Tag Archives: hoax

We’re looking, Ashley. We’re looking.

Ashley Kirilow is getting more attention than she could possibly have imagined.

Just days ago, news broke that 23-year-old from Toronto had faked cancer and fraudulently accepted as much as $20,000 in donations (Ashley claims it was less than $5000). The story has grabbed headlines in Canada and internationally, and brought over 3000 readers to this blog. Media sites and the blogosphere are abuzz with exclamations of horror, revulsion, pity, and disgust. There are a lot of threats.

Debate rages about Ashley’s motivation. It’s hard for most of us to understand how a young Canadian woman could commit such personal indignities, and betray the trust of so many good people. To those who have lost relatives and friends to cancer (and that’s just about all of us), it feels personal. There seem to be three camps: she’s pure evil; she’s mentally ill; she did it for the money.

Ashley hasn’t been shy about offering an explanation. She’s not only talked with friends and family, she’s also written emails to QMI agency, owner of the Sun Media group and given personal interview to the Toronto Star. At the root of it, according to Ashley, is an unhappy childhood.

Part of her cancer story was that her parents were drug addicts, now dead, who had abandoned her. In reality, Ashley has two parents, both alive, and a step mom. When her dad discovered the cancer story was a fraud, she told him, and the Toronto Star that she was trying to punish her family for her unhappy childhood:

“I took it as an opportunity to make my family feel bad for how I was treated,” she said.

Later, she told the Toronto Sun the exact opposite, that she was looking for affection:

“I did lie about having cancer. Originally it was because I was alone and had no one who cared about me,” she wrote.

“I just wanted (my family) to change their crazy ways and love me and be a normal family.”

ABC news reports yet another motivation:

The young woman… said she did it because she “was trying to be noticed.”

“I didn’t want to feel like I’m nothing anymore. It went wrong, it spread like crazy.”

Ashley  has also claimed to the Star that she is mentally ill:

Kirilow said she has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. She showed a reporter two prescription pill bottles with her name printed on it: one was an antidepressant; the other an antipsychotic that is often used to treat bipolar disorder.

Ashley may have the eyes of the world, but she has lost the support of her family. Frances Kirilow, Ashley’s step-mother, posting here, says that it’s all part of Ashley’s desperate need for attention:

Her family loves her and cares about her. While her parents may have split up when she was young, her mom, dad, stepmom, grandparents and siblings have always been there for her. Ashley is the one who chose to leave home because the rules didn’t suit her….  Ashley is trying to play the victim card again to diminish the severity of her actions. By claiming a “bad childhood” she hopes it will garner her some sympathy.

Mike Kirilow, Ashley’s father, has refused to show up to support her today when she appears in court on three charges of fraud. He told the CBC:

“I want no part of this. She told me to stay out of her life. I gave her every opportunity to do the right thing.”

Interestingly, Mike Kirilow’s refusal to be involved has not extended to the media. In addition to talking to multiple Canadian news organizations, yesterday he appeared in an “exclusive interview” on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Ashley may be mentally ill. She may have done it for the money. She may just be a really bad person. But there’s one clear underlying theme to this whole mess: Look at me. Look at me! LOOK AT ME.  LOOK AT ME!!

CBC Analysis: Faking an illness

Boycott Bill Murray for a Better America

I was all ready to write a witty, ironic post on Stephenson Billings, and his Christwire article railing against actor Bill Murray. According to Stephenson, Bill Murray is a threat to the very future of America:

Bill Murray is a fatal disease and the sad news we bring you today is that your children have been infected.

There is no denying that this grotesque and dangerous creature can be described as nothing less than one of the four horsemen of America’s impending Apocalypse.

And then I got thinking. This guy writes really well. The piece lacks the subtle hallmarks of insanity that make craziness so entertaining. Witness these selections:

When you see this man on screen, his eyes wander all over you like a caged New York City rat. They seek out your curves and muscles with eerie desire. Those are not the eyes of someone you can trust. His mischievous grin suggests rape and sex and wanting to violate any thing he comes into contact with in the dead of night….

Instead, we have boozy Bill Murray on our screens, luring young teens to jump in to his musty van of laziness.

We do not need perverts like Bill Murray lusting after our beautiful children with a reckless almost urgent need to tear them from innocence so he can insanely explore his lost, burning childhood on their soft bodies on old couches in dirty apartments in the ghettos of America.

Oh yes, it’s insane. But look at those lovely similes and metaphors, that gorgeous imagery. And where are the exclamation marks? Where is the narcissism? Where is the personal fear of persecution? Where is the author’s deity-granted mission to singularly save the world?

So, I did a little digging into Stephenson Billings. It seems Mr. Billings is a “credentialed” Christian Investigative Journalist, who is also a “Special Leader of Christian Camping Trips for Hearty Teens!” Hmmm. OK. But also:

Mr. Billings also enjoys being … a Motivational Children’s Party Entertainer (working in the Auguste method) in his hometown in Tennessee. His hobbies include antique soda bottle collecting and the piano.

According to wikipedia, an Auguste clown is a clever anarchist, a joker who goes in for exaggerated foolishness. In internet terms, a poe. And it seems I’m not the only one with suspicions. Comedy Central declared Billings as a hoaxster, and the Murray article as the piece that reveals Christwire as a satire site:

In this high speed world the line between news and not-news gets fuzzy real fast, and we were hoaxed by a satirical Christian website that looked like a real Christian website (yes, Virginia, they do exist).

Not everyone is quite so sure, however. Billings is an active poster on the Confessionwire, boards (a site affiliated with Christwire), where other posters consistently challenge his credentials, and accuse him of being a pedophile. Stephenson even goes to the trouble to post comments on a variety of forums, including this New York Times article. That’s one dedicated satirist.

So, what do you think, dear readers? Is Billings certifiable, or brilliant? Is Christwire serious, or satire? If Billings is a full-time poe, and Christwire is satire, then who pays the bills?

I’ll leave Stephenson with the final word:

“In the struggle against evil in the world, there is no shame in losing only in fighting without all your guts.” –Stephenson Billings