D’Arcy’s 200m qualification is no redemption

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    Nick D'Arcy after winning the Mens 200m Butterfly semi-final at the Australian Swimming Championships in Sydney. AAP Image/Paul Miller, file

    After Nick D’Arcy won the 200m butterfly at the Australian Swimming Championships, talk of redemption was thrown about the media.

    “Redemption for D’Arcy,” read the ABC headline; “Nick D’Arcy’s much-publicised tilt at redemption is on track,” Sunshine Coast Daily contended; “Nick D’Arcy has earned a shot at Olympic redemption,” said the Herald Sun.

    Redemption. Something left me ill-at-ease with the widespread and carefree use of this word.

    Were parts of the Australian media telling us that by qualifying for the London Olympics Nick D’Arcy had redeemed, or was on track to redeeming himself for assaulting Simon Cowley?

    Redeemed himself not only for assaulting Simon Cowley but for sending his victim the bills by declaring himself bankrupt?

    Redemption without accountability. Redemption without remorse.

    Redemption… through swimming?

    It struck me as an amoral equation.

    Redemption. I had assumed redemption for a wrong must somehow be related to correcting that wrong.

    For example, the act of winning a swimming race might redeem someone for having lost a swimming race.

    Was this why the Herald Sun wrote of “Olympic redemption”?

    Somehow the distinction seemed lost and seemed to suggest nonetheless that Olympic redemption for Nick D’Arcy equated to wholesale redemption.

    And even if the writer were to argue the contrary, Nick D’Arcy didn’t go to Beijing because his didn’t qualify. He didn’t go because of a brutal criminal act that saw him removed from the team.

    So how could qualifying for London be redemption?

    I arrived back at my assumption that redemption for a wrong must somehow be related to correcting that wrong.

    Moral redemption. Recognition of a wrong by the wrong-doer.

    Righting the wrong. Payment of an obligation.

    Atonement for guilt. Redemption.

    And, we hope, forgiveness.

    The media that talk of redemption might seek to clarify its use.

    Or just drop it. After all, is Nick D’Arcy interested in redemption?

    Is he even interested in forgiveness?