Author's note: This post has been updated.
The latest anti-business viral video burning up the liberal blogosphere today seems heart-wrenching... that is, until you do your homework.
Robert Stephens graduated from Carleton College (average cost: $42,942/year) in 2010 and now studies law at The George Washington University Law School (average cost: $70,449/year). His father has a Ph.D. and two master's degrees; his mother also has a master's degree. Only in America could a kid have been blessed with so much... and only in America could he still claim to be a victim. America's capitalist society has apparently leveled a grave injustice against his family and Robert will not stand for it.
Stephens -- who identifies his personal political philosophy as Bolivian socialism -- made a trip to New York City this weekend to participate in the "Days of Rage" march on Wall Street. He was arrested Saturday when he refused police requests to get up and out of the way of traffic in the street.
In his emotional "rage," Stephens told the sympathetic Socialist/Marxist/Anarchist crowd how an eeeeeevil Wall Street bank had taken his parents' home away from them:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/yZZ710w6GXI?version=3&hl=en_US expand=1]
Attempts to contact Robert to find out exactly what grave injustices he and his family have suffered have gone unanswered. In the meantime, sympathetic comments on both Robert's Facebook page and the YouTube video are also... unsettling:
(Full disclosure: I attended GWU as an undergrad and, to help make sure my mortgage gets paid every month, I continue to work at the law school as a part-time employee on the weekends.)
Our friend Robert and his woeful tale have quickly become darlings of the liberal blogosphere and the mainstream media (and Iran's Tehran Times!). Here he is in a picture posted at Buzzfeed -- an image that perfectly captures him utilizing the biggest tool in the left-wing's arsenal: the media.
Caption on this photo: "Protested (sic) falls to his knees in tears in front of Chase Bank crying - this is the bank that took my parents' home."
According to the Daily Kos, Robert should be commended as "a patriot" for spelling out the reason people are protesting. "If you can watch it without being affected, you are as heartless as Dick Cheney," the site notes.
There's just one problem: Robert Stephens' story is (surprise!) completely bogus.
Phone inquiries into the county property records & taxpayer services office reveal that the Stephens family home is not and never has been in foreclosure, that property taxes had been paid in full this year and the remaining balance on their mortgage for the half-million dollar home is less than one year's worth of tuition+fees at their son's law school.
The nail in this empty protest's coffin is a delightful phone conversation I just had with Robert's mother, Marquita, where she admitted Chase Bank indeed was not "taking" their home from them. Instead, due to a recent "reduction in income," they've decided to hold a "short sale."
When I asked Mrs. Stephens if she and her husband planned to stay in their suburban St. Paul, Minn., surroundings after the sale, she told me they weren't too keen on the idea. The area is "a bit too conservative," she said.