The Laughter in Light/Crutches and Spice/mdg650hawk TikTok Drama Explained

On June 21, 2023, the TikTok account @LaughterinLight posted a video in relation to the billionaires who recently died aboard the Titan submersible as they hoped to explore the wreckage of the Titanic. The incident had resulted in a lot of dark comedy and edgy memes on TikTok. @LaughterinLight, who is a white, wealthy. and privileged immunologist who regularly cozies up to billionaires to fund her research, rightly gained traction on TikTok during the early days of the pandemic for her fiercely pro-science stance and her incredibly useful breakdown of emerging variants. It was believed by many progressive-minded people, myself included, that @LaughterinLight was a force for good. But in this video, @LaughterinLight sided with the affluent without a shred of nuance and without a kernel of comprehending catharsis. She said, “If you can find joy and Schaudenfreude and excitement from the death of people, no matter what their label or their group is, that makes you no better.”

Never mind that those who mocked these privileged Titan passengers, who paid a reported $250,000 a pop for the dubious honor of seeing the remains of poor people from more than a century ago, were simply reacting against income inequality and the ridiculous obscenity of such a narcissistic exercise that is beyond the price tag of most Americans. No, @LaughterinLight considered any joke against these billionaires to be inappropriate. (Has she even read Jonathan Swift, Helen DeWitt, Evelyn Waugh, Nathanael West, Jane Austen, Paul Beatty, Ishmael Reed, Percival Everett or George Schuyler? I have meticulously read and studied them all. Satirists have been ridiculing the follies of the rich for decades. And if @LaughterinLight is this fragile and hypersensitive, then it’s clear that she wouldn’t last a minute during any set at an East Village comedy club.) Never mind that billionaires had profited handsomely during the pandemic. According to Oxfam, billionaires added $5 trillion to their vast fortunes during the pandemic. Essential workers had no choice but to risk and lose their lives during the pandemic. According to one California study, essential workers accounted for 87% of additional COVID deaths between March 2020 and December 2020. According to WHO, it is estimated that anywhere between 80,000 and 180,000 healthcare workers lost their lives between January 2020 and May 2021. Line cooks, who undoubtedly cooked many meals for privileged people such as @LaughterinLight, had the highest risk of mortality. None of these people received the kind of spectacle-driven coverage that the Titan passengers did. Unless you count the numerous pots and pans that were banged outside windows during the early part of the pandemic from the lucky bastards who didn’t have to toil in hospitals, restaurants, and grocery stores.

On June 22, 2023, the TikTok user @crutches_and_spice — who is Black and disabled and not living in affluence — posted a critical reply to @LaughterinLight. @crutches_and_spice was calm, cited numerous facts of billionaires profiting from the pandemic, and was in no way hostile. She said, “You’re an immunologist. So you know what happens next. They then turn around and use that wealth to undermine public health efforts. The air we breathe is toxic. People are becoming disabled every single day to COVID. It has not ended. Because they want their little worker bees back in the office.”

A perfectly reasonable response, right?

But, in a comment left on @crutches_and_spice’s video, @LaughterinLight doubled down on her privilege by suggesting that @crutches_and_spice had somehow missed the point (when she had, in fact, not):

This difference in opinion likely would have dissipated over the weekend. But that’s when @mdg650hawk7thaccount — or Hawk, as this affluent San Francisco lawyer is known as on TikTok — falsely accused @crutches_and_spice — without a shred of evidence — of doxxing @LaughterinLight. Hawk is one of the more popular “liberal” accounts, but his completely unfounded attack on a marginalized creator was a classic example of a big TikTok creator using his vast influence to shut down a perfectly reasonable critic. I understand the need to stick up for a friend. But as a lawyer, Hawk should know better than this. As a putative liberal, he should understand that racism and white privilege are alive and well in 2023. What he did was pernicious to critical thinking, harmful to democratic discourse, and utterly disruptive to vital and necessary dialogue. (Indeed, Hawk is so influential that, when I criticized him for his vulgar tone policing and his false and completely unpredicated attack on a Black creator, I lost dozens of followers — mostly white neoliberals and centrists — on my backup account.)

(Conflict of interest disclaimer: Hawk and I were mutuals before my main TikTok account was falsely banned (I had not earned any additional strikes) by corrupt moderators in Tennessee, but we were never friends. We were acquaintances at best. He once asked me to email him some of my research notes. I did so and I never received a thank you or an acknowledgment from him.)

