Chris Brown better make his second chance count

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Once you have made someone a victim of violence, the crime follows you forever. Unless, of course, if you’re Chris Brown.

If you’re Chris Brown, you’ve spent months listening to everyone analyze you and your “mistake”. If you’re Chris Brown, you’ve known that some radio stations refused to play your music, and you’ve heard people claim that your career is over. And if you’re Chris Brown, you know that you’re getting a second chance.

This is why today’s sentencing is little more than a formality. He was sentenced to five years probation and six months of community service.

Will this sentence satisfy everyone? Of course not. There are people who will call it a slap on the wrist; people who will say the punishment doesn’t live up to the crime.

But we know that Brown’s image will heal. The public forgives celebrities. We offer them second chances that the average convicted felon will never know.

And more disturbing still, this forgiveness, coupled with the notoriety brought by the crime, can lead to more success. Promoters will want him to perform on their stage; talk show hosts will want him to sit on their couch. He may even act in another movie or two.

Chris Brown could use this forgiveness to allow his crime to dissipate in public memory. He could continue to make records and movies and money as if he’d never abused a woman.

But I hope he will use his voice to speak to millions of young people about the damage domestic violence does to the lives of women. His lessons learned can benefit not only him, but the thousands of other young men who have found themselves losing control and putting their hands on the women in their lives. This will only happen if he has the courage to prevent the public from forgetting his crime — only if he has the courage to make his second chance an opportunity for all men to learn how to deal with the anger that can lead to domestic violence.

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