The human race is capable of inflicting an incredible amount of hatred and malice upon members of its own in an unfathomable variety of ways. This propensity for heartlessness, soullessness – inhumanity – has surfaced once again.
Last month, 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts, a student at the University of Iowa studying psychology, went for a run. She didn’t come back.
On Aug. 21, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a 24-year-old from Mexico who may not have been working in the United States legally, was charged with her murder after he led investigators to her body.
This would be an unimaginable nightmare for most of us. This should be the singular source of our fear, our sadness and our rage.
But it isn’t.
Soon after her body was discovered and Rivera was charged with her murder, people began to learn about her – her political leanings, her stance on hot-button issues. They began to posthumously criticize her because of them.
Some said this was the inevitable fruition of her personal beliefs. Some said she deserved what happened.
Some went as far as to rejoice in her death.
It is unbelievable: A person was murdered, and there are people who are flooding her social media accounts with jubilation at what they perceive is the irony of her values.
It is unnerving and appalling.
This case is not a political one. This is not an argument over national and international policy. This is not an argument about whether or not this could have been prevented, or whether or not we should have tried.
Those arguments are meant to be had in the voting booths and in the halls of state and federal capitol buildings, and those arguments are meant to be civil and productive.
This is a young person who had her life taken from her for no known reason. This is a family who is dealing with the reality that there will be an empty seat at the Thanksgiving dinner table and friends who will scroll past her number in their phones, reminded there is no longer anyone who will answer that call.
This is a case of unrealized potential, the ramifications of which we will never know.
This is a time we should reach out to those who knew her and to those who loved her and offer whatever support we can and allow a grieving family to mourn the senseless loss of Mollie Tibbetts.
Or, at the very least, we should leave them alone.
Instead, there are people among us who are opting to hurl derision and pour vitriol on a person who is tragically not here to defend herself.
We are better than this.
At least we’re supposed to be.