Monday, February 23, 2009

How not to apologize (now with extra added updates!)


Let me correct The Associated Press here:
Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning apologized Monday to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for saying he believes she could die within a year from pancreatic cancer. ...

Bunning, a Hall-of-Fame major league pitcher, who has no medical background, said during a speech Saturday that Ginsburg has "bad cancer. The kind that you don't get better from," the Courier-Journal of Louisville reported. "Even though she was operated on, usually, nine months is the longest that anybody would live" with pancreatic cancer.

"I apologize if my comments offended Justice Ginsberg," the two-term Kentucky junior senator said Monday in a statement, which misspelled Ginsburg's name. "That certainly was not my intent."
--The Associated Press

Sigh.

Nope. That's what I call a "nonapology apology." Any statement with the phrase "if my comments offended" is in no way, shape, or form an apology. It is a half-assed, weaselly way of pretending to say you're sorry when a) you're not and b) you don't really want to apologize.

You can't apologize for what someone else feels -- offended -- you can only apolgize for what you did or said. (You will now notice this phenomenon in about 95% of all public "apologies.")

AP, you're going to have to rewrite your lede. (I do, however, give you points for the "has no medical background" line. That was good.)

UPDATE: Another nonapology apology in the news:
Report: Bishop who had denied Holocaust apologizes

... While [Bishop Richard] Williamson apologized in a statement Thursday to all those who took offense and for the distress he caused, the bishop did not specifically say that his comments were erroneous, or that he no longer believed them. As a result, Jewish leaders said the apology did not go far enough.


UPDATE UPDATE:
Mayor sent e-mail with watermelons at White House

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif.—The mayor of Los Alamitos is coming under fire for an e-mail he sent out that depicts the White House lawn planted with watermelons, under the title "No Easter egg hunt this year."

Local businesswoman and city volunteer Keyanus Price, who is black, said Tuesday she received the e-mail from Mayor Dean Grose's personal account on Sunday and wants a public apology. ...

Grose confirmed to the AP that he sent the e-mail to Price and said he didn't mean to offend her. He said he was unaware of the racial stereotype that black people like watermelons. ...

"Bottom line is, we laugh at things and I didn't see this in the same light that she did," Grose told the AP. "I'm sorry. It wasn't sent to offend her personally—or anyone—from the standpoint of the African-American race."

Unaware of the stereotype? Reeeeally? Would you have been amused by and sent around an image of the White House lawn filled with, say, eggplants? Brussels sprouts? If not -- and, really, I'm going to go ahead and assume not -- why did you find watermelons funny?

I guess it's just a mystery.

The image the mayor sent around is here. And may I say: Holy shit!

12 comments:

fermicat said...

I work in radiation oncology and can confirm that pancreatic cancer is not a good diagnosis, but from all accounts, RBG's was caught relatively early and that makes a big difference. But no matter what, his comments were out of line. What a dickhead.

Bix said...

"If my comments offended..."
"I'm sorry you took it that way..."

... and such, are, as you said, nonapologies. I like how you explained it, "You can't apologize for what someone else feels."

Anonymous said...

What an insensitive idiot!

How about a sincere "I'm sorry."

God Is My Codependent said...

Plus he gave up a whole lot of home runs.

ChefNick said...

Hey, you want weaselly, evasive and just die-hard blowhard (how do these people exist, anyway?) just go straight to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (just typing his name gave me a headache).

That or that poor asshole Gary Condit, who was evasive, blowhard and weaselly when HE DIDN'T EVEN NEED TO BE.

Well, he got his, didn't he. Only time will tell with our good friend Mahmoud.

As for this dick, who elected him? THEY should be hauled before the Supreme Court.

punkinsmom said...

How about: "Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning pretended to apologize Monday to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for saying he believes she could die within a year from pancreatic cancer. ..." as a new lede?

Posol'stvo the Medved said...

The reality is, I believe him. I believe that he had no intent of offending anyone. That someone was offended is probably confusing as hell to him. He doesn't think his statement was wrong, only that his intent was one thing, the outcome the other.

Like that's never happened to you. Come on.

I don't know the guy, not one of his constituents or anything, but as one who regularly says things that I mean one way but are taken another, I disagree with the idea that you can't apologize for the way someone feels.

And, hey. I'm sorry if you don't feel the same way.

Jim Donahue said...

Pos: I maintain--

Apology: Boy, did I say that badly. Sorry.

Nonapology: I'm sorry you were offended.

Oh, and screw you and the horse you rode in on.

No offense.

Posol'stvo the Medved said...

None taken.

Jerk!

:)

punkinsmom said...

Jim, I was wondering if you would catch that bishop's non-apology. I read it today and thought of you. Not that Holocaust-deniers make me think of you. Or ultra-conservative Catholic bishops. And I didn't really think of you, but of this blog, Specifically this post. Oh, f*ck it. Sorry. ;)

Bix said...

Holy cow. That last image is terrible. Is there no editorial filter for these things?

Jim Donahue said...

Here's a filter: Grose just resigned.