By Aaron Strain / Opinion Editor
Kansas never makes national headlines for a good reason. However, the primary defeat of a seven-term incumbent by a 19-year old who admitted to revenge porn is certainly one of the strangest.
By 14 votes, Aaron Coleman beat his Kansas City Democratic primary opponent. Along with the revenge porn, Coleman is accused of harassment, assault, blackmail for nude images, physical abuse and driving a girl to attempt suicide.
Giving some indication that he had changed as a person, Coleman wrote, “I denounce these actions and they are the actions of a sick and troubled 14-yo boy.” How much he actually changed in the past five years, however, remains in question.
During the campaign, Coleman apologized after he said he would be amused if non-mask-wearing Republicans died of the coronavirus.
“While it is true I was abusive to my ex-girlfriend,” Coleman wrote in the first sentence of a shockingly tone-deaf release, “I do not agree with the characterization” of an incident wherein he allegedly choked his girlfriend.
“I also don’t think she is intentionally lying … large quantities of alcohol could be affecting both of our memories. The last two months I dated,” he continued, while noting it was not a justification for his actions, “were mutually abusive.”
“I believe with some counseling, my ex and I would have … treated each other better,” Coleman wrote, shifting some blame for the incident onto the lack of mental health support and early childhood education on healthy relationships in the U.S.
Coleman told a relative of the girl who attempted suicide that he had “moved on” and that “they call the past the past for a reason because that’s where you are supposed to leave things. At this point you shouldn’t move on for me, you should move on for yourself.”
The personal weaponization of progressive politics is offensive to anyone who supports them, and his lack of apology or resignation hurts victims.
Disregarding his lack of a grasp on the situation, a few national progressive media figures I used to have respect for jumped to his defense. Coleman was pressured into dropping out of the race, but as soon as he gained their attention, he decided to continue to the General Election. “Wait, he did all this stuff when he was 12? And we’re just done with him forever?” journalist Ryan Grim asked.
Yes, we are “done with him” as long as he keeps back peddling, making excuses for his behavior and issuing nonapologies. He is not a victim of the corporate establishment, he is instead responsible for victimizing others.
Kansas progressives denounced him from the get-go; and attempts by Grim and others to whitewash him is self-aggrandizement at best and enabling of abusers at worst, destroying potential political change in the process.
Coleman appears to have had a rough childhood, living in an impoverished broken home. Any sympathy the public may have had for him as a result was buried in the backfill of the industrial excavator he’s using to dig himself into a Grand Canyon-sized hole.
If all that happened was just the resurfacing of old, bad tweets, the “just kids being kids” excuse may be applicable. However, what Coleman is accused of directly hurt individuals and was extremely abnormal behavior for a child, and some occurred within the past few years.
I do hope he finds some reckoning in his life, attempts to reconcile with the people he hurt and reconsiders his political aims; including, of course, re-dropping out.