Melissa’s Apology, Take #2: Much Better!

Melissa finally realized that this photo isn't funny.

Melissa finally realized that this photo isn’t funny.

I posted earlier about the sub-par apologies offered by the infamous MSNBC Three, who decided to indulge their hate for Mitt Romney and Republicans by ridiculing the fact that Romney’s family now includes an adopted African American infant. Either Melissa Harris-Perry got a Martin Bashir memo, or she sincerely decided that she had not adequately communicated regret for the ethically indefensible segment. What she delivered, on the air this time rather than through Twitter, arguable qualifies as a Level #1 apology [“An apology motivated by the realization that one’s past conduct was unjust, unfair, and wrong, constituting an unequivocal admission of wrongdoing as well as regret, remorse and contrition, as part of a sincere effort to make amends and seek forgiveness.”]:

“Without reservation or qualification, I apologize to the Romney family. Adults who enter into public life implicitly consent to having less privacy. But their families, and especially their children, should not be treated callously or thoughtlessly. My intention was not malicious, but I broke the ground-rule that families are off-limits. And for that I am sorry. Also, allow me to apologize to other families formed through trans-racial adoption, because I am deeply sorry that we suggested that interracial families are in any way funny or deserving of ridicule. On this program, we are dedicated to advocating for a wide diversity of families. It is one of our core principles. And I am reminded that when we are doing so, it must always be with the utmost respect. We’re genuinely appreciative of everyone who offered serious criticisms of last Sunday’s program, and I am reminded that our fiercest critics can sometimes be our best teachers.”

Harris-Perry deserves special credit for the last sentence. She didn’t have to say that, and it is an excellent point for her to make, especially on her network, where some critics have been told that someone needs to shit in their mouths.

I assume readers here are sufficiently sophisticated to appreciate the distinction between the Jester’s Privilege, discussed in the previous post, and what Harris-Perry did, but because I hate having to tell commenters that their brains are atrophying, let me offer this prophylactic note. Harris-Perry isn’t a comedian. She is supposed to be a professional public affairs host, and what she is paid to do is offer political commentary and enlightenment. I have my own, frequently stated, opinion on how ethically she does that, but never mind: intentionally choosing the loving inter-racial adoption by a public figure’s family to target for ridicule, using the infant as the provocation, is unprofessional, ugly, wrongful conduct. She chose and assembled the snarky progressive comics, she dictated their target, she sicced them on Kieran Romney; it was her show, and she is ultimately responsible for what her minions delivered, which was neither funny nor fair. Also, as one of MSNBC’s race-baiters par exellance, Harris-Perry’s use of the race of an adopted orphan as the catalyst for a Romney-bashing was both inexplicable and hypocritical.

It took a while, but she did the right thing, and did it well.


An aside, also related to the previous post: On the Blaze’s story about the apology, several commenters mocked Harris-Perry’s lisp, and others admonished them for doing so. I agree that mocking people for speech impediments is cruel, and that our recognition that stuttering and other speech issues are handicaps that are no more legitimate targets of ridicule than cancer or paralysis was late in coming but ethically correct. But Harris-Perry is in the business of communication, and inadequacies in her ability and delivery are fair game for criticism and mockery, just as an unpleasant voice or an impenetrable accent would be. She has no right to be a broadcaster—frankly, I don’t understand how networks justify having speech-impaired reporters and anchors on the air, when there are so many competent professionals who can speak clearly and well. I felt the same way about Barbara Walters, and her well-parodied difficulty with R’s, and Tom Brokaw, who  just about breaks his jaw trying to say L’s. (David Gregory does a dead-on imitation of Brokaw, high-lighting this quirk.) If a newscaster is going to make the audience endure his or her speech deficiencies, they can learn to appreciate the jokes, or learn to talk better. Was it unethical for impressionists to focus on Judy Garland’s late-career habit of dropping the consonants in words (“… Why, oh why, can’ I?”) Was John Belushi cruel to imitate Joe Crocker’s spastic moves? Obviously there is a trade-off in such cases: MSNBC feels that Melissa Harris-Perry’s insights are worth tolerating her lisp. For those who don’t agree, I think the lisp is fair game.


Sources: Mediaite, The Blaze

96 thoughts on “Melissa’s Apology, Take #2: Much Better!

  1. Not surprisingly, I am not of the opinion that this was genuine either.

    I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that she can cry on cue.

    After the not-really-an-apology apology, why would anyone assume this wasn’t motivated by MSNBCs apparent new policy of firing people who are asshats on the air?

