Could there be a better time of year than this for the Australian cricket team to decide to crucify themselves, their careers, their reputations and the good name of the entire game, if not of our entire sports-loving nation, on a willow cross of their own making?
Easter is traditionally a time of redemption, and perhaps it was with that in mind that the captain of our ball-tampering team, Steve Smith, assumed ‘all would be forgiven’ if he simply owned up to having done wrong, promised it was a ‘one-off’, and then declared such a grievous sin would never again occur ‘under his leadership’.
Smith’s instant mea culpa was straight out of the modern PR book on crisis management. Quickly ‘fess up, look as astounded by your own bad behaviour as you can get away with, promise to do better in future and trust that all will be forgiven (or more importantly, forgotten) within the next news cycle or two.
This approach is of course derived from the famed ‘Oprah’ morality code, honed over the last two or three decades by chat show queens such as Ms Winfrey and others of her ilk, who offer a soothing forgiveness so long as the tearful confessions are suitably ‘sincere’ and, of course, delivered during prime time TV. Salacious details of one’s own wrong-doing also help carry a sinner along the path to career rehabilitation, particularly if the ratings are good. Even Bill Clinton, the US president who happily performed unusual sex acts with his intern in a broom cupboard alongside the Oval Office, was forgiven unconditionally by his power-hungry wife; managing to walk away with both his reputation and his cigar more or less intact.
Forgiveness for sins has always been a lucrative field, with the Church – particularly the Catholic Church – having historically been extremely adept at turning a pretty coin out of a sinner’s desire to unburden his or herself of their sins.
But things are different this time around. Thanks to the enhanced intolerance of our neo-puritanical age – epitomised by the hypocritical and hysterical rage of the #MeToo Hollywood crowd in their sinister, figure-hugging, low-cut black dresses – forgiveness for transgressions is getting harder to come by. No chat show couch would these days be capable of offering redemption to the likes of Harvey Weinstein (still no charges pressed), Kevin Spacey (ditto) and other such sinners of the flesh.
Yet in place of old-fashioned Christian morality, we now have a vile and dangerous faux-morality that, as Christopher Akehurst writes in this issue, worships at the altar of neo-Marxism; the very antithesis of our Judaeo-Christian Western heritage of enlightenment and, more importantly, the presumption of innocence. It is increasingly clear that this new code of morality offers ‘forgiveness’ based entirely on who you are and who you have offended, i.e. which tribe you belong to in the ‘identity politics’ game, and which ‘progressive’ sin you have committed. For example, in this new, hyper-judgmental era, there is no condemnation whatsoever of the murderous homophobia or misogyny that is rampant within, say, Islam. Indeed, as Daisy Cousens points out, authorities in Britain overlooked the gross abuses of white girls by Pakistani men for fear of appearing ‘racist’. Yet there, as here, the harshest condemnation – and social and professional ostracism – is meted out should a straight, white, Anglo-Saxon male dare question the morality of, say, teaching homosexuality to kids or – horror! – suggest a child should have both a mother and a father.
That our modern moral compass appears to be struggling to align itself to traditional values is increasingly of concern. But the rot starts at the top, with our own leaders and politicians increasingly prepared to bend the rules to their own advantage.
Far more disturbing than the ball- tampering cheating is, for example, the allegation concerning the misuse of taxpayers’ funds in delivering government to Daniel Andrews and Labor in Victoria. Yet where condemnation of the cricketers was swift and merciless, Mr Andrews and Co., despite having equally been ‘caught out’, appear to have no need to atone, let alone be punished, for their sins. Why not? Because they are of the Left?
As Giles Auty points out in his column, ball-tampering is as old as the English village green itself. Smith and his cheats deserve what they get. But would their sin have been more readily forgiven had they been, say, Muslim, gay, transgender or indeed women?
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator Australia for less – just $20 for 10 issues