I made a mistake today. It was particularly bad because I made an allegation of racism against someone who was actually doing the opposite. I do not mean to excuse my behaviour, if anything I will mull over this for weeks to come; but I happened to be riding the Cocodamol wave of euphoria and, on seeing tweets of support and solidarity to a name I’d filed under Racist Question Time, I snapped and without thinking fired off a reaction.
I was met with a barrage of tweets that have now magically disappeared. I don’t want to name names and I’m not even that affected by them anymore but I was called stupid, blathering, an idiot and a lot of other stuff I glazed over. It then occurred to me that I should have checked my facts before rushing in guns a blazing. What did I really know about Mary Beard? Turns out I was wrong.
I promptly apologised and bowed my head down in shame. Because I did feel shame. I was catastrophically mistaken and I felt I had harmed another’s person. I don’t mind stomping on racists and I want them to hurt the way they hurt us but the thought that I’d wrongly accused and upset the wrong person, well, I wasn’t going to sleep very well. I apologised today and I will apologise if I ever do it again.
It could have been a whole lot uglier. If I wasn’t so slow today, I might have taken more offence at the storified version of events. I didn’t have the mental strength to read all the tweets about me. Had I done so, there’d be a Twitter storm saying absolutely nothing new. Isn’t it time we moved on from all this?
We could all do with listening more and thinking about feelings. I know I will.