As everyone has heard, even those who do not watch the news, radio and television personality Don Imus falsely accused (although “jokingly”) the Rutgers women’s basketball team of looking like “nappy-headed hos.” After a week of apologizing and media attention focused on all involved, Imus has been fired from his television and radio show.
Just over a year ago, a few Duke lacrosse players were accused of sexually assaulting a stripper they had hired. Just this week, the charges were dropped. Apparently the District Attorney had a zeal for conviction more than a zeal for the pursuit of evidence and truth. Just this week, the D.A. apologized to the the three students. One of the student’s fathers responded with “too little, too late.”
Both of these situations captured the nation’s attention due to the racist and sexist overtones.
Several thoughts come to my mind:
*It’s a good thing that people are held accountable and suffer consequences for making false accusations. (Many others have been fired for saying similar things as Imus, and apparently, Imus had said similar things before. The D.A. may be disbarred).
*It’s a good thing to forgive people when they ask for forgiveness. (Would Imus have been fired had he set up a meeting with the Rutgers team before their news conference? The team never asked for him to be fired. They decided they would like to wait to make a judgment on that until after their meeting together).
*It’s a bad thing to see women as sex objects. (Hiring a stripper put these Duke players in a bad place even before the false accusations).
*It’s a bad thing to assume the worst of others based on their ethnic background or their notoriety. (Why do we assume people are guilty and wait for them to prove their innocence? Why do we think it is ok to ridicule people with some sort of fame?).
*Corporations don’t make moral stands but financial ones. Had sponsors not pulled out, MSNBC and CBS would never have fired Imus.
*So many misunderstandings or false accusations or difficult situations can be overcome by actually connecting with others. One of the simplest yet most profound statements came from one of the 19 year old Rutgers University basketball players. She posed the question, “Why would he say these things about us. He has never even met us.”
*These Duke lacrosse players are real people. They made mistakes, yet they didn’t do what they were accused of doing. They suffered tremendous consequences, yet now that they have been cleared they need to move forward.
*These women athletes are real people. They did nothing to deserve these comments. Often overlooked in this situation is the context of Imus’ comments. His producer used the phrase “hos” before Imus. Just after they made fun of the Rutgers students, they mentioned how good looking the Tennessee players are. Why do men think it is ok to judge all women based on their appearance (in this case a 66 year old man talking about teenagers)?
*At the same time, Don Imus is a real person who made a mistake. I think firing him makes sense (just ask Jimmy the Greek or Rush Limbaugh about their days as sports broadcasters on television), but I hope these women can move forward forgiving him. Forgiveness doesn’t mean what he did was ok. Forgiveness doesn’t even require genuine repentance. We can forgive and move forward even if the offending party never acknowledges what he did was wrong. That is the remarkable power of forgiveness (take a look at Stephen in Acts 7:60 when asks God not to hold the sin of his killers against them).
*Mike Nifong, the zealous prosecutor who may have been motivated by his political aspirations, is a real person who made a mistake, yet even still, these Duke Lacrosse players need to enjoy the fact they have been absolved, forgive Nifong, and stop hiring strippers.
*Strippers are real people too.
All involved are real people needing to move past these tragic and difficult situations. How different these situations would have been had those involved connected with each other as real people rather than seeing each other through racist or sexist or ignorant or angry lenses.
Political correctness isn’t enough. When we get tired of tolerating others, we should try loving them.