“I apologise for insinuating that women are incapable of making the sort of pivotal decisions that are needed in the high stakes business of nation-building.”
“I am sorry for my views on abortion and the rights of sexually assaulted women to get one if they so desire.”
“I regret the Facebook post I made 12 years ago which suggests that Nigeria isn’t ripe for a democracy and will do better under a fascist regime.”
“My thoughts on young people and their penchant for irresponsibility were formed at a time when I did not have adequate insight into the subject matter, I have since realised that young people are in fact one of the greatest assets our country has and I apologise for the negative impact my previous statement may have had on the younger citizens of our country.”
This will be many of us in the near future.
In the near future, a good number of us will be forced to express regret for our online comments. The posts we shared at a time when we felt strongly about an issue or even jocularly will come back to haunt us; no thanks to a world where political correctness is valued above truth.
Our current world is one in which it is hard to win. Not for too long. And when those who manage to scale the hurdles and smash the brick walls that stand in their way achieve the rare feat, they are pulled down by the same society that once celebrated them.
You cannot escape it, you and I will likely be caught in the same vortex that saw Kevin Hart apologising for a series of tweets he posted almost a decade ago. The perfectionism that is fast becoming an expectation in our daily interactions with one another will ensure this happens.
The star comedian who has had to step down as the host of the 91st Academy Awards only two days after he was announced as compere is being excoriated for the anti-LGBTQ comments he posted via his Twitter account many years ago. It did not matter that it was a personal opinion and at a time when the “Queer community” were not as accepted as they are now. And while I can imagine how his online remarks might have offended this category of people, I am also of the opinion that it’s preposterous to nail a man today for thinking a certain way almost an entire lifetime ago.
I also understand why Hart was reluctant to tender an apology. Paraphrasing his words, “Where’s the room for growth? Where’s the leeway for a man evolving over time?”. How many of us hold all the same views we had even two years ago? Anyone who still has a hundred percent record of standing by their beliefs and opinions from the far past isn’t growing. Such a one is close-minded and in a dynamic world where we have to learn, relearn and unlearn on a consistent basis, it’s safe to say that an individual like that will remain backward. Rooted in the same space their jaundiced approach to life has carved for them.
However, that’s what people who are castigating Hart are suggesting—that the young man cannot feel differently about his 2011 tweets now—that he is homophobic and represents a threat to an inclusive society.
The LGBTQ movement is a phenomenon many are still trying to wrap their minds around, whether we choose to admit it or not. Like the feminist ideology, it would take some time to get a large proportion of the populace to buy into it. We may shout ourselves hoarse in righteous indignation or insult “unbelievers” for their scepticism or outright rejection of these concepts, but it’s a reality we must acknowledge.
Cultures and norms and traditions and ingrained perceptions do not just varnish because someone waved a magic wand—they are changed and adopted through conscientious and consistent awareness and enlightenment.
We may choose to not admit it publicly, but many of us will remember an occasion or two where we have taken a stance on a matter only to shift position on gaining new knowledge.
I’ll make an example of myself: I am as straight as a ruler. I do not hate gay or queer people, I believe they deserve respect and protection like their heterosexual counterparts. The reason is simple: They are human and have a right to sexual expression, the kind that is premised on mutual adult consent. However, I also struggle to believe anyone was born with benign eros feelings for a person of the same gender which manifests later in life.
Perhaps, I do not just get it yet. Maybe one day I’ll better understand what makes the LGBTQ community who they are, but for now, I am not at that place yet. You decide if I deserve to be criticised for that.
These days one has to be circumspect to the point of paranoia before voicing an opinion. There’s always going to be that possibility of offending a group of people. But really, how humanly possible is it to take a stance or make a remark that will go down well with the more than 7.5 billion people in the world? This nitpicking of comments made aeons ago will only result in a vicious cycle. A booby trap.
One that lays in wait for everyone. Every single one of us.