Pretty much everyone would love to have a second chance at something.
Maybe it’s a redo of a game where your team lost by just one point. Maybe it’s another shot at a math exam you would have done so much better if you had only remembered that one equation. Maybe it’s a chance to just redo a first meeting all over again. No matter what it is, when they do come around — and they do so very rarely — nine times out of ten people will seize the opportunity and go for that second chance.
But not everyone is so deserving of a second chance.
During the initial Me Too reckoning last year, we stood horrified as victims of sexual harassment and assault began to speak up, detailing years of alleged abuse that some leaders in their industries have been getting away for decades. During the outcry, they were forced from companies, resigned or were pushed out, seemingly banished from public life, or at least to some quiet corner somewhere to lick their wounds as they try to ride it out.
We patted ourselves on the backs for banishing the monster, a job well done in condemning them at least in the court of public opinion.
But in the months that followed, every so often you’ll see a story pop up in the media, of someone speculating on how they can rise once again to their former glory, or of those who are testing the waters for a potential comeback. After all, doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance?
But in the case of those accused in Me Too, do they even deserve it?
In a lot of these cases, we hear about allegations dating back decades, of sexual harassment and assault, of intimidation and embarrassment, all at the hands of someone who had power and exploited it.
Harvey Weinstein, the former Hollywood producer and movie mogul who over 80 women have come forth and alleged he had committed acts of sexual assault or harassment against them — some of which have claimed to have lost out on jobs n the industry for saying no to him — is often the first who comes to mind. Although these charges have yet to be proved in court and Weinstein has denied the allegations, the sheer number of victims alone should be enough to give cause for concern.
Weinstein asked for a second chance just ten days after those fateful reports from Yorker and New York Times came to light, saying to a TMZ reporter, “I’m not doing okay, but I’m trying. I gotta get help. We all make mistakes. Second chance, I hope”. Should he be given a second chance and given back that same power that allowed him to allegedly commit these acts in the first place?
Does celebrity chef Mario Batali deserve a second chance? After all, when he stepped away from his restaurants after an Eater report containing two decades of alleged inappropriate behavior towards his female employees and other female professionals in the restaurant industry, he published an apology, and was thoughtful enough to publish with it a recipe for cinnamon rolls.
Because nothing says ‘I’m sorry’ such as baked goods.
How else can you prove how contrite you are then by self promoting yourself and your recipes when apologizing? The recipe took up as much space as the actual apology for crying out loud.
Although a lot of these stories surely must be clickbait — a hook to draw people into websites to read it — it still raises a very important question; will society once again forgive these people and give them their second chance? Or are some people just undeserving of that second chance?
Ultimately, even if they are acquitted or no charges are filed, it will be up to the court of public opinion, and if we collectively can stomach their apologies and believe their promises to not do it again despite the testimony of their victims.
For those who say that will be no problem, everyone deserves a second chance, or two or three or maybe even several dozen or so, look every one of their victims in the eye, and say it again.