Recently, there has been an increase in news stories surrounding the deaths of rappers, such as Pop Smoke and PnB Rock, and members of the general public. Both have become the source of scrutiny not because of their untimely passing, but the incidental errors that cost them their lives. But, before these bodies even get cold, the Internet responds with criticism of the victim.
In the case of Pop Smoke, his address being revealed through an Instagram post was a sign of his apparent irresponsibility and carelessness. In the more recent murder of high-profile rapper PnB Rock, his girlfriend faced extreme public scrutiny when she posted an image with the location on, and unfortunately, the rapper was shot soon after the photo went online. Even everyday citizens are not exempt from critics. In the case of Shaquella Robinson, the public championed the importance of choosing the right friends and spoke extensively of Robinson’s failure to spot the signs. Each of these individuals was wrongfully murdered due to simple missteps that normally lead to benign consequences, ones that would have led to them learning their lessons and having a sad story to tell as they moved through life. But, unfortunately, they lost their lives. Each time this happened, the ridicule of the deceased seemed insurmountable. These comments acted as if the dead would be so moved by their words that they would come back to life and follow their advice.
Whatever substance commenters believed they were adding to online discourse falls flat in the face of the truth of the matter: many times, these criticisms blame the victim and bring more attention to the victim’s shortcomings than condemning the murderers. More effort is applied to providing a public lesson to the world, at the expense of the victim, declaring what the victim should have done, rather than sending prayers to the family of the deceased or denouncing such heinous acts of violence. Scrolling through, the Internet consists of days of dialogue concerning the importance of not including the address or location in photos, and tips for spotting a fake friend. Though these lessons are important, let the body get cold first.
Victim-blaming remains a common theme in several crimes. If someone is robbed, questions abound on whether someone seemed to be flaunting their wealth. If someone is assaulted: what have they said or done to merit this response? Inquiries about what someone has done to an individual to warrant being harmed demonstrate everyone’s desensitization to crime and immorality. These comments say ‘it is obvious that someone is going to do wrong, so it is your responsibility to do everything in your power to stop it.’ Sure, evil runs rampant. But, why blame people for their own harm, especially when they are in the grave? They have already lost their lives. Next time, let the realities of their passing take hold, let these bodies touch the soil, and let their mothers cry before writing monologues dedicated to everything they could have done to prevent what happened. Write your speeches to the living. Exclude the names of victims. The dead have passed. It’s too late. They’re gone.