So Bob Hutton, keen to be seen to be keeping up with the times, has posted on Rolf Harris's conviction for sexual abuse of children. In this, he reminds me of the BBC's stunningly biased "Thought For The Day" strand; pick a topical story, make a few perfunctory non-religious remarks, and then tack God, Buddha, Jesus, or Mohammed onto it.
Anyways, first off, I'd like to point out what Bob doesn't say.
In eight paragraphs containing four-hundred and eighteen words he talks of how Harris needs to accept God and be forgiven by Jesus, or vice versa, or both. He talks of the shame Harris has brought on himself. He talks of the distress to Harris's family.
Nowhere—not once in four-hundred-odd words—does Bob mention the harm and distress caused by Harris to the victims of his crimes. Priorities, Bob; you're doing them wrong.
Now I don't know about you, Gentle Reader, but my first thought in such cases is of the victims and how both the crime and the court case have affected them. But then, unlike both Bob and his god, I care about people as people, not as machines manufactured for the prime purpose of producing praise for vain deities.
The most important thing, it appears, is that Harris should earn God's forgiveness.
Well, erm… no. The most important thing is that potential victims should be protected from those who would prey on them. If there's any lesson to be learned from Harris's case, it's that as a society we have almost completely failed to do that in the past and we need to do better—much better—in the future.
And here's the thing, regarding forgiveness. The only meaningful forgiveness is that which might be extended by the victims of our actions. Your god may, given the doubtful proposition that it exists at all, choose to overlook a harm not done to her/him/it, but it has no moral right to—indeed, it cannot, given that it isn't the victim—forgive a harm done to a third party.
But then, forgiveness from your victim—if possible at all—needs to be earned; which takes both hard work and the honesty to admit that you've hurt someone. It's so much easier, isn't it, to pretend that the slate has been wiped clean after an invisible entity gave you a free eraser, than it is to take responsibility for your own actions.
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