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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pat Tillman and Michael J Fox on Punishment and Rehabilitation

            “You are not who you are at your worst moment” is the message from Jon Krakauer’saccount of a youthful fight that Pat Tillman got into (as written in the book Where Men Win Glory), savaging a teenager by the name Darin Rosas, who he incorrectly perceived was with a group of teenagers looking to do damage to his friend Jeff Hechtle. Hechtle was actually the instigator to his own problems, but Tillman didn’t know that, so he saw the opportunity to swiftly and surely take out the biggest guy in the group as doing the right thing for a friend with a medical condition who was in serious trouble.
            He didn’t ask questions; he just did.
            Instead of talking about it first, he did the wrong thing and faced a potential felony charge, which would cause him to lose a college scholarship to play football. Nevertheless, instead of punishing him heavily, the judge considered her options and gave him a misdemeanor with 30 days in a youth facility and lots of community service. As a result of what could have been but wasn’t, he chose to take the opportunity to be a better man for the rest of his days, which saw him be an NFL star until 9.11, when he gave up a multi-million dollar contract to join the Army as a Ranger.
            Long story short, he later died for his choice to give up football to defend our country from real bad guys, but this isn’t about that. It’s about punishment. It’s about the choice to take the nuclear option or to rehabilitate a person at fault. Something needs done, but does the worst option need done? Rosas’s injuries said that something sufficient needed to happen, but did it mean destroying Tillman’s future to do it?
            We can debate that at length, but in the end, for the confusion the decision showed at the time, especially for Rosas’s family and friends, the severity of it was enough to wake up a young knucklehead and get him on the right foot again to not be such a violent jerk.
            To a degree, when we put our kids in time out or ground them, we choose to give a punishment, but we give them an option to forgive and forget about it tomorrow… hopefully.
            If you’re Christian, you’re obviously aware of “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Even if you’re not, I see it as a pretty good rule to live by. In fact, I’ve had these words printed out and taped on my office cabinet door for a couple years. Here, I like to remind myself that for all of the times that I seem to say “help me get out of this,” I should be offering the same to other people who might not be having the best day of their life when it comes to having my job duties decide their fate while still grading them fairly and accurately.
            For our desire to be lenient, we can’t always do this, nor can we be happy with imposing a serious grounding. Patterns are what they are. They have to be recognized by us or our overseers so that they can be redirected.
That’s just life.
Sometimes, we’re a cat purring on the sofa. Other times, we’re a bull in a china shop. Eventually, we all need to redirect for the mistakes we make. After all, no human is perfect. We recognize this, and we deal with situations of ourselves and others individually, fairly, and professionally. Whether it’s with employees, kids, students, friends, or family. Striking out to kibosh this stuff, while sometimes necessary, isn’t standard operating procedure for routine transgressions.
            Many people recognize this with their views on the justice system, for right or wrong. I don’t write this to be about that, but I will say that especially from a liberal viewpoint, there is questioning of the death penalty, prisoner rights, and the right to vote for felons. However, with the job system, liberal people seem to be very prone to go nuclear on employees for non-work related things in a much more conservative way than they would about other issues like leniency on drug-related crimes or not shooting at criminals robbing people’s houses.
            TakeTwitter handle guy Ice, who chose to troll Michael J. Fox to ask him, “Yo @realmikefox you gon do the #MannequinChallenge or nah?” The response from Fox was “SMH (shaking my head),” which was graceful in not rising to take on this discussion, but instead, it sought to address it for what it was: something impossible to believe would come from anyone.
            As I’ve been known to say, sometimes people just have a tendency to show their worst colors / suck / in the words of the Germans, be “nicht so gut.” I’m glad to see Fox didn’t go that route. Rather, he showed class. Kudos, Mike. That’s why so many people really do idolize and respect you.
            Nevertheless, the response from Fox’s defenders went further than that: “their RT @Sucmytwidder@OfficiallyIce Wonder how @Footaction feel about there (incorrect spelling on tweet) employees making fun of people with medical illness.”
            As a fellow sufferer of Parkinson’s who has lived long enough to experience bullying as well as to feel regret for being a youthful knucklehead who would like to take back things that I said to others, I clearly see how horrible and mean these words are. If they’re making fun of his tremors, it’s uncool to the highest level. If they’re making fun of the symptom of freezing (literally having the mind stop in the middle of walking so that the body freezes into place as it doesn’t know what to do next), they’re equally uncool to the highest level.
            But is this grounds to be fired?
            If Ice is out a job, does he end up on unemployment? Welfare? Angrier than he already is with the system that has relegated him to selling shoes for a living (no knock on that since my uncle followed in the footsteps of his ancestor to own his own shoe store, but it does mention that Ice probably can’t be doing much better than minimum wage at his job) instead of storming the globe as something internationally famous? Is his comment worth the nuclear option on him? If so, then who hires him next time when the time comes that he can be “forgiven?”
            What I’m getting at is could this man be rehabilitated? If he sat down with a bunch of people who had Parkinson’s, could we educate him to what we feel and live through so that he was able to see that jokes, while funny to some, are unfunny to more people, especially people who live with disabilities / difficulties?
            People will have the opinions that they do. Some will change when they see these are wrong. Others will still bully and troll and dislike and hate on sheer presence alone. We can’t change them, no matter how much we try or scream or attack them for being “evil.” We definitely can’t sing second grade songs with them to get them to learn.
Simply put, you can’t persuade people who are against you, so don’t try.
            For that matter, many of us can’t even protest Foot Action since we don’t shop there. I know I don’t. To tell you the truth, the last time I bought new shoes, I couldn’t have cared one bit what the salespeople, stockers, and employees at the shop did with their life. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like them, but it does mean that I never had a chance to interact with them in a way that would allow me to see if they were something unsavory.
Most places I go, I rarely see people on a “human” level. To be honest, most of us don’t, and that’s not bad. It just is. Occasionally, we’ll talk to waitresses or bank tellers on a personal level. Most times, we are just happy to get our stuff or our service as hope we will receive it when we pay for it. We want to be respected, and we want to like what people do for us without darkening our day, but rarely do we get into someone’s choice in politics, gender preference, religion, entertainment cravings, lifestyle, family, or hobbies, unless we see a picture on their desk to say something like “Wow! You went to ___” or “Cute kid!” or “That’s a huge marlin you caught!”
What I’m saying is Ice was a Jerk, but unless he’s a jerk to me on the job, I'm not asking to have him fired. Besides, I’m not planning to invite him over for cold drinks, pizza, and watching sports, so let’s at least cut him a break at his job, even if we really do have to readdress him socially.
            Here, my point is simple. Ice messed up. It would be nice for him to say, “I’m sorry. I was out of line. My bad.” Nevertheless, the world isn’t going to end if he doesn’t. Trolls exist. The politically correct can’t stop them. The sane middle can’t change them. The extremes that agree will always agree because that’s just where they ended up in their similar life trip. Nevertheless, if we took everyone out of work who ever said anything inappropriate and offensive, our country would be completely unemployed.
The key is to learn and to be better than stupid offhand typed and written comments.
Personally, I’m trying to work on my own karma. Some days, I do better than others. All the same, I’m trying. I hope Ice is, too. Mr. Fox, the rest of the world, and myself have better things to do than have to waste even one second of our time with something as simple as typing 3 letters to redirect him to be a less jerkish person than his most public action showed that he could be.
            Let’s just hope we can rehabilitate him at the simplest level before casting boulders at his glass house while being holier than thou about how perfect our own lives are. 
            After all, our own crap doesn’t smell like roses either.

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