Hot Takes Leave Bad Burns

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand or been on your honeymoon, you’ve likely heard about the boys from Covington Catholic School who visited Washington, D.C. last week where they became the stars of the latest viral video.

Initial videos seemed to portray a young white teen boy wearing a red MAGA hat defying and possibly mocking an older Native American man rhythmically beating a tribal drum. Surrounding the man and the boy were dozens of other boys from the school. Some chanting, others laughing, a few more taking videos and selfies, and the rest otherwise doing what high school boys usually do – mostly immature stuff.

The first video of the scene was about one minute long, give or take a few seconds and drew nearly universal condemnation from anyone with a keyboard or microphone. Hot takes from journalists, politicians, celebrities, bloggers, and activists flooded the Internet. The Catholic Conference of Kentucky fell head long into the quagmire.

We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.

But then, as so often happens, light revealed what was in the darkness as more videos of greater length and wider shots showed the boys were not the instigators but were, in fact, approached by the drum-beating protestor for reasons still undetermined.

The hot takes from journalists, politicians, celebrities, bloggers and activists were wrong, dead wrong. Many of them have walked back their original attacks on the boy, his classmates, their parents, Covington Catholic School, the Catholic Church, Donald Trump (well, not really, they aren’t that sorry), and American culture. But the mea culpas are too late. The damage has already been done.

This morning’s edition of USA Today reports Covington Catholic School is closed today. In an official statement from the school principal he directs, “To insure the safety of our students, faculty, and staff…all activities on campus will be cancelled for the entire day and evening. Students, parents, faculty, and staff are not to be on campus for any reason.”

Since the hot takes of the weekend, individual students and the school have been targets of vicious threats including hopes for a mass shooting at the school.

I am still not sure we know the whole story of what happened at the Lincoln Memorial last Friday afternoon. I am sure of this:

Hot takes leave bad burns.

Proverbs told us this long before social media became a thing and long before every person with a smartphone became a network videographer.

Proverbs 18:13 The one who gives an answer before he listens this is foolishness and disgrace for him.

Proverbs 18:17 The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.

Hot takes are not the exclusive domain of journalists, politicians, celebrities, bloggers and activists. Every human being can hot take another person or situation.

  • A team member can hot take his supervisor, and a supervisor can hot take a team member.

  • A parent can hot take a child, and a child can hot take a parent.

  • A wife can hot take her husband and a husband his wife.

  • A pastor can hot take a church member, and a church member can hot take his pastor.

Learn the lesson James articulated, be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” If you don’t, you will leave burn marks.

Sure, you can go back and seek forgiveness, but why act in such a way that repentance and forgiveness are necessary? Why not take the Bible’s wisdom and make it your practice – no hot takes about anything toward anyone.

As always I welcome your feedback and any suggestions you might have for an upcoming Lunchtime Musing.