This morning the news came that NBC Today host Matt Lauer has been fired for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” A woman had come forward to report this to the NBC management on Monday. What she said Lauer had done that required his termination in management’s judgement, we do not know at this point
Today co-host Samantha Guthrie delivered the news of Lauer’s firing at the beginning of the program. She was distraught; they had worked together for years in harmony and mutual affection.
I was struck by her anguished question after she delivered the news..
She asked “How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly? I don’t know the answer to that.”
Good question and no single or easy answer.
You could decide that no matter how you had felt before, the revelation of bad conduct requires the person be “cast out,” made to pay the price of banishment from society for misdeeds that can not be condoned or forgiven (in addition to any punishment that is required by a Court of Law).
Or, you might consider an alternative as described in the Bible, Luke 15:11-20-24 (KJV). Here Jesus tells the story, a parable, of how a son demanded his inheritance from his father, left home, squandered it in wild living and when he had nothing left, not even food to eat, came begging back.
Jesus said: “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”
Which should it be for your friend Matt Lauer, Savannah? What punishment fits the crime. And what is love if it cannot be reconciled with a loved one’s misdeed? I can’t tell you, that’s up to you but you might think about the meaning of “love” and how in the case of the parable the Father reconciled his love for his son with his son’s misdeeds.
As the revelations against men who have “behaved badly” (or worse )finally, and properly, pour out from women who have suffered in silence for so long, there is in some quarters the cry across the land of a vengeful “off with his head,” no matter who, no matter what, no matter when, no matter how sincerely contrite the miscreant is.
That is wrong.
That certainly does not comply with any sense of justice being meted out on an individual basis for individual wrong doing and it certainly can not be squared with the word “love.”
Yes, we are in a “sea change” when it comes to the way men must treat women – with respect and a sense of equality and certainly when it comes to sexual matters always with an unwavering adherence to mutual consent.
I’m not arguing here that all former sexual assaults or mistreatments should be forgiven or left unpunished. There is an accounting required.
I am arguing that the “punishment should fit the crime” on an individual basis and that misdeeds or, if you will, “bad behavior” cannot always if ever require the withdrawal of love.
Or what is love?