Spring Editorial Board 2017
On April 20, three Auburn University softball players were arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
As was expected, many people had opinions on the matter and put them on social media.
Many were positive and reassuring, some expressed reasonable disappointment and others displayed unwarranted anger toward the women.
In discussing these women’s lives, especially in public, it’s important for us to fully regard them as human beings.
We shouldn’t fall into the habit of thinking of them solely as softball players, college students or representatives of Auburn.
They aren’t one-dimensional people, and to treat them as such allows unwarranted, unkind thoughts and words toward them to surface.
Of course, it’s important to consider their roles as representatives of Auburn.
But our conception of the situation must also include the fact that these players are imperfect human beings like the rest of us.
Saying they shouldn’t get an education because they smoked a relatively harmless drug is an incredibly disproportionate and unempathetic response to their actions.
Excessively punitive opinions dig their way into our minds because of our innate urge toward justice at all costs.
If we don’t temper that urge with a sense of basic compassion toward people, we’ll end up with the sort of destructive opinions that help real-life injustices thrive — the very opposite of what we should aim for.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t criticize people who err. Expressing disappointment in the players’ actions is reasonable and probably beneficial to them.
But it is to say we shouldn’t forget to place ourselves within their shoes and empathize with them through our own mistakes.
As human beings, they will make mistakes and occasionally disappoint us.
We are all constrained to that reality, and so it must play a vital role in determining our opinions on the matter.