Enough with the Apologies

Exaggerated guilt is often the way people avoid dealing with their real failings. We all know people who feel profoundly guilty for some of the things they do – and keep doing them. Guilt is often a dodge and demanding apologies is often an act of aggression. Obama got tagged again by the guilt fairy. He doesn’t deserve it.

I told my kids, “Don’t apologize; fix it.” If you really feel guilty about something, you stop doing it and/or address whatever consequences your act created. If you are unable or unwilling to do these things, your purported feelings of guilt are a useless hypocrisy. You should probably feel guilty about that - and cut it out. It follows that you should only feel guilty for things you did, could have or should have controlled. (BTW - the concept of original sin is a religious idea. I have will voice no opinion on these matters of faith, but since they are faith based debating them is silly in a practical forum.)

Politics worldwide has degenerated into a gottcha game of finding some way – even tangential – to blame someone, feigning indignation and demanding an apology. The "victims" have become agressors. (BTW - the two categories frequently flip. Avoid becomming either and you are better off.) Then we go through this long ritual, where the penitent has to pretend to be sorry long enough to gain absolution from the media. It is very medieval, in the worst sense of the non-too-complimentary term.

One of Obama’s supporters evidently trashed Hillary. Big deal? Some of what he said is true; the colorful language could be seen as offensive. So what? Obama didn’t say it. Even if he did, we should talk about why it is true/not true. That is the nature of free speech.

The modern/medieval practice of declaring some statements anathema runs directly counter to the practical and moral value of free speech. Are politicians such big babies that they are broken by words?

"If I have offended anybody by my words here and previously just let me say that I don’t care. Get over it. If you cannot stand what I say, don’t listen." I think that is what politicians and others should say when confronted with the apology oppression. BTW – that goes for anything I have written. I occasionally apologize the inadvertently insult because a gentleman never insults anybody – accidentally, but you won’t find too much of it.

So what if Obama has some weird friends and supporters? In a democracy we have to live with and work with all types. Get over it.

Posted by Jack at May 30, 2008 12:37 AM
Comment #253958


This is an interesting post. I think that as a nation we always have our foot in our mouth. Perhaps this is because of free speech.

Free speech is great, but does does it abdicate you of the responsibility of your words?

You are free to speak, but you must own those spoken words.

I am dissappointed when people express an honest opinion, then are guilted into taking it back or apologizing. Take Sharon Stone. She said what she said. It will hurt her career. If she begs for forgiveness, she is a coward with no pride. I do not agree with what she said. But, have some conviction, you know?

I think one reason people don’t have conviction, is because, perhaps as a byproduct of free speech, everybody has an opinion on everything. And, we often think other people care what our opinion is. This leads to speaking out on issues which we are ill informed. See Sharon Stone.

Posted by: Jason Ziegler at May 30, 2008 10:45 AM
Comment #253959

Eminently reasonable up to a point. Obama is not responsible for what his cobbler, tailor, or pastor may think or say from time to time.

He is responsible for the relations with others who seek to influence his role as elected representative or his office for specialized favor in ways that may not be legal, ethical, or comport with the duties of Obama’s office.

The same goes for McCain and H. Clinton. McCain is responsible for the influences and actions of Phil Graham on behalf of his lobbying employers, while also working on McCain’s election. H. Clinton is responsible for the corporate donations from some of the same special interests Democrats derided for giving money to the Bush campaigns. And Obama is responsible for accepting campaign contributions from Unions, if he has, and managing what the implications of those organizational donations mean.

Endorsements are less meaningful and harder to extrapolate into quid pro quo behavior by the candidate. Anyone can endorse a candidate, with or without expected favors in return. Endorsements only invite the public to ask what it is the endorser hopes to gain generally or specifically from their endorsed candidate. All very speculative and not worth without corresponding quid pro quo action by the candidate before or after being elected.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 30, 2008 10:47 AM
Comment #253965

I can only imagine the huge chuckle some of the founding fathers got when they framed the 1st Amendment.

I’m sure they all thought that freedom of speech was fundamental to a thriving republic. At the same time, I’m sure some of them were laughing behind their hands.

“Yes, let’s give them the absolute right to make an ASS of themselves in public!”

Such is the funtamental truth of all freedoms. They are different things to different people. Only your brain…or lack thereof…can make you a hero or a jerk. You have the freedom to do either.

As far as the freedom of speech…it is far better to be thought an idiot, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Posted by: Jim T at May 30, 2008 12:17 PM
Comment #253972

What’s funny is that Mark Thompson on Sirius Left and Rick and Bubba (opposite end) said the same thing. Obama shouldn’t have apologized.

The pulpit of that church sounds more like the local comedy club with all of the swearing and one liners, but that doesn’t mean Obama has to own every clip put up from it on YouTube.

Posted by: George in SC at May 30, 2008 2:17 PM
Comment #253976


I worry about the guilt and apologies because I have too often seen people use them as a substitute for right action. Sometimes people even get indignant saying something like, “I apologized. What else do you want?”

In my experience, people who feel guilty a lot are generally screw ups. I don’t know which way the causality runs. Maybe they feel guilty because they are screw ups; maybe they are screw ups because they always feeling guilty.

I find it is more useful to work at making things better than talk about how sorry you are that they are not. Beyond that, many things you might feel guilty for really are not your fault. If you apologize you set up a feeling of unjustified grievance and entitlement.

George in SC

It really sounds like those churches are just loony tunes in general. Maybe we should go for the comedy.

