Eager to join in the increasingly popular wave of social media- worthy “promposals”, Florida high school senior Noah Crowley came up with a surefire way to make his grand gesture stand out from the pack:
I shake my head upon reading headlines like this but for the most part don’t typically allow them to get under my skin all that much. Sadly, it’s not even that shocking or alarming because it’s really not anything new. And if I allowed myself to get angry and riled up over every single one of these these types of incidents, I’d be one pretty miserable and distressed person every single day.
I certainly do find the heinous statements and actions to be insensitive, offensive, and hurtful. But I also 100% support people’s right to free speech, regardless of how such speech personally makes me feel. If that is the type of hate-mongering that one wants to spout then by all means feel free to do so! If anything, it makes things easier for me because when someone shares such feelings out loud, it completely eliminates all guesswork on my part in having to figure out where I stand with you and what it is that you really think of me. In that regard, I can actually appreciate the eradication of pretense and conjecture in our dealings. So go right ahead, do us both a favor and tell me exactly how you feel.
In exercising that right to share, however, one must be prepared to fully own it and accept everything that comes with it. For every action there is a reaction and there should be no surprise at any scrutiny received as it was you who invited it through your actions. Maybe a better term for this right would be something like privilege speech because what it definitely isn’t is free! Yes, you can (and should be allowed to) say what you want, but it is always at a cost; there will always be a price to pay. Do you enjoy a life of celebrity? Prepare yourself to lose fans, sponsors, roles, and gigs. Are you in the realm of politics? You’ve likely just alienated and lost the support of many constituents. Have you built an empire as CEO? Rather than counting coins, you can now count on lost business and clientele. But if you’re speaking out your true values and mores then none of that should really even matter that to you; one would presume you wouldn’t want the business or support anyway from those that you feel so strongly against. So standing by your statement therefore really shouldn’t be an issue. No need to be a keyboard warrior hiding behind a screen. No need to hide behind capes and pointed hoods. And definitely no need to hide your face behind a pixellated cloud.
It is this blurring of his face that compelled me to ruminate further on this particular incident. I just find it puzzling that when reporting the story, the knee-jerk reaction of some particular news outlets (ahem, Fox News, see above) was to protect Mr. Crowley and shield his face. Why? It was Mr. Crowley himself that intentionally posted his own face for all the world to see. And at 18 he is of legal age so why would anyone find it necessary to afford him a shield of protection typically reserved for reporting on minors and victims? Of these he is neither, most certainly not the latter! As any adult should know: if you’re going to show the world your ass, be prepared to also show your face!
According to Mr. Crowley, this was all supposed to be a “joke” and in no way reflects his true views. Sigh. I don’t suppose I can purport to know what really goes on in his mind. What I do know is I’m hard-pressed to believe there exists anyone anywhere that would honestly have no clue just how offensive such a “joke” would be. In what world, other than in that of a racist’s, would this remotely be even a little bit funny or clever? I’m not convinced that even an unapologetic racist who does find this humorous would still go on to suggest proposing with it! Most people reasonably expect a proposal to be nice and sweet. I would venture to guess that even an unabashedly racist teenage girl would still want a proposal that is romantic and personal to her, and this one wasn’t about her at all. The entire idea was just altogether odd if his intended outcome was to make a girl swoon. If he is this ignorant in matters of the world around him and in such matters of the heart then he’s definitely got his work cut out for him ahead!
Although what do I know, because apparently the girlfriend loved it! She responded to the post with heart-eyed emojis and helped spread it further on social media, you know, as if she were actually proud of the post! So what really is the deal here, then? It certainly seems that he and those in his circles share these views, so is the truth that this really is him? If I’m to believe that it’s not, and that he really is just that clueless, then really, that makes for an even sadder state of affairs. Because in claiming woeful (not willful) ignorance, then what exactly are our tax dollars going toward teaching (or rather, not teaching) in our schools? And what exactly does this say about the family and what is being reinforced in the home? Although when it comes to Mom and Dad, while I do wonder of their philosophies, I could also see room to pause. I dunno, but there was just something I sensed in their swift and public chastisement of their son that possibly gives some weight to them maybe not actually being racist themselves. As I read their statement I felt a sense of them also being utterly appalled and embarrassed at their son’s actions. And that is a feeling that at some point many parents will unfortunately experience. Everyone knows that teenagers can (and will) do the stupidest, most inexplicable things at times, even when they actually were raised and taught better. I know I sure did. And
probably so did you.
But that’s where the role of learning life lessons should come in. Part of being an adult and in making adult choices is living with those very real and adult consequences. As an adult, Mr. Crowley chose to make and share this post, and in that he was well within his right to do so. But if (as he claims) this is “not really him” then all the more reason to enforce that it is time to grow up. Take accountability for your actions, accept the ramifications, and use it all as a catalyst from which to learn and grow. Do better. Be better. That is what maturing into adulthood is all about.