Home Social Justice Editorial: Fugitive Fest Makes Light of Serious Situation

Editorial: Fugitive Fest Makes Light of Serious Situation

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Ohio University shut down at about 12:15 p.m. Wednesday due to an armed robbery that took place at Station Street Apartments at about 9:30 a.m. According to unconfirmed rumors, the fugitive had only taken $5. But it caused an uproar with two distinct sides.

It’s easy to understand the university’s point of view in choosing to shut the campus down. An armed robber is likely to be someone looking for money, not a crazed maniac looking to start shooting into classrooms, so the move seems like an overreaction. But their motivations likely included the Sandy Hook tragedy, the shooting in Aurora, Colorado and most recently the shooting at a Houston community college.

If one student had gotten hurt today because the school had done nothing in reaction to the armed robbery alert it not only would have been a tragedy, but also an absolute PR nightmare. Better to overreact than under react in a situation such as that.

What officials probably didn’t expect was the other PR nightmare that quickly developed, a point of view a little more difficult to understand.

Students flocked to Court Street, bars opened early, Lucky’s Sports Tavern put out a chalkboard proclaiming, “Fugitive Fest! Liquor Pitchers ALL DAY.” Many started tweeting about the day’s festivities, ending tweets with hashtags such as #gundayfunday and #fugitivefest. People made toasts to the fugitive who still hasn’t been caught, and likely never will be. Some people put on navy blue hoodies to poke fun at the description of the suspect that said he was wearing a navy blue hoodie.

People deal with unpleasant situations differently, and often many choose to drink and make jokes as a form of coping. But that’s not what this was. This was a result of college students, bored and collectively freed from an afternoon of classes, who wanted to day drink. And there’s really not anything wrong with that. But someone wanted to attach a reason to the festivities, and they landed on the unfortunate and insensitive Fugitive Fest.

Maybe those students were thinking something along the lines of, “No one was hurt, this is just harmless fun. If someone was actually shot we wouldn’t be out here celebrating.” But they were literally celebrating a fugitive. Someone was held at gunpoint and robbed, and for at least a few seconds feared for their life within what was likely their own apartment complex. That isn’t a joke – that’s emotional trauma.

What if the fugitive had been out last night, at parties where people made toasts to him for pointing a gun at someone else? What if he was in front of Lucky’s chalkboard, taking a picture with it and giving the thumbs up? If he had drunkenly admitted to anyone that he was the fugitive, would they have clapped him on the back and thanked him for getting everyone out of class?

The country was collectively shocked and horrified by the Sandy Hook tragedy. Our hearts went out to those poor parents who had to bury their own young children. This fugitive situation doesn’t even compare to that. But maybe if students had lived in Newtown, Conn., if they still saw the effects of that tragedy, they wouldn’t be so quick to make light of a gunman threatening the life of an innocent person.

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  1. B

    January 31, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Violence towards women is not funny. Violence towards children is absolutely tragic. Everyone knows this, and it’s not difficult to access the empathy to understand what has people so offended by jokes directly getting laughs from those subjects. I was happy to be out of class yesterday but didn’t go out at all. I made some tweets making light of the situation (none that fit this article’s description or any other article for that matter). I was a little surprised to see the tweets that said “Grow up” and “Not proud to be a bobcat” in response to the #FugitiveFest tweets. I was surprised because I didn’t really understand the insensitivity others were perceiving. I thought about it for awhile and I still didn’t. It’s an interesting feeling to not understand why someone is so offended. It felt like a part of my brain wasn’t working. I mean people were outraged. People tweeted in caps “can you be any more ignorant?” From the bottom of my heart, I feel, yes; yes you can be more ignorant.

    Nevertheless, I deleted my tweets because I don’t want to offend anyone, even if I don’t know why. I certainly didn’t want to be the subject of articles like this one. But I guess I understand now, that we shouldn’t celebrate something that stemmed from one individuals possibly traumatic experience. I wouldn’t be shocked if the victim of this crime found some of these tweets somewhat cruel.

    “But maybe if students had lived in Newtown, Conn., if they still saw the effects of that tragedy, they wouldn’t be so quick to make light of a gunman threatening the life of an innocent person.”

    Is that empathy? Or is that a level of sensitivity that only some people can have towards this issue. We all have things that affected us in different ways than portrayed in the popular joke. For example, because of my grandmother’s condition near the end of her life, I have trouble with jokes about dementia. That doesn’t mean it’s a subject that people shouldn’t make light of. In fact a lot of the time, those jokes don’t have much basis in reality. My taste for Alzheimer’s related humor is something personal, not something for me to accuse people of being ignorant for. Most people celebrating “Fugitive Fest” probably haven’t had run-ins with gun violence, but do take the Sandy Hook tragedy very seriously. Something serious and real did happen here in Athens yesterday that people should take seriously. But what we see on twitter is simply people who aren’t afraid of being shot in Athens. Should they be?

    There was a lot of talk about “the line.” Where is it? We can make fun of the University’s overreaction, can we make fun how stupid the mugger was? Can we have a drink if classes get cancelled?

    If people were actually toasting the criminal, yes, that’s stupid. But I don’t see some kind of gun-violence equivalence to rape humor. Those hashtags were edgy at best. Not offensive. Possibly ignorant. Not offensive.

    Despite my reverence toward in dark-humor, I strongly believe people shouldn’t stand for humor they feel crosses the line. But yesterday, what I saw were people that need to learn to pick their battles. You’re right, nobody should laugh at a Sandy Hook joke. But guess what, I’ve never even heard a Sandy Hook joke. Do they even exist?

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