anti-gay note instead. Morales’s story soon unraveled — no message was left, and, on the contrary, the diners left her a handsome tip. This was all, however, after Morales slyly collected thousands of dollars in donations. As a gay woman, she was immune from skepticism. Shortly prior to that, a black female waitress at a Red Lobster in Tennessee claimed a customer wrote “None” on the tip line and, below that, the “N-word” slur. That, too, turned out to be a hoax — but not before she collected a cool $10,000 in sympathy cash. As a black woman claiming to suffer from the trauma of a racial slur, she, too, was immune from questioning.

Is the success of these scams purely due to Americans’ generosity? Not at all. Part of this is due to our politically correct culture: a gay woman, a black woman, a little girl as the victim of a corporate giant . . .  one must not dare question motives. (Of course, if a straight white male claims to be a victim, bet your bottom dollar that the media will go through his claim with a fine-toothed comb.) One must not wonder whether a victim is truly a victim. Just go along, post a Tweet expressing your sympathy, and don’t ask too many questions.

This is what our politically correct culture has wrought: a pat-on-the-back culture where scammers and con-artists can and do thrive.

— A. J. Delgado is a conservative writer and lawyer. She writes about politics and culture.