Keller @ Large: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished… Again

BOSTON (CBS) – “No good deed goes unpunished” is one of my favorite sayings, not only because it’s true, but because it captures the essence of the regrettable human impulse to turn the most benign act of graciousness into a source of angry controversy.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Just ask New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the target of bitter backlash against his decision to lower the flags at public buildings in his state to half-mast in honor of Newark native Whitney Houston, who will be laid to rest there Saturday.

Christie’s decision drew instant outrage from some military veterans and survivors, who claimed the same honor given to their loved ones was now cheapened.

“Shame on you for ordering our flag to be flown at half-mast for a singer who OD’d,” read one typical comment quoted in a New Jersey newspaper.

“Our flag is to be used to honor true American heroes, the ones you just disrespected.”

That newspaper went back and looked up the history of flag-lowering orders, and found that it’s been done for a range of prominent New Jersey figures, including Bruce Springsteen’s sax player and the state’s most successful high school baseball coach.

Without controversy, it seems.

But that aside, I found Gov. Christie’s response to the criticism compelling:

“Whitney Houston was not a role model… in every aspect of her life,” he said, but “she is a cultural icon in the history of this state. I’m disturbed by people who believe…because of her history of substance abuse, somehow she’s forfeited the good things she did in her life.”

Excellent point by Christie.

Is every soldier who dies for their country a saint in their personal lives?

For that matter, is there anyone without sin walking among us at all?

Of course, the sacrifice of our war dead and wounded means more than a great singer’s version of the anthem.

That’s why we build permanent monuments to them.

But the vilification of Christie proves it — no good deed goes unpunished, no matter how well meaning.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

More from Jon Keller
  • gramps

    I agree with the half mast, for the following reason….

    The profits from the recorded version of the Star Spangled banner in 1991 went to the families of servicemen killed in the first gulf war and after Whitney re-released in 2001, the profts went to the families affected by 9-11


    • tsalnew

      nice gramps – I didn’t know that and it’s another important factor in why Christie made a great decision

  • tsalnew

    I did a complete about face on this between Tuesday and Wednesday. I was appalled. I didn’t think there should be any honor for any person who chose to give a life away to drugs. I had a day-long discussion with someone who disagreed with me and I was having trouble understanding how putting the flag at half staff could possibly be acceptable.

    Then I heard Christie. And I knew – for me – what I believed the previous day was absolutely wrong. He lowers the flag to half staff for all who live in NJ and die protecting others or our country. And NJ has lowered the flag before for other celebrities. But what mostly convinced me I was wrong was what my friend had said. He pointed out that there are heroes who have also battled drug addiction. If we use that to define Houston’s life, then we have to use it to define all lives. No room in my mind for saying it’s all right for some but not all right for others. We have far too much of that in our every day lives as is.

    • George Bush

      Whitney was never a hero, she was a junkie with a nice voice. She was also a terrible parent, her kid is no motherless and drug dependant. Didn’t Whitney only have 2 albums? What a waste of life.

  • Dave_D

    To the funny looking WBZ nebish with a moustache: The guy that you refer to as “Bruce Springsteen’ sax player” had a name!

  • Italo

    From another perspective, what I find compelling is that in any WBZ new stories on our local pro athletes and teams, comments will run sometimes in the 40s or 50s, reflecting how those who might put down a Whitney Houston would, instead, worship and go absolutely berserk over teams of adults who earn millions each year for dressing in uniforms, being allowed to not shave, and to play kids’ sports games for jobs, while more ignoring other news stories about more compelling issues in our current society such as drug abuse, homelessness, crime, corruption, and the like. There’s something really out of whack to that line of priorities, in my personal book. Many of those players who we glorify, are no saints either. I hope we reach a point in society where, someday, we show more of the ability to some sort of compassion, at some level, for people who fall and come into tragedy for problems that have to do with mental or physical disease and trauma, from those who truly are or act evil and purposely plan crimes like arson, murder, extortion, robbery, or the like. Before Houston was a fallen addictive person and, before that, a successful singer, after all, she first was also always a person, and a mother, daughter, sibling, and human with weaknesses just like the rest of us.

    • tsalnew

      I can’t begin to tell you how much I agree with what you have said, Italo. Nicely put. And we are out of whack. Our priorities are all messed up.

  • ELaw

    It’s a simple concept that seems to get forgotten too frequently: people who scream about others’ sins are often doing so to deflect attention from their own…

  • KathyD

    It’s the same issue as same-sex marriage. Those who oppose it often state that having gays marry somehow takes away from the sanctity of their own marriages. It’s that “what’s mine is mine” attitude that causes this. The universal healthcare argument often goes there too.

    How can an attitude of abundance and inclusivity be bad? I don’t get it. Never will.

    • tsalnew

      KathyD – nor will I

  • BostonIrish

    I don’t have a problem with the half-mast flag for Houston. I do, however, think it’s a really sad direction her life took. I’m sure Bobby Brown is feeling pretty bad as well. Drug and alcohol addiction destroys lives and families. For where she was at one point in her career to where she wound up is very sad. Not as famous, but Lindsay Lohan’s name comes to mind as another potential tragedy in the making. I was also a huge Amy Winehouse fan and hoped she would pull through, too.

    • Tsalnew

      You are of course absolutely right. Its a horibly sad story of a life that could have been so great Except I’m not sure brown worries about anyone but brown.

      • George Bush

        Brown was clean, Whitney was not. Whitney just had a clean image when she was younger, but she was more ghetto than Bobby.

  • Bruce

    Sorry folks but as a retired 24-year veteran I still disagree with Gov Christie. While all of these entertainrs and ball players etc contribvuted in some ways to society they profited greatly themselves, not like the underpaid combat soldiers who risk their lives for us. Read the flag ettiquette and then apply it correctly. BTW I protested when they lowered the flag for JFK Jr (just for FYI)

    • gramps

      Thank you for your service…!


  • big1966

    I hope you are watching the Homegoing service. Some of you will learn something.

    • gramps

      Since you ask, it was “Much too long…”

      As a young lad I suffered through the occasional ‘High Mass’…..
      1hr-1:15 long…..but , 4hrs + medical staff, was ‘OVER THE TOP’!


  • big1966

    P. S. It’s a scary world when Chris Christie gets it and so many of y’all don’t.

    • Tsalnew

      Big 1966. Did you read the posts. I think nearly all got it

      • Tsalnew

        P.s. when a serviceman of 24 years doesn’t agree then that should give you pause

      • big1966

        Yes– I was referring to those who don’t. Thank you for reminding me.

      • big1966

        P.S. Thanks to those who served. I was a military wife (Vietnam)) and the daughter of a veteran.(WWII).

        It saddens me when people choose not to get this, and it is a choice. There should be no dispute her at all.

  • Bill Stoddard

    Did the lower the flag for Frank Sinatra? He was a New Jersey boy.

    • Tsalnew

      Yes they did

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