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?


8 Responses to “How Much of Your Past Is Fair Game for Present Judgment?”

  1. Eric Dow says:

    I’m with you Jamey! Batchler party at a biker bar in Long Beach…

    I often preach about the inequality of judging our past heroes and leaders under the ignorance of today’s values, or lack therein. I use the term deliberately, as they are not always good or bad, just seldom considerate of the values of the time they were in power or favor. There are literally thousands of truly great thinkers and leaders of our recent and distant past that made very significant contributions to our society that are now considered unworthy of our admiration. Not because of what they Did to contribute, but because of some of the things they did at the time that would be considered politically incorrect, or even illegal today.

    If we could only learn to forgive, and focus on the contributions that people make to their community, we’d have a much more pleasant world to call home.

    • Erin H. says:

      But where is the line? We cannot forgive everyone everything. I’d be interested in hearing an example of someone in our recent past that we now consider unworthy despite great accomplishments.

      As for Jamey’s drinking game, freaking hysterical assuming everyone was a willing participant.

    • Eric: That’s an interesting way of looking at it from a historical perspective. Even on a lighter note, I heard some comedians recently talking about Bill Cosby (whether or not they can still enjoy his early standup routines or TV show despite knowing what they know about him now).

      • Eric Dow says:

        Oh, don’t get me wrong. Let’s look at Good ole Bill. Drugging women to get them to sleep with you is pretty much never in history an acceptable thing. There is a big difference from raping someone and thinking you got away with it, and say, owning slaves, but treating them like people rather than property.
        I know, I’m not very succinct right now, but being found to be a criminal in your own time vs being judged by today’s laws for something that was not only legal, but acceptable are two very different things.
        I’m just saying, let’s not throw out all our founding fathers because they let us down by today’s codes of conduct.

  2. Nik says:

    No, you shouldn’t be judged for playing a drinking game in your 20’s. There are plenty of people filling up our prisons that also did something stupid 14+ years ago and they aren’t coming out any time soon. There is a line somewhere but you aren’t anywhere close to it.

  3. Jason Kong says:

    What you seem to be talking about is when someone has a negative take on a situation that wildly differs from the person being judged. After all, if you thought your drinking at age 23 was a big mistake and everyone agreed, there would be no discussion around judging at all.

    We all judge, and we all do it all the time. That, in itself, isn’t right or wrong. All that means we have different perspectives. Which is true.

    When someone says “it’s unfair for you to judge me, that person is really saying “you’re not seeing the situation like I’m seeing it.”

    I guess this my rambling commentary on why judging isn’t necessarily a bad thing, or perhaps not as bad as we sometimes make it out to be. Thanks for your post and allowing me to share my thoughts.

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