First and foremost, let it be said that I’m not about to apologize for this latest blog post.
After all, why bother? Nobody accepts apologies these days anyways.
Peter Cetera of the 1970s and 80s rock band Chicago and Elton John of the 1970s, 80s and 90s phenomenon that is known as Elton John pretty much summed things up when they crooned their now infamous words about apologies.
In 1976, John sang, “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” Six years later, Cetera sang, “It’s hard for me to say I’m sorry.”
Both are so correct, though it must be said that Elton John’s song is 10 times the song that Chicago produced.
I bring this up because it’s been on my mind for a while now. People expect apologies from other people for things ranging from the most serious digressions to the most inane and ridiculous. Then, upon receiving said apology, the most common reaction seems to be “They didn’t mean it.”
So why bother apologizing in the first place? Right?
Earlier this week, a story hit the New York City news cycle about a politician who wound up in black face as part of a Purim party, which we all learned is a costume party somehow related to the Jewish celebration “Purim.”
This being the 21st century, the politically correct people of the world cried racism — even though there was absolutely no hatred and/or malice intended. Now granted, the politician in question might be ridiculed for stupidity. After all, everybody knows with society being what it is, you don’t wear black-face anywhere. Period.
What irked me more than just another stupid politician, however, was the aftermath.
The politician in question, New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind, apologized, saying “Anyone who was offended — I’m sorry that they were offended, that was not the intention.”
He later added, “I repeat, it was not meant to in any way hurt anyone. And those that were? I’m sorry. That was not my intention.”
Following the apology, this statement from New York City Councilman Charles Barron came out in the Wall Street Journal: “Don’t accept this feeble apology. It’s absurd.”
And this is where I bring forth my objection. Why the hell can’t people accept an apology and move on?
I recently had a first-hand run-in with exact issue.
Our local boys soccer team won its first state championship in a long time and as part of our coverage I wrote about a column about how the run to the state title had a Hollywood story written all over it. The local team had 13 different countries represented within one generation and they were playing a Catholic all-boys private school from a nearby rural town. In my column, I wrote about how Hollywood would have exploited the stereotypes between the two teams, the two towns, and two schools.
Some people around the city weren’t happy with this depiction and it caused a little bit of a stir with some people calling for a public apology, and others going as far as saying I should resign. Under the suggestion from upper-management, it was suggested I write a follow-up column, which a few days later I did.
In this follow-up I apologized for the mini-uproar my words had caused. I explained that, if people misrepresented or misunderstood what I wrote as something that I felt, then it was my failure as a writer to clearly state what it was I was trying to say. That column, which was supposed to be part of the team’s accomplishment, took away from a city’s joyful moment and for all that I really was generally sorry.
One parent took the time to write, “Your explanation and apology is insufficient to repair the damage to our City’s image and that of the students that attend our schools … You make a living off the backs, the sweat and determination of our students as they compete in the various sports. You do not deserve the honor to covering these young students any longer.”
Another woman basically called my apology a joke, called me “a clown” and still wanted me to lose my job. I’m so glad she signed her name because it’s not one I’m going to forget anytime soon.
As a strong believer in the First Amendment, though, I had no problem with people giving their three cents. After all, I certainly had my own Free Speech-testing thoughts about these people as human beings, so they should have theirs, as well.
But who the hell were they to question whether my apology was sincere? What made these people — who don’t know me from Brad Pitt, outside of the fact that we both have eight letters in our full name — think they could know what was going on in my heart when I said I was sorry for not finding the right words to best describe what it was I was trying to say?
That pissed me off more than anything else about the whole mess.
We live in a politically correct world that we’ve created, a world in which we’re not supposed to do anything or say anything that upsets or bothers people. The littlest thing can set people off, but when somebody apologies for upsetting the apple cart, they continue to get gruff from the Holier Than Thou People who likely live in glass houses, but with property that also includes a cement bunker for when the shit hits the fan at home.
I’ve been guilty of that, too, I’m afraid. I work in a world where athletes apologize all the time for some of the most mundane transgressions, and, yes, there are times when I’ve heard an apology read on ESPN, and recognized immediately that it was written by some PR person in an office, rather than coming from the apologizer’s heart.
Author Dean Koontz wrote in his novel, Odd Thomas, “the most identifying trait of humanity is our ability to be inhumane to one another.”
Sadly, he’s right. We love to knock a person off the pedestal every chance we get. We love to find fault in others, perhaps because we all know the faults that lie so deep within ourselves.
Perhaps, all of us should be sorry.
But why bother?
Nobody would believe us.