Consistently awful person and pharma-bro Martin Shkreli continued his relentless campaign of awfulness last week by coming after freelance reporter Lauren Duca, who recently made a name for herself with this barn-burning op-ed about President-elect Trump for Teen Vogue. Shkreli, who's a big Trump supporter because of course he is, took on the role of pro-Trump troll by publicly inviting Duca as his plus-one to the inauguration, via Twitter, of course. Upon being rejected ("I would rather eat my own organs," replied Duca.), he then went full troll by stoking the rage-fire of other Trump fans, who came at Duca with their verbal abuse pitchforks held high. Shkreli took it further by Photoshopping his face onto Duca's husband's in a photo of the pair, and using it as his Twitter profile pic, and registering the domain "marrymelauren.com," as The Verge reports. Cue the onslaught of more creative Photoshopping by the Twitter hordes, a fake Lauren Duca Twitter account, and Duca finally reaching out to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
"How is this allowed?" Duca asked Dorsey. And then further tweeted, "Why is harassment an automatic career hazard for a woman receiving any amount of professional attention?"
Thankfully, within a couple of hours of Duca @-messaging him, Dorsey had Shkreli's account suspended, possibly just temporarily.
I would rather eat my own organs pic.twitter.com/IgeCRZqk8w— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) January 5, 2017
The Guardian subsequently picked up the story, as did multiple other news outlets, and Duca told the paper that Shkreli had actually been hounding her for "a while" on Twitter, and the inauguration invitation was only the latest salvo. Perhaps her first mistake was responding, but, she says, "It’s an ongoing thing. He’s been actively tweeting about dating me. I don’t know if he’s encouraging people to do this, but there’s been a small contingent of trolls telling me to sleep with him but not that politely."
The Guardian got a statement from a Twitter spokesperson who only said, "We prohibit targeted harassment, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies," but we all know that Twitter mostly only takes action in isolated cases that rise to the level of public-relations issues, i.e. those involving celebrities or prominent Twitterers. Because the task of taking action against all Twitter harassment looks to be an impossible one at this point, since the country that is Twitter is ruled by trolls now, many bowing down to the king troll himself, our President-elect.
It would be marvelous if Shkreli were kept separated from his 200,000-person Twitter following, but it remains to be seen how long his suspension may last.
2/ We need to move past this cultural idea that any woman with a successful career has to endure sexist abuse from strangers.— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) January 8, 2017
Shkreli of course made a dubious name for himself in mid-2015 when as head of startup Turing Pharmaceuticals he hiked the price of a life-saving Malaria drug 5,000 percent from $13.50 to $750 per tablet. The drug was used in cases of HIV patients to combat parasitic infections, and he then went on to acquire a Bay Area company producing another drug, one used to treat the parasitic infection Chagas disease, and hike the price of that drug from $100 to an estimated $80,000 for a two-month course of treatment.
Delighting in his own infamy and whatever validation he was subsequently rewarded with on social media, Shkreli purchased a limited edition Wu-Tang album and subsequently got into a public beef last January with Ghostface Killah, because he could. This came shortly after an arrest for securities fraud, and just before he was called to testify before Congress at a hearing on prescription drug pricing, at which he hearing he simply invoked the Fifth Amendment, scowled at Congresspeople, and was called by one "the poster boy for greedy drug company executives."
He proceeded to tweet about how they were all a bunch of "imbeciles" as he exited the hearing chamber, to which Maryland Congressman Elijah E. Cummings pounded a fist on the dais.
It must be lonely being Shkreli, except on Twitter of course, where he has great company among the throng of insufferable jerks who got alternately beat up and ignored all through high school and college and have sought their revenge on the world ever since. The only thing is that most of his fellow trolls don't have $45 million Etrade accounts to keep them warm at night. Perhaps they believe that if they keep harassing women and minorities and cheering Trump, they will.