Last week I was on the tram when a group of teenage boys came and sat near me. Their language was atrocious and they kept calling each other "gay." So, knowing that their behavior at 13 was indicative of how they would be for their entire lives, I took their pictures, followed them home, and got their full names and addresses.

This way, when they try to get jobs or win awards or something, I can discredit them and point out that when they were young teens they were dumb and more interested in being shocking than anything else.

Where's my community leadership badge?

There's actually nothing different, in practical terms, from this and what USA today did with Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray. Their headline, "Kyler Murray apologizes for homophobic tweets that resurfaced after he won Heisman Trophy."

They resurfaced because the media resurfaced them. Frankly, I think this tweet response from Popehat is the best response.

These boys on the tram are just that--boys. Murray was 15 when he said offensive things. This is what we used to call normal. Children need guidance, direction, and instruction precisely because they don't know everything and they are not perfect. Would it be great if all teens were kind, loving, did their homework, walked the dog, volunteered at the homeless shelter and learned how to make a perfect souffle? Of course, it would be, but it's not reality.

We shouldn't be digging through things people did as teenagers. In fact, let's make a vow to consider their juvenile records sealed--even their juvenile Twitter, Tumblr, or whatever records.

When I was a teenager, the internet didn't exist in its current form and there was no way for me to go around recording my stupid thoughts in public. I did, however, write a short story about a girl who murders her sisters. It was published in my high school's literary magazine, so perhaps you can find a copy and then lock me up for my violent thoughts. 

Now, to be honest, I do not care about sports nor sports trophies, but I do care about digging through people's histories. Kevin Hart stepped down as the Oscars Host due to tweets he made from 2009-2011. While he was an adult when he made these remarks, it was a long time ago. Is there ever a point where we can forgive and forget?

Is there ever a point where we can say, "Okay, you've changed?" or "Okay, you've grown up?"

Or is life simply a one-shot-and-you're-out game?

It shouldn't be.

And for those of you who are concerned that I followed these boys home, you can rest assured that I did not. I did tell them to knock off the foul language, though--because I'm an adult and they do need to learn that their behavior is inappropriate. They were silent for the rest of the ride, although as I stepped off the tram they yelled an epithet at me. No bother, they are teenagers and they are learning what is and what is not appropriate.

Most likely these young teens will grow up to be responsible adults and we should let them without constant reminders of their past bad behavior. People can and do change. Please let them. 

Published on: Dec 10, 2018
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