Sometimes things are said to fit in with a group, or to be humorous and when this is done in private behind closed doors, it is called locker room talk. Anything said out in public, should be fair game for reporters to comment on and once a bigot, always a bigot. Things were different just a few years ago, before we had the internet and before the social media explosion, so politicians must watch how they speak and use their brains before they say anything, because someone will always be there ready to take a swing at them and try to knock them down a peg or two.
“Walk it back”, is a common practice now, because people want to retract a statement or reverse an action or decision that they made previously and now they feel is wrong. If their statement caused harm to others, they can take their statement back, but that will not reverse or erase the harm that it caused. Fandango asks today if we, “believe public figures (e.g., politicians, celebrities, athletes, authors) — or anyone, actually — should be judged by today’s standards for their words or actions from decades earlier? Why or why not?” This is a provocative question as certainly things change over time and that is why Isaac Newton invented calculus. The founding fathers of the USA were no saints, some owned slaves and very few brushed their teeth and nobody flossed back then, which would be unacceptable for today’s standards. However according to the standards of their time, these men became our heroes.
The morale standards that we use to govern our lives today are not applicable to our past. The real question is how far in the past can someone be judged for their behavior. Right should always be right and wrong should always be wrong. According to the Miranda Act, everyone has the right to remain silent, and anything that they say can and will be used against them in a court of law, so if politicians, celebrities, athletes and authors don’t want to be judged, then they should keep their traps shut. Thus even though this question can go both ways for me, depending on the length of time involved, I feel that every person should be responsible for what they say, unless it was said in the locker room.
Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #35.