Being bitter and vindictive does not make you a “hero”

Teenagers are stupid. That us one lesson we as a society need to learn. Teenagers are impulsive, immature and prone to say and do things that they will regret later. Everyone who has ever been a teenager knows this, but for some reason some people want to hold teenagers to the same standard as adults – a standard those people know they could never have possibly lived up to. (See here and here for more.)

For an example, see the tragic case of a fifteen year old girl who was overly excited about getting her learner’s permit. She sent a quick video message to her friend saying “I can drive,” followed by a racial slur – a racial slur extremely common in pop culture and usually not meant as a pejorative. The video was passed around the school, and a bitter and vindictive classmate saved it for when he could do the most damage.

When that fifteen year old girl was a few years older and about to enter college and take a spot on the cheer leading team, Jimmy Galligan pounced. He released the video publicly to destroy her for a private Snapchat video. As is often the case with social media lynch mobs, the reaction was wildly disproportionate to the objectionable behavior. The “University” of Tennessee at Knoxville immediately kicked her off the cheer team and outraged alumni were calling for her enrollment to be canceled. Worse yet, she was actually threatened with physical violence – for a private Snapchat video.

Let’s call a spade a spade. Every single person damning this girl is a despicable two-faced hypocrite and liar. Do you know who else says stupid things at 15? Literally every 15 year old who has ever lived – including the people demanding she be expelled from a university because she said something stupid years earlier. But since the hate mob would never agree to hold themselves to the same standard, their objections cannot possibly be taken seriously. This is about virtue signaling, not justice.

This is not to excuse the use of racial slurs. Whether blacks call each other the “n word” as a term of endearment is irrelevant. But with that said, the girl did not say that to a black classmate. She said it in a private Snapchat message to a friend. Are we as a society really so petty that we think the private conversations of teenagers are subject to public scrutiny, much less that the words they use should deny them educational opportunities or subject them to a tidal wave of abuse?

It is one thing to hold adults accountable for truly bad actions. It is another to mine though the private messages of teenage girls and then try to destroy them years later. There is no need to destroy a young woman’s life for saying something stupid when she was fifteen years old. Do you know what would have been more effective? Calling her parents and calmly explaining why she should not use those words. She would have learned a lesson, and it could have been a way to teach others. But that would not allow hypocrites like Jimmy Galligan to parade themselves as victims standing against oppression. Galligan is no Rosa Parks. He is a pathetic, hate-filled troll.

Finally, the fact that the New York Times wrote a lengthy feature article on this is a scandal and yet another stain on journalism. This kind of rancid sewage is why Donald Trump’s supporters cheer when he calls the news media “the enemy of the people.” The news media chafes at this and whines about how Trump is a threat to democracy. But what is a bigger threat to democracy – the President fulminating on Twitter, or the nation’s so-called “newspaper of record” publishing a long piece meant to destroy a teenage girl’s life over a stupid private video message from years earlier?

I have some advice for the Fake News Media – if you do not like being called the enemy of the people, then stop acting like the enemy of the people. The New York Times has once again proven itself to be the enemy of the people with this needless, excessive and cruel attack on a teenage girl. If a newspaper with the smallest shred of integrity was pitched this story, that newspaper would reject the idea and refuse to be a vessel for a petty vendetta against a high school girl. But the Times has no integrity.