'Iowa Legend' offers lessons for kids - and adults

Thursday, September 26, 2019

More American kids want to be YouTube stars than become astronauts, according to a survey conducted last summer.

A young Iowa man may wish he had risked an explosion on the launch pad instead of the instant internet fame that made him a hero one day and a villain the next.

Carson King, 24, rose to fame when he waved a sign on TV asking viewers to put money in his Venmo account so he could buy more Busch Light.

The ploy worked -- too well in fact.

After strangers gave him more than $20,000, he did the right thing, and channeled his fame to raise more than a million dollars for an Iowa children’s hospital through Venmo contributions and from Anheuser-Busch, which even issued commemorative cans with his image and the words “Iowa legend.”

The feel-good story fell apart when a newspaper reporter discovered King had posted a couple of racist jokes when he was 16 years old.

When King found out the tweets had been discovered, but before they were published, he again did the right thing and issued an apology.

“I am embarrassed and stunned to reflect on what I thought was funny when I was a 16-year-old kid and I want to sincerely apologize,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

That wasn’t enough for the beer company, which severed ties with King, saying it would have “no further association” with him.

As so often happens, some decided to blame the messenger, the reporter who discovered the posts, which were tacked on to the end of the profile published after King’s apology was made.

The newspaper, of course, would have faced the same or more intense criticism had it chosen to ignore the posts. And, it didn’t help that online sleuths found offensive language and questionable jokes in the reporter’s own tweets.

The takeaway?

Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want your boss or mother to read.

But, before condemning someone for something posted as a teenager, remember that someone who hasn’t posted something offensive to someone has probably never been online at all.

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