  2. Look, here’s the bottom line: if “advocating for a wide diversity of families” were in fact a “core principle”, then what was said would either never have been said, or she would have stamped down on it immediately. She did not, and in fact it took this long for her to put out a “real” apology.

    Had she been sincere, she would have gotten on some other show on MSNBC and said this days ago.

    Furthermore, her statement “[b]ut their families, and especially their children, should not be treated callously or thoughtlessly” still allows for that callous and thoughtless treatment of those whose only crime is disagreeing with her. She leaves fully open the path of demonizing her opponents and further race-baiting.

    Finally, she was so teary, and yet when you see footage of her show immediately following she is dry-eyed and perfectly fine.

    She apologized because she feared for her job. No more, no less. She is a disingenuous hack, and idiot with a bullhorn, and the sooner she and those like her get relegated to the dustbin of history the better.

  3. Wow, I just saw your post about the bottle of water. You have no HUMANITY. I would not say that about anyone. You have too much hate in your heart to be a happy person.

    • How are those Rush Limbaugh examples coming Faye? You remember the ones of Rush cruelly mocking children of those in the public eye? Please post ASAP, per Ablative’s request. If Rush is the “largest offender”, whip out the samples. Otherwise, people here might just think you’re an idiot, parroting leftist talking points that you’ve been spoon fed! This isn’t your Sociology 101 course at college, so instead of being praised for spewing party-line bullshit (to everyone’s delight, you special little snowflake!), expect to be told to produce, or STFU.

        • Nah. But I want it noted (and I’m happy to take the time), every time this tactic gets used. Sadly, she may believe that she presented a good argument. I’m sure she is used to getting her head patted for being such a good little propagandist.

          • The rule of thumb is that the people who make the most searing accusations about Rush Limbaugh have never actually listened to Rush, so they can’t cite examples, just generalities. Conservative talk radio is per se bad, he’s the biggest name in the field, ergo he must be the worst of all. The position itself shows bias–the most successful in any field figures to be the best, and indeed he is: the best researcher, the most diverse, the cleverest, the fairest to callers, the best instincts, the best radio skills, all of which make him the most influential.

            • I watched Rush’s TV show pretty regularly during the Clinton administration, because I thought he was pretty funny. (He wasn’t funny all the time, but then, no one is.)

              As I recall, during the Clinton administration Rush regularly made fun of the looks of both Amy Carter and Chelsea Clinton (and Hilary as well, but that’s off-subject).

              I can’t confirm every joke I recall Rush making, and this was before every passing remark was recorded for posterity on the interwebs, but a quick Google search shows that he called Amy Carter “the most unattractive presidential daughter in the history of the country.” And he called Chelsea Clinton “the White House dog.” When he faux-apologized for attacking Amy Carter, he said “she can’t help the way she looks.”

              More recently, he did a bizarre skit where he adopts a high-pitched voice and pretends that he’s Malia Obama (“”Daddy, daddy, did you shake down BP yet daddy? Are you going to make ’em pay, daddy?”)

              • By the way, 99% of the “I’m so offended by this joke which referred to a child in some way” rhetoric – from the left and from the right – is partisan posturing and pearl-clutching. No one but a partisan could care about most of these “controversies,” and they will prove to have no lasting importance whatsoever.

                • In general, I agree with that, Barry, and it’s a point worth making. I am not concerned with what’s offensive at all, or even the specific instances of this crap. I am concerned about the judgment and professionalism of the people American turn to for information and enlightenment, and the practices of the organizations and institutions that employ them, and that DOES matter. Otherwise, yes—it’s an extended game of “Gotcha!”

              • 1. Yup—I recall Rush doing that with Amy and Chelsea. I didn’t care for the TV show much—seeing Rush doesn’t enhance the experience, and he was trying too hard. The imitations of Malia don’t qualify as attacks, however, any more than Vaughn Meader including fake versions of Caroline antics in his skits.

                2. My point wasn’t that Rush hasn’t been guilty of such faux pas, but that people who make grand statements that he’s the worst offender have no idea whether he is or not.I felt Don Imus was the worst offender in the “mock the kids” sweepstakes….but he’s also a jester. I suppose.

                By the way, Carter used Amy as a prop so often that I felt he opened the door. And I think up until Chelsea, the practice of knocking the Presidential children was pretty well accepted—Linda Johnson was also cruelly treated, as were the Nixon girls. The Clintons obviously were ace parents and Chelsea was not misused by them, and the attacks on her appearance by comics were all revolting, and eventually not regarded as funny.

