After he has paid his penance let Jones be welcomed back, writes Peter Roebuck

Dean Jones has made a fool of himself. Even by his standards, the remark was spectacularly ill-considered. Indeed his employers considered it so offensive that they immediately sent him packing.

Meanwhile, religious leaders, politicians and pontificators fell over each other in their haste to condemn the boneheaded former batsmen. Let them speak out as boldly against the corruptions in their own camp.

Seldom has wrath been so poorly directed. A peanut is not to be cracked with a steamroller. Everyone knows that Jones was stupid to have made that remark. Does anyone suppose, though, that his comment betrayed the secrets of his soul? Has any rancour been detected therein? Yet, spokesman hiss and snarl like cornered canines. Altogether it has been an edifying sight. A plague on both their houses.

By all means let us roar against injustice and oppression, but let us not rant and rave at every folly committed by every dunce for then the real outrages will pass unnoticed in an endless trumpeting of fury.

Agitation trotted out like some stage routine rapidly loses its effect. Rather let us conserve our anger for things that matter and let the rest pass by. An idle obiter is not to be taken as seriously as the bombing of the innocent.

Insatiable desire

Such is man's insatiable desire for position that the world provides a long list of infamies deserving our attention. Missiles drop on women and children, and those responsible make excuses as blood flows and flesh burns.

Ire can be directed at supposedly responsible bodies that twiddled their thumbs amidst the horrors of ethnic cleansing. Nor can the grinding poverty that sits beside vast wealth escape our indignation.

Anger can legitimately be aimed at leaders who fight dishonest wars, at the greedy and corrupt, and at hate-mongers everywhere.

All of these abuses deny the common man his just desserts and the world the calm its children need. A man may with reason protest about any of these insults, or all of them. Naturally, he will also want to rejoice in the many instances of selflessness that also emerge, the valour of rescuers, the efforts of the nurses, the work of volunteers.

But anger is not to be wasted upon trivialities. It is a path strewn with danger.

Now it is Dean Jones' turn to be stretched upon the rack. Burdened with egomanical tendencies, he is not the easiest man to defend. But it is the difficult cases that test resolve.

No one is suggesting that he did not deserve condign punishment for his offence. But was his remark not more idiocy than infamy? Must his foolishness forever be held against him?

Highly insensitive

Beyond doubt, Jones was grossly insensitive. But it was a momentary lapse. Let anger be reserved for the violence that destroys lives, and for words intended to hurt. After he has paid his penance, let Jones be welcomed back to a community he has mostly served with distinction.

Headstrong but fundamentally generous, the tone of his remark was out of character. The game ought not to reject him. Perhaps the aggrieved will lead the way.

Forgiveness has much to commend it. What else did Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela advocate?

More In: SPORT | Today's Paper