You aren’t owed admission to Harvard, Kyle


Harvard has rescinded an offer of admission to Kyle Kashuv, Parkland shooting survivor, pro-gun advocate, former member of Turning Point USA, and young rising star of dumbass conservatism, because of stupid things he wrote on a message board. He’s now complaining that he should not be judged on the basis of crap he wrote when he was 16 or 17.

That ridiculous defense has now reached peak absurdity. The whole college admissions process is about evaluating your prospects on the basis of what you did in high school! What’s the acceptable window here? Can I say you can’t criticize me for something I wrote yesterday, because I’m a new me today?

The late teens is a period of rapid changes, and we see lots of increases in maturity in college age students. It’s possible he has acquired wisdom in the last few years, but he has to show it, not just say it, and his affiliation with TPUSA is not a good sign that he has become a better adult. Also, the messages go a long way to reveal the content of his character, and it’s not good.

Wow. There’s some remarkable code-switching going on here, because, setting aside the ugly content, that’s not college-eligible writing. That’s simply vomiting up toxins from the id.

Oh, well. He has defenders. The “Intellectual” Dork Web is out in force, deploring the no-platforming of another asshole. Ben Shapiro is whining something fierce, and this guy is, of course, supporting the racist twink.

Lo, the Skeptical Movement.

Comments

  1. says

    He should probably be mocked and milkshaked regularly, and if this sounds harsh, please don’t judge me by what I wrote at the beginning of the sentence, as I have changed completely since writing it.

    And hey, you know this will be the basis for his standard stump speech for as long as his RWNJ users find utility in him. “Yes, my high school was shot up by a freedom-loving American, but something worse happened to me in 2019…”

  2. Akira MacKenzie says

    Kip T.W. @ 2

    And hey, you know this will be the basis for his standard stump speech for as long as his RWNJ users find utility in him.

    I wonder, what’s the political shelf life of a school-shooting survivor willing to throw his classmates under bus to make sure civilian ownership of assault weapons remain legal? In fact…

    Sili @ 1

    That might be why P.Z. called his brat a “twink.” Like any “barely legal” rent boy, Kyle’s only got a couple of more years left before he’s too old to sell himself as a pro-gun-school-shooting-survivor before he’s no long “sexy” to his RWNJ pimps and Johns.

  3. says

    Michael Shermer is being an asshole once again. I’m not surprised.

    Can I say you can’t criticize me for something I wrote yesterday, because I’m a new me today?

    Nobody seriously proposes that people shouldn’t be criticized for the crap they wrote a day ago. The discussion is about whether some person’s life ought to be ruined because of the crap they wrote back when they were still children/teenagers.

    Think about all the opinions you had back when you were 16. Are your current opinions exactly as they were back then? Weren’t you wrong about anything at all? Is there really nothing you did back when you were a teen that you now regret? If so, congratulations, you must have had amazing parents. Unfortunately, most children haven’t been so lucky. For example, my mother is a homophobe and a xenophobe. My uncle believes in conspiracy theories. My school teachers were nationalists. What sort of crap do you think I believed back when I was a child and why? Incidentally, it wasn’t my fault that my family members and other people in my life in general told me all sorts of bullshit, and children usually tend not to be very good with critical thinking.

    I’m not defending Kyle Kashuv right now. But only because I’m getting the impression that he hasn’t changed his attitudes much if at all. If a person fails to demonstrate that they have changed their opinions since writing some crap years ago, then it’s fair to hold them responsible.

    But, as a general rule, assuming some person demonstrates that they have changed their attitudes and also apologizes for the crap they said years ago, then I do think that the stupid things a person did back when they were still a child shouldn’t result in them losing opportunities.

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    If a person fails to demonstrate that they have changed their opinions since writing some crap years ago, then it’s fair to hold them responsible.

    But they don’t think their should be EVER be consequences for their “free speech.” To them, being a racist or a sexist isn’t a matter of morality, it’s is merely a matter of opinion, like preferred pizza toppings or favorite Star Wars movie. In a society that values debate and freedom of inquiry, we shouldn’t be punished for having opinions, right? I mean, you may find screaming racial epithets on social media repugnant, but who are we to judge whether it’s objectively right or wrong?

