Boneghazi began, as these things do, with a Tumblr post.
Earlier this week, someone with the Tumblr username pastel-prouvaire alleged that another poster, littlefuckinmonster, had been stealing bones from a cemetery in Louisiana. Both accounts have since been deactivated; screenshots show that the original post read:
PSA: tumblr user littlefuckinmonster is stealing human bones from cemeteries in Louisiana. Please don’t let them get away with this and spread the word/signal boost!
The source of the claim, a screenshot of which has been circulating, is a Facebook post by someone named Ender Darling, in a locked group called The Queer Witch Collective. In the post, made sometime on or before December 12, Darling tells the story of taking bones from a cemetery in New Orleans:
About twenty minutes from my house in New Orleans is what we call the poor man's graveyard. Most graveyards around here are full of above ground greaves because we live in a fish bowl. But there happens to be a graveyard where its all in ground graves. Those those of us who are too poor to afford above ground burial.
When it rains of course bones wash up, the older the grave the more you find. You can literally walk around and see femurs, teeth, jaws, skull caps, etc etc. This is where I got to find my human bones for curse work and general spells that require bone (I find human bones are easier for work with for me rather than animal bone. I can relate and work with the energy they carry if that makes any sense). Anyways I wanted to see if I started 'selling' (basically cover shipping to where ever you happen to be) if people would be interested? I know human bones aren't easy to come by and I usually have left overs. I only go once a month, or when it rains here.
Curbed NOLA reported on the posting on Tuesday, identifying the cemetery as Holt Cemetery on City Park Avenue in New Orleans. The Louisiana Attorney General's office is looking into it. Any charge would likely just be a misdemeanor; and according to a post found by Digg, the cops had already been contacted before the initial post had been made.
Meanwhile, on Tumblr, the post blew the hell up.
Some have called it the "last meme of 2015."
Others have begun pointing out how far afield the conversation has come from the original post.
Cates Holderness, BuzzFeed's Tumblr editor, has aptly called the entire fiasco Boneghazi.
And a lengthy post by another now deleted account purporting to be Darling, that has been reblogged elsewhere, attempts to clarify that no digging up of bones was done, only collecting bones.
Meanwhile, Tumblr user patrickat makes a good point about the scale of the whole meme:
The craziest part about this so called “greatest Tumblr meme of 2015” grave robbing thing is that going by the average lifespan of Tumblr memes, there’s still conceivably time for it to be topped three more times in the next two weeks.
Somewhat lost are issues of race and class caught up in the meme. The Ender Darling post refers to the cemetery as a "poor man's graveyard." Holt Cemetery is a predominantly African-American burial site that was formerly a potter's field. According to Atlas Obscura, "the plots have been handed down for generations, and remain in the hands of family members so long as they are well maintained."
I have reached out to Darling for comment, and will update this story if I get a response.
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org