Last month, a grisly headline gripped the U.S. and beyond.
Rudy Eugene, a 31-year-old Floridian allegedly under the influence of bath salt drugs, chewed off the face of Ronald Poppo, a 65-year-old homeless man, in broad daylight off a Miami highway.
With traffic whizzing by, the cannibalistic attack lasted 18 minutes before police officers shot Eugene dead.
In that period of time, Poppo lost 75 percent of his face, including his entire left eye and the vision in his right. He remains hospitalized to this day, struggling with numerous skin graft surgeries and physical therapy sessions.
Reading this recount, did you feel a grin on your lips? No, probably not.
But sadly, many people have managed to find humor in this disgusting attack. And it is inexcusable.
As soon as news of the assault hit the Internet, most were rightfully shocked, disgusted and appalled. But others took it upon themselves to turn the attack into a sick joke.
Headlines warning of an impending zombie apocalypse gripped the online community. Articles, even some from reputable news sources, referred to Poppo as a victim of a zombie attack.
Shortly after the incident occurred, popular blog site LiveJournal put a poll on their home page asking if users had heard about the attack and if they were worried about zombies coming.
There was no solemnity. No requests for thoughts or prayers for Poppo’s recovery. Just a brutal attack trivialized into another Internet joke, like cheeseburger-seeking cats or a Rick Astley redirect.
Anyone with Internet access is probably familiar with the zombie craze.
From movies and video games to a prank zombie apocalypse preparation guide posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, undead humans are clearly the “in” thing right now.
Liking horror movie characters is one thing, but to compare an attack that nearly killed a man to a fictional monster is nauseating.
It shows just how much our society has fallen. Instead of rallying around our downtrodden, we josh about how they got there.
Perhaps it is easy for some to turn Poppo’s tragedy into a joke because he is a homeless man, with no one to step up for him and keep his story from becoming a mockery. But the victim could have been anyone: you, a friend, a family member.
Maybe people should keep that in mind next time they want to laugh at someone who nearly lost his life — and did indeed lose life as he once knew it.
To contact Whitney Knight, email firstname.lastname@example.org.