    Ugh! I need a shower. I can’t pretend to think look those bastards before I feel soiled.

  5. Knabb says

    @5, Andreas Avester

    Kyle Kashuv is 18 right now, and even then only barely. When he talks about stuff he said when “16 or 17” he’s talking about at most 2 years ago and very possibly less than 2 months, depending on where in that range it falls.The article specifies 16, but the use of the term “years” throughout it is still generally dubious. This isn’t remotely the same as judging a 25 year old by what they did when they were 16, let alone someone genuinely middle aged or old.

    As for the discussion is about whether someone’s life should be ruined – those aren’t the stakes. Not getting into Harvard isn’t getting your life ruined.

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    Edit @ 6

    …pretend to think like those bastards…

    Also, an addendum:

    …or favorite Star Wars movie.

    I am, of course, referring to the original trilogy and the most recent films. It is accepted as a universal turn that the Prequels were an abomination in the eyes of God and man.

  7. rietpluim says

    Think about all the opinions you had back when you were 16.

    Hm. When I was 16 I was pretty as much against racism and sexism as I am today.

  8. Akira MacKenzie says

    I just found a picture of this vile brat and he looks like another young fascist punk we all know and loathe. The same hair color, same smug punchable mug. Were he and Nick Sandmann created in the same hidden Nazi cloning lab that spawned Ann Coulter, Kellyanne Conway, Lauren Sourthern and Tomi Lahren?

  9. Jeremy Shaffer says

    Andreas Avester at 5-

    I’m not defending Kyle Kashuv right now. But only because I’m getting the impression that he hasn’t changed his attitudes much if at all. If a person fails to demonstrate that they have changed their opinions since writing some crap years ago, then it’s fair to hold them responsible.

    If you recognize Kashuv has done nothing to show he’s any different today than he was when he made those comments, then everything you wrote in the paragraph above this was a bunch of irrelevant wank to the point it makes your claim in the first sentence here appear false.

  10. Akira MacKenzie says

    Christoph @ 12:

    Yeah, but I doubt the Krell teaching machine could raise this jerk’s IQ an iota.

  11. says

    American college admissions always leave me shaking my head. If the complicated process a lot of kids go through, SATs, admission essays, expecting extracurriculars, and so on, was in effect in Canada I never would have gone to university. (Whether I should have gone to university is another matter entirely.) .

  12. Pierce R. Butler says

    Apparently Harvard reviewed their stats and realized they’ve already overshot their entitled-jerk quota, again.

    Akira Mackenzie @ # 4: …what’s the political shelf life of a school-shooting survivor willing to throw his classmates under bus… ?

    Kashuv can probably extend his 15 minutes for years with a slight name change: adding a middle initial “K”.

  13. jrkrideau says

    @14 timgueguen
    American college admissions always leave me shaking my head.

    Same here. I think I filled out about three or four three-page application forms, mailed them off and, luckily, got the one I wanted. But that was a long time ago.

    Still if that mad rant was Kyle Kashuv essay, I would say it might have worried Harvard.

  14. says

    When I was 16, I was not spewing racist slurs to entertain my friends. I did stupid things, but not to piss on other people.

    But if I had, I think it would be reasonable to expect evidence that my views had changed beyond me bleating about the date.

  15. Akira MacKenzie says

    Pierce R. Butler @ 15

    I expect that now that his Ivy League aspirations have been thoroughly torpedoed young Kyle will probably seek gainful employment as a Right-Wing YouTube Shit Lord, or join the Persecuted Young “Patriot” lecture circuit coming soon to a campus near you.

    We’re going to need more milkshakes folks.

  16. Akira MacKenzie says

    PZ @ 17:

    Hell, at 16, I was an obnoxious right winger and even I knew thought that spewing racial slurs was horribly distasteful. That said, I still had some pretty horrible ideas on race that other conservatives had convinced me weren’t really racist at all (e.g. opposing affirmative action, believing that minorities should just stop complaining about discrimination and get a job, believing the whole “PC Thought Police” bullshit of the late 80s-early 90s.).

