Friday, April 13, 2007

"Restitution is Necessary for an Injury"

Don Imus has now had his meeting with the Rutgers women's basketball team. The meeting was hosted at the governor's mansion in New Jersey. In an ongoing story that seems unable to run out of twists and turns, Geoff Mulvihill reported for Associated Press on why the governor was not present at the meeting:

New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine was in critical condition Friday but expected to recover after his SUV crashed into a guard rail while heading to a meeting between Don Imus and the Rutgers women's basketball team.

The crash on the Garden State Parkway broke the governor's leg, six ribs, his sternum and fracturing a vertebrae. Authorities were still searching for a pickup truck driver whose actions were blamed for causing it.

Corzine, 60, won't be able to resume his duties as governor for several days, if not weeks, and he won't walk normally for months, Dr. Robert Ostrum said performing surgery on the governor Thursday night at Cooper University Hospital.

Nevertheless, the meeting went ahead as planned. Associated Press Television Writer David Bauder provided the following summary:

C. Vivian Stringer, the Rutgers team's coach, spoke briefly Thursday night after meeting with Imus and his wife at the governor's mansion.

"We had a very productive meeting," she said. "Hopefully, we can put all of this behind us."

While team members respected Imus' willingness to apologize, they wanted him to understand how they were hurt, said Rev. DeForest Soaries, Stringer's pastor, who joined the meeting. Imus tried to explain what he meant, "but there was really no explanation that they could understand," Soaries said on NBC's "Today" show.

"An apology is appropriate for an insult," he said. "But restitution is necessary for an injury."

I am particularly interested in the contrast of language between Ms. Stringer and Reverend Soaries. The latter reminded me of the discourse that emerged from those who phoned in to C-SPAN last Tuesday. At that time I mentioned the small trend of callers who wanted to talk about the hypocrisy of the media business, but there was another small trend who wanted to address another form of hypocrisy. They wanted to know why none of the ordained ministers who had voiced opinion about Imus had said anything about forgiveness! This question has now surfaced again: While Ms. Stringer was willing to use the language of forgiveness (albeit tentatively), the Reverend Soaries seemed more occupied with the language of bargaining.

This triggered a far more distant memory, of when I first saw Amadeus on the stage and heard a much younger Ian McKellan deliver Antonio Salieri's recollection of his own youth:

Every Sunday I saw Him in church, painted on the flaking wall. I don't mean Christ. The Christs of Lombardy are simpering sillies, with lambkins on their sleeves. No: I mean an old candle-smoked God in a mulberry robe, staring at the world with dealer's eyes. Tradesmen had put him up there. Those eyes made bargains, real and irreversible. "You give me so—I'll give you so! No more. No less!"

My lot is with Ms. Stringer. The discourse should be about forgiveness and, if deemed appropriate, acts of atonement. This is not an occasion for Salieri's or Reverend Soaries' "God of Bargains." If Ms. Stringer and Mr. Imus are sincere in their hope to "put all of this behind us," then I would like to hope that they succeed in their endeavor!

By way of a postscript, I see that commenter "DSmith" over at Truthdig made an interesting contribution to the discourse of forgiveness and atonement:

Imus vowed on Sharpton’s radio show, if allowed to stay and as part of his penance, he would raise untold millions of dollars for Sickle Cell Anemina, a disease that strikes thousands of blacks each year. With the influence Imus had with politicians and his fund raising prowess he could have tripled the amount of money raised for SCA. But to Sharpton and Jackson it was more important to humiliate Imus by making him bear his cross in the public square and I watched as these “Reverends” took great joy in placing a crown of thorns on Imus’s head. Remind you of anyone you heard about during Easter?

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