Saturday, December 13, 2014

Marky Mark's atonement

Some of you may not be familiar with a story that is making the rounds in Boston this week, but Marky Mark (Mark Wahlberg) is back in the news.  He has a chain of hamburger restaurants and he wants to expand.  The problem is that he is not allowed by law because he has a felony on his record from beating the crap out of someone when he was young and impulsive.  Since then, he has atoned.  He has found religion.  He is a new man.  And he wants a pardon from the governor (who is leaving office this month), and has admitted that he is asking specifically so that he can expand his hamburger chain.

I have a bunch of questions on this case.  Perhaps the first question is why someone is prohibited from expanding the hamburger restaurant chain because of a 20 year old felony conviction.  There are people who get elected to state or national political office with felonies on their record, but you can’t expand a hamburger chain?  Something is definitely wrong there.

But let’s put that aside for now and look at Mark Wahlberg’s current problem.  Is his atonement believable?  He admitted he is only asking for the pardon because of the restaurant situation.  But according to the news, he has been practicing his atoned behavior for many years now and really seems like a changed person.  Except for one thing.  Apparently, he never asked forgiveness from the family of the guy he beat up.  Only from the governor.  Does that call into question the truth of this atonement? 

Second question is the difference between legal forgiveness and personal forgiveness.  It is very healthy to forgive anyone who has wronged you (link).  But the government isn’t a person and doesn’t need to worry about its psychological health.  If we imagine that there is a legitimate reason for a law that prohibits felons from having restaurant chains, should the governor grant pardons to get around it?  He still did the crime and did the time.  What is a legal pardon anyway?  I have always wondered about that. If a pardon is given because the law was unfair or perhaps changed since.  Or if the trial was unfair but not enough to be overturned.  But being sorry is a good reason to be personally forgiven, but not legally.  At least not for me.

I am not really sure what I think about this situation.  I think the original prohibition is foolish so my thoughts of the subsequent events is clouded.  But it is a good strawman to think about it.  And it is always e kick to make fun of Marky Mark since that is what many people called me in high school.