Question #35.

FPQ 12/8/19.

Good morning everyone.

I kick off the day today with a thinky one!

Over on Fandango’s Provocative Question today one of the readers has helped pose this question…

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?

Fandango 12/8/19

I have mixed feelings about this one as there are so many grey areas and my own personal background colours my views to a large degree.

Twenty years ago, my life was a mess through my own doing. I was into all kinds of things illegal; theft, shoplifting, drink and drugs, including selling. I am not proud of this aspect of my past, I merely point it out to help explain my viewpoint.

The culmination of this wayward lifestyle that I was leading meant that I was arrested on a drugs raid and very almost lost BB2 in the process. I walked away from the whole thing two years later with a serious criminal record and my life in ruins!

Being busted was the best and worst thing to happen to me for a number of reasons. I truly believe that if I hadn’t have been arrested at that time, I would have ended up dead somewhere of an overdose because I was throwing my life away at a rapid rate and I had lost the will to live or care about anything at that point.

The arrest and subsequent consequences where exactly what I needed at the time to give my head a shake and sort my life out; but there be the problem… I now find I am judged solely on the acts I committed twenty years ago!

Twenty years ago I was almost finished with my qualifications in special educational needs and was almost qualified to work with special needs children in schools. Obviously I was not allowed to complete the course and that is my own fault, I accepted that at the time. What I find harder to accept is that twenty years on I am prohibited from going back to it simply because of that one year, all that time ago!

Now my situation is slightly different, I understand that. I know what I did was illegal in the first place and is still illegal today but the situation is similar.

Should I, a criminal in the eyes of the law, continue to be punished and judged for my past transgressions, many decades after I have served my punishment?

I would say that I have served my sentence many years ago and have been rehabilitated. I am a very different and more mature and sensible person than I was twenty years ago and I hate to think that I am judged based solely on the person I was back then.

I think any of us would cringe at the thought of being judged solely on your deeds of decades past; why should public figures be any different?

Not so long ago, here in the UK, there was a story in the news about our now PM having taken cocaine in his past. Now you would think that this would have irreconcilably damaged his reputation but in my eyes this only strengthened his position as it showed him to be human and have flaws.

I personally feel that this aptitude we have for digging up the dirt on public figures and then vilifying them for anything we find is detrimental to building leadership we can trust. Everyone is going around digging dirt on everyone else whilst they should be looking at ways to bolster the economy or dig us out of this Brexit mess we are mired in; not flustering over how many blazing rows Boris has had with his Mrs and whether or not it was cocaine fueled.

As for judging by today’s standards vs the standards of the time the act was committed that really would depend on the severity of the act in my eyes. If an act was morally wrong at the time it was committed but only later became legally wrong then the act should be treated as criminal; the defendant knew the morality at the time.

However… If it is a question of morals changing over time and something passing from socially/culturally acceptable to then becoming not acceptable it would be hard to lay blame on someone for that.

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