My Involuntary Evolution On “Never Apologize…It’s A Sign Of Weakness!”

“Never apologize…It’s a sign of weakness!” is one of John Wayne’s many famous quotes from the characters he portrayed on film, though no one ever wrote a song about it like Buddy Holly did after he watched “The Searchers” and couldn’t get “That’ll be the day!” out of his head.

The line was given renewed life when NCIS leader Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) repeatedly cited it to his team of investigators on the apparently immortal CBS procedural “NCIS,” as he taught them about life, their duties, and ethics. “Never  say you’re sorry…It’s a sign of weakness!” is #8 (on some lists, #6) among  36 “Gibbs’ Rules” that include “If it seems like someone is out to get you, they are” (#30) and “Never date a co-worker” (#14).

Once, not very long ago, I regularly referenced #8 in ethics seminars as one of Gibbs’ worst rules when I discussed “Dr. Z’s Rules,” social scientist Philip Zimbardo’s tips for girding oneself against corruption in the workplace. One of the points on that list is,

“Be willing to say “I was wrong,” “I made a mistake,” and “I’ve changed my mind.” Don’t fear honesty, or to accept the consequences of what is already done.

I would tell my students that Gibbs and the Duke were wrong, that apologizing for wrongdoing is a sign of strength and integrity, signalling to all that you have the courage and humility to admit when you were wrong, and to move forward.

Then came the advent of social media bullying and Twitter lynch mobs, and I saw how I had underestimated the noodle-content of the  spines of politicians, celebrities, CEOs, and others…

  • Steve Martin apologized for an utterly inoffensive joke because it was called racist by Twitter race-baiters. Then he capitulated to the socoial media mobs again, apologizing for calling Carrie Fisher a “beautiful creature” upon her death.
  • Astronaut Scott Kelly apologized for calling Winston Churchill, one of the greatest leaders of modern times, “one of the greatest leaders of modern times.”
  • Chelsea Clinton apologized for condemning the anti-Semitism of anti-Semite Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.
  • A series of Major League baseball players were forced to apologize for what they had tweeted in high school to a handful of equally immature friends.
  • Clemson’s administrators  apologized because two students were “offended” by “Mexican Food Night.”
  • D.C. writer Natasha Tynes apologized for being a responsible citizen and alerting the public transit authority that its own employees were violating  it rules (in fact, a law) on the subway trains.
  • The New York Yankees apologized for playing recordings of Kate Smith singing “God Bless America.”
  • Coca-Cola apologized for daring to suggest, on a Delta cocktail napkin, that passengers might benefit from speaking to each other.
  • And, though I didn’t make the connection at the time, President Barack Obama traveled the world expressing his regret for the past policies of just about every U.S. President but himself.

With the latest ridiculous example of craven, groveling, pandering apologies, I have reached the tipping point. The Duke and Gibbs were wrong that an apology is never appropriate, but I now agree completely that apologies are often not only signs of weakness, but signs of cowardice and a lack of ethical principles as well.

Calvin Klein apologized for this video yesterday…

Can you guess why?

No, it was not because the ad is pretentious and stupid.

The video showed model Bella Hadid kissing a female robot named Lil Miquela, and Hadid  is a heterosexual. Critics argued that an  LGBT model could have been used for the video.

No, really. That was the complaint. Never mind that Hadid wasn’t kissing a real woman, and that it might as well have been a wheel of cheese, a box of paper clips, or a gopher, any of which I might kiss if the price were right. Never mind that we have no idea whether the “robot” or whatever Lil Miquela is identifies as female (this point has been made by several online wags.) Never mind that Calvin Klein should have had the sense to say to these political correctness fanatics, “Tell you what, you make your own commercials.” Instead, the company issued this Authentic Frontier Gibberish:

“The concept for our latest #MYCALVINS campaign is to promote freedom of expression for a wide range of identities, including a spectrum of gender and sexual identities. This specific campaign was created to challenge conventional norms and stereotypes in advertising. In this particular video, we explored the blurred lines between reality and imagination. We understand and acknowledge how featuring someone who identifies as heterosexual in a same-sex kiss could be perceived as queer-baiting. As a company with a longstanding tradition of advocating for LGTBQ+ rights, it was certainly not our intention to misrepresent the LGTBQ+ community. We sincerely regret any offense we caused.”

The grovel should have also said, “In this apology, we explore the blurred line between actual offense and contrived nonsense.”

I concede. Apologizing is often not only a sign of weakness, but also a sign fatuousness, expediency, and stupidity.

