I had the oddest exchange with someone the other day. As an example he brought up OJ Simpson. As OJ Simpson is about as neutral as it's possible to get these days, I'll just stick with him.
The example was... Would you hire OJ Simpson to be your crime reporter? (Okay, he mentioned an actual news company, but that's not neutral, so I'm skipping it.)
My response was supposed to be "Oh dear GAWD, NO!"
And I've been trying to figure out why. So I asked why.
And the response was that clearly I did not believe that OJ was guilty, or I would react with horror. And I ought to read up about the murders.
I do think he's guilty. I also think that the idea, the concept, of a really awful criminal becoming a crime reporter is a profoundly interesting one. It's a *job* after all, and people do need to find jobs after they're done with prison. Provided someone has skill as a writer, why not? OJ might be too well known, but maybe some other felon.
Had the guy asked "Would you allow your friend to *date* OJ Simpson?" my response would still not be outrage, it would simply be "No." So I really did try to figure out why this person thought that this example would make his point. There are people I don't trust, that I know are thieves (arrested and convicted) and I'm not going to put them in charge of the books. People I know with morals I disapprove of, but we give understanding where we can, advice if it's requested. If something doesn't require a call to the police, then apart from topically appropriate caution, what do people expect, what did this guy expect?
I suppose that there is a social context where people of good virtue made a point of crossing the street to avoid the woman with the painted face, that a reputation required that one did not associate with sinners or even appear to notice that those without social approval existed on the edges of your world. Where allowing your children to play with the children of the wrong family (or race) or where some shame made you and yours untouchable socially. One out of wedlock birth and your whole family could be ostracized.
Because even speaking to the wrong person could destroy your social standing, and no one could risk it.
And I thought we were past that a long time ago.
But I'm seeing it now, more often, in more situations. This or that person has an unapproved lifestyle, a belief that Good People no longer believe, something in their past, an association with someone else unapproved. And you are supposed to shame, supposed to shun, supposed to distance, and supposed to denounce.
ALL decent human beings are horrified by OJ Simpson's horrifying murders. The expectation is, that of *course* you will gasp in horror, and insist that this monster should never be allowed any place, forever, in society. Matrons should raise their hems and cross the street and shake the dust from their skirts, making sure that everyone knows that they feel properly.
And I refuse. If OJ Simpson can write, hire him as a crime reporter.