A digital mob attacked the girl who wrote this message.
Canucks fans – as a group – are savvy. Generally they understand the value of a guy like Chris Higgins – whose contributions extend past what you see in the boxscore. Canucks fans – as a group – donate a lot of money to charity. In the past they’ve got behind initiatives like Five Hole for Food, Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer, or Scrabble Tournaments with Tanner Glass with zeal. Canucks fans – as a group – support their team voraciously through thick and thin.
But as we’ve seen repeatedly, and again on Wednesday night, Canucks fans (as a group) are terrible when it comes to keeping things in perspective.
Read on past the jump.
Now of course, I don’t mean to lump everyone in together. The majority of Canucks fans didn’t threaten and harass a teenage girl last night, but some did, and it serves no purpose to deny how that gives the entire fan-base yet another in a long line of black eyes. From the repeated harassment of local legend Milan Lucic, to the occasional riot – Canucks fans too frequently let their love of the game and their loyalty to the team get the best of them.
Last night, as vomiting Canadian super-duper star Justin Bieber opened the Canadian leg of his tour, some of his fans wrote messages of appreciation on a wall that has traditionally acted as a space for fans to commemorate the memory of beloved grinder Rick Rypien.
This "defacing" of the ad hoc memorial wall set off a firestorm of recriminations on Twitter, with the picture that leads off this post being widely shared. I nearly wrote about this subject last night, but decided against it because I didn’t want to bring a digital mob down on the head of poor, ignorant Simran Mann whose name appears clearly in the picture above. I guess I should’ve just written the post anyway, because that digital mob brought their pitchforks and would’ve done so, regardless of anything I wrote on the subject. Erik Rolfsen and Deadspin have both curated the backlash this morning.
A Canucks fan named Jared has attempted to clean off the Bieber related markings this morning, with limited success (image courtesy Jesse Johnson):
As you can see, there are many names on that wall besides Simran’s. But the photo with her name was the one that was widely shared initially, and so she had to deal with the brunt of the rage emanating from a particularly irrational fan-base (she eventually locked and then deleted her account).
The entire episode, beyond being stupid and ugly is also incredibly unfair. What was directed at Simran is a pretty clear example of bullying, which obviously runs contrary to the ideals behind MindCheck.ca – the mental health resource the Canucks started in honour of Rypien.
As I’ve written previously, Canucks fans have always been particularly possessive of Rick Rypien’s memory, so it’s not a surprise that the defacing of "his" wall by teenage Beliebers engendered such outrage. Most likely, some Bieber fans saw a wall with writing on it and began to write Bieber related junk without understanding why the wall was important to so many people.
Their actions were ignorant and, yes, disrespectful but that doesn’t excuse what came afterwards. Yet again the dark underbelly of Canucks fandom revealed its irrational, aggressive self and the bullying of Simran Mann is every bit as ignorant in my view, as her graffiti was.
I’d plead for people to remember that it’s "just hockey" but Rypien’s memory and the space that fans have used to commemorate him isn’t "just hockey." It really is more than that. Rypien’s battle with depression and mental illness have inspired a lot of people I know personally, in addition to many of this sites loyal readers.
Rypien’s memory is rightly cherished and any touchstones to it are held to be sacred. So, while I understand why the scribblings of babes were viewed as such an affront in this case, the leap that some made from "wow what a bunch of jerks" to "let’s get that one teenage girl whose name we saw on that photo on Twitter" boggles the mind. The fuck is wrong with people?