Unpin My Tweet, Please Martin Shkreli


On December 17, 2015, I probably became the second most hated person in America, if only momentarily, and as a result of association.

That was the day that the internet first got the blood it was after from pharmabro Martin Shkreli. It was that day that Martin Shkreli was arrested in Manhattan for securities fraud — making the internet collectively jump for joy.

It was also the morning after I published my most read essay on medium, Martin Shkreli, I Support You— which he decided the night before his arrest, would be a great pinned Tweet on his Twitter profile. It remained there for the next 24-hours.

For me, it was a very long 24-hours waiting for Shkreli to get out of jail and return to the internet to troll more haters. I received abhorrent Tweets imaginable aimed at me — an HIV activist — culminating in threats from Anonymous (or someone claiming to be with them) and even wishes that I would just off myself and do the world a big favor. (I won’t share screen caption of those here, but I could.)

Full disclosure: I did text him, eventually, and ask if he would unpin it. I regret doing that. (And he didn’t reply, anyways.) But, I should of had thicker skin, especially because years later — I still think I was right about Shkreli. These days, I expect people to disagree with me. And loathsome comments are expected, if I believe anyone will actually read my opinion on the subject.

What I am still shocked to find out is that people still have a very limited understanding of the entire situation surrounding the price hike of Daraprim. People still believe it’s an AIDS drug. It’s not. People still believe patients died because of the price. Nobody died. And people think tons of patients had access issues to the medicine. I can’t find many, if any, stories of actual patients not having access to the drug because of price.

Recently, I was on the UK television show, NEXUS, and took clips of what I said, and put it against clips of politicians, the media, and Shkreli. It explains better than any other way, I believe, the reasoning that I supported Shkreli then and still believe that his price hike was more a private business matter over something that should of be subjected to public demands fueled by unfair and ambitious media — who never really told the truth that patients were not actually being harmed to the extent that they allowed their clickbait headlines to portray.

Here’s what I learned simply put:

  • Opinions aren’t easy to defend when the topic (such as the debate whether healthcare should make a profit) can’t win.
  • My timing is sometimes off. And that’s an understatement.
  • I now more easily speak up, even when it’s not popular.
  • The internet allows me to reach a large number of people, but also allows a large number of people to clap back — even if they are wrong.