Although I occasionally write on marriage issues and have been a fan of Chief Flynn, my initial reaction was that there is not much that is blogworthy about revelation of his affair with Jessica McBride.
But this brief post by Jay Bullock has changed my mind. I can't comment on whether McBride has broken a tenet of journalist ethics. She claims that the affair started after her story was written and she can prove it. She has been publicly embarrassed and may well have destroyed her marriage but none of us know the particulars of that. My impression of her is that she is a talented person with a bit of a penchant for getting herself in trouble.
But what about Flynn? As a general matter, I think persons in positions of great responsibility and authority ought to model exemplary behavior. Extramarital affairs are harmful to the social fabric and ought to be accompanied by a certain amount of ostracism.
But we are all human and there is no one whose behavior is always exemplary. Some sins become public and others do not. None of us can know the particular circumstances of these two individuals so our insistence upon propriety must be tempered with charity.
Under these circumstances, I think that Flynn ought to - as he has done - admit that he has wronged his family and apologize. That's it.
Jay thinks it significant that Flynn's arrival "was heralded, far too much so, by the morality squawkers on line, in print, and over the air. He was coming in to clean up the town ... [and] this Good, Upstanding, Irish Catholic ... was going to put Milwaukee criminals on notice ...." He says that Flynn's base "base of support expects--nay, demands--fealty to the straight and narrow."
Although I am not going to accuse Jay of this, his post hints at a fairly common argument to the effect that only those without moral blemish can call for moral fealty. This, it has always seemed to me, is a corruption of Jesus' call for forgiveness and direction that it is he is without sin who should cast the first stone.
This - for those us who pay attention to such matters - is a call for forgiveness, not a command to moral relativism. Forgiveness does not mean the absence of consequences just as the insistence on moral standards (also a Jesus theme) does not exclude the practice of mercy.
Flynn has been subjected to public humiliation and must now face the consequence of his action for his relationship with his wife and family. He has been - and will be - forced to bow and scrape in public. His image has been tarnished; his honeymoon with press and public ended. He has - and this is critical - admitted his wrong and asked for forgiveness.
I think that's enough.