Tuesday, April 16, 2013

@PrayForBoston: The Marathon Bombing and Sandy Hook

Note: I created this as a PowerPoint presentation to show to my classes. We're discussing how to evaluate arguments and evidence.


In the hours after the Boston Marathon bombing, the hashtag #prayforboston was trending on Twitter. People used it to express their support and sympathy toward the victims of the bombing.
Also on Monday, a Twitter account with the name @PrayForBoston posted two photos that quickly started trending, as well.

R.I.P. to the 8 year-old boy who died in Boston's explosions, while running for the Sandy Hook kids. #prayforboston

R.I.P. to the 8 year-old girl who died in Boston's explosion, while running for the Sandy Hook kids. #prayforboston

Each of the two photos were retweeted tens of thousands of times.

When I saw them, though, something seemed off.

 Finding Facts

The Boston Marathon honored victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting by dedicating each mile of the race to someone who was killed (there were 26 Sandy Hook deaths; a marathon is 26.2 miles).

A group of runners from Newtown, CT (where Sandy Hook is located) participated in the Boston Marathon as a way of honoring the victims.

Reports confirmed that an 8-year-old died as a result of the bombing. Identity was not immediately disclosed.
The girl’s picture shows her wearing a bib for the “Joe Kinsella 5K." 
Captions for both pictures assert that the boy and girl were running in the Boston Marathon.
Runners must post a qualifying time in a previous marathon in order to qualify for Boston. (Most marathons are open to the public.)

The youngest qualifying age group is 18-34 years old. (Marathonguide.com)
The Newtown runners announced on Facebook that no one in their group had been injured, because “all runners completed the race before the explosions.”  
A day later, Twitter had suspended the @PrayForBoston account, as well as other similar accounts.
Reports circulated that the 8-year-old victim was named Martin Richard, and he was waiting for his father at the finish line.

The last detail was false: Martin’s father did not run the race, but the family was gathered to watch at the finish line.

His mother and sister were also seriously injured.

"No More hurting People. Peace."

-Martin Richard

 Rush to Retweet

Imagine if you knew one of the kids in those two pictures. How would you have reacted?

What do you think motivated someone to create and share those pictures?

Why did they spread so quickly on the internet?

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