28 thoughts on “My Involuntary Evolution On “Never Apologize…It’s A Sign Of Weakness!”

  1. My grandfather was fond of the Duke’s saying, and never apologized for anything. He once said “I make the best decisions I can, based on the information I have. I won’t apologize for not knowing everything”.

    My father has apologized to me once in my lifetime.

    The lesson I learned from them was that many apologies are motivated more by the hope of restoring a damaged relationship, and not from genuine remorse over one’s choices. In those circumstances, an apology is exactly the sign of weakness that John Wayne described.

  2. The Eye of Sauron moves on. Most of those people should have just waited out the rage machine for fifteen more minutes.

    I’m still waiting for the complaints that Robin Williams shouldn’t have starred in the Bird Cage.

  3. Apology to admit wrong (when on IS wrong) is fundamental to society and many religions. In a sense, it is a ‘repentance’ and admission of missing the mark. This is a part of the social glue that hold a society together: no one is perfect, and we forgive each other our mistakes, knowing that we make them as well.

    Apologizing to progressives, on the other hand, serves no purpose, even if one WAS wrong. In this limited case, the Duke was right.

    • Apologizing to progressives, on the other hand, serves no purpose, even if one WAS wrong.

      Made me chuckle – made me think of “apologizing for not apologizing.” That would at least put the progressive(s) on notice that you play by their rules.

      If you find yourself the target of an expectation or demand(s) to apologize for something, first, consider the expectant and demander(s). Do that, even before you consider whatever it is, or might have been, that brought on the expectation or demand. Doing that is a modern twist on “consider the source.” These days, chances are greater that you are simply being baited into an Unearned Guilt Trap. Don’t fall for it; don’t apologize. You don’t have to mock the phony self-righteousness of the (likely) false accuser(s). You don’t have to double down on the alleged offensiveness. Really, all you have to do is feel offended. And then, don’t complain. Your silence will communicate all the strength that your expectant and demanding accusers lack.

  4. I may have pointed this out before, but the “never apologize” rule seems to be one of the most often violated. By being forced to violate the rule, they seem to filter out the superfluous apologies discussed above, and only aplogize for true offenses.

  5. Leadership Can Be Learned

    3. Have the courage to create
    a. Take 100% personal responsibility.
    b. Be proactive. Perceive yourself as being at cause.
    c. Circumstance does not make the person, it reveals the person(s) to them self.
    d. We reap what we sow. This principle is true in physics, philosophy, and business. It is a law of nature.

    It comes down to this…

    1. Apologize when you perceive yourself as being wrong and then learn from your mistake.
    2. Do not apologize for something when you do not perceive yourself as being wrong!

    Apologizing for hurting the feelings of irrational social justice warrior “snowflakes snowflaking hard” (#Michael West) is the wrong thing to do. Stand up for what you believe is right regardless of what others think or feel.

  6. Progressives: A View From The Eyes Of An Independent

    Today the blatantly open intimidation from progressives and SJW’s is so bad that companies and individuals are fearful of being falsely smeared in public by these totalitarian extremists that they’re actively making unethical decisions for the purpose of keeping totalitarian extremists at bay. These totalitarian extremists have already won the minds of a huge swath of the United States population and they’re using a lineup of willfully compliant unethical “journalist” (I used that word loosely) in the media and an army of lunatic SJW’s active in social media to ram their totalitarian agenda down the throats of those that won’t willingly comply.

    This is becoming more and more evident every day to the point of truly being self-evident.

    Anyone that disagrees, or can be smeared as disagreeing, with the progressive or social justice warrior hive mind that doesn’t publicly kowtow to the hive mind is the equivalent to a Jew in 1930’s Germany. What we are seeing is open persecution against anyone outside the hive mind and it won’t take much for these brainwashed totalitarian fascists to resort to wide-spread open bloodshed to literally beat, or worse, their opposition into submission; this is pessimistic but I really do think we’ve crossed the threshold of social sanity and it’s now inevitable.

    In my opinion progressives and social justice warriors are literally terrorists*.

    *Terrorist: person(s) who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

    • Amazing how not having social media make one immune to these attacks…

      They will have to come at me in person… with less than favorable results (from their panty waisted perspective)

    • People in Nazi Germany began the practice of looking around first to see who may be watching them when they ran into someone they knew. Just in case…

      Your allusion is not wrong.

