For years, we have been moving further and further towards stunting adulthood. Usually it’s done in the name of alleged “safety,” most prominently in delaying or severely limiting access to driver’s licenses and full use of the roads for teenagers. Most states have restrictions on newly licensed teens driving at night, or with friends, or at all. The idea being that they aren’t yet “mature” enough to safely traverse the roads. At 18, most of the restrictions are lifted. And guess what? Those states have, in fact, seen traffic accidents and deaths involving 16-18 year olds plummet. Of course the accident rates for 18-21 year olds has skyrocketed, but who wants to gum up public policy with actual logic and facts?
Eight years ago we quite literally changed the definition of an adult in America to 26; at least as it relates to health care, since parents can keep their “children,” on their insurance plans until that age. Staggering. Married 25-year-olds on mommy’s health insurance plan. Nothing says “independence,” quite like that.
So, it of course comes as no surprise that we insist that a 21-year-old college basketball star who has played in front of tens of thousands of people, done dozens of press conferences and interviews, and is about to be a college graduate from a major university is, in fact, nothing more than a child.
He can vote, own a gun, drink alcohol, smoke marijuana in any state where it’s legal, buy a home, choose to enlist in the military, gamble, apply to get a pilot’s license, adopt a child, run for office in most states, go to any nightclub he wants, book his own hotel room, rent a car (with limitations), buy cigarettes, open as many bank accounts and credit cards as he wants, get tattoos, play the lottery, sue someone, serve on a jury, buy a car, and legally change his own name…but he’s “just a kid.”
Enter 21-year-old Villanova men’s basketball star Donte DiVincenzo, who last week, after winning March Madness, was asked in his post-game press conference about a Tweet he sent when he was 14 years-old which included a line from a song with the “N” word in it.
Now…many argue that the question shouldn’t have been asked by the reporter who did so just because it’s poor form. I am not one that will argue that. Playing Division One College Basketball, getting into March Madness, then the Final Four, and winning the tournament all come with the limelight…and they all know it and dream of it. And that limelight comes with scrutiny, and not scrutiny on your timeframe. Asking a 21-year-old whether or not he stands by his use of a racial slur 7 years previous is more than fair, it’s almost demanded in today’s environment. It’s a very simple question requiring a very simple answer as follows; “I was a stupid teenager retweeting a song lyric. I should have known better then, I certainly know better now.” End of story, next question.
Instead, Divencenzo said at first that he didn’t do it, and then that he didn’t remember, all while simultaneously confirming it was his correct Twitter account. That, of course, garnered more scrubbing of his account which found multiple more posts using the “N” word…not in the context of a song lyric but rather just outright usage of the word. Said search also found Anti-gay slurs…and sexually explicit messages as well.
Again, all things that could be explained away by a simple “I was young and dumb and we make mistakes…” but instead, silence. And a deleted Twitter account. And worse than that, claims that Divencenzo is a child now, at 21. Sickening. Some argue we shouldn’t hold people accountable for things they did as kids (wrong and already addressed earlier) but far more argue that he’s just a kid in college and shouldn’t be “bullied,” over something he did years ago.
It’s just not fair that someone would put a little boy like him in such a position. I mean, gee whiz jilly wonkers…how dare we try to find out if a person thrust onto the national stage is, in fact, a racist and homophobe, especially in light of potential evidence from the past? What could we possibly be thinking? Here’s a better idea…let’s not ask…let’s hope that he gets a few endorsement deals straight out of college…maybe he even gets drafted by an NBA team. Maybe, just based on his education, he gets a high-profile job and, because of his name, works his way quickly up the ranks. Let’s wait until we’ve rewarded him 10 times over BEFORE we take circumstantial evidence and do something as violently aggressive as simply asking him if he stands by his childhood views?
Again, I remind you, that a very simple answer was available to him at that press conference. That answer remained available to him for one full week that followed, and as of this writing…SILENCE. That, my friends, is the sound of a coward hiding from the truth. He has no doubt been advised, and is following said advice, to hide and hope everything goes away. Keep your head down…we’ll answer only if we need to in the future. That’s not only good PR in 2018, it’s the ultimate sign of guilt and, truth be told, the formula for success for scumbags.
Whether it be 21, 31 or 41 there was never a time in my life that I wouldn’t have found the highest mountain to scream as loudly as I could from that I wasn’t a racist or a homophobe. Do you know why? Because I’m neither and never have been. I have ABSOLUTELY used horrible words and slurs in my past…back when I was told by society that they were acceptable. If someone asked me today about a homophobic slur I used as an adult 10 years ago I would tell the truth; at the time I was as ignorant as seemingly most Americans and didn’t see a problem with that word. I was wrong. I have stopped using that word and deplore hearing it now. To whatever extent it helps or matters, I apologize for my behavior then and am proud that I have not repeated it since.
How hard was that? I wrote that in 10 seconds with no advice from anyone or anything other than my heart and mind.
Oh, but I’m 46…so easy for me…it’s not like I’m a 21 year old child. My mistake.