Monday’s with Ms. Marvel: misdirected anger


Morgan Kong

In her weekly column, Monday with Ms. Marvel, Wingspan’s Trisha Dasgupta reviews different political issues and relatable topics in everyday life.

Trisha Dasgupta, Editor-in-Chief

Late last week Brandon Bernard was executed via lethal injection for his part in a double-murder robbery in 1999. In the weeks leading up to his death, many called for clemency, including several of the original jurors who stated that they no longer agreed with the original verdict. 

Bernard’s case gained a lot of attention on social media as well, and in the days leading up to his eventual execution, many teenagers on the internet created petitions and letter-writing campaigns urging officials and President Trump to grant clemency. 

This case brought forth a very important discourse about the death penalty, and whether capital punishment is ever ethical. However, there was also another reaction to the news that the attempts to help get Bernard clemency had failed, one that I was shocked to see. 

Shortly after Bernard’s death, many took to the internet to blame and “call out” social media stars who hadn’t spoken out about the case. Internet stars such as make-up artist James Charles and vlogger Emma Chamberlain were bullied on Twitter for their failure to speak up about this case. 

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but Charli D’amelio didn’t fail Brandon Bernard, the justice system did. 

Chastising random people who happened to stumble across followings on social media isn’t the activism some may think it is, and it’s time to stop pretending like a TikTok star speaking out about an issue can actually solve the issue in question. 

Would these stars have brought attention to the case? Probably. Regardless, it still wouldn’t have been enough to save Brandon Bernard’s life. 

Bernard had an extremely high profile, beyond qualified legal team who couldn’t even put a stop to the execution, so why does the internet think any TikTok star could? If you are upset about how Bernard’s case ended, your anger should be with the systems that let it happen, not with internet celebrities.

This conversation is misguided and counterproductive because it actively brings attention away from the real issue and real conversation that needs to be had- which is the ethics of capital punishment. 

Most of the people who have engaged in “calling out” these internet celebrities are teenagers, and to a certain extent, I empathize. Political disillusionment is a very real thing and I know the feeling of so desperately wanting to be able to change the things that trouble you in the world. You want someone to blame, and you want it to be someone you think you can reach. You want to sign petitions, raise awareness, and you want those things to be enough. You feel like it should be enough. Yet, time and time again, it isn’t, and you read headlines about events that disturb you morally, ethically, and emotionally. Events that you tried to prevent. 

It’s difficult, and it’s disheartening. I’ve experienced it over and over and over again, and I know most of my friends have as well. 

It’s a hard truth to grapple with, but many of these issues have to be solved systematically, with legislation, court cases, and a signature from the President. In this particular instance, the case of capital punishment, we’re looking at a complete overhaul of an existing system. Repealing the death penalty just isn’t going to happen overnight, and it’s definitely not going to happen because an internet celebrity made a tweet about it.