What really happened to Sunil Tripathi?

Salon: Of all the ways in which last week’s horror in Boston showed the resilience and cooperation of a community in the wake of disaster, the tragedy will also inevitably go down as a shining example of the desperate, despicable scramble to hunt, to accuse, to blame first – and worry about ethics and responsibility later. If ever.

We saw it in the epic bungling of mainstream media outlets like CNN and the New York Post. We saw it in the frenzy of Redditors and overeager tweeters. We saw it, most cruelly, in the story of a missing student, a young man whose body may have been pulled Tuesday night from the Providence harbor. [Tripathi’s death has now been confirmed.]

Sunil Tripathi was already making headlines before the Boston Marathon bombing. The Brown undergraduate was last seen on March 16, wearing “a black jacket, blue jeans and a Philadelphia Eagles cap.” In the early days of his disappearance, the news focused on his friends and Pennsylvania family, who posted a video on YouTube pleading for him to come back. “Hey, Sunny,” they say to the man whose nickname belied a reported history of depression. “We miss you.” It was, at first, the haunting mystery of a philosophy student with a “warm smile and generous gentle spirit,” who’d taken a leave from school while he was “trying to figure out his future.”

And then Boston happened. In what was later far too generously referred to as the “confusion” of its aftermath, the amateur detectives of Reddit decided that the missing man could be seen in images at the scene of the bombing. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email