We passed the first anniversary of Rick Rypien’s death just two months ago, on August 15. In that year, the former Canucks winger has been anything but forgotten. Despite playing only 119 games in a Canucks uniform, Rypien left an indelible impression on the city of Vancouver, one that his death has only deepened. Kevin Bieksa and the Canucks launched Mindcheck.ca, a website where visitors struggling with mental health issues like Rypien’s can get connected to support early and quickly, and that site quietly became a provincial resource back in January. Ryp’s death was hardly in vain.
But Mindcheck isn’t the only lasting tribute to Rypien. There’s also the column outside of Rogers Arena that still bears messages from the impromptu memorial Ellen Ransford and other fans put together after Rypien took his life (pictured above). While many of the construction paper cards, posterboard signs, flowers and whatnot are gone, the writing on the pillar has remained untouched.
That is, until Justin Bieber came to town last night. Brace yourselves.
What we know for sure: this person is not Banksy.
Also, this is a travesty.
Now, before we freak out too much, it’s important to remember that Justin Bieber fans, as a group, are not known for their intellect or social awareness. Consider the case of Eric McGriff. Or the girl who carved — yes, literally carved — “JB I love” into her forearm. Or Greg Leuch, whose program that censors Bieber from your web browsing had fans calling him Hitler, because basic blocking software is akin to death chambers to these people? Several tweeted death threats to Selena Gomez when her relationship with Biebs hit the press. And how about this group of girls screaming at a guy that isn’t Justin Bieber outside his hotel room window? I could go on.
It’s a level of unintelligence I can hardly fathom, but it would be a surprise, to me, to learn that the person had a full understanding of the column’s significance when she broke out the sharpie. I’d guess this particular young lady, in the delirium of post-concert Bieber Fever, saw a graffiti’d pillar and thought she’d add to it with almost no synapses working to determine what the rest of the graffiti was about.
Further evidence: if she were smarter, not only would she have realized what she was doing, but she wouldn’t have signed it. I don’t know much about delinquency, but it seems to me an act of either willful ignorance or malice is the sort of thing you don’t attach your name to. Especially since, by signing it, she made it very, very easy to track her down once the poop hit the oscillator, as it were. And, since her Twitter account happens to be little more than her name and some underscores, she was easy to find and eviscerate. By this morning, she’d faced such an onslaught of rage that her account was gone. She faced death threats. That’s awful.
Stupid? Yes. Deserving of that level of verbal assault from the righteous Internet, especially considering that bullying has been linked to the sort of depression that Mindcheck was launched to combat? Hardly.
On the bright side, if the Rogers Arena staff see fit to remove the massive, gaudy tribute to Justin Bieber from Ryp’s column, we’re likely only going to lose the “Rypper” inside the heart. That’s not the end of the world.Justin Bieber, Rick Rypien, This is my friends an outrage