                I also feel Rush is closer to Jon Stewart than he is to Melissa Harris-Perry. He’s at least 40% jester, and buys more leeway in my book, just like Stewart and Colbert have, and need.

                • 2. My point wasn’t that Rush hasn’t been guilty of such faux pas, but that people who make grand statements that he’s the worst offender have no idea whether he is or not.

                  IMO, since you freely apply the “hyperbole” dodge to make excuses for conservatives (and have in fact done so earlier this thread), you should also apply it in this case.

                  • No, he used hyperbole to defend me from that fuckwit Fayrme and her ignorant butthurt over my “I’d drink the water” comment.

                    And if you think I’m a conservative, you haven’t been paying attention.

                  • Hyperbole is far from a dodge; it’s a well-accepted rhetorical device. This is like Sheldon on “Big Bang Theory” not comprehending sarcasm. And if they don’t listen to Rush, it doesn’t matter how grand the statements are…they are unfair.

              • Ampersand, your recall is poor. Amy was an adult leading political protests at her college when Rush commented on her (i.e. a very voluntary public person). The alleged ‘white house dog’ statement was never made; the tapes are available. Both of these chestnuts, well loved by the left, have been repeated enough to fulfill the propagandists dictum about repeating lies often enough.
                I find it a childish tactic to throw these on the table as poorly recalled, but certainly true (Everybody knows!), and then disclaim the importance of this sort of statement as being mostly partisan tit-for-tat.
                I find your bias to be subtle, well camouflaged, and insidious. But 99% of the time, I don’t care.,

                • Unless something really interesting comes up, I intend for this to be my final comment on this thread. In the end, none of this matters at all. Rush could be the worst, most unethical puppy-kicker in the world, or he could be the world’s most warmhearted clown, and in neither case will anything I care about be changed in the slightest.

                  Joe, I specified that the remarks I was talking about took place during the Clinton administration – of course Amy Carter was a young adult at that time. There were 12 years between the Carter administration and the Clinton administration, after all.

                  Since you claimed the “white house dog” statement never happened, I looked into it more carefully. Here’s a transcript of his TV show (Nov 6 1992):

                  RUSH: David Hinckley of–of the New York Daily News wrote this, and what he has–he’s got–it’s very strange. He says, In: A cute kid in the White House. Out: Cute dog in the White House.’ Could–could we see the cute kid? Let’s take a look at–see who is the cute kid in the White House.

                  (A picture is shown of Millie the dog (actually Gore’s dog))

                  LIMBAUGH: (Voiceover) No, no, no. That’s not the kid.

                  (Picture shown of Chelsea Clinton)

                  LIMBAUGH: (Voiceover) That’s–that’s the kid. We’re trying to…


                  LIMBAUGH: No, just kidding. I’m just getting. Oh. Hold it. Hold it. Hold it. Hold it. Hold it. That was a terrible thing. That–that was an absolutely terrible–I am–I am sorry. You know, I just–the end of the week, the pressure’s on–actually the pressure’s off, and I relaxed a little bit too much. You know, when my radio show started in August of 1988, a presidential campaign then, and Amy Carter was protesting everything American while at Brown University. And I didn’t, of course, like that. I didn’t like her protesting everything American, and I made a remark on my show that I’ve now since apologized for and I’ve taken it back; I didn’t mean it. I said, You know, she may be the most unattractive presidential daughter in the history of the country.’


                  LIMBAUGH: Well, there was outrage. No, there was. I mean, there was just plenty–my–my mom called me at home that night. She said, Son, you know, you–if you’re going to be serious about this, you can’t make fun of the way people look. You’re not supposed to–you’re not–you can talk about how you disagree with Amy Carter. You can talk about how you disagree with her politics and you think she’s doing some bad things, but she can’t help the way she looks, and you can’t–you shouldn’t make fun of that. And, besides, you forgot Margaret Truman.’


                  LIMBAUGH: But I–I apologize…


                  LIMBAUGH: There I go. My friends, I apologize again. I–that’s the third time the crew makes a mistake by showing you Millie the dog when I intended to show you Chelsea Clinton, and then I followed with that terrible story. I’m–I hope you’ll forgive me. I’m fatigued. I’m tired. I really don’t–in fact, you know what I’ll do? Let’s pretend this is a daytime talk show and that I’m a guest on, say, Sally, Phil or whatever. How can I make amends to you for what I just did? I can spank myself. People who spank themselves, next RUSH. Watch this. (Rush stands)

                  I’ll do it with my left hand. I–I’m right-handed, so it won’t hurt as much. Do it with my left hand.

