29 November 2014

Statute of Limitations

Some of the news is making me think about how long penalties continue, or how long we hold something against a person.

Consider the sad case of Ray Rice. The facts of his conduct are not in dispute. He did punch his then girlfriend, and knock her out. The NFL, with its suddenly heightened sense of outrage suspended him, and his team terminated his contract. My understanding is that he and his now wife are working on anger management issues with professional help. Mr. Rice is now, thanks to an arbiter's ruling, eligible to play, and is a free agent. He can be signed by any team in the league.

Mr. Rice is a world class running back. Any team can negotiate a contract and pick up an impact player. He would need to learn the new team's playbook, but if your team is looking at a playoff run, he would be a potential asset. I do not know if he has been working out to stay in playing shape, but my hunch is he has.

So here the questions: will someone offer him a contract? If he does return, will the fans react with anger?

Another case, another profession. In Nevada, the speaker-elect, one Ira Hansen resigned after a newspaper article accused him of being a racist and homophobe. The accusations were based on things he said, some in columns he wrote for a Nevada papter, thirteen years ago.

This man may be a racist homophobe. I do not know. What I do know is that I would not want everything I said or wrote thirteen years ago examined and then used as evidence against me. In thirteen years, my views, and society's views have changed. I may have said something at least insensitive thirteen years ago. Happily, I do not recall, and I do not think anyone else does.

So here is my question. When is enough enough? We have reached a moment that makes, "racist" a totally destructive. "Homophobe," and wife or child abuser are not far behind. Mr. Rice has served his suspension time. Should he be considered by teams that need a running back -- now especially when almost no good backs are available?

I dunno. I have to believe people can learn, that repentance matters. If that is not true, my only hope for eternity is dashed. "Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone."

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