Accidents happen, but one of the week's most prominent mistakes cost a Turning Point USA employee their job. If you haven't heard, the president recently spoke at the organization's event and the presidential seal displayed behind him wasn't quite right. In fact, it was a farcical insult created by a former Republican and graphic designer after the 2016 election. In short, the image's visuals and text were rather direct insults toward the president. Word is, the mistake was made when searching for a high-resolution version of the seal for the event.
Now, while this particular case might seem politically motivated, it's not the first time an under-scrutinized internet search-and-grab has resulted in some wide-spread embarrassment — and let's not even go into usage rights.
In November of 2012, an ABC station in Denver accidentally used a doctored cover of General David Petraeus' biography "All In" for a report on the general's affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. Unfortunately, the graphic the station ran had a few extra words slipped in with the book cover's title, making for a lewd remark about the affair. The following year, a display in a Chinese cinema lobby caught some attention after displaying a doctored poster for the film "Thor: The Dark World." In the standard version, the film's title character is holding the story's love interest. Instead, the theater's display featured Thor snuggling up to the film's villain.
And it's not just staffers charged with setting graphics and printing posters who click away at their keyboards a little too quickly. No, I've seen the very same idea morphed into a trap for social media users. Photos of a bearded man in a robe and hood pop up online from time to time with a caption reading "I bet you won't share this because you are too embarrassed to have Jesus on your wall." First, let me advise you to avoid most if not all posts that dare you to share something and question your character if you don't. Case in point, while the man in the post looks familiar, he isn't Jesus. He's Obi-Wan Kenobi as portrayed by Scottish actor Ewan McGregor in the Star Wars film franchise.
Like I said, I think that one in particular was created as a trap of sorts. The post preys on our certain social reflexes in the American populace. We can often be so zealous in our support of an idea — in this case Jesus — that we don't stop to question what we're truly saying. In fact, a premature jump on the bandwagon can reveal questions we neglect to ask. In other words, we can be so ready to show we're not embarrassed of Jesus' photo that we don't ask if that's really what it is we're posting. Ironically, that in itself can be pretty embarrassing. It's plenty awkward to admit we don't know the difference between a science fiction character and the biblical savior on whom we claim our moral principals are founded.
I've seen my own extended family fall for the Obi-Wan of Nazareth post, so I want to make clear I'm not saying anyone who makes such a mistake doesn't really have faith in Jesus. And that sentiment extends to the other examples. A botched movie poster doesn't mean the theater's showing the wrong film, and a flubbed book cover doesn't mean the news report wasn't otherwise accurate. But these things should make us aware of how our haste to speak and to act can actually chip away at our cause. We all make mistakes, and it's what we do after we realize that fact which speaks the most about who we are.
Next year is an election year, and I don't know that anyone wants a repeat of the anger and angst exchanged amongst ourselves in the name of a particular party. Rather, I believe if we can slow down — if we can take account of what the messages we share and the actions we take really say about our values — we will have a much more intelligent election process than we did this last cycle. If we step back and look at the whole picture before we support a stance, we're much less likely to mistake a soundbite for sound policy, a promise for progress or a lively speech for leadership. And when we can distinguish between the two, the apologies will come more easily so we can hopefully mend some of the wounds both sides have been licking since the last time we went to the polls.