While he was going off last night in their win against the Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals utility man Brendan Donovan’s old tweets were being circulated by fans who’d found their content homophobic and disturbing. The two that I saw included common slurs used against gay people.
Donovan apologized for the 2011 and 2013 tweets after the game, describing them as “playful banter” with a friend.
“I take full responsibility,” Donovan said. “It was something I sent out a long time ago. I’m truly sorry to anyone I may have offended. Anyone that knows me as a person knows I see everyone the same, and I do not condone that type of behavior or anything. If I’ve offended you, I truly apologize. Hopefully, I can do my part to show you that’s not who I am.”
It’s unbelievable that this is still happening, but it does have to be addressed when it comes up.
While not in any way excusing the content of the tweets, I do think it is important to keep the context in mind: by my math, Donovan would’ve sent the tweets when he was 14-16 years old. Did I talk or think like that when I was a teenager? No. But do I think we should expect every 14-to-16-year-old to be a fully-formed person, having learned and internalized everything they need to know about how to treat other people? Unfortunately not. Kids, whose brains are not fully developed until about 25 years old, often do and say really stupid things. Sometimes really cruel things. We hold them account for it and try to teach them how to be better, but mistakes – bad mistakes – can be part of that process. I am 100% certain that, even if I didn’t do exactly this when I was a teenager, I probably did some other awful, idiotic things.
That is to say, while I think what Donovan tweeted was abhorrent and is the kind of thing that DOES merit this kind of discussion, I also think it’s worth remembering that the behavior of kids of that age is the product of so many things that go outside the scope of what we would expect from an adult.
Like Donovan said, it’s up to him to show people that’s not who he is anymore. We still see every day that LGBTQ people are demonized for simply being who they are, and even as we can provide context for things Donovan said 10 years ago, we can also still use it as an opportunity to remember that they don’t deserve to be treated as anything less than anyone else. They are just trying to live their life, and didn’t ask to have their existence made into a slur for “playful banter” with a friend.