Shame and Redemption

You might be surprised by Dalrymple’s conclusions in City Journal on the UK’s Christopher Huhne-Vicky Pryce scandal: he sympathizes with Pryce (though not with Huhne) in a piece calling for understanding and second chances for those who have done wrong:

Nevertheless, the experience in Manchester caused me to think of the proper attitude toward lawbreakers once they have served their punishment. Often, the question is put as if it were one of forgiveness, but this seems wrong. For example, neither I nor the law can forgive Vicky Pryce for having tried to implicate a third party; only the third party can do that. Since it is not in our power to forgive, neither is it in our power to withhold forgiveness; to speak of forgiveness at all, then, is a mistake. What we can do and often ought to do is agree to give someone another chance, to forget the past, not in the sense of expunging it from our minds—which is beyond our power, in any case—but not to dwell on it, not to treat people permanently as if only their bad or their worst acts counted (unless, of course, they are repeated to the extent that they define the person).

2 thoughts on “Shame and Redemption

  1. JimS

    I wasn’t surprised. Huhne initiated the crime, though I am certain that Dalrymple would advocate a second chance for him as well. He was correct how we may drawn incrementally along in such a scenario versus someone approaching us on the street with such a scheme. As he noted, these things move along incrementally rather than quickly as the evidence often makes it appear.

    I thought he was remiss in not being more critical of the judge who clearly should have known better. He might have quoted Shakespeare, “The croaking raven doth bellow for revenge.” but that might have appeared racist. I forgot who said when seeking revenge dig two graves, but in this case we might have needed at least three.

    I do not think he would have been a prison doctor if he had a “lock-em-up-n’-throw-away-the-key” mentality. As he noted, forgiveness is not ours to give, but a second chance may be. He never said that punishment wasn’t needed or unjust. I was surprised again he didn’t quote Shakespeare, “Use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?” I know people who have tried to go straight, but their crime tarnishes their ability to get a job, advanced education, certification or licensing, even a bad credit rating can keep one from employment to say nothing of a place to live. Many ex-cons suffer the rest of their lives for their crimes.

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