YOUTUBER and axed I’m A Celebrity contestant Jack Maynard’s swift fall from grace provides a very real lesson in our social media-obsessed times.
It’s as simple as this: If you use bigoted, racist or homophobic language online, be prepared for it to be published somewhere by someone at some point.
For the last 72 hours, the 22-year-old’s rabid fans have, without a hint of irony, been trolling me because The Sun uncovered and subsequently published vile tweets Jack sent when he was a teenager using, among other things, the F-word as a gay slur.
Let me be very clear, that word – which I do not like to say, even as a gay man – used in that context is incredibly damaging and should be treated as seriously as using the N-word, which Jack also put about in his ill-advised tweets.
I do understand that everyone deserves a second chance and that Jack was only 16 when some of the offensive language was posted.
Sadly, that doesn’t make it right – or any less damaging.
I speak from sad personal experience here. For ten years at school – between the ages of seven and 17 – I was taunted by teenage boys on a near daily basis with that very F-word. I know anecdotally that many gay teenagers at British schools currently experience the same thing.
So the fact he was 16 at the time is not an excuse. It’s often attacks and bullying from teenagers at school that have the most impact.
I must stress that I have nothing personal against Jack. I wasn’t digging for dirt or trying to get him booted from the show.
The Sun did not hold back the tweets until he went into the jungle in any anti-YouTuber conspiracy either – they simply hadn’t been offered to us before then.
It was also ITV and Jack’s management decision to remove him from the hit show, based on a wide range of information, some of which has not been made public.
Since his rushed eviction, I have heard from some of those close to Jack who insist he is not homophobic. Someone told me this morning, for example, that he previously lived with a gay friend.
His team have also suggested to me that he used the unacceptable language in response to someone who had been bullying him.
As I said this morning on ITV’s Lorraine show, I have an open offer for Jack to explain what he did and how he’s learned from it then we can all move on from the whole sorry saga.
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I feel deeply sorry for the millennial generation whose every utterance from their earliest years is archived on the internet.
But that’s not what this situation is all about.
Calling people n******, f****** and r****** was completely unacceptable long before the invention of Twitter, as Jack learned the hard way.
This content was originally published here.