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Should Jack Maynard have left I’m a Celebrity camp?

PUBLISHED: 12:53 22 November 2017

Jack Maynard leaves I'm a Celeb

Jack Maynard leaves I'm a Celeb

ITV

He lasted three days in the jungle - but should Jack Maynard have been judged for remarks he made five years ago and has apologised for?

“You can’t get anything more high profile than this and it’s going to lead to so many other great opportunities. I can’t wait to find out what!”

He lasted three days in the I’m A Celebrity camp before his ‘representation’ decided that he should be removed due to “circumstances outside camp”, namely the allegations over the past few days that he had made racist and homophobic comments in the past.

Jack Maynard, self-titled ‘YouTube sensation’ left the camp last night so that he could be made aware of the allegations being made against him and have the right to reply.

In a statement, his publicist said: “In the last few days, Jack Maynard has been the subject of a succession of media stories which, given his position as a contestant on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, filmed in the Australian jungle, with no contact with the outside world, he has been unable to respond to.

“Since it is only fair that everyone should be made aware of any allegations made against them and should also have the right to defend themselves, it was agreed that it would be better to bring him out of the show.

“Jack agrees with the decision which was made by his representatives and ITV and thanks everyone who has supported him in the show this far.”

The tweets in question have since been removed from Jack’s Twitter account, but include a raft of language which is – of course – utterly unacceptable and unpleasant but which was also (and this doesn’t make it right) common currency with teenagers (both at the time and now). It’s a harsh lesson to anyone active on social media: the stuff you post online will be there forever, even when – especially when – you don’t want it to be.

Jack has apologised for the words he used in the past but his fall from grace is a timely warning about the dangers of voicing an opinion which is not just controversial, but also offensive, and thinking that it will be lost in the vast sea of the internet and will, one day, disappear entirely. It won’t.

Using language which is derogatory to those who are different to you, whether it be different in terms of race, gender, sexuality or disability, is never acceptable whether you’re six, 16 or 60. There may well be a history of groups reclaiming words that have been used against them in the past, but that’s a method of taking the sting out of powerful and hurtful taunts which have stigmatised people for centuries – you can argue that they’ve entered our language, but – as can be seen – it’s an argument mired in controversy.

Reinforcing negative stereotypes is never acceptable, even if the victim accepts the abusive comment. But on the other hand, say Jack’s fans, the use of words such as retard, faggot are part of linguistic currency today and are used with implied irony – tell that to his big-buck advertisers.

As far as I’m concerned, the words that Jack used – pathetic, immature, ridiculous – are nowhere near as offensive as his cruelty. Laughing at people with facial deformities? That’s not about being immature, it’s about being a revolting human being. I’m sure he’s grown up a great deal since 2012, but good Lord he needed to.

It’s another example of the past rearing up to bite someone in the public eye in the backside: earlier this month, Josh Rivers was sacked as the editor of Gay Times after tweets he posted between 2010 and 2015 in which he referred to Jewish people as “gross” and Asians as “creepy”, while Jack’s fellow vlogger Zoella made comments between 2009 and 2012 about “lesbos”, “trannys” and “fat chavs”. And last month, MP Jared O’Mara was suspended from the Labour Party after offensive comments he posted to online forums were discovered.

While we can look at celebrities being caught out and think it doesn’t apply to us normal folk with our refreshing lack of big brands queuing up to have us endorse their products, the social media backlash does affect everyone who uses it: employers will now regularly investigate Twitter and Facebook accounts to monitor the content.

There’s the chance that the tweets sent at the age of 13 will colour opinions years later – and simply deleting posts isn’t enough – the internet is indexed every second by search engines and web crawlers and content is replicated across multiple servers and shared by people and machines. It’s virtually impossible to erase anything entirely.

The answer is simple, or should be. It’s possible to be controversial and opinionated while being respectful, to have a strong voice without resorting to weak stereotypes.

Before he entered the jungle camp, Jack said he was entering the camp “to lighten the mood” and that he would miss the internet most while spending time away from home. If your career lives by the internet, you must be prepared that it can die by it too. That said, how many of us can genuinely claim we’ve never said anything we’re not ashamed of in the past?

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