Update: Well, well. There’s now a donation site for the family with the goal of raising $20,000.

Here’s my pitch for a reality show:

A dad who’s a professional Elvis impersonator, and a mom with multiple sclerosis and a degree in “entertainment administration,” are raising two boys with autism, ages 16 and 13.

The high-functioning boy, Jackson, who looks a little like Justin Bieber and a little like Harry Styles, is an aspiring pop star who sometimes performs with his father, James. (Check out this “Agent Friendly Promo.”) Jackson’s stage name is “Jackson X” (see his website here).

The other boy, Max, 13, was the subject of an disgusting, outrageously cruel, anonymous hate letter to his grandmother that went viral after his mother posted it on her public Facebook page. After it was internationally publicized, their neighbors rallied around the family and condemned the anonymous evildoer.

The merits of the letter’s pro-autistic-boy-euthanization argument were the subject of contentious debate … nowhere. Shockingly, there was a unanimous thumbs-down from media reports and its many Facebook sharers. And strangers are offering the family gifts, as often happens after this type of story.

The letter has gone on to make international headlines and the family has received offers of help from across the country, including a charity in Montreal that contacted Millson to say they had received offers from people wanting to help the family pay their bills, buy gift certificates, or send them on an excursion.

“I suggested that Max would just love Canada’s Wonderland,” said Millson who hadn’t yet spoken to the family about the offer. “He’d go every day if you could take him.”

My experience with stories is this: If there’s no other side to a story, it’s probably not a real story. Anything that Perez Hilton and Glenn Beck agree about should be presumed brown and stinky until proven otherwise. And if the ultrasympathetic story comes from people who have been trying to promote themselves in other ways, watch out.

Sorry to say, but I’m getting a Balloon Boy feeling about the Begley family. Coincidentally, the Heene boys are trying to make it big with a band too.

Category: Newsroom

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12 Responses to Autistic Canadian boy hate letter smells like a publicity hoax.

  1. I 100% agree. My first thought on this was hoax, hoax hoax!

  2. trumwill says:

    My first thought was that it was a hoax because, hey, it’s some random piece of paper that “somebody” received.

    When they stepped forward, I feared that I might be wrong. Because now it at least had somebody that could be held accountable if it turned out to be a hoax.

    Sheila has convinced that it probably is. And thinking about it further, I am not sure how it would be uncovered as a hoax. There’s no police investigation that would often unroot this sort of thing.

  3. stone says:

    Will, probably the only way is if someone in the family confesses. I doubt the police will push them. Although (in America at least) lying to police is a crime, this isn’t nearly on the scale of the Heene Balloon Boy hoax, where they had substantial manpower first chasing a balloon, then trying to cover the miles of ground where a boy might have fallen out.

    It also doesn’t help that so many people are using this story to display their own moral superiority. “LOOK at what some HORRIBLE PSYCHO wrote about a poor autistic child! I stand firmly against harassment of autistic children and their parents! (self-back-pat).”

    On the other hand, there’s no social gain from advancing a theory that this highly popular family is lying. Many people don’t like bubble-bursters, and many more just don’t care about one more potential scam.

  4. stone says:

    They reported it to the police, possibly as a threat, or harassment, or a hate crime. The police said probably no crime had been committed, but were looking into it.

  5. erik thorne says:

    I have been saying this all week. Every time I posted that it is a hoax I got blasted good. Even the Huffington Post deleted my comments.

  6. AP says:


    On Dateline NBC a few years ago, they showed a case where
    the police were investigating similar notes being received
    by a teacher at a school (and the notes were designed
    to look as of they were sent by another teacher).

    It was later found that the ‘taunted and tortured teacher’
    had actually sent the notes to herself as a cry for attention
    and public sympathy due to feeling overwhelmed with her
    life (and no other ‘teacher’ or ‘outsider’ had sent it to her).

    Also, a couple of years ago a man claimed that he began
    to receive ‘religious hate mail’ our of nowhere from “an
    unknown neighbor” (even though there was no history
    of any of the neighbors having harassed, disliked or
    shown bigotry or hatred toward his family before) and
    within a few weeks his wife ended up “attacked by an
    unknown stranger, possibly the “neighbor”, and killed”.

    It was later found that he felt his wife was a “burden”
    and had composed and sent “the mysterious letters”
    himself as a set up and cover for the crime he was
    planning in order to “set himself free” from someone
    that ‘he’ (not his neighbors) saw as a “burden” in life.

    In both cases, entire innocent-communities (even if
    it were seen as just ‘one’ phantom-person within that
    community) were placed with suspicion and blame for
    something that they did not do and would never have
    even thought of doing — simply because someone who
    felt they wanted to ‘escape’ their own “burdens” in life
    were setting up both the communities and the family
    member from whom they wanted to be set free.

    In addition, there have been story after story of
    late of the many parents and caregivers of autistic
    children who — feeling overwhelmed with taking
    care of a person with severe needs and yet also
    wanting to gain public attention, pity, sympathy,
    support, and a type of victim and/or hero status
    — have plotted for weeks, months and even years
    to ‘get free of their burden’ in such as way as to
    look both innocent and pitiable (and this is often
    done by pointing-the-finger at innocent-strangers).

    My point is that — UNTIL the police investigate to see
    IF this “mysterious note” is actually LEGITIMATE —
    this community should NOT be seen as having
    some sort of hate-monger living in it’s midst.

    This ‘mysterious note’ seems to have a far “too personal”
    touch to it to have been composed by any ‘man’ and / or
    even by ‘woman’ who would have been a ‘stranger’ or
    a ‘near stranger’ to this family — and, until it is PROVEN
    that it IS IN FACT from “someone in the neighborhood”,
    it seems unreasonable to assume that the neighbors are
    not (possibly) being set-up just so that someone who
    may feel overwhelmed with life can literally ‘script’ a
    situation in which to garner both pity and attention.

    It’s not that I’m not trying to be ‘sympathetic’ toward
    the family to whom the memo was directed … it’s just
    that … the situation of “setting things up in order to
    get public sympathy and attention” has been found
    to have occurred so frequently in the past number
    of years that — unless someone has a video of
    a situation occurring — many times it should be
    considered as possibly “one of the usual suspects”.







  7. stone says:

    Wow, AP, you really did some work on this. Thanks for a well-researched comment.

  8. Argon Fritz says:

    AWESOME. I too immediately thought this was a hoax, but could find no one with the guts to question it..until now. Yes its almost text-book attention seeking

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