When does our idiotic past no longer count?

Should there be a statute of limitations on dumb stuff we do or say? How many years of good, clean living does it take to nullify the idiocy of our youth?

This is something I’ve wanted to ask ever since “I didn’t inhale.” Obviously, repeated behavior that continues for years doesn’t compare to “this one time in college…”

So, what say you? What can be declared irrelevant and at what point? And what should never go away?

I think anything you say before the age of 21 should be taken with a massive pinch of salt.

Before that age there is a fair chance that you are an idiot who says stupid and harmful things without even giving it a second thought.

21 is arbitrary of course but it coincides with the point at which the majority of young people have left further education and are playing with the big boys.

Context isn’t everything - but it’s damn close. I think the question in the OP has no possible coherent answer, because the question is too general and too open-ended.

I think it makes a big difference whether you are talking about elected officials or people you know and interact with personally.

For elected officials, standards of behavior should be high, but you also usually have a public record of more recent years to judge by. For myself, I wouldn’t have cared if Clinton had inhaled when he was in college, it would scarcely have been a moral issue (having a spliff was presumably illegal whether he inhaled or not). I think it’s stupid to expect anyone to have never done or said anything of which they were embarrassed or ashamed later. Of course, if it’s a continuing pattern of behavior and speech, such as we find in our current fearless leader, that’s a different issue.

For people that I know and interact with, there is almost never a way to know what their history was unless they were notorious for some reason. I have to judge by what I see and hear of their current character, and that’s what I do. If I found out that someone I knew and trusted had served time for a stupid youthful mistake I think I would tend to overlook it. That’s the only kind of thing I can think of that might make a difference.

Knowing the attitude of people today, it really depends on what that idiotic action or statement was.

Especially if it was political. Even of your group has forgiven you, the opposition never will.

Although a fine and valid question, I’m just cracking up a little at the thought of how one would enforce such a statute of limitations.

What do you do, sue your friends / exes / whomever who have gotten a little too judgmental and when the judge rules in your favor, it is mandated that they forget what you said because it was X years ago and the statute of limitations has passed? “And further, the court orders you to kiss and make up and immediately start liking the plaintiff again.” :smiley:

id say anything before 26 that’s after college usually ……

Kinda depends on what it is you’re disclosing, now doesn’t it? It’s pretty tough to raise an eyebrow any more with the breathless disclosure that some politician smoked pot because nobody gives a shit because most people are smart enough to figure out that having smoked pot is not a character issue. Disclosing that someone has a long standing spousal abuse record or once raped a toddler–nope, I certainly hope there will NEVER be a time when that gets shrugged off no matter how saintly the person ends up because that shit is beyond the pale.

Society will decide, as it always does. Sixty years ago electing a divorced person president would have been impossible, current holder of office has had what, three wives now? Obviously the statute of limitations has run out on divorce. Being gay is getting close to that point in most parts of the country–you’re more likely to be held in disdain for having expressed homophobic opinions than to actually be gay. People take consensus all the time and things change. The closer to primal right and wrong a thing is the less movement you’ll see in societal opinion–mala in se is pretty much inflexible, but mala prohibitum is quite fluid.

I think anything a person has ever done that could harm people that didn’t know about it should be brought to the public to hurt as many as possible. Nothing changes culture and personal feelings like a public shaming. No statute of limitations, let’s hold other people to whatever the current standard is and destroy them. We should forever be defined by our worst moments and since we aren’t constantly evolving beings what one does at any age is up for grabs. /sarcasm because I hate today’s media and the outrage culture of the day

Your talking only about bad things in our past - what about the good?

What about people who have written or performed great pieces of music as teens? Heck most musicians have their heyday only between 18 and 30 (Elton John excluded).

What about child actors? Judy Garland was only 17 when she did Oz but basically lived off that one famous performance the rest of her life.

What about child geniuses who graduate Harvard at age 14?

Those people actually try and hang on to their past.

Back to the OP, I wish we could all just come up with a written statement where we can confess all our sins and not be held accountable after that. I really believe some of our best people have avoided a political career because they did something bad in their past and they dont want the world to know.

I think the world should move on, and leave it behind, when YOU do.

But which would mean/require owning your actions, regret, making amends, taking the lesson, evolving, each to some undetermined degree.

