More on Zach’s Story

Update: Added links from TalkLeft and Crooks and Liars. Crooks and Liars has a link to local coverage (opens in Windows Media Player) of the story. Send the station a comment and tell them what you think.

I’ve been keeping up with the story I blogged about earlier; Zach’s story, that is.

I’ve blogged about it in three other places. A few more blogs have covered it, most notably:

I’ve passed the word on to some bigger blogs (read: more widely read), and a couple of news sites, in hopes that the story get’s broader coverage.

I’ve also gotten some question as to whether this is “real” or just something people found online. I’m not sure what to look for to prove veracity on this. I haven’t seen anything about it in the news, but there may be something in local Memphis media that I’ve missed or can’t find online. I have been able to find a blog that’s been set up to document the protests outside Refuge, including pictures from the protests. You can also email the protest organizers.

If anyone has any other info, I’m happy to pass it on.

Short of going to Memphis to check things out myself, this is the best I can do.

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
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11 Responses to More on Zach’s Story

  1. trey says:

    Pam of houseblend did have a link to a local memphis report..

    I don’t know how else to prove the veracity of it either, but it rings true.

  2. trey says:

    oops, just saw you had an update that has the same link 🙂

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  5. ??? says:

    I don’t doubt the existence fo such places, but it seems to me that no one is referencing the sites of either Love in Action or Refuge in their reports. According to the Refuge site, Refuge is not a send-away camp; it is a day program, and the participants stay with a parent or legal guardian in a hotel during the program. Furthermore, it states that the teen has to agree to go in order to participate. Here are the links for reference:

    I can see why people would protest against this sort of thing anyway, but I think that it hurts the credibility of protestors if everyone is getting worked up about a hoax. I mean,

    Protestors: “Free Zach!”
    Camp: “Who? We don’t have a Zach here…”

    pretty much kills it right there. It’s important not to let emotion and hype cloud the issue if there is hope of taking positive action.

  6. Terrance says:

    First, nothing there spells that this is a hoax. If he’s there from 9 to 5, and when he’s not there he’s in a hotel with a parent who put him there in the first place. So it’s not like he’s free to leave whenever he wants.

    Second, there’s agreeing to something, and there’s actually having a choice whether to agree or not. A 16 year old minor, with no other means of support doesn’t have a choice whether to agree or not, unless he can convince his parents that it’s not a good idea to send him to this place. Zach was pretty clear on his blog how he felt about going.

    So, I don’t think anyone’s over reacting. But just out of curiosity, what kind of “positive action” would you suggest?

  7. ??? says:

    Well, it seems to me that the claims made have not been substantiated by a trusted source. It is far too easy to hype a non-traceable source and cause a frenzy. To play Devil’s Advocate (no pun intended), how do we verify that Zach exists, and that the place is really like what one person says it is? We can’t.

    The sites maintain that the participant must agree to go, and unless records indicate otherwise, they aren’t violating their rules. They seem to do a lot more than the “anti-gay brainwashing” that might actually be positive. People *do* recover from addictions by asserting their faith.

    So, rather than stirring things up on one case that can’t be proven, some people would need to get together, do some legitimate research, and present a case to the appropriate people in a professional manner. If a systematic problem can be shown to exist, it is a lot harder for lawmakers to ignore. furthermore, if they do ignore it, the objective information gained can be sent to the mass media. Public scrutiny in that way always puts pressure on the government to take some sort of action, whereas angry people in the streets can be made to look like nutcases, allowing matters to be swept under the rug rather than dealt with.

  8. Terrance says:

    That you put the term anti-gay brainwashing in quotes, and imply that being gay is on par with addiction give me a pretty good idea where you stand in the first place.

    They seem to do a lot more than the “anti-gay brainwashing” that might actually be positive. People *do* recover from addictions by asserting their faith.

    Professional reporters on the ground, working on the story, haven’t been able to uncover any more information than bloggers have. So, I suppose if I followed your standards I wouldn’t have blogged it at all, and neither would a number of other people. Zach’s story wouldn’t have gotten the attention it did and LIA would be quietly going about their business instead of facing an investigation. And that would be just fine by you, right?

  9. ??? says:

    Actually, you’re wrong. Because the phrase wasn’t mine to begin with, I put it in quotes.

  10. Danny says:

    Well, this is all based on Zach’s blog on Myspace.

    That looks to me like the blog of a real 16 year old kid. It has entries that date back to January, with comments and responses from friends. If somebody wanted to draw attention to Love in Action, there are probably easier ways to do it than to spend six months creating a fictional child and his friends.

  11. Mike Rock says:

    Among the supportive comments on Myspace are friends of Zach who go to school with him, and they use his last name in one of the comments. Pretty cynical if you ask me to assume the whole thing is manufactured. John Smid has also acknowledged that Zach is there and that he will be kept an extra 6-weeks.

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