We all make mistakes. Imperfection is a characteristic humanity has lived with since Eve bit the apple. We never leave being imperfect behind, we only get wiser as we go along and do the best we can with the knowledge we have. This means that when you’re young you’re incredibly prone to being imperfect.
So, when I saw the messages that Parkland shooting survivor and gun rights activist Kyle Kashuv had privately sent to a friend that contained racist messaging and jokes about violence, I wasn’t surprised. Not because I think Kashuv is a bad person — I don’t think he is at all — but because children and teenagers find shocking things funny. Many in Generation Z has even made it a central part of their reasoning.
Kashuv was 16-years-old when he sent those text messages. He’s now 18, and between sending those texts and today, Kashuv has undergone a journey that few have, or would even wish to. The 16-year-old Kyle Kashuv and the 18-year-old Kyle Kashuv may be only two years apart but they are completely different people. There’s no way for them not to be.
To be sure, Kashuv has maturely owned up to his past behavior and apologized for it. That should have been the end of it.
However, Harvard University doesn’t see it that way, and after accepting Kashuv as a student, they now feel that Kashuv’s past text messages are a superb reason to retract his admittance. This is absolutely ludicrous, and in no small part because they’re essentially rejected a person for something they did when they were young and stupid.
But even more egregious is the idea that this is okay from the general public. In fact, some people seem to be celebrating it.
Harvard doesn't need you. They've got 100s+ applicants. Get over it.
— Elaine Sampson🌍 (@sampson_elaine) June 17, 2019
@KyleKashuv might wanna take Harvard out of your profile… you won’t be going there.
— FrostGod (@AzIcedoutboys) June 17, 2019
— Doug Jones (@ImDougJones) June 17, 2019
Go cry to your cult leader, Trump. Maybe he'll try to strong arm Harvard like he does the Constitution.
— Bucefalin (@GusTijerino) June 17, 2019
Right-wingers are freaking out about conservative Kyle Kashuv losing the opportunity to go to Harvard due to racist comments.
These same folks didn't care at all when 14 of his Parkland classmates lost all future opportunities after being murdered in a mass shooting.
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) June 17, 2019
I expect partisan feelings to cause people take victory laps and spike footballs at the misfortune of someone they disagree with politically, but like the people who crucified another Jewish person at the behest of a cheering mob, they know not what they do.
The pattern that we’re setting for ourselves is pure perfection, which as a completely unattainable thing for human beings. It’s the idea that anything done in your past must be held against you and damn the context by which you committed the sin.
This means that edgy behavior or anything done in order to get shock laughs is a one-hit-kill for your future.
If you make shocking jokes about pedophilia then you must be treated as if you truly are a pedophile just like James Gunn was. If you make a joke that edges too close to being about race, then you must be a racist and treated as such just like Tim Allen or Roseanne Barr.
People do edgy things because they think it’s funny and it will get a reaction that others, especially themselves, will find hilarious to watch. Maybe they’re just trying to impress a friend with how shocking they can be. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Much of what was said is either not intended to actually be harmful to anyone. Even Barr’s comments about Valerie Jarret are the only thing that even comes close to being racist and she apologized for it without prompting. She knew she went too far before the backlash truly started.
We’ve set the standard far too high for ourselves and chances are you’ve already failed to meet that standard at some point in your life. Should that moment(s) from your past become public, it should not be an indication of who you are now, and you definitely shouldn’t be punished for it.
Yet here we are being judged by our imperfect peers for our imperfections with arbitrary rules that change depending on the situation or person. Criminals who killed children are treated with far more respect than someone who said something bad online. In fact, Michelle Jones got a glowing review in the New York Times after she was released from prison for murdering a four-year-old. She was rejected from Harvard too, but people on the left were furious about it.
Just a reminder, this is the same side currently laughing at Kashuv for being rejected over saying the “n-word” in a private text when he was 16.
None of us can do what we’re asking of each other. We cannot continue to expect perfection in others while we live with imperfection daily. We cannot continue to hold others accountable for their past selves while we all try to hide things from our own pasts.
We definitely shouldn’t ruin lives over stupid things we said.