Pete Rose and Michael Jackson:
Can we ever trust either of these men with what they love most?
Jackson was entrusted with the welfare of the children who came to spend time with him. He allegedly violated that trust in the most monstrous way imaginable. His defense is or presumably will be that his love of children is so extraordinary because he never had a childhood of his own. As a child he was singing about adult romantic love and sex, working sometimes 14 hours a day rehearsing and never having time to just play and be a boy, a crime in itself. Now that he is an adult, he is confusing, I believe, the feelings of satisfaction in the companionship and love of the children with whom he spent the night with inevitable adult sexuality. This is not an excuse, but it is a sickness. Lying about it, being in denial of it, is a part of that sickness. While the children who accuse him have allegedly suffered, Jackson also suffers, albeit in a much different way. His malady manifested itself in the worst possible way for those kids and for Michael Jackson. They were hoping for the best possible experience, they allegedly got the most destructive; he wanted to exist in the world of childhood, he most likely will now be forbidden from it.
That Jackson is a brilliant and gifted entertainer is without question. But can we ever trust him with a child again?
Pete Rose earned the trust of millions of fans of the game of baseball, a game already stained by the scandal of 1919, and there is surely no doubt that he, by his own admission, dishonored the integrity of the sport, betraying the trust of those fans. Psychologists specializing in addictions have reported that the betting slips and other empirical evidence of Rose’s gambling indicates a serious problem. Not an excuse, but a sickness. It has been pointed out that Rose does not seem contrite, that he lied for 14 years. Lying about it, being in denial of it, is part of that sickness. Fans of baseball have suffered a violation of the honor of the game. Rose suffers from an addiction. Rose’s love of the game, his immersion in the world of baseball manifested itself in the worst way possible for baseball, those millions of fans, and, ironically, for Pete Rose, who continues to suffer under a ban from what he loves most.
That Pete Rose is one of the greatest to ever play the game is arguable (I say this out of respect for the opinion of my friend Don who believes that Rose's sole accomplishment is longevity); I believe without question that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. But can we ever trust him in baseball again?
Note: I am not equating child molestation with gambling, but rather considering both of these men and their alleged crime and infraction, respectively, in the context of forgivness for the unforgivable. It is a perspective that I found intriguing in light of the parallels that it forgrounded in both of these situations. As someone who has suffered from and struggled in the aftermath of both child abuse and addiction, this connection between these two men presented itself clearly to me, perhaps emerging from my own readiness or incapacity to forgive myself on any given day. I am not saying that I forgive either or both of them, nor am I purporting that anyone else should or should not forgive them for what they allegedly did or didn't do.