If you’re hiding it, and it’s a big secret, I’m gonna say you HAVEN’T moved on, and if/when you’re discovered it’s gonna sting as a result. I’m not saying you need broadcast things, but you should be able to be open when it’s required without qualifications/excuses/mitigation’s, etc.) if you’ve been owning and open with those closest/impacted I don’t think it can really hurt you any more.

I really feel bad for the under 30 crowd when questions like this come up. I went to high school and university before the advent of Facebook, twitter, or Instagram and when no one carried a camera and video recorder around at all times. All the stupid shit I did went unrecorded.

I think that anything committed before the age of 25, that would not be considered to be a felony, should be forgotten.

I’ve never given serious consideration to running for office, but when I’ve had fleeting thoughts about it, I think about what could be dug up about me. Like the time in the first grade I didn’t follow instructions on a work sheet and had to stand out in the hallway while the rest of the class got to see a skit… :eek:

I agree with you - I’m sure there are people who don’t want to risk the tale of something inane coming out and being twisted into something it wasn’t.

I don’t know if it’s possible to say “If it’s been X years since Y happened, and since then, you’ve been doing Z, then you’re fine.” If someone wants to tear you down, they’ll find a way. On the other hand, if 15 or 20 people from your past have similar less than flattering tales to share, it should give one pause. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t believe random folks decide to get together and lie just to damage someone else.

You captured my thoughts - while I sometimes lament the lack of pictures from my undergrad years, sometimes it’s better certain actions were not captured for eternity…case in point, when I tell someone that I saw over 100 Grateful Dead shows starting at 14 in 1976 until my last shows at RFK in June 1995 (about seven weeks before Jerry passed away), they generally assume I did a lot of drugs…and they would be correct, there was a time when I did a LOT of drugs, weed and hallucinogens…

OK, was that wrong, um, it was illegal, wrong, heh, it was a lot of fun, and I managed to make it through graduate school, I stopped all that when life got serious, but I still kept going to the shows…

My bottom line is, as long as what you did did not infringe upon the life, liberty and happiness of another, or as you put it, rise to the level of a felony, it’s all good, over and done with…

Hit a 3 foot bong in a party in the Upper Quads sophomore year, pass…steal candy from the corner store when you were 8 with your 9 year old cousin, OK as long as it didn’t lead to a life of escalating crime, we’ll chalk that one up to being a kid and learning right from wrong…date rape or attack a drunk girl during a frat party, now we’ve got a freaking problem, there is never any excuse for that behavior…even my dope-smoking, mushroom-inhaling , Grateful Dead-listening pothead college buddies understood that and we would never have tolerated that within our group…

I’m assuming this article is the foundation for the OP. In which case, there really shouldn’t be any hard and fast rules. Rather, if someone calls you a bad person and produces bits of your internet past as evidence, then you have a choice. Accept the fact that you’ve been called out, or have the courage to explain yourself. If you’re unjustly being trolled with your past, turn the tables on your detractors.

I regret a few things I’ve posted here, but they are in the distant past and I’ve said and done a lot since then which I believe a reasonable person would allow to supersede my previous indiscretions. If someone wants to bring any of it up, fuck 'em. At this point the only reason to do so would be to advance some agenda and I won’t be held hostage by my past. The OP is not that complicated. Don’t be a coward, own the good and bad of your past; and try to be the best you that you can be in the meantime.

As a mathematical function, it would be something like a 1/x graph. Every day that passes makes it less and less relevant, tending toward zero at infinity.

You then have to consider all opinions (both shared and unshared, although of course the unshared opinions can only be assessed by the individual themselves)

Imagine if, 8 years ago, I had tweeted that “every Asian is a waste of chromosomes” … but 3 years ago, I tweeted that “I love meeting new Asians, they’re the best people”. Well, there’s no way to know my current thoughts about Asians. So, without any further information, we should assume that the 3-year-old tweet is more relevant and reflective of my current opinion than the 8-year-old tweet. However, both have lost a fair amount of relevance (I’d say that after 3 years, relevance has fallen to about 50% of the initial value), so looking for more recent (ideally current) sources of information would be the best way to determine how someone feels.

Oh my god, I can’t believe you just said that!

I know, his political career is over…

When you stop caring what people think