  17. says

    Andreas

    The discussion is about whether some person’s life ought to be ruined because of the crap they wrote back when they were still children/teenagers.

    I never went to Harvard and I don’t feel like my life is ruined. Most people of most people don’t go to Harvard. Not going to Harvard is not “having your life ruined”. Going to Harvard is a huge privilege and while I think the whole admission process is completely nuts, you are not owed a place.

    Think about all the opinions you had back when you were 16. Are your current opinions exactly as they were back then? Weren’t you wrong about anything at all? Is there really nothing you did back when you were a teen that you now regret? If so, congratulations, you must have had amazing parents.

    My mum was an abusive alcoholic. But yeah, she did teach me that being a racist was a bad thing, even though her ideas of “what being a racist” means are still naive. the kind of people who will not let you play cowboys but Indians.
    No, I don’t hold the exact same views now. Yes, I did stuff that ranges from “plain stupid” to “very embarrassing”. I didn’t advocate for genocide. Seriously, that’s not a very high bar to clear. Actually, it’s more like a stick buried in the ground.

  18. says

    At the risk of outing myself as being a chronological peer of Prof, Myers, I will say that it is much easier to hide my opinions as a teenager than it is today, Social media did not exist as such, and so I have no pictures of myself at any SDS, AIM, ERA or NORML protests at the University of Maine.

  19. Saad says

    Arguing over whether it’s okay to reject someone for something they wrote a few years ago is pointless.

    He’s a right wing activist therefore his views on black people haven’t changed.

  20. Saad says

    Andreas, #5

    The discussion is about whether some person’s life ought to be ruined because of the crap they wrote back when they were still children/teenagers.

    Not getting to go to Harvard is definitely not having your life ruined.

    There’s nothing wrong with a right wing pro-gun asshat not getting to go to Harvard.

  21. Akira MacKenzie says

    Rob Grigjanis @ 26

    Now that you mention it, yeah, I should have done that. I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.

  22. monad says

    @5: Think about all the marks you earned, the things you did in school back when you were 16. Are your current abilities and understanding of subjects as exactly as they were back then? But somehow college admissions seem to think they are important anyway.

    This is the point PZ opens with, and I think it is the most relevant one here. Literally the only reason people want to give him a pass on this is because it’s racist abuse. Because nothing else you do in High School would ever be considered too long ago for post-secondary institutions to consider.

  23. says

    Akira MacKenzie @#6

    Are you responding to my comment? You included my quote, so I’ll assume so.

    In my comment I never implied in any way that there should be no consequences for making racist/misogynistic/homophobic etc. statements. If a person has said some crap recently, or if they still appear to hold the same opinion as some crap they said a while ago, then, yes, there should be consequences. My point was about how a person shouldn’t be punished for the crap they said years ago back when they were still children, assuming that they have changed their opinions since then and apologized.

    rietpluim @#9

    When I was 16 I was pretty as much against racism and sexism as I am today.

    Congratulations, you must have had relatively good parents, teachers, circle of friends, etc.

    Jeremy Shaffer @#11

    If you recognize Kashuv has done nothing to show he’s any different today than he was when he made those comments, then everything you wrote in the paragraph above this was a bunch of irrelevant wank to the point it makes your claim in the first sentence here appear false.

    I believe that Kyle Kashuv should be punished for the fact that he still appears to be holding the same racist opinions. I believe that he should not be punished for the fact that he said some racist crap two years ago back when he was 16.

    Why is it so hard for you to understand my point that I simply believe that humans should not be punished for things they did as children? When a kid holds stupid racist opinions, it usually isn’t the child’s fault. It’s the fault of their parents. You cannot reasonably expect a kid to critically analyze whatever racist bullshit their parents and peers and the Internet taught them. Kids tend to suck at critical thinking and they also tend to believe whatever they are being told. I know that Americans love to put kids in actual prisons, because the whole prison industry is profitable, but in other countries the attitudes towards children differ—kids are considered innocent and unable to be held responsible for the shit they have done, instead it’s the parents who are held responsible for their children’s poor actions. Where I live, 16 year olds are legally considered as children.