Posted by: Jack at May 30, 2008 2:44 PM
Comment #253981

Well the crowd sounds like they have a good time Jack.

There is net rumor of a tape of Michelle Obama talking about “whitey” from the same pulpit. If so then this “apologize” strategy he’s following is really going to bite him.

Posted by: George in SC at May 30, 2008 3:08 PM
Comment #253986

I’m certainly with you on this one Jack - and not just because I’m an Obama supporter. The whole guilt by association emphasis in the political world is out of hand, and I’ll admit that liberals are often worse than conservatives in trying to use it, though it certainly goes both ways.

I still remember an instance from years ago when Jack Kemp got into hot water over something, perhaps racist, that some friend of his said. He refused to disown his friend, and thus garnered some respect from me, a liberal, for doing so. Good human beings befriend people without the expectation that they be unflawed, politically correct, or ideologically pure. Expecting politicians to be otherwise is not only unrealistic, but guarantees some LACK of humanity on their part. I worry more about the politicians who associate ONLY with a circumscribed group of cohorts.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at May 30, 2008 3:36 PM
Comment #253988

Good comments from all…thanks. I agree with George, “The pulpit of that church sounds more like the local comedy club with all of the swearing and one liners, but that doesn’t mean Obama has to own every clip put up from it on YouTube.”
Posted by: George in SC at May 30, 2008 02:17 PM

I wonder, if I were to attend a service at this church could I buy popcorn and soda in the lobby? The preacher who replaced Rev. Wright sounds like he will be great to watch also. The priest he invited to speak recently was really a “howler”. And, he’s already apologized to Hillary for calling her a racists.

This is better comedy than the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges combined. I now understand why Obama likes this church so well. We all need a little comedic relief now and then.

Posted by: Jim M at May 30, 2008 4:47 PM
Comment #254013

Is this Deja Vu all over again? Seems like an old column.

Posted by: googlumpus at May 31, 2008 5:38 AM
Comment #254037

Pfleger is well know in Chicago, mostly for affecting an accent that most black people that I know, don’t have, and some of them were actually born in Mississippi.

Posted by: ohrealy at May 31, 2008 11:59 AM
Comment #254215

If you apologize you set up a feeling of unjustified grievance and entitlement.

Yes, I thought it was something like this. The “never apologize” rationale you give is to avoid being compelled to fix what you broke. They can’t make you fix it if you never admit it was your fault, and a real apology is an admission of fault. (I don’t consider the “I’m sorry you feel bad about what I did” to be a real apology, by the way.) In fact, hospitals have found that when physicians admit their mistakes and apologize for them, their lawsuit rate goes DOWN, contrary to what you suggest. Apologizing is part of fixing what’s been broken. But, I don’t expect you to admit you’re error here…self-defeating wish, I suppose.

Posted by: mental wimp at June 2, 2008 6:50 PM
Comment #254222

I also have to agree with Jack, but only to a point.
While I agree that an apology can be a healing for a rift, this society seems to have come to a point where apologies are expected for even the slightest offence.
We need to grow up.

Samuel Johnson once said that a man of genius has been seldom ruined but by himself. Obama’s constant mea culpas make me wonder if he really knows when to tell someone where to get off, a skill he will need if he is elected.

Posted by: Rocky at June 2, 2008 8:43 PM
Comment #254223


Samuel Johnson also said;
“When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

Posted by: Rocky at June 2, 2008 8:46 PM
Comment #254317

I think it’s weird that you would get all bent out of shape by someone apologizing. Many in this country have waited years for apologies for Katrina, Iraq, etc. they will never receive. In my book, it shows Bush and co are not men of honor. Making an apology is the first step in taking responsibility for having done wrong.

Posted by: Max at June 3, 2008 3:59 PM
Comment #254436

Hmmmm, We seem to have the Dems/Independants/Jack column these days. Where did all those ranting, right wing nuts go? Jail? Back under the rock?

And Jack is busy fighting terrorism, well sort of.

Jack, if you weren’t so wrong all the time, you’d be my hero. I’d apologize for being smug, but then that might upset you. Sorry.

Posted by: googlumpus at June 4, 2008 4:59 PM
Comment #254453

Hello, Hello, anybody home?

Anyway Cardinal George is trying to get Rev. Pfleger to take a temporary leave of absence from his duties at St. Sabina’s, but his parishioners are very fond of him.

Posted by: ohrealy at June 4, 2008 6:50 PM
Comment #254476

Well sorry it’s so quiet over here but all of the noise is on the socialist’s side these days.

Here’s a speech given by Mike Pence at the SC Republican convention if you’re interested in what the other side is saying. I’m not a Republican but I may be married to one :)

The Way to a Republican Majority is to the Right

Posted by: George in SC at June 4, 2008 8:44 PM
Comment #254482

George in SC, there is a long history in the south of winning by going to the right of any incumbent. It doesn’t work that way in the nation as a whole, or we would end up with a president like … well never mind that theory. I was glad to see the late WFBuckley acknowledged in that article. I’m waiting for the unauthorized biographies to come out on him, now that he can’t defend himself or sue anyone.

Posted by: ohrealy at June 4, 2008 9:14 PM
Comment #254650

This thing is still up? Where oh where have all the Republicans gone? Probably hiding under rocks.

Posted by: Max at June 6, 2008 1:37 AM
Comment #254966

Seems to me, by your theory (“don’t apologize, fix it”), Obama should have exited that church, let’s say something like 25 years and ? months ago.

Posted by: Janet at June 8, 2008 9:08 PM
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