Democratic strategist Elizabeth Spiers sparked controversy on Twitter after claiming that concerns about safety on the New York City subway were “imaginary monsters.”
In response to criticism from Dan MacLaughlin of the National Review about subway safety, Spiers tweeted, “I’ve safely ridden the subway for 23 years and my child has never been menaced by a half-naked lunatic, but these imaginary monsters in your head are addressable with therapy.”
Spiers’ tweet garnered over 1.3k likes and 1.7 views, but also drew backlash from many who felt that she was downplaying the very real safety concerns faced by subway riders in New York City. MacLaughlin responded, “if you’ve never encountered an alarming lunatic on the subway or its platforms, I question what city you’ve been traveling in.”
Critics of Spiers pointed out that anecdotal evidence does not disprove the existence of crime and safety threats on the subway. Some shared their own experiences of being harassed, assaulted, or witnessing crimes like murder on the subway. One producer from OutKick, Hayley Caronia, tweeted that Spiers’ “subway privilege is showing,” and shared that she had personally experienced harassment and assault on the subway.
Hi – New Yorker here. I’ve safely ridden the subway for 23 years and my child has never been menaced by a half naked lunatic, but these imaginary monsters in your head are addressable with therapy. https://t.co/njddI11QDm
— Elizabeth Spiers (@espiers) May 8, 2023
The controversy came in the wake of the death of Jordan Neely, a black man who died after being put into a chokehold by a former U.S. Marine on the subway. While some on the left have claimed that Neely’s death was racially motivated, others have pointed out that Neely had a long criminal history and had been threatening other passengers before the altercation.
Spiers is the founder of the now-defunct Gawker and has also worked as the editor of the New York Observer. Her tweet sparked a debate about safety on the New York City subway and the validity of anecdotal evidence in discussions of crime and public safety.
Critics of Spiers have pointed out that her tweet seemed to dismiss the experiences of those who have been victimized on the subway, and that her privileged status has never left her feeling threatened on the subway — causing her to completely underestimate the severity of the problem.