    18 might seem an arbitrary cut-off for when a young person becomes an adult who can be held responsible for their actions, but such cut-offs are necessary for practical reasons. I am fine with punishing an 18 years old person for making racist comments. I am not fine with punishing a 16 years old person for doing the same. The former is considered an adult, the latter in considered a child. Children who do stupid things should receive special education and care; they shouldn’t get punishments that interfere with their future educational or career opportunities. Some forms of punishment are acceptable for kids, but the purpose of any such punishment should be to rehabilitate and re-educate the child (in the case of racist comments the child ought to be made to understand why racism is bad and why what they said is unacceptable). Any punishment for a child should never actually hurt the kid. Similarly, I also believe that an adult person should not be punished for whatever they did as a child, because children cannot be held fully responsible for their poor actions.

    makes your claim in the first sentence here appear false

    It’s amusing to see a person claim to know me, my true opinions, and my true intentions despite, you know, being a complete stranger.

  24. rietpluim says

    Congratulations, you must have had relatively good parents, teachers, circle of friends, etc.

    Well, my brother had exactly the same parents, mostly the same teachers, and partially the same friends, and he always has been pretty racist. But I’ll send them your compliments.

  25. says

    While 16 isn’t adult, it’s also not “child”.
    I deal with children a lot. Actual children. 10, 11, 12 years and I despair at how much their parents fail them. But they are not some kind of innocent creatures 100% molded by their parents. They also usually know when and how they did wrong. Do they occasionally use racist language? Yes they do. Do you know why? Not because most of them have a coherent right wing world view (actually most of them are PoC themselves)b but because they know that it hurts their targets.

  26. Jeremy Shaffer says

    Andreas Avester at 30:

    Why is it so hard for you to understand my point that I simply believe that humans should not be punished for things they did as children?

    I understood the point you were making. To a large point I agree with it. I’m all for giving Kashuv- or anyone like him- space to grow and change, but he hasn’t shown any desire for it. Just the opposite, in fact.

    Now, why is it so hard for you to understand that’s irrelevant in this case since, as even you noted, Kushav has yet to show he sees what he did or said was wrong; that his apologies are as hollow and insincere as the ideologies he pushes? As others have pointed out, Kashuv is an 18-year-old (barely) being rebuked for something he did within the last 24 months and- as you claim to agree with- has shown zero hint of having any difference in opinion between the intervening time. Stop framing this as if he were an aged adult being unfairly hit with something he did decades ago and has put in obvious effort to show as much. This is really is not another James Gunn deal.

    Also, ”Punished”? Really? The kid isn’t gonna get to go to Harvard now. That’s it. He’ll just have to deal with going to one of the other hundreds of good schools in the nation. Stop acting like he’s being black-bagged and carted off to prison. The worse that’ll happen to him is his eye might get a little irritated after having his face powdered down for his inevitable whiny appearances on Fox News.

    It’s amusing to see a person claim to know me, my true opinions, and my true intentions despite, you know, being a complete stranger.

    Look at the word appear sitting right there in what I wrote, and you quoted. That indicates that I was not making a definitive comment about you, only that an image which may not be reflective of your intentions was there. Now, was that just a bit of reading comprehension failure on your part- perhaps brought about after reading a few other responses to your poorly received commentary- or am I going to have to start leaning towards a conclusion that you may be just as disingenuous as your attempts at inserting aspects that are immaterial to the specific situation under discussion suggests.

  27. PaulBC says

    I think Harvard is well within its discretion and precedent for rejecting based on “maturity and moral character” so I don’t see what the controversy is. If he thinks he has a discrimination case, he or his parents should find a lawyer.

    Do I feel sorry for him? Not really. This is shocking behavior even at 16. I wouldn’t have written something like that at 16. I would be horrified if my son wrote something like that now or a year from now. There’s always time to make amends, but by the same token, not every opportunity is going to be there again.

