September 23, 2018

Norm MacDonald Has a Point

Not in his boneheaded dismissals of the #MeToo movement and the trauma undergone by victims of sexual harassment and assault, of course, but in his comments about forgiveness.

“The model used to be: admit wrongdoing, show complete contrition and then we give you a second chance,” the comedian told the Hollywood Reporter in a controversial interview published this week. “Now, it’s admit wrongdoing and you’re finished.”

Some might call that karma, just deserts for bad behavior. But if there’s no room to come clean, there’s no room for repentance, either — no lesson learned, no possibility for growth. As Mr. Macdonald noted, “the only way to survive is to deny, deny, deny.”

I don’t want to minimize the seriousness of sexual coercion and intimidation, or the absolutely sickening experience of being intimately touched in an unwanted and unwarranted way. But if we don’t leave people the option of recovering from their misdeeds, then nobody gains — not the wrongdoer, not the wronged. And we’ve all done wrong at some point, to some degree.

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