Stop making these types of apologies – they only make things worse

A sportscaster during a baseball game used a homophobic slur when he thought it was during a break, not realizing that he was back on the air. Some time later during the broadcast, when he was made aware that his remarks had been broadcast, he issued an apology and later left the booth to be replaced by someone else. His apology included the following evasive statements that are commonly found is such mea culpas:

The first is, “If I have hurt anyone out there, I can’t tell you how much I say from the bottom of my heart that I am very, very sorry.”

The second, “That is not who I am and it never has been.”

First off, stop using the ‘If’ in the first statement, which gives the impression that it is possible that no one was offended and so no harm, no foul. Accept that you offended people. Just say that you apologize for having made offensive remarks and are deeply sorry.

Also stop saying that this is not who you are. You said it. It was not a slip of the tongue. It may not be who you would like to be or think of yourself as but it is who you are. It is better to say something like, “My words show that I have some homophobic impulses that can rise to the surface despite my attempts to suppress them. I need to reflect on this and become better aware of who I am so that I can change for the better.”

I suspect that all of us, despite our best intentions, harbor prejudices of various kinds that we have acquired over our lifetimes, often implicitly by a process of osmosis from the surrounding culture. Those prejudices never quite disappear however much we may consciously and intellectually reject them. It is good to acknowledge that reality and be aware that we may say or do something based on them, despite our vigilance. That is the first step to becoming a better person.


  1. G Pierce says

    Another recent example. Although the tweets are from ten years ago and maybe he has grown since then, the fact that he asserts that he’s never harbored any -isms is exactly the problem. You have to always be re-examining and growing. It’s not a good bad binary. That attitude is what allows people to wash their hands and feel like they don’t have to examine themselves.

  2. says

    “Sorry if anyone was offended” isn’t an apology, it’s blame shifting. It says the person who dislikes it is the problem and not the person who said it.

    It’s just another way of saying, “lighten up, it was a joke”,

  3. billseymour says

    I graduated from high school in ’64 and so did basically all of my growing up during a time when racism was simply the norm. I was in my 30’s when I finally made the conscious decision that things like racism and sexism were both stupid and immoral, and I didn’t want to be either of those. In the 40 years since then, with any luck, I’ve had enough practice to be able to get through the day without being a jerk. I can’t claim to not be racist or sexist myself, though, since there are still times when I have to stop and say to myself, “No, wait, that’s wrong.” It’s just that I’m able to stop before nobody else notices (I hope).

  4. larpar says

    He also said he’s a “man of faith”, like that should some kind of mitigating factor.

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