Don’t Do Anything Nice if You’ve Done Something Bad

I read a story this morning that really made me shake my head about how misdirected we’ve become as a society.  I think it’s especially worrying, because we live in times where liberal thinking is necessary to push back against greed, against religion, against white nationalism, etc, and it is those people we need to get angry about the right things.  CNN reported that a young man who was raising money through beer sales for a local hospital had raised a million dollars, but than a Des Moines news paper dug up some 7 year old tweets that were racist (he was 16 at the time) and published them in an article they wrote about him.  The paper claimed that it was standard to do a social media check on people that they write stories about, and that they felt it was important for the sake of transparency to publish these 7 year old tweets so people knew who they were giving their money to.

I’ll tell you who they were giving money to.  A children’s hospital.  The guy was raising money for a FUCKING CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL!

What he wasn’t doing:

  • made any racist tweets since then
  • wasn’t raising money for a white’s only hospital
  • beating black people in the streets
  • remaining a 16 year old

Carson King, who was raising the money, apologized publicly and tried to make the point that he is not that person anymore and that he’s become kind and generous.  Which given what he is trying to do, seems fairly straightforward.  The apology of course cared little wait with Anhauser-Busch who have now distanced themselves from King.

There is good news here.  Although Anhauser-Busch rescinded their offer to give this guy a year’s supply of beer with his face on their can, they did agree to add to the donation to the hospital with what would have been that beer cost.   So the hospital will still get what they were promised.  More importantly the readers of the newspaper turned against them and complained about this ridiculous reporting.  They went further and decided to dig up old tweets on the reporter, Aaron King, who reported the story, forcing him to then apologize for his past tweets.

It seems to me that what’s really going on is that journalism is simply a competition to get clicks, and to do so they use racism as a tool to stir moral outrage among liberals.  And far too many liberals are falling for it hook, line, and sinker.  The way the attention economy has co-opted people with good intention is troubling and of course it happens on both sides of the political aisle.  In this case we can see the ridiculousness of it all, especially since so many products we buy and use are from companies that do far more harm than this man’s two tweets as a 16 year old high school student who thought he was trying to be funny.  It’s further concerning because this mentality of ‘cancel culture’ seems only interested in the condemnation of people, no matter how far in the past they held a certain view or acted in a certain way, and no matter what they have done since then.  No thought has been put into whether there is any apology good enough, or any actions that a person can take to restore public opinion about them.  I think this is important.  If we want to hold people accountable for their actions, we need to be able to also decide what is acceptable to make up for those mistakes.  I realize this is the hard part, there is going to be a lot of disagreement, but that doesn’t make it any less important.  Without that part, all we are doing is punishing and we move farther from creating the society we claim we want to create by supporting great liberal causes like better training for police, justice system reform, and decriminalization of illegal drugs.  These are great causes that indicates a desire for restorative justice over retributive justice.

I’m glad that readers of the newspaper fought back as I think many people also felt that we’re going off the deep end here.  Overall we have to do better.

*quote in feature image is from Quentin Thomas of the Brown Daily Herald

29 thoughts on “Don’t Do Anything Nice if You’ve Done Something Bad

  1. I think there is a general losing of heads that is going on. That the internet never forgets is a bad thing especially because anyone with enough time can find something one wrote at a moment of stupidity and use it to haunt you twenty years later.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I hope I am never judged by some of the ideas I held because “we believed” due to the nature of groupthink religion. After deconverting I gained an entirely different appreciation for all walks of life and celebrate them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Tish. One thing that I think is important it to try and develop a consistent set of moral principles. And I don’t pretend this is easy. Our emotions can easily hijack us and set us off down a myriad of paths that never meet in the end. It takes introspection and time to really evaluate ourselves and make sure that we as individuals are moving in a direction we want.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I do agree. The problem with social media is it seems so empowering, and especially to those who may not otherwise have a voice. The ease of striking back, even if it’s only for the hell of it, has made us ‘trigger happy’.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Hi Swarn and Tish,

      I too agree that we need to do much better in this regard to counteract the insidious nature of the attention economy, as explained by the article entitled “Our Minds Have Been Hijacked by Our Phones. Tristan Harris Wants to Rescue Them”.

      If you don’t mind, Swarn, I noticed a couple of typos in your sentence “this mentality of ‘cancel culture’ seems only interesting in the condemnation of people, no matter how far in the past they held a certain view or acted in a certain way, and no matter what they have done since thin.” The first should have been “interested” not “interesting”; the second should be “then” not “thin”, though it can be interesting to be thin. 😉

      Happy October to all of you!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. You are very welcome, Swarn. I somehow suspect that many readers might not have spotted the typos, and even if they did, they might not bother to flag them to you.