  7. Okay, I have to ask: In the Calvin Klein video, which one is the robot?
    (old age, bad eyes, plus maybe low testosterone and homophobia are most likely to blame)

    I am guessing the “lady in red” on the right is the robot. I don’t know who Bella Hadid is. I’ve never even Googled her. But I would guess that’s her, appearing first. Her eyelids seem to move more naturally than the other’s, and her eyes look more natural. Still, whichever one is the robot, to its makers: good job. If I could afford a redhead…

    I Googled Lil Miquela. I was correct – basically. I hate blurred reality.

  8. Alright, Ethics Alarmists. What does this even mean?

    “The concept for our latest #MYCALVINS campaign is to promote freedom of expression for a wide range of identities, including a spectrum of gender and sexual identities.”

    I am I to understand that lady in black is Habib and the Lady in Red is a robot/doll? What, pray tell, does “gender and sexual identity” have to do with dolls in the ad? Are we to assume/conclude that dolls have gender and/or sexual identity? The last time I checked, dolls were inanimate objects incapable of deciding any kind of gender or sexual identity. Right? But, isn’t the Alphabet Soup Group including the sentiments of inanimate objects as part of their contingency of protected and protectable groups? What’s next? Toasters? Washing machines? Will the Alphabet Soup Group limit their admission to machines run on electricity and batteries? What about lawn mowers? Lawn sprinkler systems?

    Yet, if we look at this from Hadid’s perspective, isn’t she displaying some kind of fetish for inanimate objects? She kisses a doll. A doll. What am I missing? Would there be outrage if Ellen De Generis kissed the doll? So, only gay people can represent gay people in an ad, right? But, Lil Miquela is a doll. The doll is made out to look like a woman, but isn’t that assuming that the doll is binary? What if the doll thinks of itself as an aardvark or an airplane? Doesn’t shoot the argument and the outrage in the foot? Can a sex doll feel pain if the Alphabet Soup Groups shoots it in the foot? Does that mean the LGBT community needs to add a new letter to its acronym to encompass people with attractions to dolls? So, should the LGBT community add “appliantologists”* to there letter stream? That would stand for people who get sexual gratification from the use of machines.


    *Ed. Note: Thanks and credit are given to the inestimable and immortal genius of Frank Zappa for coming up with this word in the 1980s. Witness, “Joe’s Garage, Acts I, II, and III”.

    • Lawn Sprinklers are male. Obviously.

      Washing machines and toasters are female. (Think about it)

      Lawn mowers are violent (to the grass) so must be male.

      Anyone who says otherwise is arguing against science and decades of traditional gender roles.

    • I am I to understand that lady in black is Habib and the Lady in Red is a robot/doll? What, pray tell, does “gender and sexual identity” have to do with dolls in the ad?

      The ad had a human character who was interacting with an anthropomorphic robot exhibiting females traits. Presumably, the company is referring to her “gender and sexual identity”, rather than the robot’s.

      • I am not so sure we can make that assumption or presumption. The Alphabet Soup Group didn’t specify which character committed the offense, and now I find out that the robot was not even a real robot but a CGI generated facsimile of a robot facsimiling a person. Oh, the mind just boggles.


  9. Every story I see calls this a “robot”, but am I the only one who thinks that term, in general parlance, means some sort of a mechanical device, usually with some level of complex programming? Because that video looks very, very much like a good-but-not-great-by-2019-standards CGI special effect to me (the loose strands of hair move in a very tell-tale CGI fashion). Are we just calling CGI characters “robots” now?

    • And if I’m right that this is CGI, think about how much stupider that makes the outrage and the apology: nobody actually kissed anything, it’s just a pattern of 1’s and 0’s that add up to a fancy cartoon.

        • Wait. It is not even a REAL robot/doll? Well, how is that not like watching TV? Does that now mean that my Sony 4k television has a gender and/or sexual orientation? Well, I’ll be dumbfounded. Does the fact that I operate the TV with a remote mean that I am assuming its gender and/or sexual orientation every time I turn it on and off? Do I need to apologize before and after I watch it? I mean, really. How am I supposed to address this? Think of the micro-aggressions I have engaged in with that TV. I assumed it was non-sentient and had the audacity to watch Tucker Carlson a few times. He said the some mean things – am I responsible for that? Do I now just watch “Arthur” reruns on PBS? I mean, Arthur’s teacher (who happens to identify as a cis male) married a man last week*, so there’s that.


          *Ed. Note: If you think I am kidding, here is a glowing article about it. Thank heavens my son likes to watch fishing shows (on his own TV, not our 4k thing hanging on the wall).

Leave a Reply to Rich in CT Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.