Fandango provocatively asks…
“Do you 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?”
Yes, I do. The thing is real standards ~ well, mine anyway, and those are what we’re talking about here, amirite? ~ have not shifted with the tides. Fandango gives a few examples.
One example is the recently unearthed Reagan monkey comment. That absolutely should be judged by “today’s” standards. But in my view, not calling an entire ethnic group monkeys was always the standard, whether in the 1970’s or now. Maybe I had a weird upbringing, but my parents never used ethnic slurs and neither do I.
Now, I happen not to be a Reagan fan in general, so it doesn’t bother me to say eh that was bad. I don’t need to twist and squirm to defend my “hero,” since imo he isn’t one. There are a lot worse things he did than this! But if you are a Reagan fan, so what? No reason why you can’t admit your dude was flawed. Everyone is.
Another example Fandango gives is Biden on the Anita Hill hearings. I absolutely judge Biden for being a weak doofus back then who didn’t stand up for what was right and now we’ve been stuck with the godawful Thomas on the bench ever since. It’s not a matter of “today’s” standards ~ doing the right thing is evergreen.
However. That’s politics. We need to judge these people on their words and actions so we can make decisions about their future behavior and how it might impact our lives and our finances, the environment, etc. There are other milieus, such as film, music, literature, art, and everything else. Do I care what some musician said about blacks or women or whatever the fuck? Eh probably not so much. I just can’t get so worked up about entertainment types. They’re always saying stupid things. It’s not that I don’t care at all. I may get outraged for a minute.
That’s not to say if an entertainer makes a career out of being deliberately disgusting and offensive I’ll enjoy that. No. I’m not down with the Joan Rivers nasty school of humor. Sorry to use such an old example, but I saw her live once and she was so mean and gross; I don’t know of anyone currently comparable. I don’t seek it out.
If an artist I like makes a stray offensive comment… whatever. It’s pretty arbitrary though, I admit. I will get more tuned in to some things, like racism and antisemitism than rando sexist jokes/lyrics (such as the song in Fandango’s example). Sexism from a politician is important though; it clues me into actions they may or may not take that will actually affect people.
Bottom line: I do hold supposedly educated leaders and wannabes to higher standards. Not today’s standards. Just standards.
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