"If you forgive men's sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound."
That's from the Bible, you know: John 20:21-23.
The key is, of course, the phrase held bound.
No, this isn't a sermon. Well, not in the way you may be thinking. I won't try to convert you to anything.
If you commit a crime, if you are accused of any wrongdoing in this world -- a world of electronic permanence, in a way -- aren't you, in a sense, "held bound?"
In the good old days, say the 1980s, before the Age of the Internet, you could have accumulated a record. Minor stuff, let's say: misdemeanors, petty theft, small-scale fraud, a DUI, what have you. The county or federal courts would bury you in their paperwork. If it was reported in the newspaper, the news was gone after a week. Remember, this was in the day pre-search website and Internet. For minor crimes, your mistakes could be largely forgotten.
As Commodore Decker said to Captain Kirk, "Not anymore."
These days, a DUI, theft, fraud, smoking dope, using drugs, tussles with police, domestic disturbances, you name it: it's all captured on county and federal record. With an Apple smartphone app, you can look up anybody's record. It's there, as permanent as our National Anthem.
Does it ever go away? No, it doesn't. Not in this country. We don't have the "right to be forgotten" as is instituted in Europe. In Europe, authorities force Google, Bing, and other search engines to remove listings at the legal request of those whose reputations and lives are tainted by some bad behavior of their past.
In a sense, we have some work to do. If the U.S. won't move along with Europe to institute right-to-be-forgotten parameters, then we are obligated to more thoroughly educate our students.
Starti ng with the third grade, we have to ensure our students are aware that their history is recorded, seemingly, for all time, for everyone to know, for everybody to share, that will affect them throughout their lives.
I am not talking about erasing big-time felonies, such as murder, rape, gun violence and those kinds of things. I am talking petty stuff, lesser-level, much more benign crimes, stuff some people stupidly do when they are young adults, which can haunt them and bite them in the backside for eternity.
After all, punishment has to fit the crime. The public record of one DUI at 19, and none since, should not affect you in any way when you are 48.
After you have paid your debt to society, for small crimes, your record should not have to hang around to haunt you.
These days, with our current Internet laws, your sins are absolutely held bound. Until further notice, that is.