If you haven’t heard of Keaton Jones already, he is an 11 year old boy from Knoxville who pleaded people to stop bullying through rosy cheeks and teary eyes, in a video that has racked up tens of millions of views.
He got tons of sympathy from the internet and celebrities alike, all of whom raised over $50,000 for the family. Until it came out that his mother, the person filming the video, is a confederate-supporting racist.
For a more detailed look, here is an article explaining the entire situation from The Daily Beast.
For the record, my opinion is that no one should be judged based on their parent’s actions. I feel a great deal of sympathy for Keaton, and if you think his mother being racist taints that, then you are just as bigoted as the racists. You are judging an individual based on their associations. Keaton, as far as we know, hasn’t done anything wrong, and did an incredibly brave thing, to want to take that video and upload it, and I praise him for this.
However, both before and after the racism allegations, the internet missed the point. The point of the video (from Keaton’s perspective at least) wasn’t to gain $50k. I don’t think his intentions were even to go viral. He just had something to say, and said it (the beauty of the internet). However, people were then swayed so intensely by their emotions, and they donated an insane amount of money. This isn’t what we should have taken from this video. What we should have taken is that, if you have a child, don’t let them bully. These problems start at home. If you want to make a difference, be a decent person, and raise decent people.
But that isn’t what this article is really about. Everything I said has been said before. What I want to talk about is my process of learning more about the story, as it unfolded.
After initially seeing the video, I felt sympathetic. That quickly turned into confusion, as I saw people criticizing him for saying the n-word, and his mom being racist. That confusion turned into anger when I saw a half grand going this families’ way instead of toward some anti bullying organization, like it should have. I quickly realized that none of what I’ve seen had been confirmed. Not just the racism, but also that fact that he was bullied in the first place. Maybe he was just doing it for the cash. Maybe the family somehow knew all this would happen, and they’d be swimming in sympathy and money. Or, maybe the mother isn’t racist, and those screenshots were faked.
As we’ve discovered over the last few years, journalistic integrity is dead. “News” organizations have resorted to using tweets as quotes, and quotes as facts. I cannot and do not trust anything I hear anymore. When being in the spotlight becomes more important than being truthful, the king of the hill that is the internet will become so cluttered with rumors, the truth will be hidden, and it becomes nearly impossible to uncover it.