The example set by Sarah Palin today in accepting David Letterman's apology for insulting her children is extraordinary. She is showing the world how people should treat one another, particularly when they aren't getting along.
Here's the short lesson regarding insults: If an apology is an obligation, so too is forgiveness. When an apology is sincere, acceptance is owed.
I like Sarah Palin's view of things better. Forgiveness is divine. It shows intelligence is better than rage.
We too often forget not only the duty of forgiveness but also the power forgiveness has to generate good in the world. Thank Sarah Palin today for reminding us that forgiveness is often the road to progress, and it sure is better than wallowing in anger.
The American 24-hour news cycle uses a ratings "fuel-additive" I like to call Insult vs. Outrage.
We've seen it play out over and over again, year after year. Don Imus and the "Nappy Headed Hos. "Jimmy the Greek and blacks. Geraldine Ferraro and blacks. Mel Gibson and Jews. Jesse Jackson and Jews. Isaiah Washington and Gays. Ann Coulter and the entire left-wing of American politics.
You've seen how it works. First a celebrity says something that might be insensitive. Or it might only be perceived as insensitive. Sometimes it isn't insensitive at all, but it is a tool for activists like Al Sharpton to stay relevant, so they press the point beyond absurdity.
First the comment gets reported in the media. It starts slowly -- it's just a tease on the news or a post on Drudge or Gawker. Then there is a building period. This can be genuine outrage by the public as to a truly insensitive comment. Or, sometimes it's just orchestrated by leaders of certain groups, usually on the left, telling the sheeple who follow them to activate the outrage button on their pity power belts. Had the leaders not told them it's time to be upset, their mindless followers never would have been.
The next thing you know, every news outlet is consumed by the story and they won't let go of it until the participants, both "insulter" and "insultee," are forced to comment about it.
Unless of course the insult was about a rich white guy, a Christian, Republicans, all mid-Westerners or anyone with the last name "Bush." Then the media doesn't care.
Also, there are a few people who somehow have convinced the world it is OK for them to say anything they wish about anyone, and it's still charming, not insulting. Who, for instance? Don Rickles, you hockey puck!
Outrage is a political tool, so sometimes no matter how sincere an apology is, pundits on TV insist the apology isn't sincere and they encourage others to not accept it. After all, if the apology is accepted, the story is over and political gain from alleging your adversary is a racist, a misogynist, or a homophobe comes to a halt.
Some people would rather continue the damage, real or perceived, than do the right thing and accept an apology.
Here are the rules for accepting an apology:
- Is the person expressing true sorrow for the offense?
- Is the person resolute in promising to not do it again?
- Is the person offering or already serving a penance?
If the answer is yes, the burden shifts to the victim to forgive (although I know of no Letterman penance, other than appearing slightly contrite on TV, clearly Palin has a big heart and forgave him anyway). Make no mistake forgiveness is an obligation after a sincere apology. To fail to forgive can be a wrong in and of itself.
One famous example of an apology that many are refusing to accept is that of Michael Vick, the NFL quarterback who went to jail for dog fighting. Vick's apologies have been very sincere. He has clearly expressed his resolve never to do it again. He has served his penance -- his time in jail. He is square with house.
However, "animal rights" extremists refuse to accept his apology or forgive him. They are even rejecting his offer to do more penance by doing work for animal advocacy groups. The Humane Society wants to work with Vick, but PETA, who puts animals above people, rejects the idea.
There are NFL players who were allowed to take the field after being involved in killing people, not dogs, but I've never heard PETA complain about them. That proves the point that PETA, like others, feigns outrage for political purposes.
I like Sarah Palin's view of things better. Forgiveness is divine. It shows intelligence is better than rage. It shows thought is better than feelings when judging (got that Sonia Sotomayor?). It shows Sarah Palin is smarter and a better person than the people who have been attacking her this past year.
You betcha, Sarah (wink)!
Read more Tommy De Senoat www.JustifiedRight.com
Tommy De Seno is an attorney in New Jersey and contributor to Ricochet.com.