It is abundantly clear that Hawk and @LaughterinLight are not friends of the Left. They have used their sizable TikTok influence to punch down at a Black and disabled creator. They do not care about their followers. They only care about their clout. And this is a case of bigger accounts using everything in their larder to punch down at their critics. This is a case of two white, affluent, and influential TikTok creators being completely incognizant of their own privilege. And, with their completely needless bullying and persecution of @crutches_and_spice, I would also argue that this is a clear act of racism — the social media equivalent to Emmett Till being falsely accused and lynched for a perceived slight against a white woman.

Nobody who purports to stand for progressive values should follow either Hawk or @LaughterinLight. It is clear that these two accounts are acting in bad faith and that they both know who butters their bread. And it sure as hell ain’t working stiffs like you and me. Indeed, only a day before her pro-billionaire TikTok, @LaughterinLight had no problem ridiculing an overweight 52-year-old smoker who had died:

The message from Hawk and @LaughterinLight couldn’t be clearer: rules for thee and not for me. These two creators are no different from any privileged scumbag within the Republican and Democratic Parties. They have both refused to apologize in any way for their tone policing and their false accusations and have thus revealed their cruel and opportunistic colors, which is far worse than any joke directed at a billionaire.


  1. There is NEVER a justification to be cruel. Like them or not, that boy had a mother who loved him; those men had families who loved them.

    All levels of income statuses make poor and life threatening decisions for activities. The poor may choose to to bungie jump with an electrical cord vs the wealthy who choses to go down to see the titanic in an illequipt vessell. All also make poor decisions that hurt others.

    The subject of covid deaths and other wrong doings is completely irrelevant and for a separate conversation, not related to the event.

    A mother lost her son, siblings lost a brother, family lost their loved ones. If you wish to make covid deaths relevant, then think of all the survivors who mourn the same for their loved ones. We all have the emotion grief.

    Wealthy or poor, empathy is humane and to call someone racist for saying so is wrong and yes, makes you no better than those being judged for all you claim.

  2. Dawn-
    Weaponizing empathy is a tool of white supremacy.
    It silences truth for the sake of comfort and preserving “social norms” … “be polite” “be respectful”

    Truth should win over comfort.

    And while it can be uncomfortable to see gallows humor point out the inequities in our society, the most uncomfortable part should be the system failing our people and our connection to white supremacy…not the fact that a joke is dark…or “inappropriate”

    If that makes you uncomfortable to hear- and your first reaction is to say “but we deserve to honor all lives. Every life matters…we shouldn’t make fun of anyone…” you my friend, have anti-racist and anti-bias work to do.

    Our society does not equally value all lives. We have a lot of work to do to achieve actual equity

  3. I live at a son when he was 23 to a drunk driver, he was a Citizen of the Creek Nation,I hear a lot of ignorant people making remarks about drinking and driving and they’re curl.I feel for the mom and kid but what about the kids the migrant children that drown near Greece the day before? They didn’t even make the news! 700 people but they weren’t newsworthy?! And before you talk about coming to this country the legs way,ask yourself if you’re ansestory came the legal way or did they come in guns blazing? Trust me whites killed for this land were too lazy to work it so it was built on the backs of slaves! Billionaires use the backs of every poor poor person to maintain their billions! They don’t notice or care when a poor person dies in a tragic accident! That 250k they blew to go see the graves of other poor people would have made a lot of difference in a lot of poor people’s lives!

  4. Donna: I am so sorry to hear about your son. And you’re right. In fact, no less than President Obama himself pointed out how these 700 people didn’t make the news with the same blaring import. Thank you for your spirited comment and best wishes. We have a real problem in our society. So many good people are invisible and could use help.

  5. (EDITOR’S NOTE: On the night of June 26, 2023, the same IP address left three comments under different handles in an attempt to “review-bomb” the author of this piece. The below comment is one such specimen and is preserved in full below to review the full and febrile nature of this hilariously clueless and cowardly troll.)

    Evidently, the blog post’s author masquerades under the guise of advocacy while concealing a far more self-serving objective. It appears that his main concern isn’t the articulation of societal disparities or the championing of marginalized voices, but rather a strategic maneuver to construct a platform of self-righteousness, from which he can amplify his own voice and interests.

    What’s more troubling is that this subtle manipulation could easily be mistaken for genuine concern. Yet a discerning analysis shows that his intended narrative is less about fostering constructive dialogue around systemic inequality and more about securing his own position within the digital landscape.

