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I'm Incredibly Not Sorry
This is an article I wrote for a local paper a few years ago. It's a little dated, but hopefully not too much so.
I’m sorry. No, really. For what? I’m not sure, I just figured since everyone else is saying it these days I would too.
Every time I turn around, someone is on the news telling me how sorry they are for saying who knows what. I don’t care. Chances are, they didn’t care either until someone else got mad about it.
It’s too bad we didn’t have this policy in my house growing up. There were five kids in my family. One of us was always sure to say something to make the other one mad. If only I had known. I could have gotten all the kids in the neighborhood to band together and demand my mother cut off my brother’s allowance unless he apologized to me. That would have worked, maybe.
Of course, if he apologized, I probably would have gotten more upset, I’m sure he wouldn’t have meant it.
Is apologizing really the best way to go?
Maybe not. It isn’t working out so well for Don Imus at this time. John Kerry’s apology for a joke that went sour didn’t help him any either. Mel Gipson? No, I’m pretty sure that apology wasn’t much help, although he has a big enough fan base that the apology really didn’t hurt him much, either.
I read yesterday that people who are typically abrasive can get away giving an apology for offending people easier than those who aren’t. While I don’t disagree with the author, I do think it’s a sad day when we’ll accept an apology from someone who has no problem saying offensive things, often and loudly, and yet will refuse an apology from someone who never typically says things that might hurt someone’s feelings. The last guy’s probably the only one who meant it.
Maybe the best way to go is to say nothing. Smile, nod, perhaps shake your head…and run away from any and all cameras for a few months. The apologies are usually met with “too little, too late”, or “that’s good, but not good enough” anyway. I think some of the stars could take a little advice from the Reverend Jesse Jackson who told Michael Richards that he would not accept his apology for the racist remarks Richards said. The Reverend, however, didn’t feel the need to apologize to the Jewish community for calling them “hymies” and the Jewish residences in New York City “hymietown”. Richard’s career is essentially all but ruined at this time, and Reverend Jackson? He’s still going strong and the Rainbow coalition still loves him. Good going Jesse.
Say what you mean, mean what you say, and be prepared to stand by your words. Don’t duck, run, and yell “I’m sorry” when you’re so obviously, not. My favorite “non-apologies” are those who don’t care what people think. And, actually, I believe that’s how it should be. Bill Cosby, Rush Limbaugh, and last, but not least, the Dixie Chicks are great examples of famous non-apologies. Whether you agree with them or not, they stood by what they said. The Dixie Chicks even got a Grammy out of it.
People are always going to be upset at something. Sometimes they’re justified, sometimes they’re not. But is it really worth the watering down of our free speech to fire someone because the wrong people got their feelings hurt? I’ll bet Larry King is wishing he retired already.
What happens when we all become so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings and or being sued that we have to watch carefully every single word that comes out of our mouth?
What happens when The Simpson’s, Saturday Night Live and maybe even the 6 o’clock news (oh, wait, they already do) start censoring themselves for fear of retribution? After all the rallies for the right to “express ourselves” by burning flags, or posing in a nudie magazines we will have finally lost the right of freedom of speech due to “hurting someone’s feelings”.
The next thing you know we will all become pencil-heads parroting the same things in the same way and life will become extremely dull. Lastly, and most important, it will truly be a very, very sad day, because, well, all the really good jokes will be gone.