Monday, June 15, 2009

On Apologies

From a report in the New York Daily News:

A prominent South Carolina Republican killed his Facebook page Sunday after
being caught likening the First Lady to an escaped gorilla.

Commenting on a report posted to Facebook about a gorilla escape at a zoo in Columbia, S.C., Friday, longtime GOP activist Rusty DePass wrote, "I'm sure it's just one of Michelle's ancestors -- probably harmless."

Busted by South Carolina political blogger Will Folks, DePass told WIS-TV in Columbia, "I am as sorry as I can be if I offended anyone. The comment was clearly in jest."

Then he added, "The comment was hers, not mine," claiming Michelle Obama made a recent remark about humans descending from apes. The Daily News could find no such comment.

It's amazing how many politicians fail to understand that "I'm sorry if you were offended" is not really an apology. Not only is it a fake apology -- "see, it was actually your fault for being so thin-skinned" -- it is a transparently fake apology. Your apology is a lie and the other person is thinking, "What kind of a boob does he take me for?" Congratulations! You are now adding insult upon insult.

Rusty, I've been there, and I've got a suggestion. See, I once laid a joke in mixed company that cut a little close to the bone for someone present. He said something, just a gentle remark, enough to grab my attention and let me know I had gone a little far. Instantly, my reaction was that hot, face-flushed embarrassment. Countering that within a nanosecond was a defensive impulse.

All I said was, "I am sorry." That was it. No qualifiers, no explanations, no bullshit. Just the apology and nothing else. He heard it (and my genuine embarrassment). He forgave me. It was short and dignified. Compassionate, that's the word. In 90 seconds, the whole thing was over and everyone moved on.

Just a suggestion, white boy.

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