Saturday :: Aug 7, 2004

Mourning Mystery: Horrible or Hoax?

by larre

The American allegedly shown overnight on an Islamacist web site being beheaded has been identified by wire service reports as Ben Vanderford of San Francisco.

For a short time the New York Times version of a Reuters report recorded Vanderford's street address and carried a url (both since disappeared) to Ben Vanderford's web site hosted by Net Zero.

The web site seemingly was created for his independent candidacy for District 5 commissioner in San Francisco. Apparently, 19 others entered the same race. (Can unemployment be that bad in San Francisco?)

Maybe Ben really is a candidate. The Times seems to think so. It reports in typically Grey Lady style--

His political manifesto on the Web site addresses local issues such as tenants' rights, the homeless and government transparency, with no mention of Iraq.

But what I get from Vanderford's web site are glimpses of a young, probably impecunious, possibly lonely, and definitely naive young man with a slightly bent sense of humor. Seemingly, he is still finding himself. He seems drawn to music, politics, video games, soft drugs, public transportation (possibly because he doesn't own a car) -- and satire.

For example, his "webmaster" (ha ha) supposedly interviewed Ben about political allegations he is a Free Mason--

This week we sat down with Ben to talk to him about the recent allegations that he is a high level Freemason.
Webmaster: I know you are aware of these allegations, what do you think of them?
Ben: These allegations are nothing but an attempt to discredit me and I will not take it lying down. I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not, in fact, a Freemason, nor am I a member of any organization which will have a secret influence on my conduct if elected. One caveat - if I was a Freemason I couldn't tell you.
* * *
I pledge to never resort to being initiated in any more then two degrees of Masonry in order to further my political career. I call this the "two degree only pledge", or "three degrees and your out".

Elsewhere, the mysterious "webmaster" again interviews Ben about another candidate who took exception to press reports ridiculing him for looking like he varnished his hair. Ben leaps to that candidate's defense. Well, maybe not "leaps" exactly. More like "leisurely walks."

Ben:[T]heir claims that Craig is a robot, or more properly an "android", fall way outside the possibility of science as we know it today. We are close to creating bipedal exoskeletons, but we could never create the realistic skin that is evidenced on craig, it would have to be a society far beyond ours which could create an android so realistically human.
Webmaster: If Craig being an android was such an off-base claim, why was it suggested?
Ben: I have no idea. I think these candidates and article writers did it to attack Craig, because they knew his progressive policies were far more progressive then theirs, and thus he had made already too much progress. Most of the green party progressives for example, were not even as progressive as the band.

Now, that's funny. If I have mistaken for satire what turns out to be Vanderford's bona fide and quite nutty beliefs, then I really am out of touch with American youth.

So, what's the mourning mystery? Late-breaking reports from the BBC are raising doubts the video beheading is real.

But the latest video appears to have been heavily edited, some observers say, and the man appeared to be dead before he was beheaded. Some suggest it may be a different person speaking to the one decapitated.
Differences include:
The man appears motionless when the alleged execution takes place
The blood on the shirt appears to have congealed
The video does not show any militants behind the hostage
No-one holding the head after it was severed from the body.

Those who have seen it do not doubt someone's body was beheaded. That's grisly.

Let's hope it wasn't Ben. Let's hope he merely stepped over the line and this is a hoax by his "webmaster."

Although there are no indications on his own web site that Ben has an interest in Middle East politics, there is one odd thing: his link to the 'latest photo' on his web site shows an album cover titled in Arabic.

Personally, I hope that what Ben is really good at is marketing himself. We'll know soon enough.


OK. It's a hoax.

Is this Iraq mess unraveling America, or what?

larre :: 5:44 AM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!