Among the sorrow and pain that the Columbine High School shootings evoked, the ever-faithful "Columbiners" were there to, you know, make light of it all. Today, teenage girls who idolize Columbine shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris congregate on Tumblr and even post their romantic fantasies with the pair, leaving the rest of us to seriously question their motivations.
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, something similarly alarming is happening among the same age group. This time, they are arguing that 19-year-old accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is "too beautiful" to be a terrorist. As we all know, being "too beautiful" prevents people from committing acts of terrorism. That's it. Case closed.
Using the hashtag #FreeJahar — Tsarnaev's nickname is "Jahar" — supporters have taken to Twitter in full force. While some simply tweet encouraging messages to the suspect, others lament his injuries and fellow suspect brother's death, and even more proclaim their love for the younger Tsarnaev. I'll take this opportunity to remind all of you that, indeed, these are the same Tsarnaev brothers suspected in a series of bombings that killed 3 people and injured 264.
Here is a selection of the messages circulating the Twittersphere:
There's even a marginally creepy "Free Jahar Fan Club" on Twitter that boasts over 500 followers:
...along with a series of Facebook pages (one of which had over 12,000 "likes" before being removed) where posters claim to know "what really happened":
As this movement made national news, even CNN's Anderson Cooper was drawn into the madness. Following a seemingly neutral report on #FreeJahar, one supporter tweeted, "Anderson Cooper is now on our side." Cooper quickly replied: "Leave me out of your pathetic Twitter conspiracy."
A federal agent in Washington, D.C., responded to this outpouring of support similarly succinctly.
"What a bunch of unbelievable idiots," he said. "These morons will make it much harder for the country to recover from this. I seriously hope ordinary people have their BS-detectors on full throttle."
So, what do these young activists claim "really happened" on that tragic April 15? According to Daily Mail coverage on the movement, "a government-funded group of mercenaries from a private company, Craft International, staged the event and framed the Chechen pair."
What are your thoughts on the #FreeJahar movement? Is it perfectly harmless, or could it have serious implications on how the country moves on from the tragedy? How should we treat the militant supporters of the suspects? Comment below or let me know on Twitter: @christinesalek.