Everyone who uses Twitter has probably noticed Shane Dawson near the top of the trending page for the past several days. Shane Dawson is a YouTube personality who has been relevant on the website for the better part of the past 10 years.
He has been attacked on Twitter numerous times in the past and faced with allegations of racism for use of blackface and other baseless claims of pedophilia and bestiality. He has said some pretty vile things in his past regarding children and animals, but most of these statements came from an old podcast he used to produce that was supposed to fall in the realm of shock comedy that pervaded the late 2000s and early 2010s.
The claims that he made on this podcast were clearly meant to be taken in jest. Twitter users have attacked him mercilessly for his old jokes, and some of the outrage is justifiable, but it is important for everyone to remember that they are jokes.
Shane has a very specific brand of dark humor that has allowed him to be successful on the internet for years, and he is someone who has been widely recognized for "lacking a filter" for years. No-one has ever come forward with legitimate accusations of pedophilia or bestiality against him. There is a difference between someone making a dark joke about themselves and a child coming forward with allegations of sexual abuse about an adult.
Shane announced his engagement to his longtime boyfriend, Ryland Adams, last night and what would normally be one of the happiest moments in someone's life has been marred for him by baseless bestiality accusations and merciless Twitter attacks. The engagement announcement has been assumed by many as a diversion tactic to divert attention away from the controversy.
In reality, he had been planning the proposal for some time as their third anniversary was yesterday.
People on the internet, including Shane, need to remember that their words carry weight. When you attack someone on the internet, you can cause legitimate damage to their lives and their psyche. Your words are a reflection of your personhood on the internet and what you say, well-intended or not, will follow you for a long time.