Written as a yes/no question, this is a very difficult one to answer. My short answer is yes and no. I write yes because I believe that anybody who commits a crime and pays his dues is entitled to another chance. I wrote no because it seems as if only celebrities are truly given a second chance. I think of Rush Limbaugh, Martha Stewart and MIchael Vick as examples.
Rush Limbaugh used his friends to further his drug addiction. Martha Stewart was involved in the insider trading nonsense which screwed a lot of people out of a lot of money. Michael Vick had his dog fighting ring. All of these are despicable acts. I suppose one could say they’ve done their time. Are all entitled to a second chance? Yes they are, but no more so than the rest of us. And therein lies the rub.
Sugar coat it all you want, but Rush Limbaugh is nothing different than a common heroin addict. He got hooked on Oxycotin, which is essentially synthetic heroin. I’m the first to sympathize with addictions. Though I’ve never been there myself, I’ve worked with hundreds of drug addicts in the past. It’s nothing to be taken lightly.
However, Rush Limbaugh used doctors he knew and was, supposedly, friends with to write multiple prescriptions. He was willing to risk his friends licenses and livelihoods for a fix. Not unusual. Most junkies would do the same thing. But, Limbaugh is no ordinary junkie. He never did five minutes of jail time. Supposedly, he went through rehab and all’s right with the world. What burns me up is, he’s free to go back to his multi-million dollar radio gig and continue to deride left-wing causes (such as rehabilitation for drug addicts). If a common street junkie were caught up in a smash-and-grab at a jewelry store just to feed his habit, Rush Limbaugh would be the first to say lock him up and throw away the key.
Martha Stewart and Michael Vick are in similar circumstances. Martha Stewart burned a lot of people-including fans. She’s doing just fine now, thank you. Michael Vick did actually do a little bit of time and his future is uncertain. I’ll bet he ends up signing on with some team and making more in a year than I do in a lifetime. And, as far as I’m concerned this is fine and dandy. But, the problem is, it isn’t even across the board.
I know a guy. It doesn’t matter how I know him. It just so happens that he is mildly mentally retarded. If you met him, you likely wouldn’t notice his disability at first meeting. He drives. He’s held jobs in the past. He does what he needs to do to survive, including grocery work and construction.
A couple years ago, a friend of his gave him a computer. Pretty generous. While learning the ins and outs of his new machine, my friend accidentally discovered some software that linked him to a pornography site. Being naturally curious, he looked around the site and actually ordered a video. Turns out the video was actually a bit of child pornography. My friend ended up getting arrested for trafficking child pornography. This was truly an honest mistake made by someone who can easily be swayed. I’m not saying what he did wasn’t wrong. I’m saying that others have committed far worse crimes. The point is, my friend is now a registered “sex offender” and, let’s face it, he’s never going to find work again. Is this fair? Maybe-maybe, not. But, I promise you that if this were Rush Limbaugh (or Martha Stewart or Michael Vick), they wouldn’t be worrying about their livelihoods.
Should celebrity ne’er-do-wells be given a second chance? Of course they should. Everyone deserves a second chance. The problem is, second chances need to be given equally and fairly. Not just to those whos names we recognize.