Booing Tom Brady

If we will learn anything, we need to stop the stoning

My heart sank when Tom Brady got boo’d at the Super Bowl Pregame Show. Something inside me wanted to justify the response. “Well, he cheated…he deserves this.” But I reject that motive. And we lose much of our soul by justifying it.

Everyone deserves the consequences of their actions. But do they deserve to be mocked?

We all deserve the consequences of our actions. But do we deserve to be mocked?

I feel similar resistance for many limelight personalities who fall short in some particular way. I may have been vocal about Doug Phillips’ affair, but there was a wicked online community who enjoyed his fall. My heart sank when Bill Cosby confessed of his past. He was my favorite comedian. Also—and you may tease me for this one if you like—my heart went out even to Justin Bieber when he got arrested in Florida.

Whenever another spotlight success gets humiliated in the public eye, my biggest concern is for the public stoning they will inevitably face. They may deserve their consequence, but the public hatred is disgraceful.

It isn’t the human failure that surprises me. It shouldn’t surprise you, either. It takes incredible courage to hold true in the limelight, and time and time again failures will inevitably come to the surface. I’ve had a taste of it in my own way, my own failures being exposed, and a part of me regrets ever taking the stage.

Here’s what bothers me: the online hatred. Many get seduced into the digital mob. Just read the comments on some of the threads (like this one I posted). The vile anger is disturbing, much of it clearly sick.

The self-justified, unhinged, vile hatred for whomever gets in the way of worthy problems that should be explored. The loud and bombastic haters get in the way of the conversation.

I enjoy exploring the depths of dysfunction. In a healthy way, of course, I get into the psychology of failure, especially the failures I have found myself wrapped up in. Tom Brady, I hope, would find much value in an honest conversation about his failure to play by the rules. But he knows all too well of the jeering mob who will be waiting to crucify him for his honest attempt to come forth. Discussion lost, and only public mockery wins the mic.

If we really want to explore the depths of the dysfunction, we need to stop the stoning. Feeding rage merely justifies judgment, and if we continue we will not escape the very plight of the people we are condemning.

Tom Brady walked on the field despite the boo’s, just as he has managed to hold his head up through the previous year of football. I, too, am very glad his team lost to the Broncos in the Championship (go Broncos!), but I do not join in the jeering of Tom Brady’s past cheating. If it is only to mock and ridicule the humiliated, then all redemption in any of us is lost. 

There is much to be learned about Brady’s failing, just as there is much to be learned about our own.