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Lions Roar : May 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2010 25 IT STARTED INNOCENTLY ENOUGH. On a FOX News roundtable on January 3, various talking heads were making sports predictions. That’s when once-venerated newsman Brit Hume dropped a doozy about Tiger Woods, suggesting a damage- control strategy for the golf legend, whose philandering had be- come gossip gold. “It’s a tragic situation with him,” Hume said. “The extent to which he can recover, seems to me, depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgive- ness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith.” Up ’til that point, I’d steered clear of writing about the Woods scandal on the Shambhala Sun’s SunSpace blog, not because he’s some kind of embarrassment to Buddhism—his affiliation never seemed to be that serious anyhow. (Woods would confirm that his Buddhist practice had become lax in his now-famous media statement of February 19, suggesting that he would be rededi- cating himself to practice.) The quality or frequency of Woods’ Buddhism was beside the point. The point was: What Hume had said was out of line and just plain ignorant. I posted an item about it on SunSpace, and then ran out for an afternoon of errands. By the time I returned, it was clear that Hume’s remarks had struck a nerve. Readers’ comments were coming fast—about a hundred over four days—and yes, some were furious. The majority seemed determined to set the record straight. A sampling: Adam: “The only people Tiger needs to ask forgiveness from are his family and himself. But Hume needs to ask the Buddhist community for forgiveness for such remarks, and if he does so with sincerity, we will act compassionately and give it to him. My biggest concern is that he just completely misrepresented Bud- dhist ethics and morals to his viewers.” Steve Silberman: “FOX has done more than any other big me- dia organization in history to increase the amount of suffering, delusion, aversion, violence, rage, and just plain ignorance on the planet. Not sure what to do about it, though; I don’t believe this country has ever faced anything like it.” pkhusker: “A real Christian would have called up Tiger and asked if he needed a shoulder... or just prayed for him.” CamUhR1: “What Hume meant was, ‘Tiger should convert so that I may forgive him.’ A Buddhist would just forgive Tiger (and Hume too, LOL).” All in all, this sort of online turnout was good news. Why? Well, Buddhists don’t proselytize. Neither do true newsmen. But Hume had thrown impartiality out the window along with his common sense, presenting to FOX viewers—and the world- wide media, who quickly made hay with their colleague’s blun- der—a divisive and, yes, proselytizing suggestion that colored Buddhism as inferior. As the story broke, one had to wonder Buddhism in the Spin Zone Mix FOX News, Tiger Woods, Brit Hume, and the question of forgiveness and you get Buddhism’s brief moment in the spin zone. ROD MEADE SPERRY on how to respond when the angry men of cable news attack.