I've been thinking about all the public apologies that celebrities, politicians, sports stars, comedians, and religious leaders feel the need to make. My sense of it is that they all apologize for the wrong thing. They should be apologizing for wasting my time with their carefully worded, audience tested, attempts to save or rehabilitate their reputations.
They are not really sorry.
They may be sorry they got caught.
Or they may be sorry that a careless or stupid statement on their part was spun by the press or the supposed injured party into something it wasn't.
Innocent or guilty a public apology is demanded – by the media.
Take illegal drugs, lie about it, get caught - apologize to the public.
Cheat on your spouse, lie about it, get caught - apologize to the public.
Bilk millions from your supporters in the name of God, lie about what you used the money for, get caught - apologize to the public. (Religious leaders must add tears to the performance. That's a deal breaker. No tears, forget the whole thing.)
Sometime in the last 30 years or so, the public apology came into vogue with no signs of going the way of poodle skirts. Am I the only one who thinks apologies should be private? Am I the only one who thinks that when the media repeats an idiotic remark to millions, when the original statement was only heard by a handful of people, the media shouldn't be the ones to ask for an apology for all the millions that were offended by the remark?
It seems now that even if you say exactly what you mean, and what you say is the truth, the media falls all over themselves trying to find a reason that you should apologize to those people who were offended by what they thought you might have "meant" to say instead of what you said. Are you still with me? Crazy isn't it. Leon Panetta, hold firm. Don't do it. Don't apologize for something you didn't say. You might have been thinking the thing they want you to apologize for, but you didn’t say it.
As I'm writing this blog another politician appears on CNN to apologize for having an extramarital affair. No lie. Just happened. People, listen to me! I don't care. He should apologize to his wife, not the nation. And no, I don't want to see his poor wife standing by his side during the apology.
Right after the politician story? A racist email story. The email was bad. It was in poor taste. (No, I won't describe it.) It was originally seen by a limited number of people in one state. Now it's been seen by millions. The talking heads want the author of the email fired (she works for a state legislator). The state legislator had to defend following employment rules and just giving the woman a written reprimand. I expect any minute to see the email's author in front of a camera giving a public apology.
The next story concerned Iran. You know – the election. The crazy guy who wants nuclear weapons? Hey, he stole an election and he isn't apologizing for anything.
Let's see –
The news in order of importance –
Apology for something that wasn't said.
Apology for a bad joke.
Apology for an affair.
Apology for having someone on staff who sent a racist, private email not using public computers, or on public time.
A political crisis in Iran that might mean the overthrow of the government.
I'm sorry, but this is crazy.
Actually I'm not sorry.
It's not my fault and I'm not going to apologize for this crazy, mixed up world.
P.S. Evelyn David will be signing Murder Takes the Cake and Murder Off the Books, this Saturday, June 20, from 10-2, at Petco, 4915 E. 41st Street, Tulsa. Hope you can join me!