Monday, September 25, 2017

Scapegoat Quiz, Part 2

Goat from the Met (1st - 2nd c. AD). Very pagan, BTW.
A sharp colleague who read my post has sent me a quiz of their own:

Question 1. True or False?: If someone or an institution has committed sin, then to be held accountable for that wrongdoing while also extended opportunity for repentance and forgiveness is not scapegoating.
My answer: True.

Commentary: My original post is in no way an attempt to avoid necessary legal processes and accountability. The original post said, "yes, legal justice must of course be served." I have highlighted that in red now so that it doesn't continue to be missed. I thought that to be obvious (which is why I added, "of course"). By pointing out a scapegoating mechanism, I am simply doing what I did with our controversy years ago, that is, indicating that the rage broiling around (and within) me has much less to do with constructive policy proposals than it is fueled by a scapegoating mechanism that clouds precisely such processes. For example, irrational rage against my friend Larycia Hawkins or Muslims, or - conversely - rage directed against evangelicals and Wheaton College (disconnected in part from actual events) only made everything worse. And yet, here we are again. Does that disqualify the right kind of anger? Again, of course not (see my reply to Matt Vega here or below the original post).

Question 2. Select the correct definition of “scapegoat”:
A.       An individual or institution who is wrongly attributed with wrongdoing
B.       An individual or institution who is blamed for the wrongdoing of another
C.       An individual or institution who committed wrongdoing and is subsequently held accountable
D.       Answers A and B
My answer: D. Scapegoating is a caricature of true accountability, and actually obscures it.

Commentary: Jesus is the last scapegoat. Christ's death exposed the fact that the people to whom we direct our rage can sometimes be the place where God secretly resides (and yes, that's pure Girard). Accordingly, when the football team turns from goats back into human beings, then they may hear me when I say baptism is the only acceptable hazing in a community that claims to be Christian. When the administration turns from goats back into human beings, they will be more prone to hear any constructive suggestions as to how to proceed, even if that means saying we bungled this severely. Above all, when the victim turns from a goat back into a human, the ugliness of the event becomes clearer, and whatever happened less acceptable. No one repents for sacrificing a scapegoat, because we think it's justified. You can do what you want with goats - not so with humans. Which is to say, only when the mists of scapegoating dissipate can we see with enough clarity to proceed. Which, now that the helicopters have moved on, IS WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO DO. Do you wonder what it's like on campus? You don't have to. It has been agonizing.

You'll notice, however, I did not mention journalists or bloggers. That's because we get off easy. All we have to do is listen to Malcolm Guite.