    The author’s emphasis on the wrongdoing of others and his own extensive knowledge, thinly disguised as diligent fact-checking, actually underscores his self-promotion and self-interest. His rhetoric becomes a performance, not a platform for change. As readers, we need to remain wary of such self-serving narratives that, although wrapped in the language of advocacy, primarily seek to advance the author’s individual agenda.

    Peeling back the layers of this author’s carefully constructed narrative, it appears that the thrust of his discontent is not rooted in a purported misuse of power or perceived lack of fairness. It is instead mired in something far more pedestrian and personal – a non-response to a direct message on TikTok.

    In the author’s own TikTok videos, an interesting subplot emerges. Amid the torrents of social commentary and criticisms, there are recurrent expressions of disappointment and bitterness over this ignored direct message. He seems to be smarting from this perceived slight, suggesting a context to his vehemence that’s more personal than principled.

    In essence, it seems like this ongoing discourse, ostensibly centered on social justice and the wielding of influence, is actually the author’s convoluted way of voicing his personal discontent at being snubbed. While the issues he touches on are indeed significant and worthy of discussion, they are unfortunately overshadowed by his personal vendetta, casting a shadow on his credibility.

  6. More hilarity from the pretentious dope (maybe Dan himself!) “review-bombing” all of my blog posts. Honestly, man, you are so unintentionally hilarious in your cluelessness that you are welcome here anytime! I’ve emailed three mischievous writers I know who had the satirical ninja skills to write this and they have all denied authorship. So my working hypothesis is that Dan McLaughlin, not content to stop with the TikTok marketing propaganda he made against me on June 5th (“I don’t punch down,” he said, as he proceeded to DO just that: punch down and take my comedic TikToks completely out of context; and now, not content to call in a favor and get my TikTok Shut down or delist my websites from Google (didn’t work, pal — I know people there)), is now leaving these trollish comments. It’s truly sad and pathetic, sir. But also deeply funny. You are not privy to the communications I had with Hawk (and you get so much so wrong). I had only a minor issue with Hawk over the research situation. But he greatly angered me by going after a Black and disabled creator. That is literally the SOLE basis for my beef. And I don’t need to trot out my social justice credentials. But Dan, I’m glad that I’ve given you such promising material (it really didn’t take all that long to write) to wank yourself silly over. 😂😂😂

  7. Laughterinlight claims to be a researcher. That means she is regulated by an IRB, regardless if she works in a public or private org. Regardless if she works for herself, or not. The IRB would be aghast if they saw her content due to how much she fearmongers (e.g. she claimed everyone in NYC should be worried about getting polio in 2022 based on preliminary news articles reporting traces of polio in water) and her bias defending her crew of healthcare bullies, like nursetoughlove. I’ve seen her like, share and event duet with creators after they announced entire outbreaks of COVID and got the continenet wrong. If LIL sees anyone in the thatdaneshguy crew provide disinformation, dox, bully, or scam in the name of Public Health, she stays silent even though the federal regulations she’s bound to would say otherwise. Look up the license numbers of her friends and notice how she responds when you ask for her information to report her to her IRB. She will target you and get all her bully crew friends to help her. At her age and with her level of education, watching this scientist engage in mass bullying for years is embarassing. She was so sloppy she even fell for snackpax’s schtick. I also don’t appreciate her condescending tone. She perpetuates the stereotype of uppity, spoiled, white people in research and science that only furthers the public’s fear of participating in ethical research studies.

  8. What is your proof that LaughterInLight went after anyone at all? Did LIL ever accuse anyone of anything? Tell people to go after someone, even once? I saw one video from her that mentioned Imani, saying she agreed with her, respected her and thought she is “phenomenal”. Now that her name is widely available and was never previously attached to her TikTok account, saying that she actively attacked anyone in a protected class is actionable slander. In her last public video she said home addresses were being circulated and people being told she lived there. Writing slander and encouraging baseless hate and anger is actually putting people in harms way, not just her. Again, another actionable offense. Did you see the number of people telling her to report this to the FBI and police? You think she didn’t already? You go on and on about her being wealthy and if she is you don’t think you’re going to get the shit sued out of you for posting things like this?

  9. Punching down, this is garbage crutches has more followers than either

  10. The thing about privilege is that most were unaware there was such a thing, didn’t ask for it, had enough struggles themselves in other ways that it seemed offensive to be labeled for it. They didn’t feel they had it that great really but happened to be born to responsible people with the possibility of a long line of them. It’s a shock to hear they had it so much better as if they should give away their money to those not equally blessed. I see the inequality of many things in the world but can’t agree I’m at fault somehow for it

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