Letter to the Editors

I agree that no public figure should face severe, immediate backlash in the court of public opinion. Nevertheless, it is imperative to distinguish Kevin Hart and James Gunn’s comments—symptoms of entrenched social issues—from Jeremy Kappell’s mere speech error. It is dangerously callous to place Kappell’s innocent mistake in the same arena as Hart’s homophobic comments and Gunn’s jokes of pedophilia and rape. While Kappell’s speech error was evidently a mistake with no malicious intent, Hart and Gunn’s comments cannot be dismissed as such mistakes.

Hart and Gunn first posted their tweets years ago, completely heedless to how these comments will age. Perhaps they were imprudent, yet I never believed they had the intent to harm when they pressed post. These tweets were not “mistakes” nor deliberate attacks; they are magnified manifestations of homophobia and rape culture, problems with real impact on real people every day.

Internet activism in the form of tearing public figures apart over symptoms of a much grander disease is fruitless. However, the resurfacing of these insensitive comments should be reminders for us to be more cognizant of the prejudices social problems we inadvertently perpetuate in daily speech. While we critique the swift verdicts made in the court of public opinion, let these trials teach us that we are accountable for our words and potentially lasting consequences.