          In any case, thank you for allowing SoundEagle to be your occasional free editor. 🙂


  3. Ryan59479

    It is indeed a game to get more clicks and views, but that extends beyond journalism to the individual. It seems that social media has turned people into contestants of the “Who can look most ‘woke'” game, where people use virtue signaling to garner more likes, follows, and retweets. The purity required to maintain this is of course impossible and absurd.

    During this quest we seem to have lost the ability to separate past from present and future, as well as the ability to recognize that all language is context-dependent.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well said. Maybe it’s because all that information stays out there and thus people don’t see it as a longitudinal view of a person, but that it’s rather a latitudinal view of a person. Of course more than that it is a fairly incomplete view of a person. There is of course no way that the journalist didn’t realize that these tweets were 7 years old and posted when Mr. King was a teenager. It’s just bad journalism and I have to think it was included in the story purely for the outrage in might create. Fortunately this time it backfired.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ryan59479

        Like most things, the pendulum on this will probably swing the other way. Mostly likely, as this case hints at, when the people pointing the fingers have their own dirty laundry hung in public.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. ‘It seems to me that what’s really going on is that journalism is simply a competition to get clicks, and to do so they use racism as a tool to stir moral outrage among liberals.’

    Now what on earth makes me think of the Guardian . . . ?

    Which seems now to prefer publishing opinion over journalism, along with the rest.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agree…it’s not that I disagree issue-wise with many stories the Guardian that I’ve read, but rather the tone of the articles is clearly meant to create an emotional a response over a thoughtful one. But I’ll admit to only checking out the Guardian rarely.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I may have blogged about this, I can’t remember, but a podcast I listened to some months ago had this guy who was one of the Silicon Valley pioneers in the 80s and 90s, and he said the biggest mistake they made is this Utopian dream that the internet was going to make information free, and that’s the way it should be. He said that was so short-sighted because good information is always going to require money, and if you take the responsibility away from the consumers of information, the only other place to get the money is from advertisers, and then objectivity goes away.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s ridiculous. I used to believe some absolutely horrific shit when I was in my teens and twenties. Later on, like many intellectually-curious people, I went through a phase of taking Ayn Rand seriously. Luckily for me, all of this was pre-internet so it wasn’t all indelibly immortalized.

    People change. People’s views evolve as they learn new things. It’s part of being an adult. The fact that someone abandons bad ideas over time should be celebrated. A person shouldn’t be forever chained to immature views he no longer holds.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well said Inf. One could even argue that this type of thinking is very similar to fundamentalist Christian thinking. Basically what you’ve done in your past is you, you are therefore a bad person. The mob condemns you and you can only be forgiven by their grace… Which you never really get, you are just expected to grovel to thy Mob all your days… And maybe if you’re good enough people will reward you after you’re dead since redemption here in Earth is apparently out of reach!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We live, we learn, we grow. For a final presentation at school (I forget what class it was for, but it had to be on stage) I did an anti-abortion piece. Of course, I wrote it without ever actually *thinking* about the subject. One of the judges (a female teacher) reacted very badly to it, and I remember being a bit baffled by this. To this day, I remain embarrassed about it. It showed gross ignorance.

    And I agree: it is good the paper got push back.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing that story as I think we all have similar stories like that. And depending on our individual circumstances, there is no age limit in which we are supposed to figure out these things. The important thing should be figuring them out. I’ve not met a person yet who didn’t have their blind spots and I discover new ones for myself occasionally as well. I worry about a society that characterized people by their worst actions in the past. Such a society is one that doesn’t encourage change or progress. And yet, at least here in the U.S., it will be those who claim they are most progressive who are the quickest to try and tear people down based on past actions.

      And it’s not to say it’s never important. In the cast of Brett Kavanaugh I think that his past actions are important to know and to evaluate whether or not he has progressed? What has been his stance on rape and sexual assault? What evidence do we have that shows he sees women as equal in society and under the law? I think Kavanaugh is troubling for many reasons, but let’s say that he did own up to his past mistakes and was truly remorseful for them and his actions since that incident way in his past are indicative of that change, then I think it’s fair to say that this is a person capable of doing his job competently even though he made some big mistakes in his youth. Kavanaugh, even if he was remorseful knows that he isn’t free to make that admission, because it would disqualify him, So as a result we get more dishonesty, women get attacked for “making shit up” and are seen as partisan liars and thus has destructive consequences to making progress.

      Without any criteria set forth as to how someone can makeup for their past mistakes, we are just punishing, reveling in it, and going nowhere.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Well his rulings indicate him to be quite conservative in the same way Scalia was, which of course I had a lot of problems with him as well. I don’t know that the issue of gender was specifically looked at though. The fight simply came down to “did it happen, or didn’t it”. I would think that Republicans would want to highlight his record if there was a lot of evidence of him supporting women’s causes and rights. Who knows, though, I rarely understand Republicans these days. lol

          Liked by 2 people

  7. Pingback: Update on a recent blog post of mine – Cloak Unfurled

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