Last week, a video of a now infamous stand-off between a group of high schoolers from Covington Catholic High School and Native American protesters surfaced, leading to countless condemnations from members of both political parties.
When further context and additional details emerged, it became clear the boys were wrongly accused of targeting and harassing Nathan Phillips, the Ypsilanti native who led the Native Americans directly into the high schoolers’ group, banging his drum and repeating a traditional chant.
The Covington Catholic boys prove to be a valuable lesson in more ways than one, but perhaps the most valuable is this: Young people must be wary of unwanted attention, especially in this age of universal internet access and social media.
Though the boys were wrongly accused of racism and harassment, the video of their rowdy behavior could be hard to walk away from — and through no fault of their own.
The media failed them. It forsook its responsibility to promote honesty and integrity and instead ran with a particular narrative to score political points. But the point remains: Be on guard. Be prudent. Be wary of social media posts because that image will lurk and linger.
It shouldn’t have to be this way. Young adults should be free to make mistakes without the fear of unjust scorn. But this is a trend that is becoming all too common, and we must be ready to meet it.