Thursday, April 12, 2007

Iron Maiden Can Teach Us a Lot About How Self-Important Public Outrage Has Become a Virtue

For all the sins you will commit
You'll beg forgiveness and none I'll give
A web of fear shall be your coat
To clothe you in the night
A lucky escape for you young man
But I'll see you damned in endless night --Iron Maiden

Yesterday, I wrote of my disinterest in the Don Imus thing unless the situation reached a higher quality of stupidity.

We're there.

The the story of the Imus affair is as rote as they come. A Usual Suspect let's fly from his piehole a deeply offensive brain-dead utterance (OBDU). Then, the predictable list of publicity pimps predictably crawl out of their holes to make the predictable rounds on TV, spouting the same old tired predictable outrage. Then you've got everybody with a forum to do so falling all over themselves to condemn said OBDU for fear that if they don't their bona fides as an Enlightened Tolerant Person will somehow be undermined. All the while the OBDU that was so very very beyond the pale is repeated verbatim and ad nauseum. The company who owns the medium over which the OBDU was uttered (rightly) suspends or cancels the show, and sponsors (rightly) pull out. We've seen it before and we'll no doubt see it again.

But the reaction given by the real party in interest here - the Rutgers women's basketball team - illustrates an overall debasing of our culture that has nothing to do with any shock jock making a stupid offhand remark. The initial remarks by the coach are bad enough:

"Less than 24 hours after they accomplished so much, they came back to this. We have all been physically, mentally and emotionally spent — so hurt by the remarks uttered by Mr. Imus," coach C. Vivian Stringer said.


I don't know whether she's overstating, exaggerating or telling the truth here. But here's a situation in which guy of whom I am almost certain none of these ladies were aware before Monday utters 3 insulting words, and they are all "physically, mentally and emotionally spent." Being called a name by an irrelevant radio schmuck is somehow more taxing than getting to the national championship game.

I'm sorry. Have these kids ever heard the old saw "sticks and stones"? Or perhaps they were taught the alternate updated for the 21st century version: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but you'll have a lawsuit pending."

It's easier being a victim. It's easy to stand at a podium and continually blast some guy for something that every sentient being in control of his or her faculties can see as objectively insulting.

But, no. That's not even the thing that elevates this media circus to a sublime stupidity. That people would embrace their victimhood to extract another pound of flesh from someone who has wronged them should surprise no one in this day and age.

No, this quote from one of the players, illustrates a sad reality. One in which we have gone beyond personal virtue, into some twisted politically correct realm where so-called "tolerance" and self-esteem matters more than being a Big Person:

I could say that we honestly don't know what to expect from Don Imus and what we will plan on asking him is his reasons and how you could just say things that you have not put any thought to? Right now I can't really say if we have come to a conclusion of whether we will accept the apology.

Here's a lesson that she will not learn at Rutgers, and indeed has apparently not been taught by her parents: People are imperfect. People make mistakes. Even big ones.

But people can also redeem themselves; learn a lesson and move on. Forgiveness is a virtue - a true virtue, in contradistinction to the vaunted lefty tolerance - that marks the generosity and righteousness of the wronged party. It takes absolutely no effort or intellect to possess a capacity to be offended. The fact that one proclaims him or herself to be offended and points a finger at the party to be ostracized does nothing to make the world better.

Forgiveness offers the wrongdoer a chance to learn from his mistake, and thus become a better person. That in turn improves our society in some small measure. Withholding it only gives the person an excuse to become bitter about the consequences he has brought upon himself.

But given that we live in such a self-centered world it would be wise to point out to everyone - not just the Rutgers basketball team - that we, qua humans, will also screw up royally. Lots. And there will likely be a time where you will not be able to move on from your transgression without the forgiveness of those whom you wronged. How would you like to hear "I haven't decided if i will forgive you yet"? Sounds pretty fricking arrogant when you are on the other end of the stick, doesn't it?

That's what in done in a civil and just society. When someone sincerely apologizes and promises to change, you forgive that person and put the matter to rest. How is justice served - in the true meaning of that term - when you refuse to do so, and self-righteously with back of hand pressed to forehead allow the situation to continue to fester and blather on and on about the "injustice" you have been forced to endure?

By being called a name. (For a great illustration of what injustice really looks like, see this.)

Imus has apologized profusely and without condition for his remarks. He continues to suffer the appropriate consequences of his actions. Everybody has gotten their pound of flesh, and there's little left of him. So here's my advice such as it is for the Rutgers girls and for all the other midget who were not wronged, but saw this as an opportunity to demonstrate their holier-than-thou moral superiority:

Do the right thing. Don't be an asshole like Imus was.

No comments: