"a man who threatens people with his own Pinkerton army"
Shorter Gregg Easterbrook:I have sympathy for those who have to lie in beds they've made.
That Easterbrook column is truly one of the worst things I've read in a long time. Not too far behind is the current front-page piece on Saban in which Ivan Maisel reprises Andy Dick's character in "Old School."
"But don't you just sense there are loads of people who are happy to have the chance to condemn the first African-American quarterback who was drafted first overall -- via an accusation that has nothing to do with race?"No, Greg, I do not sense this.
I'm not sure what's wrong with this in theory. Especially considering Easterbrook's proclaimed Christianity. Are we only supposed to feel sympathy/compassion for those who didn't get themselves into whatever mess they're in?
I suppose you're right, in theory. I just disagree with it. But that's why I wrote a "shorter"-style post, rather than criticizing the substance. I think my summary is a fair reading of what he wrote - if he really believes in this form of sympathy. I think there's a tension between personal responsibility and sympathy. When I read the column, I don't read things that I find sympathetic. I read attempts at finding excuses (and poor attempts at that). Easterbrook may very well feel sympathy for Vick (see below), but I think it's OK to point out that tension. On the nuts of the piece: My personal opinion is that Easterbrook actually feels little sympathy for Vick. I haven't found him to be a paragon of Christian love - he's written myriad columns that bash public figures, many of whom found themselves in situations not of their own creation. I think he's simply acting contrarian here. And on the conceptual topic: I think there's a distinction between love and sympathy. As a Christian, I can love someone despite their failings. But that doesn't mean I have to sympathize with those failings. Indeed, one may love another specifically by requiring one to take responsibility for one's actions.
I agree with most of this, including your take on Easterbrook, but I also know what a pain in the ass it is to have a deadline to meet on a regular basis and how difficult it can be to find something to write about that you personally find interesting. I think this is what leads to contrarianism a lot of times--the desire to say something new. So, yes, that's probably what's going on here."Indeed, one may love another specifically by requiring one to take responsibility for one's actions." I also think this is true in some sects/theologies of Christianity. It's not really in mine, but then, I'm not a Christian. I agree that there's a distinction between love and sympathy, but surprisingly little in personal responsibility as an ethos, despite practicing it myself to a fault.
Obviously Greggie's column is now obsolete, but I just don't understand the comparison to Ray Lewis, and how these statements can be produced by the same brain:...accusations are not the same as guilt...If Vick goes to jail and loses his NFL career for a first offense of cruelty to animals and gambling, while Lewis essentially got off scot-free for watching two human beings stabbed to death, that wouldn't be "sending a message." That would be a travesty of justice. Are we really supposed to punish all witnesses to crime? I certainly don't want to diminish the lives and the unnecessary deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar, but the only criminal guilt surrounding the '00 Super Bowl killings came when Lewis pleaded guilty to "saying to the people in the limousine: Keep your mouth shut. He also gave a partial statement ... which did not contain all of the information." Lewis' felony charges were dismissed. The ones alleged to have actually stabbed Baker and Lollar were found not guilty by the jury. (I italicized "criminal" above because Lewis later settled civil suits related to the deaths.)And can Vick's (no longer alleged) deliberate, repetitive, and bloodthirsty pattern of crime over a period of at least six years really be described as just a "first offense"?
Sympathy and compassion are not the same thing. I might refrain from joining in the condemnation of Vick, I might even forgive him for his actions if he asks to be forgiven -- but the literal translation of the Greek sympatheia is "to suffer together," and as someone who has never killed a dog with his bare hands by throwing it to the ground for no other reason than because it didn't fight well enough, no, I don't feel any "sympathy" for Michael Vick.Also, it should be pointed out that under most Christian belief systems, someone who is "forgiven" is not necessarily released from obligations to make good legally or financially -- "rendering unto Caesar" and all that. I can forgive Vick personally while still thinking that he needs to spend a couple years pondering his life in a cinderblock cell.
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