    I would be a little more worried if the publicity makes it hard for him to eventually go to some university that fits his abilities. Nobody is owed the prestige of a Harvard degree, and indeed, I think it would be a better world if we didn’t have elite gatekeeper universities of this kind in the first place (Harvard gets you more than just an education, which is why people fight so hard to get in).

    I will however buy the “I was a stupid kid” argument to the extent that he should be able to reform and get a degree somewhere if he takes the necessary steps.

  28. cartomancer says

    Would this be “twink” in the US gay slang sense of “attractive young man”, or “twink” in the RPG community slang sense of “self-centred individual trying to game the system in some way for unsual and unearned benefit”?

  29. DrVanNostrand says

    Of course teenagers can grow and change, and it would be unfair to be dogged by stupid shit you said as a teenager forever. However, I have limited sympathy for this kid, for 3 basic reasons:

    His comments weren’t all that long ago, and they fall well within his high school career, which is the time frame admissions departments consider when making their decisions.
    This is not ‘ruining his life’. He may have difficulty getting into a lot of ‘prestige’ universities like Harvard with this information floating around, but I guaran-fucking-tee there are plenty of fine state schools out there that are willing to give a bright young white kid a second chance. His education won’t even be delayed because he was taking a ‘gap year’ anyway.
    Most of this publicity is of his own making. He’s the precious little snowflake that couldn’t handle facing consequences for his actions and whined all over social media about it. He could have discreetly applied to other schools next year (making sure to keep his plans secret from former classmates, of course), at which point this whole thing would have been ancient history. The main reason everybody knows about this is because he had to get up on the right wing persecution cross (because right wingers are basically incapable of resisting a good martyrbation opportunity).

  30. kremer says

    And I’m more embarrassed than ever before for picking up a copy Skeptic magazine.

  31. Akira MacKenzie says

    What continues to gall me is the pure hypocrisy of these people: They love to lecture the poor and marginalized how the “world doesn’t owe you a living.” They derisively call social services and welfare state programs “entitlements.” They preach the Social Darwinist gospel of “personal responsibility” and there should be consequences to bad behavior.

    Well, Kyle, you spoiled, racist, sociopathic, little brat, the world doesn’t owe you a Harvard education. Stop thinking you’re entitled to a good life just because you’re white, male, and Republican, and show some responsibility by accepting the consequences of your bad behavior.

  32. Jeremy Shaffer says

    Rob Grigjanis at 38: Please, tell me on what basis do I appear a pompous jackass?

  33. says

    I hope he has changed, and tries again. Maybe this is the extra lesson he needs.

    With his grades, he will find a good college, and now he has press coverage. He doesn’t need Harvard.

  34. Rob Grigjanis says

    Jeremy Shaffer @51: Well, apart from a completely mangled reading of Andreas Avester’s post, accusing him of either poor reading comprehension or disingenuousness, and fretting about the word “punishment”*, sure. Nothing.

    *No, it’s not hanging, or 10 years hard labour, or 100 lashes. Nonetheless, as mild (and, we all seem to agree, appropriate) as it is, rescinding admission is still a punishment; a penalty as the result of an offence. Is someone now going to fret about the word “penalty”?

  35. Jeremy Shaffer says

    Rob Grigjanis at 52- Since others on here seemed to have the same reading as I did, I don’t think mine is far off. I was giving Andreas the benefit of the doubt that he wasn’t trying to defend Kashuv, but I was also pointing out that he was inserting something that, while related to the topic, was not relevant to the discussion actually being had. That is a common tactic by people looking to defend someone or something when they know they can’t defend it directly- and in this case specifically, it isn’t difficult to find Kashuv’s defenders employing that exact tactic. Granted, they’re definitely doing so disingenuously, while Andreas probably isn’t.

    As for me saying he had a reading comprehension failure, while I admit I should have stated that differently I was noting that since several others had also responded to his post negatively and it would’ve been easy to see what I said as an attack on him. I tried to highlight that possibility and, admittedly, I failed to make that clear.

    In the future, I would say that if you have a gripe about what I say, how about saving us both the time and lay it out from the beginning? Or, ignore it. Your choice.

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