By Jan Hubbard
Many years ago, I met this very sharp, very cool priest who was in his late-20s and was a very holy man, but was also young and hip and sometimes mused how he wished he could buy a Corvette. Nothing wrong with that. But it is pretty original behavior for a priest.
He had an iconoclastic view on life and gave off-beat sermons that made a point, but were also entertaining. And then in private, he would talk about how much he enjoyed being a priest, especially parts of it. For instance, he admitted in a very excited way with a huge smile on his face: “I love confession!”
Yes, people came in to bare their souls and clean them up, too, and it was like having a legitimate reason to listen to very large secrets. It was not much different than reading the National Enquirer – except that everything was true.
I thought about the priest while watching Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey last week not because Armstrong was confessing to 14 years of lies, but because of the reaction to the interviews.
The best I can tell so far is that not only has no one accepted Armstrong’s apology, but giving him absolution is also out of the question. That’s when I thought about the priest. Lance went to a confessional to admit his sins and the response was: Sorry pal, you’re going to hell.
Understand the priest I’m talking about would have never done that – unless, of course, he had a big smile on his face. But it would have been an off-beat response.
And that’s how I feel about reaction to Armstrong’s interview with Winfrey. It’s not that people simply are not forgiving him, everyone seems to be reveling in Armstrong’s demise.
Now I admit I never had any dealings with Armstrong so I don’t have the feelings of those reporters who tried to expose him and were sued or ridiculed. Nor do I have the feelings of those reporters who supported Armstrong and have now lashed out because they were fooled.
But I find it remarkable that I can’t find anyone who has said, “Way to go, Lance. Way to come clean.”
As far as I can tell, only two people were happy with the interview – Lance and Oprah. Everyone else was disgusted.
Armstrong, no doubt, brought the reaction on himself. He admitted during the interview that he had been a bully, which, critics say, is a little like Lady Gaga saying, “I like to dress up on occasion.”
Armstrong not only lied about doping, but he sued people who tried to expose him and he won some of those suits. There were stories about Armstrong forcing members of his cycling team to take PED’s, but Armstrong denied those to Winfrey.
The reaction is a simple statement on how much of a bully Armstrong had been. This was a classic case of a bully being brought to his knees and everyone rejoicing in the brutality of it.
And in one sense, it’s easy to understand. No doubt in this case, Armstrong made it difficult to turn the other cheek. He also is not in position to preach to others: do unto me as you would have someone do unto you. He spent too much time doing unto others and a simple apology, obviously, is not going to create any good will.
Armstrong probably is getting what he deserved. It’s something he obviously did not think about during his 14 years of lies. And while he was cheating and getting away with it, he was arrogant and obnoxious to a degree that caused people to hate him.
But I will say this: Although I have no problem with those who criticize Armstrong, I am a little uncomfortable that some of his critics have been so gleeful. If you get a little bit too enthusiastic about kicking a man when he’s down, that doesn’t make you much better than that man. And then you are the one who has to go to confession.