Ross’ Rants: One last word
This is the last edition of Ross’ Rants, and I know that many of you who have boycotted the paper while I am still an editor must be rejoicing over that.
It’s been two years since Ross’ Rants began, and this column has garnered a lot more attention than I ever thought it would. It started as a critical look at the goings-on that were occurring in the arts and entertainment world — and it still is.
However, I also attempted to put forth some valuable lessons, which is great seeing as this is a student paper. The first lesson is that free speech isn’t really as free as we like to believe.
This column garnered me harassment, threats and hate mail — among the lighter things — and that’s what I got for giving an opinion that oftentimes went against the grain. For all the hate The Reflector and this column received — including demands to have myself and other editors expelled and the paper shut down — these were just ludicrous demands for our opinions. We dismissed it too casually as the way the world is now.
The terrifying thing is that I know I’m lucky because I am a white man, so rarely did attacks come at me personally (“cherry-picking neck beard” aside). There is an unspoken culture of bullying here at Mount Royal, and we shouldn’t believe we are immune just because we are a post-secondary institution in a first-world country.
The second lesson that really stands out is how valuable it is to stand up for your beliefs.
I’ll admit, this column started out as a way for me to get my headshot in the school newspaper. (Vanity — my column is Ross’ Rants.)
Since then, I’ve taken on issues I feel are important for our society to discuss openly like rape culture, which ended up sparking a saga that I could never have dreamed of. It’s important to remember to fight for what you believe in. I was fortunate to have a platform to raise those issues with.
To use condom-gate as a microcosm for the two years, it isn’t easy to tackle norms or challenge common ideologies as problematic. But when those norms and ideologies are harmful, we must take action, however it comes across.
Many asked why I had to fight condom-gate, as I have never been a victim of sexual assault and many told me it wasn’t my place to fight an issue that to them didn’t even matter in the first place.
To quote Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” We are the next generation of leaders, and we need to be willing to commit to making this place a better world, and believe we can make it happen.
It was important for me to use my position as an influencing voice properly. I have placed myself in a spotlight, and should not misuse my power — which brings me to my last Ross’ Rant.
A very disturbing trend we’ve been seeing is the admissions and allegations of prominent members of the YouTube community in regards to sexual assault with their fans. Within a week, Alex Carpenter, Luke Conard, Alex Day and Tom Milsom — prominent figures in the YouTube community — all became associated with sexual assault. Milsom and Day indirectly confessed their actions, and that proved to be a springboard for the seemingly true allegations from multiple sources against Carpenter and Conard.
This is not a new trend. YouTubers Edd Blann and Mike Lombardo have also been connected with this. Lombardo is currently serving time.
These six men combined reach an audience of millions of people, and they have not respected the power which they held since they decided to become a popular voice for the average viewer.
What’s worse, many fans of these men are defending their actions. To be clear, teens (many of which are young girls) are defending sexual predators because they are “Internet famous.” This brings to light all sorts of issues that come with being a part of the digital age: the idea of “Internet celebrity,” idolatry and general naïveté that the Internet is often know for — issues that would take much more than just this column to adequately discuss.
Thanks to how easy going viral is, we’re seeing a lot more pseudo-celebrities pop up, as well as seeing those who maybe just didn’t catch a break beforehand have an easier time reaching an audience. Don’t get me wrong, the viral age is a good one and one that we still have yet to fully embrace.
But to get there, we need to understand the implications of what it means to suddenly have this platform where you can turn your opinion into a word of record for who knows how many to hear. Above that, you shouldn’t use that to commit criminal acts — especially ones that can destroy another human being.
I guess the bottom line of all of this is to remember that while you are still a student, you are functioning human being in the real world, too. Don’t be afraid to go big pursuing what you believe in. Take those risks. Please though, never at the expense of someone else. They’re people too.