                  (Rush spanks himself, screaming and crying; written on screen, Ouch!!!’)

                  I think it’s obvious that this was a preplanned sketch (they even had the “ouch” graphic on hand for when Rush pretended to spank himself in contrition), and that the apology was part of the bit, and completely insincere. If Rush really felt he had done something wrong by comparing Chelsea to a dog, he could have just rerecorded the segment (the TV show wasn’t live).

                  You may very well disagree. Fair enough.

                  I find your bias to be subtle, well camouflaged, and insidious.

                  Really? I think I’m pretty open about my bias. Oh, well; I may be subtle, camouflaged, and insidious, but at least I’m polite. Cheers.

                  • Thanks for that.
                    1. It is a pure example of Rush in a Jon Stewart mode.
                    2. It is also classic Rush “let’s offend the easily offended while pretending to give a damn.”
                    3. It is also why I didn’t like the show. Rush’s humor tends to be oppressive and over-done, a TV made it worse.
                    4. It was not accurate to say that Rush called Chelsea the White House dog.
                    5. It doesn’t justify it, but I imagine that Rush feels that his critics complaining about his use of appearances as a weapon of criticism is absurdly hypocritical, since he is probably the victim of the most intense attacks on the basis of his weight of any contemporary public figure.

  4. Uh, Jack, what was it you were saying a few blogs ago about missing tgt for this and that … and for discouraging commenters who weren’t making much of a contribution?

    (hope I didn’t get that wrong – I’m rushing to get this in before I have to go home to my crippled computer)

      • The point was meant to be that AM, in his casual scatalogical way, had reinvented one of tgt’s roles in calling people out and was doing rather well at it. I may have posted in the wrong place. Then again, the remark doesn’t further the discussion, so I apologize*.

        *does that make it a #3 on the scale? Will try to be more pertinent in future.

  5. I recommend looking up the meaning of ablative and heat shield and ablative heat shield and then with that knowledge and an active sense of humor rereading this thread.

    • No.

      This bullshit notion that we all need to be nice and respectful and always get along is how you get shit like appeasement with Nazi Germany.

      If the people are on the other side are wrong, you flat out tell them – their feels don’t mean shit.

      If they persist in being wrong, there is no reason to treat them with anything even approaching respect.

      What is more, these are the people who think nothing of demonizing me and others who disagree with them. I have no duty to treat them with anything buy contempt.

      • Wow. He used the N word. That’s when you know you’ve jumped the shark AM. The C word ALWAYS is inappropriate and Jack (you’re moderating an Ethics blog here Jack!) should strike any such comments using it. AM, you are a smart guy but you can call people stupid without lowering yourself to gender slurs.

        • I’m not censoring language any more. I don’t like the namecalling, and I do believe in civility as a foundation of respect. I think those who keep their rhetoric within civil ranges benefit. Every day I spam a comment from someone that includes obscenity or vulgarity and nothing else.

          But if AMS wants the full range of whatever words we have to punctuate his mostly substantive points, I’ll grant him that, just as I have granted license to some other stylists here. It’s a forum, not a TV show (if I were HBO, I would have fired Bill Maher for repeatedly using cunt and twat as slurs.)

          I think the language is self-defeating, but I have had it up to here with political correctness, and have decided to lean hard in the other direction. All current policies are subject to change at management’s discretion, and Ethics Alarms does not endorse the insulting or denigration of any commenter here…unless I do so in print myself.

          • Jack, I like most of AM’s posts, but his gender and sexual slurs are completely inappropriate for a site like this and it calls into question many of your posts analyzing discourse and civility. It turns off readers and could hurt you professionally.

            • AS I said, it’s an ethics conflict. Civility is one ethics goal; free expression is another. Both are currently endangered in the US—if I have to choose between free expression and civility, it’s an easy choice.

              Writing a blog is a professional mixed bag, just as publishing opinion papers will pretty much guarantee you never get appointed judge. I know it provides a net benefit to others, and that’s why I do it—I also know it guarantees that there are websites and blogs out there that have awful things to say about me. I made a hash of one post and the related comments shortly after I began Ethics Alarms, and there’s a vindictive group of prominent criminal lawyers who are determined to hound me about it until the day I die—one has followed me around on other cites, reminding everyone else that I screwed up in 2010.

