The internet vigilantes who have terrorized Alicia Lynch ever since she posted a photo of herself dressed as a Boston Marathon victim for Halloween have done what first seemed impossible … They’ve actually made her the subject of sympathy.
The furor started when Lynch, 22 of Michigan, posted photos to Instagram and Twitter of her Halloween costume. Dressed in running clothes and a marathon bib, with blood spattered over her body, she poses nonchalantly in what appears to be a workplace. Finding holiday inspiration in the horror and suffering from that day is, obviously, pretty reprehensible. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you.) And so, strangers on Twitter and in website comments sections did what the internet does too well. They attacked, often aiming their Tweets at her Twitter handle, @SomeSKANKinMI. (What a lovely username.) There was chastising:
@SomeSKANKinMI you are an absolutely disgusting human being.
— kimberlyxo (@kimberlyroslund) October 31, 2013
And there was bullying. Eventually, people started posting her workplace, her address, her phone number, her parental information, and nude photos that they alleged depicted her to the internet, urging others to tell her how they felt, or worse, ruin her life. See, for instance, this screenshot of the Barstool Sports, a popular
religious cult that believes women are inhuman sex objects sports blog. (We redacted her dad’s website so as not to add to his issues, and we’re not linking to Barstool because there’s some horrifying talk of raping her in there. Barstool, you’re disgusting.)
Lynch re-enabled her Twitter to ask that people stop sending her parents death threats. Eventually she reached out to Buzzfeed.com by phone, where she described her past week, which included a dismissal from her job.
“I’ve had voicemails where they want to slit my throat and they want to hang me and tear off my face,” she told the site. “I’m just like, I don’t even know how to respond to this right now.”
She added that because she is a rape survivor, the suggestions that this is what she deserves for her costume hit her particularly hard. “When people bring up the rape stuff it kind of hits a spot, but I don’t show it. I’m over it, but it’s something that I would never, ever wish upon someone no matter what they had done. They can dress however they want.”
Others, too, make the point that it’s a bit hypocritical to react to someone’s gesture of disrespect to those who were victims of violence with death threats. One of her few Twitter sympathizers says it well:
@SomeSKANKinMI As someone who ran the marathon, I know that violent, angry responses are exactly what fueled the bombings to begin with.
— Hannah (@HanzBuhnanz) November 2, 2013
Apart from that obvious irony, the other sad outcome of the internet’s little rage fit is that it’s actually spurring a backlash to the backlash wherein people defend the costume.
— Stacey Van Buskirk (@staceyv313) November 4, 2013
Stop that. Alicia Lynch did not have an awesome Halloween costume. It was especially upsetting because it so successfully evoked the images we saw coming from the finish line that day. The only difference is the happy smile on her face. The hands-on-hip pose intended to make one’s figure look good. The flippancy of it all suggests none of the events that bloodied that shirt mattered.
Lynch should face some consequences for her thoughtlessness, for needlessly causing a lot of people a moment of pain in her search for a good laugh. But she shouldn’t be submitted to an unending barrage of rape and death threats. Nor should her parents. The crazy people calling her cell phone have found, if possible, a worse way to honor the Boston Marathon victims than Lynch did.
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