If only we could move away from this graceless fear of reprisal, we might have more monuments to our wrongness. If we have more of those monuments, we might have more room for growth. Just as I don’t think it is helpful to whitewash our past by destroying our actual monuments, but feel it better to take them down by consent recognizing our problematic past and continuing to grow and learn from it by keeping it on display (potentially in a museum), we grow best when monuments to our own wrongness remain on display so we can learn from them and, where necessary, grow.
Have you ever said something and then changed your mind? Of course you have. We all have. It is part and parcel of saying almost anything. We say things and then, faced with them weeks, months or years later, we may have come to change our mind. We may even say we were wrong.
Someone reminded me of something I said in a podcast from a few months ago. They didn’t so much remind me as quoted me. Fortunately, I was able to stand by what I said then. I still think what I said and stand by it. Phew!
But I got to thinking, what if I hadn’t? Minimally, if someone brings it up, I would say that I didn’t agree with it anymore. That much seems obvious. But would I leave the podcast there, continuing to remain as a reminder of a time I said something that I no longer think? Or, in case someone used it to quote me, would I take it down? After all, it is embarrassing to be quoted on something you don’t think anymore. Worse, you might convince someone else of the thing that you don’t think anymore and wish you hadn’t!
Naturally, it depends what the thing is. I don’t think I’ve said anything racist on this blog before, but if I had done (and rightly apologised for it), I would probably take that down because why continue to upset people with something you don’t even think or mean? That seems a natural case for taking the thing down. If you recognise it was an upsetting thing to say, and you wish you hadn’t said it, and you know it will still upset people if found and read, it is just a clear case for employing the edit button.