How Much of Your Past Is Fair Game for Present Judgment?

Today I was a guest on the podcast Worst Foot Forward. It’s different than most podcasts I’ve been on, as it isn’t usually gaming related. Rather, it’s a podcast about outlandish things.

The theme of our episode was outlandish non-tabletop, non-sport games. Of course, the topic of drinking games came up. Barry and Ben, the hosts, listed a variety of ridiculous and dangerous historical drinking games…and then they mentioned one that I’ve participated in.

Before I get to that particular game, I should explain the title of this post. Pretty much every day in the news, there’s a report about another famous person who has done or said something terrible in their past. Many of these things are deemed inexcusable, and the person is fired or forced to resign.

As terrible as some of the things these people have done are, many of these deeds are more stupid than they are terrible (though that’s arguably a matter of perspective). For those things, I find myself empathizing with those people, because I’ve done stupid stuff too. I bet you have too.

I guess the difference is whether or not your stupid thing hurt someone else. That seems like a good place to draw the line.

So, back to the podcast. The drinking game brought up by the hosts is called Edward Fortyhands. In my early 20s, my friends and I heard about this game and decided to give it a try.

The idea behind Edward Fortyhands is that everyone has two 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor of beer taped to their hands. Then you drink the alcohol, taking as much time as you want, but you can’t remove the tape until you finish. This makes going to the bathroom a challenge.

As silly as it sounds, it was actually pretty great for camaraderie. It’s more of a cooperative game than a competitive sport–you’re all in it together (except for the one person in charge of taping). Also, just to be clear, no one was forced to do anything. If someone wanted to stop, they did, no problem.

Is it fair for you to judge 37-year-old Jamey for the stupid stuff he did when he was 23? Perhaps. Where do you draw that line?