Screw up, pack up.
That's pretty much how it goes in life.
At least in corporate life, where if you slip, count on getting a pink slip.
Not all the time, but enough of the time that every time I hear someone say, "I'm sorry," I know it's a matter of time before someone's sacked.
Usually the person saying 'I'm sorry."
Like that commentator who ripped Sarah Palin, then apologized for it. Still got fired for it.
Or Paula Jones blurting out a regrettable epitaph that regrettably ended her career.
Despite their regrets, despite their constant apologies, invariably it's not enough.
We live in a world where we want instant action, and oftentimes, instant justice and vengeance.
And we won't stand for anything less.
Bad news rolls, some heads better roll with it.
So when Chris Christie quickly fired two top aides when a bridge scandal hit, the thinking was, at least somebody's getting their just desserts.
Now, me on this whole gunsmoke justice thing?
I frankly think it goes a bit too far.
Maybe because I see so much of it in the media, where anchors say stupid stuff all the time, including me, but woe to the anchor who goes a bit too far, or wanders a bit too much from the prompter.
He or she is promptly toast.
Maybe it's our sensitivities.
Maybe it's the lawsuit-driven-world in which we live, but this notion of firing people, then asking questions later, does worry me.
That doesn't mean if you goof up, you shouldn't be held accountable, by all means you should.
And if you're in government and you botch something really big, you shouldn't even wait to be held accountable.
Dignity alone should force you to fire yourself. Or at least not wait months, sometimes years, promising you're going to do something, but never do.
But my biggest worry with this big head on a stick thing is it solves nothing and it it can easily backfire, based on little more than a few folks getting fired up.
All it takes is a concerted cabal of ticked off e-mailers, and you're gone.
Or some bad media publicity and you're toast.
Or in politics, some bad headlines, and someone's frantically calling for your head.
I don't know if Governor Christie firing some aides who did things he said he never authorized is right or wrong. I just don't know enough about the case.
I do know that doing so without asking who else might have been involved and why, risks repeating the same thing again.
We're so busy looking for vengeance that we spare little time looking for facts.
But maybe because I screw up so much myself, I tend to be more lenient on judging others too harshly.
Because the last thing we in the media want to do when calling for heads on a stick, is to think justice has been served when so many other questionable folks continue to stick around.