Lately, every time some scofflaw is convicted of a crime, the presiding judge and the media seem to place an enormous amount of weight on whether or not the creep was properly contrite. Am I the only person who doesn’t care?

If anything, I am more sympathetic toward the felon who doesn’t add hypocrisy to his sins. The obvious fact is that, like a 6-year-old who’s caught with his hand in the cookie jar, crooks are only truly remorseful about being caught.

Even worse than those who claim in court they’ve seen the error of their ways are those sanctimonious phonies who suddenly make a big show of having found God in prison, hoping they’ll be able to use this sudden epiphany to get time cut off their sentences. If it were up to me, I’d throw the book at them. The Good Book. Let’s face it, if you can’t find God before you’re behind bars, you really haven’t been looking. After all, it’s not like He’s hiding.

If I were serving on a parole board and some chucklehead tried to convince me I should grant him early release because he’d discovered religion, I’d tack on extra time for attempting to perpetrate a con game. So far as I’m concerned, if he’d truly seen the light, he’d understand better than most people why he should be punished to the full extent of the law.

I think I first developed this attitude during the aftermath of Watergate. Like many of my friends, I was delighted to see Nixon leave the White House under a cloud of his own making. We were equally delighted to see his crew-cut cronies, Haldeman and Ehrlichman, crash and burn. But only I seemed to resent the fact that White House insider John Dean got so many Brownie points for essentially ratting out his chums and colleagues.

I begrudgingly accept that plea bargaining is a part of modern life, but it seemed terribly inappropriate that we were bestowing heroic stature on somebody whose claim to glory was nothing more than his managing to be the first rat off the sinking ship.

I felt that if his self-serving testimony meant lawyer Dean wasn’t going to go to jail, he should at least have been shunned by society. Instead, Hollywood, well known for its own flexible code of morality, rolled out the red carpet for Dean and the missus. The way John and Mo were feted, you’d have thought he’d done something brave and wonderful, instead of having merely cut himself a deal with the prosecution … just like any other petty hood.

The only one of the lot who came out of Watergate with his dignity intact was weird G. Gordon Liddy. He didn’t whine, he didn’t apologize and he served his time without trying to convince anybody that he had found either Jesus or his marbles.

In summation, I would suggest that it’s only remorse if it takes place
before you’re arrested. After that, it’s merely defense strategy.

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