Happy Friday, friends and frienemies. It's been a helluva week, but not necessarily a bad one. Suck on that for a minute.
But while you absorb my attempt at philosophizing, here's the essence of today's moral debate: How do we determine what crimes can be forgiven and forgotten, and how do we determine which crimes are total deal breakers that even if forgiven will never be forgotten?
Off the top of my head, I'd argue sex crimes and murder are deal breakers.
But upon reflection of the Great Public Mindset that short list may not be completely accurate.
Yesterday my colleague Fred Grimm, a terrific local columnist, wrote a column about how various government agencies have mishandled a housing debacle for homeless convicted sex offenders in Miami-Dade County. The issue was that housing can't be found for these guys 'cause of different restrictions in local communities mandating that these guys can't live too close to schools and what not. So a big group of 'em is literally living under a bridge in Miami.
Now, for the record, I have no sympathy for sex offenders, whether they've served their time or not. It's not the kind of thing for which I'll accept "I've found Jebus!" And while I fancy myself something of a spiritual guy, I don't think I could bring myself to forgive this kind of crime.
Setting my feelings aside though, one government official in Fred's column argued that these sex offenders had paid their legal dues and presented more of a threat to the community, because they are living unmonitored under a bridge instead of at a real address where probation/parole authorities can keep a better eye on them.
Enough rambling though. Here's the crux of this post: Some readers who commented on Fred's column argued that some crimes - in this case sex crimes - are so bad that they warrant no form of redemption.
My snap judgment was that I agreed with those commenters, but I thought about it all night. And when I woke up this morning I was second guessing myself, because I couldn't come up with a solid "list" beyond sex crimes of which crimes allow for a second chance and which don't.
No need to rehash all of the ongoing saga of singers Chris Brown, 19, and Rihanna, 21. He's alleged to have beaten the crap out of her in his car shortly before the Grammys a few weeks ago. He's now been charged with two felonies in relation to the alleged beating. Entertainment industry pundits predict his career is done. If he did what he's accused of, I hope Karma and the prison system deal him a serious blow.
Thankfully Brown, if he's guilty (and the evidence is really piling up), didn't permanently injure Rihanna. But what if he'd killed her?
One of my former favorite authors, Nathan McCall, is a convicted killer, who saw some sort of light back in the day when he was in prison, started writing, got an education, and post-prison became a big time news writer and an author and a college professor.
McCall's turnaround has been chronicled in news reports in the past. He's been celebrated widely for being a new person and for being such a help and a voice to the downtrodden.
I used to be a huge fan of actor Charles Dutton. He's a convicted killer - he served time for manslaughter, a crime committed long ago in his "past" life
Both men were convicted of taking lives when they were younger. What if McCall had been found guilty of fondling someone - man, woman, or child - when he was a younger man? Would he have been given opportunities to become a star writer? What about Dutton? If his crime had been rape instead of manslaughter or if he'd driven drunk and struck and crippled a pedestrian, would have found a movie career after that?
R&B singer R. Kelly ALLEGEDLY likes to urinate on teenagers. That's not a crime, but it's damn sure nasty. After he was indicted by a federal grand jury several years ago for a host of sex crimes (for which he was later acquitted at trial) his album sales remained strong and spiked upward for a time.
British singer Amy Winehouse has had a very public battle with apparent and occasionally admitted substance abuse and erratic behavior - she has on several occasions assaulted autograph seekers and total strangers in the form of punches and slaps. Not as bad as girlfriend beating or sex assault or murder, but you could argue her alleged drug use is hurting kids, 'cause she's putting money in the pocket of some sidewalk pharmacist, giving him capital to continue funding his illegal industry.
Director Roman Polanski had sex with a teenager, was charged with a crime for it, and fled the country to avoid the law. In spite of that, some of Hollywood's biggest names have gone overseas to work with Polanski in recent years.
I could go on and on and on.
What's your take? Which crimes allow for a career after the criminal's dues are paid? Which don't?
BTW, don't forget to follow me at http://twitter.com/jamesburnett.