              If I was going to fear fall-out from content and comments here, I wouldn’t have a blog. My cleints judge me on my work, and the blog has, fortunately, opened more doors that it has closed.

              • Civility is one ethics goal; free expression is another. Both are currently endangered in the US—if I have to choose between free expression and civility, it’s an easy choice.

                Okay, this is a much more interesting subject than Rush.

                I just don’t see free speech as being an issue when it comes to blog moderation. Don’t like the way blog A is moderated? Well, there are a thousand other blogs out there with different moderation policies; go to one of those. Or start your own blog with your own moderation policies. Since everyone is entirely free to go or come as they choose, I don’t see how blog moderation can be a free speech issue. (Unlike being fired from a job for speaking, the consequence of having to post on Blog B rather than Blog A is too trivial to seriously chill speech.)

                There’s nothing wrong with moderating comments because you value civility (as I do on my blog). There’s also nothing wrong with deciding that comments should be a free-for-all (as in this blog), although the result is a blog that I don’t want to read or participate in much (which is why I’ve cut back on my participation here). That’s fine; your goal for your blog is not to produce a place where people like me are posting comments.

                The real point is, the blogosphere is richer and has a greater variety of speech because different blogs take different approaches. If everyone did what you do, or if everyone did what I did, the result would be less variety of speech and less richness. Free speech is enhanced by different blogs having different moderation regimes.

                • Of course it’s a free expression issue; it’s not a First Amendment issue. There are plenty of blogs but only one Ethics Alarms, and I don’t want it to become an echo chamber, which is, alas, what your definition of civility has made Alas. Once someone has proven that their interest in the topic is sincere, and that they have the brains, integrity and skill to enlighten others (and me, as you do, Barry, though I say so too seldom), I’ll grant, as a matter of trust, impassioned and forceful discourse in all its forms, and let the intemperate participant deal with the consequences of his (or her, given Elizabeth I’s tendency to call everyone a moron) incivility. The privilege, like all privileges, can be abused, and I will act accordingly…I still haven’t mastered moderation, and I’m still working through it. But I favor intelligence and passion over conformity, and about that, I have no doubt that I have made the ethical choice.

                  You have earned the right, as you know, to call me a liar, which is far, far more hurtful than being called a fuckhead or cunt, or should be. Yes, vulgarity and invective degrades discourse, but censorship undermines truth.

                  • There are plenty of blogs but only one Ethics Alarms, and I don’t want it to become an echo chamber, which is, alas, what your definition of civility has made Alas.

                    “Alas” is not an echo chamber in the way that matters, which is that we disagree on policy constantly; there are many regular writers who are on the right (voted for McCain, defend the Tea Party, anti-gun-control, anti-Obamacare, etc etc).

                    I suppose that it is an echo chamber in that no one who can’t or won’t master treating others respectfully a great deal of the time is welcome.

                    Once someone has proven that their interest in the topic is sincere, and that they have the brains, integrity and skill to enlighten others (and me, as you do, Barry, though I say so too seldom), I’ll grant, as a matter of trust, impassioned and forceful discourse in all its forms, and let the intemperate participant deal with the consequences of his (or her, given Elizabeth I’s tendency to call everyone a moron) incivility.

                    Sincere thanks for the compliment, Jack. Obviously, I find a lot to admire in you, as well, or I wouldn’t have stuck around for so long.

                    But I still must disagree with you. It’s not the intemperate who suffer the consequences. It’s those who want intelligent, respectful, fact-based discourse who suffer the consequences (at least on this forum). The intemperate get exactly what they want, which is a forum where they’re free to sneer and insult and give no quarter to the humanity of those they disagree with.

                    Left on their own, “the intemperate” take over the entire internet. It is because of the intemperate that Youtube comments are unreadable, or the contents of virtually any unmoderated news website. It is only through the work of moderators that there are any spaces where conversation regularly rises above the “go fuck yourself, moron” level.

                    But I favor intelligence and passion over conformity, and about that, I have no doubt that I have made the ethical choice.

                    I deny that there is such a thing as “the” ethical choice, as if only one style of moderation is correct and all others are unethical. (And I reject the implication that the comment-writers on “Alas” lack either passion or intelligence compared to the folks here.)

