It's a well known phrase, but is it true? “One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.”
Well yes ultimately, it is a truism. In time, a rotten apple in a
barrel of good apples will infect them with rottenness. The science
of mold spores invading the other apples and corrupting them makes
this a dictum which has application to other groupings of people as
well as fruit.
We observe this truth enacted in the real life of daily news. For
instance, Edmonton RCMP officer Tirth
Sehmbi was charged in summer 2010 with murdering his wife
Sehmbi. The evidence appears conclusive and the decision must still be rendered but according to our analogy, if he is guilty, he would be classified as the
bad apple. If left long enough, that is, if something so serious as
murder would be overlooked by his peers, the entire detachment would
become corrupt. But my point today is to say, that this has not
happened. It does not need to be assumed that it will happen. When
the good apples of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team,
arrested Sehmbi and investigated him, it was with the intention of
administering justice by removing the infection from their midst.
According to a CityNews
story, Steve Ellis, an immigration judge and former city
councillor was convicted of breach of trust in April 2010 and also
convicted on an Immigration and Refugee Protection Act bribery charge
because he offered citizenship to a Korean woman in exchange for sex.
One bad apple in the Ontario judiciary system does not mean all
judges are similarly bad, but if other judges ignored his action,
they would eventually themselves forgive their own indiscretions and
spoil the quality of law. My point is to say that this possibility
has not occurred because the good judges still stand for what is
good, ethical, right and lawful. So they purge the barrel.
Journalist Jennifer Moreau wrote the article
'Burnaby teacher convicted of sex offence handed lifetime teaching
ban' for the Burnaby Now on October 27, 2010. She reported that
the B.C. College of Teachers barred a female teacher from ever
teaching again in B.C. and the report in sent throughout North
America. She was convicted of sexual exploitation involving a St.
Thomas More Collegiate student and sentenced to several months in
jail. The bad apple again, but certainly what we read is the
determination of good apples not to allow their student population or
teaching staff to be contaminated.
What I am writing today is a caution against the unwholesome and
dispiriting tendency I repeatedly read in the remarks of some injured
and discouraged and overwhelmed commenters. That tendency is to
easily assume that when something bad occurs in a foster home, all
foster care is evil. Or, when a social worker submits a baseless and
even falsified report about parents, all social workers are wicked.
Or, when a judge makes a decision with which you disagree, all judges
are corrupt. Is it fair to be suspicious of an entire profession
because of a few bad apples?
The exaggerated and unreasonable response may serve as a vent but
it neither calms the writer's own emotions nor steers the writer
toward a desirable resolution. I am as you can see, well aware of the
presence of some bad apples. I am by no means willing to concede that
everyone in public positions of responsibility and authority is
infected with rottenness and only you and I stand as whole and
untouched apples. That is ludicrous and unproductive.
Yet, it is a concern to me that when one segment of one of our
social systems repeatedly screws up or makes bad choices and poor
decisions, and repeated examples of mismanagement surface, the decay
is widespread enough that in order to get legislators and politicians
to listen, the Press must be told all of your stories and they must
fully disclose what is happening.