What happens when “no good deed goes unpunished” collides with the world of social media?
No, you don’t get a series of all caps tweets from the president of the United States when he’s facing an impeachment inquiry after innocently asking a foreign leader to check into possible corruption by the son of a political rival.
That would naturally lead to “Peaches” by The Presidents of the United States strangely being stuck in my head. It’s a tough week whenever your earworm is one of the oddest hits from your lifetime.
But one man is having a tougher week, and it was exactly because “no good deed goes unpunished” and social media.
What a strange, wild ride the past few weeks have been for Iowan Carson King.
Just like the hundreds of rabid fans who got up way too early on a Saturday to surround the “College GameDay” set in Lincoln yesterday, King attended the ESPN mainstay when it took place in Ames, Iowa, a few weeks ago.
At 5:30 a.m., King arrived at the set with his sign that read “Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished” and included the info for people to send money via Venmo, a digital payments service.
And when a man is in need of beer money, fellow football fans respond.
After King’s sign aired, his total amount donated quickly reached $600, which is a lot of Busch Light.
The 24-year-old decided that instead of using the money on beer that he would instead donate it to the children’s hospital in Iowa City.
That amount grew to $11,000.
And the story spread.
Busch Light and Venmo agreed to match the amount King raised. And the total hit $225,000.
More companies made large donations to the cause.
And then it hit $1 million. That would make even Dr. Evil smile.
King received national attention and a lengthy profile in the Des Moines Register.
Near the end of the story, the following paragraph appeared:
“A routine background check of King’s social media revealed two racist jokes, one comparing black mothers to gorillas and another making light of black people killed in the holocaust. The joke tweets date back to 2012, when King was a 16-year-old high school student.”
And suddenly the controversies that surround social media and youth arise again.
Should the things we do as teenagers always be held over our heads?
On the other hand, at what age is it OK to make racist posts?
The Register received a strong backlash for doing the social media background check on King and reporting on what was found.
King told the newspaper that the tweets made him “sick”.
“I am embarrassed and stunned to reflect on what I thought was funny when I was 16-year-old,” he said in a statement posted by WHO-TV. “I want to sincerely apologize.”
Busch Light’s parent company said it would “have no further association with (King)” although it would still match the funds for the children’s hospital.
Those of us who survived our teenage years prior to the advent of social media and cell phones recording our lives for posterity should be thankful. The really, really, really stupid things that we did live on only as memories.
Now, a bad decision to tweet something can come back to haunt someone eight years later, even if they are no longer that person.
An out-of-context quote from “Chappelle’s Show” certainly might not age well.
There should be some lessons to be learned from this story — and there are even more since there is more to the story.
The reporter who wrote about King’s tweets reportedly had racist, homophobic and anti-cop tweets on his account, some posted as recently as 2015. Although the tweets were deleted and the account is now private, those types of posts created a firestorm for those unhappy about King’s tweets being brought up.
A column by the Register’s executive editor posted Thursday evening stated that the “reporter is no longer with the Register.”
King expressed remorse, apologized and seems to have survived his faceoff with the fact that “no good deed goes unpunished.”
But a word of warning: Any inappropriate tweet may lead to punishment years after the fact, too. Even for those who report on inappropriate tweets.
Dale Miller is a sports writer for the Independent. Once a week he wanders away from the sports department to offer his take on non-sports related topics. Email him at email@example.com