People Are Not of a Piece
One of the most difficult things for many to understand is that someone can be wonderful in some parts of their life and truly awful in others. A man can be a rapist, say, and also be genuinely kind to other people. Someone can go into work, make decisions that will impoverish millions, and then make sure they make it to their child’s play, where they agree to help build a facility to help disabled children or a shelter for abused women.
People can be terrible in one part of their life, and good in another.
It’s a relatively minor thing and an unimportant celebrity, but take Mel Gibson, of the infamous anti-semitic rants and terrible temper. Many people came forward to say how wonderful he’d been to them, and many of his friends, like Jodie Foster, didn’t turn on him.
The bad stuff doesn’t cancel the good stuff. The good stuff doesn’t cancel the bad stuff.
This is important in two ways: When someone who is generally good is accused of doing something bad, they may well have, especially if what they’re known for being good about isn’t related.
And if someone who is generally bad does something good, they still deserve credit.
It is also important analytically. If you assume someone is all bad or all good, you rarely actually understand that person, nor can you predict their actions. Terrible people can do good (Genghis Khan), wonderful people can do evil (FDR).
Good in what way? Why? Bad in what way? Why?
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