Ninety-six hours was all the time it took for Milo Yiannopoulos to lose his job, a book deal, his invitation to speak at a politically conservative conference and for the fires of social media to consume his reputation, according to The Washington Post.
Following Yiannopoulos’ invitation to speak at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference, commonly referred to as CPAC, a conservative group called The Reagan Battalion took to social media to discredit the controversial conservative icon, according to Business Insider.
Within days, videos surfaced featuring comments he’d made in the past regarding pedophilia. Abused as a teen by a priest, he’d spoken positively of the experience, leading many to believe he was defending pedophilia, according to The Washington Post.
In the end, Yiannopoulos was brought down by his own audience.
While we do not condone Yiannopoulos’ statements in the slightest, we recognize that Yiannopoulos represents the latest victim to fall prey to an ever growing practice on the internet: destroying, humiliating and shaming those we don’t agree with.
We at Scroll believe taking part in these mobs of misjudgment is not only a sign of intellectual weakness, with thinking confined to headlines, retweets and angry, one-sided social media rants, but also a direct violation of the principles we profess to believe as Latter-day Saints.
We understand that many victims of these witch hunts are guilty of inappropriate behavior and statements. But, there is a better way to confront negativity, insensitivity and inappropriate behavior.
In fact, when it comes to situations like these, it’s important to remember that a little mercy, and a little light, can and will go a long way.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a good example of how to confront the unsavory. When The Book of Mormon Musical made its debut on Broadway, audiences flocked to see the performance full of crude, lewd and irreverent humor that makes a particular mockery of a book that has provided solace, comfort and strength for millions worldwide: The Book of Mormon.
Additionally, the play minimizes, tarnishes and violates the sacred calling of missionaries, a position over one million of Latter-day Saints have held themselves, according to Mormon Newsroom.
It would have been easy for the Church to lash out, dig up dirt on the producers and writers and make an example of people who obviously had ignored the blood, sacrifice and loss of thousands of early Saints and ancient prophets, and the selflessness of missionaries who had sacrificed 18 months to two years of their lives to preach a message of hope.
But, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints didn’t — because that kind of behavior is not what it preaches. Instead, the Church took out ads in the playbills inviting people to read the actual Book of Mormon. They launched the “I’m A Mormon” campaign in New York City and did all they could to flood the world with light in the midst of a growing popular darkness.
Following their response, several articles were written by people of all faiths, commenting on the Church’s unusual, if not Christlike response.
What if the world had done that when Yiannopoulos had posted the unsavory?
What if, instead going to great lengths to defame and discredit him, people donated to a foundation devoted to helping abused children or shared the story of survivor, Elizabeth Smart?
What if, instead of responding to things we don’t agree with rash comments or rage, we combated negativity with positive posts and actions? What if the world exercised a little mercy and read the whole story instead of just headlines? People make mistakes and there are consequences for their actions, but we do not need to be the sword of justice.
The world will continue to fill itself with the horrifying, the insensitive and the tragic. But, we have the capacity and the responsibility to chase away the darkness by flooding the world with our light, and we don’t accomplish that by joining the social media mobs of shaming.
We do not endorse ignoring major moral issues, but we advocate the Savior’s approach to disagreement: teaching correct principles in a spirit of love and a spirit of hope.
In that spirit, we fill the world with light instead of contributing to the darkness.
And a little more light in this world is what all of us need.