published Friday, July 20th, 2012

Courter: Have we become too quick to forgive?

The philosophy of "It's better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission" has been around for a long time, but when did it become a way of life for so many people?

It used to be more of a way of doing things in the business world than a morals driver. As in, midlevel managers bogged down in bureaucracy learned that they could get things done more quickly operating that way.

In most of these cases, the ends probably did justify the means. Reordering stock without waiting for a manager's approval might indeed keep the business running.

Now, it seems folks figure they can do whatever they want, and if they get caught, they need only apologize and all will be well. It helps if the person begging for forgiveness can produce some real tears.

Apologizing for cheating on a spouse or stealing from the boss and expecting to be forgiven seems at the least disingenuous, but we see this all the time with politicians and entertainers. It has long been understood that if Richard Nixon had admitted to his role in the Watergate break-in, his legacy would be much different than it is today.

Some folks have added a new layer to this way of thinking by believing that if they've done some really good things in life, they can and should be forgiven for knowingly doing something wrong. And the public seems to have bought into it.

R. Kelly, you might remember, was able to get people to "focus" on his music and forget that he'd been caught doing things he should not have with an underage girl. Chris Brown tore up a dressing room and cried on TV, and suddenly no one seemed to care anymore that he beat Rhianna.

In a lot of the cases we've seen lately, it seems that the person begging for forgiveness is really more upset that they got caught and that their good life will be disrupted than they are about what they did.

Some folks at Penn State University, for example, want so badly to protect Joe Paterno's reputation and legacy, they are willing to rationalize what happened there. Protecting the football program became more important than protecting children.

Asking for forgiveness for one mistake, which we all make, is one thing. Asking people to forgive and forget something that was done for purely selfish reasons for more than a decade, and which in this case led to others being horribly hurt, is much harder.

Or it should be.

• • •

As of last week, Adele's "21" is the only album to have passed the 1 million units sold mark in 2012, according to Nielsen Soundscan. It has actually sold 3.8 million copies this year. That's not bad for a record that was released in February 2011. It sold 5.8 million copies last year, in case you were wondering.

But what does the fact that no other album has topped 1 million in sales say about the music industry? Probably just that people aren't buying entire albums anymore, but what strikes me is that there is more really good music out there available today than there has been a long, long time.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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