                    Imagine a world with two classes of people, the soft-voiced and the constant screamers. If we say that no moderation is allowed, then all conversation will belong to the constant screamers. It is only by creating different kinds of space – moderated, and unmoderated – that both the soft-voiced and the constant screamers will have an opportunity to speak.

                    How can a system in which only the constant screamers get to speak be more ethical than one in which everyone gets to speak? Which pragmatically serves free expression better: a system in which only one class gets to speak, or a system in which everyone gets to speak?

                    You have earned the right, as you know, to call me a liar, which is far, far more hurtful than being called a fuckhead or cunt, or should be. Yes, vulgarity and invective degrades discourse, but censorship undermines truth.

                    I’m sorry that you’ve been hurt, Jack. Really. But if civility means letting falsehoods pass without objecting, then I couldn’t sign up for civility.

                    But I don’t think that is what civility requires. In real dialog about important topics, sometimes people’s feelings do get hurt (and you’ve hurt mine, too). But hurting each other’s feelings, even though it’s unavoidable, should never be our goal.

                    Civility doesn’t require that we not speak up when we think someone has done something wrong. Rather, civility requires that even when I passionately and furiously disagree with you, I do so in a way that shows that I’m remembering you’re a human being, and worthy of respect. I can’t say that I always succeed in that. I apologize to you that I don’t always succeed in that. But I promise you, I always try.

              • No, I would have written a better post — but I was waiting at a bar for my table and the annoying pager kept going off. The N word reference was deliberate and meant to be a joke obviously as it was referring to Nazis there. AM got my point — he just disagreed which is fine. I should have written a better segue between that and my larger point which Ampersand has covered in a far more eloquent fashion.

      • Since you bring up appeasement, I heard a joke that seems appropriate: The terror alert level in France has recently been elevated to “Panic.” Don’t worry, though, there’s still two levels higher than that. “Retreat” and “Collaborate.”

  6. The French resistance fighters from WWII didn’t have kids? Didn’t pass on their values? There must be a few French people who’ll stand up for themselves. You just never hear about them.
    I wonder how many years the US has before we become mostly surrender monkeys? With no world power comparable to the USA to fight our battles for us it surely won’t take as long as it took France.
    Every day I get closer to the LET IT BURN philosophy.
    It’s late I’d better give up and go to bed before I do something stupid like talking to the cat and scaring him (to death or for life) whichever meaning I just spelled. What is the correct spelling anyway?

  7. “My intention was not malicious, but I broke the ground-rule that families are off-limits.”

    The fourth sentence in her apology nullifies all that comes before and after it. If her intention was NOT malicious, she would not have neglected that ground rule. My suggestion is that this is ‘probably’ an apology, but the 4th sentence should disqualify it as a Level 1 apology since it is an attempt to mitigate her original intentions – in a dishonest way as well.

    • I don’t see your point. When people are otherwise focused, they forget that conduct is inappropriate and wrong, then later, once reminded, realize it was. This is the premise of the whole blog. Sometimes the ethics alarms don’t sound. That’s all she was saying—that and the fact that being unfair to Republicans literally doesn’t register on this deeply biased and arrogant woman’s consciousness, because she doesn’t think anyone who opposes her crypto-Communist view of the world is anything but an enemy of the state and doesn’t deserve fairness or respect.

      • I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to her based on your reply. It wouldn’t have gotten my attention if she had left out the first clause of that sentence and been content with admitting that she broke an important ground rule.

        If it was not a mitigation, then it is pretty good evidence of a lack of self awareness for her to claim a lack of malicious intent for the entire Romney family photo segment.

    • I think that’s a very real mistake to make- especially when you’re trying for a laugh, it can be easy to pursue the punchline and forget that your’e crossing a boundary. Plus I think it’s fair for you to want someone to understand your frame of mind when you were making the transgression- “I didn’t know it was a sensitive topic,” “I didn’t intend it that way but I can see now why it came across like that,” and “I didn’t think about your feelings before I spoke” all are self-serving, I suppose, but as long as they are paired with a genuine apology they can help the recipient understand WHY the wrong was done, which in turn can be a balm for hurt feelings as you realize it wasn’t a malicious barb.

      • I don’t disagree. On the other hand, when my dad was bringing me up, he always made it clear that if you used the word “but” in an apology, you may as well not apologize because you probably don’t mean it.

        My pair of pennies.

        • I also realize that I am coming across as a nitpicker. But a proper apology will do more for the wrong-doer than the victim of the wrong as it will compel self examination at a very deep level. This apology appeared to me to mimic this effect.

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