Levi Pettit, one of the students caught recently on video saying horribly racist things on a bus, gave a major apology earlier this week.
Here is how it was recounted in the NY Times:
“The words in the chant “were mean, hateful and racist,” said the former student, Levi Pettit, who was surrounded by African-American community leaders at the Fairview Missionary Baptist Church here.
“Some have wondered why I hadn’t spoken out publicly,” Mr. Pettit said. “The truth is I have had a mix of pain, shame, sorrow and fear over the consequences of my actions. I did not want to apologize to the press or to the whole country until I first came to apologize to those most directly impacted.”
“The truth is what was said in that chant is disgusting,” Mr. Pettit said, “and after meeting with these people, I’ve learned these words should never be repeated.”
On the one hand, I give him credit for not just issuing a statement from his lawyer’s office. Speaking at a black church was a nice touch.
But on the other hand, I can’t help but feel that his only regret was being videotaped. I’m not in favor of government punishing an individual like Pettit, nor do I think that the University of Oklahoma’s decision to expel Pettit could withstand constitutional challenge.
I do believe a conservative, market-based solution would be the best way to deal with someone of Pettit’s ilk. Specifically, I would hope that no private sector business or organization would ever consider hiring Pettit for any job that pays more than minimum wage. A lifetime of washing dishes and scrubbing floors might provide a powerful message to other would-be racists that singing about the N-word and hanging blacks from trees isn’t cute.
TJ Walker can be reached at 212.764.4955, http://www.mediatrainingworldwide.com