Kids say the darndest things.
And as a comedian once pointed out, you would too if you weren’t educated.
Over the years the funniest things kids said managed to make it into TV shows such as ones hosted by the late Art Linkletter or in the form of video clips. What never made it on the air were instances where kids may have said hateful, disgusting or obscene things. Just like when they uttered words adults found hilarious kids can also utter words that aren’t.
What brings this up is more resurrected garbage from the bowels of the Internet that managed to make national headlines in the last few days.
This time it was clearly racist and homophobic remarks made by White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech five years ago when he was a 17-year-old in high school.
Kopech, who had long since deleted the remarks, notes he made them when he was “young and stupid.”
In today’s world of instant burning at the stake by social media mobs, being “young and stupid” is no longer a luxury.
If the social media vigilantes seem a bit smug to you, maybe you’ve noticed that more than a few screaming for retribution not for current behavior or remarks of individuals but for past utterances they want the person held accountable as if they were Nazi war criminals, have penned blogs, opinion pierces and blogs pushing to give convicted felons second chances.
In today’s warped world you can get seemingly half the people accessing the vast social media echo chamber to defend rapists, murders, abusers, and such as being changed people. But when it comes to someone who hasn’t raped, killed or abused others who happened to use racist, homophobic or hate speech when they were a teen but not since they want them to be banished from jobs and/or communities.
Racism, sexism, and hate must not be tolerated.
But at what point do we stop digging up the past?
One of the newest pastimes is making people pay for the sins of their father or, more aptly, the sins of their great-great-great-grandfather.
Slavery is wrong on all levels although self-serving individuals and societies since the beginning of dawn through today believe they have justification for such a hideous act.
Is the best way to eradicate the curse of slavery from the face of the earth going after relatives, generations removed from the vile practice or rewriting history to eliminate any reference to anyone who had slaves or didn’t oppose slavery regardless of their overall impact on the course of human events?
If your answer is absolutely, I can respect that. What I can’t respect is exempting anyone from shaming if you have staked out an absolute position.
Slavery to the degree men, women and children were viewed as chattel had been a poison on every continent and practiced by every race.
If you are truly devoted to human dignity slavery in any form or within or outside of any race is an absolute sin.
So how do we rid the world of this cancer now carrying the moniker “human trafficking” that appears in various degrees from forced servitude to being born into it across the planet and across the ages whether it is North America, Asia, Africa, Europe, South America or Australia?
Not only do kids say the darndest things but they also learn the most revolting behavior when they are not educated. By that I don’t just mean schooling but exposure to the greater world beyond their cliques whether it’s face-to-face interactions or on social media.
The Internet has changed social behavior as much as it has modified it.
The Pollyanna types at the dawn of the universal Internet believed the world would change as social media and such would function as an overwhelming force of change. What it has done is also modify how we change. Teens, perhaps more than any other age group, are susceptible to peer pressure. Mimicking other words or behavior to not be ostracized before social media access became universal was relatively confined. In cases were the urge to “belong” didn’t lead to horrific acts, “stupid” comments by the young faded away. And how such vulgar utterances were buried and discarded came from maturing as one was exposed to new ideas, different people, and other cultures, religions, and well as those who do not share our skin tone or language.
If the power of grace can drive us to forgive those that have actually committed despicable acts and advocate for such persons to have a second chance surely, we can forgive those who said stupid words as a teen but as an adult their conduct and words reflect more civilized maturity.
If the “gotcha” game of mining heaps of garbage postings on the Internet years ago is not tempered and social media continues to take a dagger after those with the equivalent of old zit scars buried beneath years of heathy skin growth, we will be following a course of shunning and not growing.
Stupid is stupid but someone at a young age writing something they don’t fully comprehend how stupid it is should not justify a public flogging years later as an adult when they clearly do not embrace such words or behavior.
It is a waste of energy that can be better spent changing the world that needs changing.
We can’t alter the past but we can change the present and mold the future.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.