Unforgivable QUESTION

When I wrote about the death of Mike Wallace of CBS News’ 60 Minutes, I was moved by a comment by Arthur@AmeriNZ: “I have a troubled reaction to Mike Wallace…I did enjoy many of his interviews, and I grew up with his version of Biography. However, he also did CBS Reports: The Homosexuals for which I have a really tough time forgiving him. Noted activist Wayne Besen called that broadcast ‘the single most destructive hour of antigay propaganda in our nation’s history.’ And it was.”

Seems to me that in order to have such feelings, it has to be from someone you liked and respected. If Congressman (R-FL) Allen West says that about 80 members of the Democratic Party are members of the Communist Party, it doesn’t matter much to me, because West has been, and is increasingly moreso, a doofus. But when someone you admire lets you down, it’s another issue entirely.

I’m sure I have lots of examples in my personal life, but the one in the public arena involved the Reverend Jesse Jackson. He was running for President in the 1984 campaign, and I was inclined to at least consider supporting him. But when news of the ethnic slur against Jews came out early in 1984, it was all over for me. The initial denial by Jackson, followed by his conspiracy theory, did not help matters at all. Though I did love him on Saturday Night Live.

What public figure have you admired who said or did something so egregiously wrong in your view that you still haven’t quite forgiven him or her?

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10 thoughts on “Unforgivable QUESTION

  1. It would be easier to answer who hasn’t. Elvis Costello set out to annoy Stephen Stills and Bonnie Bramlett by calling Ray Charles a racial epithet, one that I understand Willie Nelson uses frequently. You have Dylan saying he could identify with Lee Harvey Oswald. You have the insulting things Paul Simon has said about Dylan.

    Noithing is at the level of Wallace’s remark,but one has to remember that he was at one time considered to be pretty much a hatchet man, the closest thing a mainstream television network could have to a Joe Pyne. He grew out of that.

  2. Two come to mind for me, and both are sports related.

    The first is one of my sports idols growing up; John Vanbiesbrouck, a hockey goaltender. After he retired he became part owner of a junior hockey team, and also became the coach and GM. After a bad game, he used a racial slur when referring to one of his players, Trevor Daley.

    The second is Joe Paterno. Not that I was a fan of his, but respected him. I know these high profile college football program aren’t 100% “clean”, but the public image of him and Penn State were “this is as clean as it gets.” The news this past fall was devastating. Not only that “clean” Penn State would have a scandal, but one so horrifying.

  3. For me, a lot. Two big ones:

    – Congress acting like the Borg and all voting for the war in Iraq (except Barbara Lee.) It’s one of the reasons I think Congress needs to be flushed like a toilet. Also makes me wonder why Lee didn’t get to run for President. She had the foresight to know it was a bad idea and the character to vote her conscience.

    – All the people in Congress and Bill Clinton for voting for the repeal of the elements of Glass-Steagall – the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act. Not only did it lead to the bubbles and 2008/2009 bursts, we’re now backing something like twenty times the size of the US economy in derivatives, which basically makes the FDIC meaningless.

  4. Dare I, Roger? Dare I? I DARE (sorry about this)!!!!

    Scott: I assume that you haven’t been following the news, because over the past few months, as more and more as come out, it’s fairly clear that Paterno was the only person involved in the mess who did anything right. You can argue that he didn’t do enough, but it’s also clear that had he gone public (which is probably the only other thing he could have done), the case probably would have evaporated and Sandusky would be a free man today. In November, the media wanted to put a face to the story, like they always do, and they chose the most high-profile one, Paterno’s. Even back then, it was clear other people were far more culpable, but nobody cared. Now, it’s even more clear that Paterno did everything he was supposed to do and even everything he legally could do. You can be disappointed in him for not resigning in disgust when nothing was done, but for me, it’s disappointing that the first narrative, which focused entirely on whatever Paterno should or shouldn’t have done, is the one that sticks. There are a lot of people more powerful than Paterno who did nothing, but the public doesn’t know who they are, so no one talked about them. Paterno might have disappointed many people, but I hope when you speak of your disappointment in him, you are aware of the entire story as it now stands, not as it was reported in two-minute intervals in November.

    Sorry, Roger. You know this story bugs the heck out of me, not only because of the tragic events but because it’s such a perfect example of media spin when they need a clear narrative even if the facts get in the way.

    Anyway, from an early age I have been cynical about people (probably my father’s doing), and while I’ve admired people, I’ve never been disappointed by them because we’re all human. I assume King’s adulteries are established fact, but does that lessen his importance and our admiration of him for doing what he did? I don’t think so. It’s an interesting conundrum, though, because ultimately, almost everyone lets us down in some way or another, just as we let people down in some way or another. Whether that’s unforgivable is another thing entirely.

  5. I thought Bill Clinton was a good president but I was really disapointed by his lying, and continuing to lie about his infidelities. I don’t care if he had sex with someone beside his wife, but to lie under oath is a crime! The women who accused him before Monica Lewinsky of sexual harassment have to be looked at in a new light. He was a good politician, but a flawed man.

  6. @ McKinnon:

    Going to sound bizarre, but he’s a lawyer. I actually buy his “I didn’t lie… it depends on the definition of ‘is’…”

    Long story short, it was wrong the way he handled it, but really, it was a private trial about a private problem, and I really don’t care.

    The Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act that I cite? Yeah. That’s the kind of lying and scheming that can collapse nations. Not even joking, that serious. That, to me, makes him a terrible president and any member of Congress who voted for it should be gone.

  7. I used to love Mel Gibson’s work, but it’s hard to, now. And I won’t go anywhere near Orson Scott Card’s books, since the man is very cheerful about his loathsome views.

    And yeah, Joe Paterno. Sorry, Greg, but he was, in my sight, as much a moral midget as the whole sorry lot at PSU who stage-managed this mess. And he should never have been elevated to that level of god-like status in the first place.

  8. Jaquandor: I agree that he should never have been elevated. But again, I don’t judge people based on insufficient information, and months later, we still don’t have all the information about what happened. Whatever actually happened, the treatment of Paterno by the media and by his bosses was disgusting.

  9. @ Jaquandor:

    Eh. I decided I can still like an artist or philosopher’s work even if they’re nuts after Dan Simmons and Michael Crichton.

    Was an ardent, ardent Clinton supporter and Democrat until a few years ago. Figuring out they’re just as rotten as Republicans was my big “unforgivable,” in the “no longer vote one way” sense.

  10. You’re right, Greg. I probably should have included all at PSU that were involved when I posted. I know it wasn’t only him. But I didn’t know those involved beyond Paterno, so they couldn’t have disappointed me (though they disgust me). I still feel that JoePa didn’t do enough. As you said, unfortunately for him, he was the public face of the fiasco.

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