Most of us were taught at an early age what a real apology looks like. The key point is acknowledging what you did wrong and taking responsibility for it. "I'm sorry that I did X" is an apology. Or, "I was wrong to do X, and I apologize." (Where X = calling your sibling a 3-legged marsupial, or making a hoax video falsely accusing someone of selling baby parts, or any offense in between.) An apology doesn't substitute for fixing the bad behavior, but it can be a first step in taking responsibility.
However, for politicians, corporate hacks, and creeps in general, there's an art form to saying something that pretends to be an apology, but does not involve acknowledging any wrongdoing or accepting any consequences. There are a couple of sub-types, one of which needs a name of its own.
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The nonpology (also called the weaselpology) contains the word "sorry" (or some close equivalent), but manages not to connect it with the bad behavior. A primer at Jezebel gives some fine examples:
Sorry if I hurt your feelings.
Here's a recent example:
Sorry you're offended.
Sorry you didn't get the joke.
Sorry if you were disturbed.
Sorry you're upset.
Sorry your ass got in the way of my hand.
The Chicago Tribune's
Kristen McQueary marked the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with a column suggesting that we need more disasters like Katrina to give icky impoverished places a chance to "hit the reset button." When this got well-deserved condemnation, she quietly toned down the column, and nonpologized:
I am horrified and sickened at how that column was read to mean I would be gunning for actual death and destruction.
Um, maybe it was "read" that way because she called it In Chicago, Wishing for a Hurricane Katrina?
Another nonpologizing technique was highlighted when Sad Puppy Brad Torgerson sent out a tweet implying that pro-feminist SF author John Scalzi was gay. Scalzi called him out on the homophobia:
If Brad Torgersen wants to insult me, insinuating I'm gay won't work. It's not an insult to be gay. Be an insult to be a Sad Puppy, however.
Torgerson "apologized" - but not for the homophobia. Rather, he doubled down on the homophobia by suggested that being gay was such a horrible thing, that he was sorry he'd said that about anyone, even someone he hated like Scalzi. Scalzi responded with his usual elegance:
I do think Torgersen’s apology should be more properly offered to people who are gay, whose existence, and the fact of who they love, apparently so discomfits Torgersen that he uses who they are as a way to suggest that I am someone less than worthy of respect as a human being. I’m not gay, but if I were, I would be absolutely proud to be so, and Torgersen would still have no excuse for thinking of me as something less than equal for it.
Because I like to name things, I think that this sort of double-down nonpology should henceforth be referred to a "doing a Torgerson."
Here's another example of apologizing for the wrong thing, from a guy who co-hosted a painfully misogynist, rape-excusing podcast, until he and his partner were outed as the owners of a coffee shop - which lost a whole lot of business because of their behavior:
Most of my life I’ve struggled with insecurities around dating. I felt like, in the past couple years, that I’d finally gotten a handle on this and experienced more success. So I made a twitter, blog, and got Jacob to podcast with me. We didn’t always say nice things, and sometimes we were downright mean. Sometimes I just vented about frustrating experiences in an immature, hateful, and foolish way. It was in particular a breach of trust to post intimate details about lovers. I was naive enough to think it’d stay anonymous, and I was wrong.
Dude, the problem wasn't that it didn't stay anonymous, and the problem wasn't you being "naive."
Deadline Hollywood used a nonpology technique honed to perfection by Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh, of course, spent a solid week spewing creepy sexual verbiage at law student Sandra Fluke, accusing her of having sex with enormous numbers of men, and claiming she wanted the government to pay for her sex life. (Fluke said nothing about her own sex life in her testimony about the Affordable Care Act, nor does insurance coverage equal "government paying for" contraception.) After losing sponsors, Limbaugh said he was sorry....for using the specific word "slut." He then went on to repeat the claim that this had something to do with "government paying for" birth control. He said nothing about all the other slanderous and hateful smears he'd hurled at her.
In March, Deadline Hollywood ran a pathetic article by Nellie Andreeva, "Pilots 2015: The Year of Ethnic Castings – About Time or Too Much of Good Thing?" It consisted of complaining about the "trend" that too many roles were going to actors of color when they were the rightful property of Caucasians. No, really:
But, as is the case with any sea change, the pendulum might have swung a bit too far in the opposite direction. Instead of opening the field for actors of any race to compete for any role in a color-blind manner, there has been a significant number of parts designated as ethnic this year, making them off-limits for Caucasian actors, some agents signal.
When this got the expected (by everyone but them) backlash, Deadline Hollywood had two choices: apologize or nonpologize. They responded by using Limbaugh's method of deliberately missing the point, apologizing for the headline. The problem with the headline was that, like,McQueary's, it perfectly matched the story.
This technique - apologizing for one word or phrase when the problem was the entire rant - was dubbed "doing a Rush Limbaugh" by Jezebel, but that's a phrase that could be used for a lot of things (attacking aid recipients after being one, slapping the term "Nazi" onto random words, blabbering about other people's sexual immorality while taking someone else's Viagra prescription on an international trip, mocking someone's physical disability, etc, etc). And calling it "Doing a Deadline Hollywood" doesn't really roll off the tongue. Any suggestions?
On to Top Comments!
From Crashing Vor:
No politics, no economics, nothing to change the world, but this comment from Elwood Dowd in BFSkinner's diary is truly elegant and vice-versa.
From Zen Trainer
This is a great comment. It's in my Asheville diary. (Note from Tara: comment is by pajoly.)
From your humble (if antisocial) diarist:
Flagged by Marihilda, here is nailbender's hilariously accurate suggestion in Brainwrap's diary I've corrected the chart Rep. Chaffetz presented at today's Planned Parenthood hearing.
Top mojo, courtesy of mik:
1) Maybe someone should question by MadRuth +180
Picture quilt, courtesy of jotter:
2) Which is $174K. by leu2500 +149
3) this dismissive crap by jeopardydd +136
4) One complaint by agnostic +132
5) I predict Hillary pulls ahead this week, based by Bob Johnson +126
6) ... And Then, There's This by JekyllnHyde +125
7) I didn't know this. Defense contractors can bill by Angela Marx +124
8) My guess is his graph was a crude representation by nailbender +111
9) Her salary is not high for a huge organization by merrywidow +109
10) LOL... by Trix +88
11) This sentence seems wrong by gchaucer2 +85
12) Since I'm always up at 5:30 I just wanted to thank by Tool +83
13) Here's a link to the chart by Old Left Good Left +81
14) Good. This has become a huge incentive to some ... by PSWaterspirit +78
15) He got slammed for that as well by Eman +74
16) Thank you for posting this. by 714day +73
17) It's pathetic... by rnturn +72
18) Congrats to Brother Ta-Nehisi Coates by Denise Oliver Velez +70
19) Not at all by cdub24 +68
20) oh hell. by smileycreek +65
20) The reason abortions went up by QueenOfTheFaeries +65
22) Indeed, the 4th Amendment was written in part by Angela Marx +64
23) Yes, when her staffer (lawyer?) whispered in her by Eman +63
23) It's really creepy to listen to these men by hulibow +63
25) Nothing new by Doug Mesner +61
26) She has been perceived as de facto nominee by yojimbo +60
27) You're going to have a short nap. by cdub24 +59
27) I think many people forget exactly what Citizen... by MichiganGirl +59
27) This would be funny by Juanita Ruiz +59
30) It's not illogical by CenPhx +58
30) And some of those defense contractors by anastasia p +58