Thursday, August 27, 2009

Forgiveness and Redemption

Ted Kennedy was a great senator and an effective champion of liberal causes. He also drove off a bridge with a girl in the car while married to another girl who wasn't in the car. And the girl in the car died. Today, his eulogists can't seem to find Chappaquiddik on a map.

Michael Jackson was as cute as a button as a 5 year old and made beautiful music as an adult. But would you send your 8 year old to his house for a playdate? No one presenting the hours of tributes last month touched the issue more than briefly.

Michael Vick is drop-dead gorgeous and a gifted athlete. His inability to play nicely with other species sent him to a federal penitentiary. Now he's returning to the NFL and the animal abuse story is replayed and rehashed and remarked upon and, at the risk of sounding ridiculous (ouch!) the remonstrations have been overwhelming the football.

So I've been thinking about celebrity and scandal. If I believe in the possibility of rehabilitation, then I ought to cheer for the progress that Michael Vick has made. Tony Dungy is a man whose public persona I admire, and he has leant his imprimature to Vick's return to the NFL. I'm hearing all the right words, and, never having met the man, it would be as arrogant of me to assume that he is lying as it would be for me to assume that he is telling the truth. The social worker in me wants to believe him; the rest of me hears crying dogs. It's perplexing.

Teddy Kennedy did many wonderful things in his very privileged life. He led with dignity and he died with grace. His family and friends loved him and the world is a lesser place without his voice. But would anyone else have walked away from that accident without just a little bit of jail time? I have issues with that conduct, and I think society should have issues with it, too.

There have to be consequences; without them we do not learn. And once we learn, we should be welcomed back into the fold. Why am I having such a hard time with this?

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