So one of the stories that has been flying around social media the last couple of weeks involves the case of a little girl reportedly asked to leave a fast-food restaurant because her facial injuries were disturbing other customers.
Sounds egregious, right? Click bait!
Of course I clicked; many people did. The story came with all the elements of a media classic – cute blonde preschooler with facial scars and a pink hello-kitty eyepatch, outraged family accusing employees of a fast-food restaurant of exclusionary behavior. It unfolded over the course of days that the child had been mauled by a dog belonging to a member of her extended family, that she had lost an eye and had other permanent injuries that called for ongoing medical attention, that medical bills were piling up, that then this awful hurtful insult happened…
It went viral, fast. Donations of course poured in, the fast-food chain offered money, investigations started. And in today’s iteration of the tale, allegations have surfaced that the incident at the restaurant did not happen, and that the family had raised the initial ruckus for the money.
There are plenty of places to toss around “I knew it” and “Those people” and “Should’ve” and “Shouldn’t’ve” and this blog is not one of those places. I’m not interested in blaming the child’s family, or media hype, or scourging gentle and well intentioned people for a paucity of skepticism.
At the end of the day, there is still a little child with a disfiguring injury that would benefit from continuing care, and she lives – as do we all – in a system whose structure makes that care seem more attainable through deceit and manipulation than through honest vulnerability.
What does that say about the system?
What does that say about us?