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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Uselessness of Apology

They're at it again. The screamers are out in force, yelling for an apology from some unfortunate public figure.

This time it's being demanded of -- and received from -- the comic, Michael (Cosmo) Richards for the comments he fired back at some hecklers the other day.

Before that the Moslems were demanding an apology from the Pope for quoting another pope of centuries ago who in turn was speaking of Islamic misdeeds of centuries before him and which history says weren't far from the truth. Islam, like Christianity and I would say most other religions, came into practice by means of a lot of kick-ass doctrine and behavior.

And before that Mel Gibson was attacked for some crazy anti-Jewish remarks he made in a drunken state after the police stopped him for a traffic violation.

And before that the Moslems were also demanding retractions from an European newspaper for running cartoons that they saw as offensive to their faith.

And before that it was Mel Gibson again, because of perceptions that a bad movie that he had just made was offensive to Jews by portraying their behavior toward Christ 2,000 years ago as violent and uncalled-for in the extreme.

And before that hypocrites of many stripes were demanding apologies from President Clinton for yielding to an importunate young female admirer -- as if holders of that office are not humans first and Presidents a distant second, for all their pretensions to the contrary. Frailties, especially those of the flesh, seem to be hard-wired into all of us, and nothing can be done about that.

And so it has gone, on and on and on.

I wonder why people are so fond of demanding apologies, when they never have any way of knowing whether the apology, should one be given, is sincere? And the big likelihood is that it is almost never really sincere. Instead, if you're familiar with human nature at all, you know that hidden behind it is intense resentment at all the pressure that had been exerted on them.

I know, I know. The demanders know all that, and their real purpose is to reinforce the perception of the unacceptability of the miscreant's bad behavior.

Or is that their real purpose? I doubt it. I think the real purpose is to humble someone -- a popular human pastime.

It's unfair and injurious to the cause of truth that career considerations force Richards to go along. How much better it would be for him to say instead something like, "Yes, that was what I said, and I meant it. I was having a bad night, and though I'm regarded as being especially adept at improvisation, as you can see by my reply to those two suckers, even that fell flat, and that's all there was to it. Am I a racist? I don't know. Some people think that racism is part and parcel of being an American. Meanwhile it should be remembered that being funny on stage is one of the hardest jobs there is, and every such performer lives in mortal fear of having a bad night."

The Pope had no need to apologize either, and I don't think he really ever did. Neither did Mel Gibson, and neither did those newspapers, at least in any meaningful way. Clinton was impeached, but he was merely trying not to tell us things that were really none of our affair, and he was justifiably found not guilty.

The current (illegal) occupant of the Oval Office owes apologies all over the place, especially to the millions of bereaved in Iraq, but his crimes are so large by contrast to all the piddly ones I've mentioned, that apologies are totally irrelevant, and also so many others are equally complicit by voting for him and then going along with his subsequent misdeeds that the wagons are being drawn up in force right now in the enormous attempt that we see going on to sweep current history under the rug.


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