A Question of Character
By Diogenes ( articles ) | Feb 18, 2004
From a news story on Bishop O'Brien's conviction for hit-and-run:
In a news conference after the trial, jurors said they believed the bishop did not act reasonably when he drove away from the accident, which shattered his windshield. "This was obviously not just a little bird flying into the windshield," juror Erik Mikkelsen said. "We all have compassion for the bishop, but we felt that what he did was not the way a reasonable driver should react."
Well, right. And "reasonable" here should mean reasonably humane as well as reasonably aware of what's happening around him.
Suppose it had happened differently -- that O'Brien had been mildly intoxicated when, unavoidably, he struck and killed a man who walked out in front of his car. Suppose further that, horrified, O'Brien had stopped instantly, ran over to the victim, tried to resuscitate him, and phoned for an ambulance or put him in his own car and drove him to the ER. Perhaps most of us would feel that, while justice demanded that O'Brien undergo the due punishment, he was still deserving of sympathy: though caught in an appalling misfortune, his underlying compassion showed through.
But that's not the way it happened. Having run away from he harm he caused, he continued to run away from responsibility for that harm.
Maybe, in some twisted sense, O'Brien was sincere when he testified he'd never have left the scene if he knew he'd hit a human being. Maybe he was sincere when, earlier this year, he claimed he'd never knowingly put children at risk by re-assigning molester priests. But if so, he's a profoundly disturbed man, a man you wouldn't trust to deliver newspapers on a bike. Not for us, obviously, to ask why his brother bishops trusted him with the care of souls.
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