Monday, April 16, 2007

Lesson From Imus and Duke Lacrosse Players

Definitely two big stories in the media lately are the firing of Don Imus and the dismissal of charges against three Duke lacrosse players.

Imus was fired from his radio show for spewing a racial epithet at the Rutgers women's basketball team. Charges of rape against the Duke players were dropped by the North Carolina Attorney General, who said that prosecuting attorney Mike Nifong grossly mishandled the evidence, or lack thereof.

Because Nifong insisted on keeping the case open, for apparent political gain and even though the legal evidence was poor, the reputation of the Duke athletes was raked over the coals for months. Now, Nifong might lose his law license and get sued by the athletes for libel and abuse of power.

Imus' remark, once he said it, spread like wildfire. Imus was suspended for two weeks by his CBS radio syndicate, dropped by his cable TV channel MSNBC, abandoned by major corporate advertisers, and finally fired by CBS. The Rutgers women accepted Imus' apology, but that didn't help Imus keep his show.

There's one observation and one lesson I take away from the Imus and Duke lacrosse situations.

The observation is this: Sometimes one's misdeeds can bring about very unpleasant and very disproportionate consequences.

While we all have an opinion, Imus and the Duke lacrosse players would certainly say their "crime" in no way fit the consequences they suffered. Imus probably believes he should be allowed to keep his show. The lacrosse players likely think the charges against them should never have been filed, or should been quickly dropped. But life doesn't always dole out appropriate, proportional consequences. As the old saying goes, sometimes life ain't fair.

Here's the lesson: Your odds of avoiding very unpleasant, disproportionate consequences dramatically improve when you choose not to do stupid things in the first place.

If Imus kept his tounge under control and if those college kids didn't call for a stripper...none of us would be talking about any of this.

Galatians 6:7 says, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows."

And sometimes, that "harvest" is far more than you bargained for.

UPDATE: Victor Davis Hansen writes: "At the heart of both the Imus and Duke scandals is arrogance."