|Man Without Qualities|
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
If one of my sons was caught using foul or inappropriate language at his school - calling some other child a "shithead" or a "fuckwad" in geography class, for example - there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this would not be accepted by the school as an "apology:"
"Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line, to them I extend my heartfelt apologies."Nor would such willfully evasive language become an acceptable "apology" if it was offered up with his voice quaking and tears welling in his eyes.
And it wouldn't fix things one bit if the young man added something like:
"I made reference to excrement, and other inappropriate bodily functions, Mr. Principal, I've come to understand that's a very poor choice of words."No, my sons' school would require an apology to include an express, clear admission that my son's remarks were objectively offensive and crossed the line and caused real damage, not just that some people might have taken offense. The school would also require that my son clearly admit that his remarks were substantively and seriously false and request that the people to whom the remarks were addressed forgive him for those remarks. And the school would also require from my son a promise that he not make such remarks and others like them again.
If my son didn't provide such a real, complete, clear apology and promise, the school would not allow him to continue to attend.
But that's what a private grammar school in Pasadena would require (although I am fortunate that neither of my sons has ever been the position of having to provide such an apology.) The United States Senate, Illinois voters and the Associated Press are apparently not supposed to be so picky.
UPDATE: The Washington Post, Fox News (includes video of "apology") and the New York Times certainly aren't prepared to be picky. The Times seems to think that only Republicans were clearly offended in the first place, and doesn't even mention the rebukes Senator Durbin had already received from the Anti Defamation League and Mayor Daley of Chicago.
And what of Senator Harry Reid, who previously said he "stood by" Senator Durbin's original slanders?
FURTHER UPDATE: Perhaps the first draft of Durbin's ersatz "apology" would have been acceptable in Pasadena:
The aide who wrote the first draft, and no longer works for Sen. Durbin, said, "I was asked to write an apology. Apparently I have much to learn about what that word really means."
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