The New York Times reported that a young, talented journalist named Alexi McCammond will no longer join Teen Vogue as its new editor-in-chief because she made some stupid mistakes online when she was a teenager. The 27-year-old sounded like she had the sweet gig in the palm of her hand until anti-Asian, racist and homophobic tweets posted ten years ago resurfaced.
Although she had apparently already addressed this with staff at Teen Vogue during the hiring process, McCammond posted a statement and apologized again. "I should have not Tweeted what I did and I have taken full responsibility for that," she said, while explaining that Teen Vogue and she had essentially decided to part ways based on those posts.
Here's McCammond's apology in full.
Here's an email from Condé Nast HR chief Stan Duncan to staff—Condé Nast owns Teen Vogue.
Based on what appears to be public peer pressure, since Teen Vogue staff had already discussed and made peace with McCammond's previous, old mistakes, it seems that the young journalist has essentially been canceled from a job that she'd rightfully been offered and accepted.
I'm no fan of magazines like Teen Vogue, which itself has gotten increasingly political, extreme, and progressive, but in this case, it's so clear to see how and why "cancel culture" has gone too far. That Teen Vogue itself has participated in take-downs and cancellations almost requires them to refuse to seat McCammond—but perhaps, instead, it should force them to take a stand against a culture of cancellation that they helped perpetrate.
If a writer as talented as McCammond—she's previously worked at Axios—can't get a gig preaching to her own choir because of some stupid things she said in her teens, what of the rest of us?
When I consider the stupid things I said and did as a teenager, I thank God in his providence there was no social media then. Not only would I have undoubtedly posted whatever came to my mind, but watching everyone's highlight reels during an age of roaring insecurity would have driven me mad. In fact, my first thought, when I read this news was, for my children, who will no doubt say and do stupid things "online." It is in fact, a right of passage for teenagers: How else do they learn how stupid they are?
"Canceling" McCammond is the wrong thing to do for many reasons: It sets up the expectation, however impossible to reach, that adults are not the only ones who must be flawless. Our societal betters and their sets of mores, floating above us in the clouds as gods, now expect children and teenagers to be without a blot of ignorance or stupidity too. This is not only an impossible, absurd standard, but it is the wrong way to look at mistakes.
"Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn," is a quote most often attributed to CS Lewis. Of course, he is saying that as young people we make mistakes, we regret them, we learn from them. It's also why the catchy post-modern phrase, "No regrets," is so asinine: Of course people have regrets and they should.
Regret is often what makes a person fail to make a previous mistake all over again. If no one is "allowed" to realize a misdoing, no one will be offered olive branches of forgiveness, opportunities for growth, or any "aha!" moments. Those aren't catch-phrases either: Most people would say their twenties and even thirties are filled with those and they are often pivotal moments in hindsight.
If we as a society have decided a group of nameless, faceless morally superior beings are god and make the rules as they go, and they refuse to offer any atonement, then we have conspicuously wound up in a parallel matrix where there is actually not right and wrong and sin and forgiveness but just politically correct and incorrect: This is too fluid, post-modern, and ever-evolving. It is not a universe we want to inhabit and leave to our children.
Some of the most pivotal, endearing moments of teenage years and a person's early growth is when someone smarter and wiser looks at their course of arrogance or ignorance and gently corrects it sometimes even as they barrel down the path of stupidity and insolence. To be taken by the hand by a few generous, wise, mentors and have thus tweeted whatever came to mind in all your wealth of knowledge, is one of life's greatest mercies.
A severe mercy, perhaps—to be corrected when one is wrong and still offered a way forward—enshrined within so many of the world's dominant religions, and maybe that is the root of the disdain progressives have for such an offer of atonement, but it is valuable, life-giving, and essential, nonetheless.
Wherever one stands on ideology, progressive, conservative, in the middle, we must as a collective shake our heads and refuse to give in to this progressive, politically correct crusade to cancel everyone who hasn't been "woke" or sensitive. Our children will not be able to live up to it and we will give them a hopeless, dire future, without forgiveness, without growth opportunities, and without the ability to still move ahead despite imperfections.
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