We all make mistakes in life and there is no doubt it is sometimes very difficult to admit it, cop your punishment, and move on. Social media has made that process even more difficult, because every man and his dog and his keyboard wants not only to administer a kick up the bum, but demands a personal apology, even if the transgression did not affect them in the slightest.
We have a new order that thrives in the arena of being outraged about everything and everybody. I envy only their energy. The socially active public have become less forgiving and more militant in calling for people to be sacked. I can personally vouch for that. There are genuine sackable offences but instant dismissal – which used to be threatened in the old days before multiple warnings and letters – is rarely used.
Two recent examples are Barry Hall and Don Nardella.
Disgraced Melton MP Nardella has repaid the almost $100,000 he claimed in residential expenses. He was basically forced to do so after the public reaction to his dealings. He was not sacked and still says he did nothing wrong, claiming he was acting within the rules. He did not make a mistake, he did not do anything illegal, but he did do the wrong thing.
He gets no sympathy when he says it has been a financial burden using most of his wage to pay back the money.
Barry Hall did make a mistake. He did not set out to intentionally offend everybody when he sat behind the microphone two Fridays ago, but he did. He is guilty of many things (disrespecting women perhaps, being out of touch with moral standards, the list goes on) and he has lost that job, probably forever. Is that fair? Like Nardella, he didn’t do anything illegal, but he did do the wrong thing. Time heals most wounds in life, and we learn from our mistakes, hopefully. Some good might come from Barry’s indiscretion in changing that testosterone-driven locker room mentality. We might also attract future politicians who adhere to the moral rules as well as the legal ones. We live in hope.