Lay Off The Tiger

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

For ten days following the accident, I successfully stonewalled the subject of Tiger Woods. I have my own problems, and plenty more in the world to worry about, like the Stupak amendment, the public option, and the escalation in Afghanistan. Why on earth should I care if some golfer in Florida has an affair?

But I couldn't seem to avoid it. Even though I refused to read either tabloids or so-called legitimate news sources (admittedly hard to tell them apart these days), I was bombarded by verbiage on Tiger's straying. Bypassing the headlines, it came straight to my Inbox from my usually trusted news sources, and friends.

One concerned email was collecting advice from the sender's friends and associates: What advice, were I asked, would I give to Tiger? But I wasn't asked. And neither, I'll wager, were you. Oh, I know we have a legal right to comment on the private loves of public figures, but must we always do so? Whatever happened to good taste? Is such self-righteous finger pointing so compelling that we are willing to completely erode the boundary between public and private in its dubious service? Are we really so concerned about the moral and marital well-being of our professional athletes? Why should I be giving Tiger Woods advice? Why should anyone, other than a friend, counselor, or trusted clergy person?

A friend (himself a womanizer of legendary proportions) forwarded at least a half dozen emails, some which were supposed to be funny, others annoying in their pomposity. I finally wrote and asked him how the hell someone with his proclivities could be judging. He allowed as how, if he were as young and good-looking as Tiger, he would no doubt have even more of the afore-mentioned "proclivities."

He is not alone in this. While the statistics vary, and no one is sure exactly what the rate is, it is generally estimated that at least 50% of men cheat at some point in their marriages, and only a slightly lower percentage of women. Why then do we pretend such shock when a man with more opportunities to bed hot babes than most of men could imagine, does so?

Perhaps we are jealous. But we should not pretend that the absence of opportunity constitutes virtue, unless it is called easy virtue--the sort of virtue that would rather focus on someone else's trouble than our own, the sort of virtue that Jesus referred to when he said "\You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:5)

We would rather criticize celebrities' shortcomings than attend to our own. I am not justifying Tiger's actions, and I am certainly not defending what looked to be domestic violence on the part of his wife, coming after him with a golf club (a much more serious sin in my book). But I am saying that the sanctimonious, holier-than-thou commentary about what should be a private affair is just to the left of nauseating. As someone who had an interesting take on adultery once said of a similar situation, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."