When did we evolve into a zero tolerance society?
People are imperfect, they make mistakes, unless forewarned, should they pay the ultimate penalty? Should they lose their jobs, get kicked out of school for having a brain fart, even when premeditated with a blind spot, even when conscious?
My college had an honor code. Break it and you faced the consequences. But those kids who were just kicked out of Harvard for writing bad stuff on Facebook… I don’t want to defend it, some of it was truly heinous, but do they deserve to lose their place in class? Does Kathy Griffin need to have her career decimated? Does Bill Maher have to be kicked off of HBO? Just because someone commits a faux pas and offends someone, does their employer have to invoke the nuclear option? The employer maintains, as does the complainer. The one who made the mistake…
Have you heard anything from Michael Richards recently? I’m not sure he ever got over his mortification from making racist comments in the heat of the moment.
And there’s a camera everywhere.
No one bats a thousand and no one ever gets it all right. Is this the culture we want to live in, where everybody walks around inhibited, afraid to speak? It’s the free exchange of ideas that makes our society great. You find out you’re wrong and you adjust. Impulse is the core of creativity. Once you start filtering your instincts, you screw it up.
Now I’m not saying repeat offenders shouldn’t pay a price. Bill O’Reilly had a blind spot that he was unwilling to admit to, he was a serial harasser.
But Billy Bush? Come on, we’ve all been in that situation, hanging with someone richer and more powerful than we are, we’re uptight, we don’t quite know how to act, so we agree, we play along. Come on, you’ve never winced at your behavior, what you’ve said after an encounter?
I mean does it have to be so black and white? Is Comey a bad guy forever because he interfered with the election, or can he be a good guy now?
And this isn’t right or left. Everybody deserves a pass, at least now and again.
Certain things are beyond the pale, like killing someone. But there are even exceptions there, having to do with premeditation, insanity, but in the court of public opinion you’re guilty, you get no trial, and you’re permanently on the sidelines while everybody else moves on and forgets about you.
This is kind of like the drug laws. Or three strikes and you’re out. We’re so busy creating rules to make us feel safe that we coarsen our society.
Now I don’t know where to draw the line, this is a gray area.
But in schools, there’s a zero tolerance policy.
And in media.
And you become a pariah. I’m pissed at Al Franken for canceling appearances with Kathy Griffin and Bill Maher. That’s how you know who your true friends are, whether they stand by you or abandon you in times of crisis. Al can say he’s worried about voters, but grow a pair, will you? What’s more important, getting re-elected or standing up for what’s right?
Didn’t Don Henley sing it was about forgiveness?
But that was almost thirty years ago. When our rock stars were chiaroscuro, not held up as perfect, before they all got plastic surgery and told us they were better than we were.
And the stars used to sing about love. That’s one of my favorite verses, from Todd Rundgren:
And when you feel afraid, love one another
When you’ve lost your way, love one another
When you’re all alone, love one another
When you’re far from home, love one another
When you’re down and out, love one another
All your hope’s run out, love one another
When you need a friend, love one another
When you’re near the end, love one another
We got to love one another
Love is the answer. Something John Lennon preached and got shot for. If he wasn’t so damn famous, he wouldn’t have been a target. Everybody on the edge is a target, but we need those pushing the envelope to enlighten us, to stimulate us, to entertain us.
What did Ian Hunter sing, once bitten twice shy?
How about that. Give somebody a bite. And then be on guard for other failures, other trips over the line.
But when someone screws up just once, why should they pay the ultimate penalty?