When 19-year-old Ellie Kemper was crowned queen of love and beauty at the Veiled Prophet Ball in St. Louis in 1999, she probably thought long and hard about the political, racial, and social repercussions that came with her pretty white ball gown — or, like most teens who aren’t race-obsessed, the thought never crossed her mind.
As if the world needed another example of the absurdity of cancel culture, the leftist mob is at it again, canceling “Unbreakable: Kimmy Schmidt” and “The Office” actress Kemper for participating in a debutante ball at the age of 19, all for a crime she had no idea she was committing. Kemper apologized on Instagram Monday afternoon.
“When I was 19 years old, I decided to participate in a debutante ball in my hometown,” Kemper began. “The century-old organization that hosted the debutante ball had an unquestionably racist, sexist, and elitist past. I was not aware of the history at the time, but ignorance is no excuse. I was old enough to have educated myself before getting involved.”
She’s wrong: Regardless of Kemper’s situation — the Veiled Prophets have since distanced themselves from their once-racist past, as The Federalist has documented — ignorance is, and always will be, a valid excuse for children who commit so-called “cultural sins” and don’t know any better.
If every teenager were chastised, canceled, tarred and feathered, or whatever else leftists call for these days, for ignorance, there wouldn’t be any people left to do the canceling. We’d have a real problem on our hands.
Exploiting childhood vulnerability and immaturity by making a spectacle of teenage mistakes is another on the long list of ways progressives are causing a wave of identity crises. Growth necessitates room to grow, but teenagers aren’t given any latitude to live, much less learn from life experience. Not with progressives waiting in the wings, ready to sentence teens for crimes they don’t know about until they’re receiving death threats on Twitter.
Cancel culture will never teach the kind of responsibility teenagers need to become informed, well-rounded, healthy members of society. It does teach that it’s acceptable to excoriate someone for their own humanity. Humans should be allowed and encouraged to make mistakes. It comes with the territory. To assume anything other than our own fallibility is to ultimately reject the basics of our humanity — and that’s exactly what the leftist mob wants, isn’t it? In order to create a neo-Marxist state void of all racism, sexism, personal opinion, or free speech, they must train white people to acknowledge that their humanity matters less and their mistakes matter more.
Ignorance might be different when it comes to legal matters, but when it comes to personal development, we could all use a little grace. Eight-year-old Kemper didn’t know the same things 19-year-old Kemper did, and 19-year old Kemper didn’t know the same things 41-year-old Kemper does now. Nor should she have.
If the left could so easily attack Kemper for something as simple as attending a debutante ball in her teens, what standard does that set for the rest of our country’s adolescents? Will all former Boy Scouts be forced to apologize for their inherent misogyny? What about kids who used to call their playground buddies “morons,” which is now an unacceptable term? And how about the many athletic competitions played under the banner of a culturally appropriated mascot? Should we cancel teenage athletes for ignorantly kicking a soccer ball around, too?
There’s probably a special place in hell for fools who force people to answer for all the innocent things they did when they were kids — but not for teenagers who don’t know any better. These impossible standards aren’t making anyone better. They’re just making childhood worse.