As of recently, comedian Kevin Hart has come under fire after his homophobic tweets from several years ago resurfaced on Twitter. Hart, who was set to host next year’s Oscar’s, stepped down from the opportunity because he refused to apologize for his old tweets, claiming he had already apologized years before and was tired of revisiting this topic. The controversy surrounding Kevin Hart and his old homophobic tweets has sparked an even larger debate:
Do we allow people to grow?
There is an undeniable pattern behind the resurfacing of old tweets: someone, usually a celebrity, lands a big gig or is gaining a lot of attention and then days later, their old bigoted tweets hit the timeline. Once the tweets are brought back up, there then begins the reoccurring debate about “cancelling” people for past bigoted remarks and “allowing people to grow.” It is a never ending cycle.
The issue is, we are jumping ahead of ourselves when we ask: “Do we allow people to grow?” The question, rather, should be: “Has the person in question even shown growth?”
While it is fair to question the motives behind digging up someone’s old tweets, the point of the matter is, the tweets are there and addressing their bigotry is of more importance because there is usually no clear indicator of the person’s “growth.”
And that’s the problem.
We assume someone has grown simply because they are not publicly broadcasting their bigotry anymore. Silence is not an indicator of growth. It only indicates one protecting their image. An indicator of growth is through one’s words and actions. Okay, their homophobic tweets have resurfaced but have they since openly supported the gay community? Have they donated to LGBT+ causes? Have they openly held cishet people accountable for their actions towards the LGBT+ community? An apology is not enough. A true apology is changed behavior.
If someone’s “growth” is not evident, it is fair to question them. It is fair to ask where they stand today regarding the marginalized community they targeted. It does not matter how long ago a statement was made. Bigotry does not have an expiration date. We are indoctrinated with bigoted thinking from birth. It takes a lifetime to unlearn the harmful things we have been socialized to believe.
If they were young when they fired off bigoted tweets, that is worthy of a discussion as well. To be bigoted at such a young age shows just how indoctrinated we are from birth. It is not fruitful to write off old tweets because of someone’s age. Instead we should ask why young kids feel such malice and hatred towards a marginalized community before their brain is even fully developed. What does that say about us as a society and how we mold children to see the world and others? How can we fix the damage that has already be done?
Ultimately, it is not that we do not allow people to grow. It is that people rarely, if ever, have actually shown growth to begin with. Has there ever been a time where someone’s old tweets resurfaced but they previously had shown they did not think that same way anymore? If that were the case, the question of if we give people space to grow would be valid.
It is true. People do grow and evolve over time but we should not rest on the assumption that because something was said years ago, the person automatically does not feel that same way anymore. If they made their bigotry public, they should condemn their bigotry publicly.