Tuesday April 15, 2014

Knox: ‘Sorry’ doesn’t always cut it

The week in apologies so far:

* Conservative cabinet minister James Moore, after initially claiming he was taken out of context, apologized for saying hungry kids aren’t Ottawa’s problem.

* A South Africa official said sorry for the sign-language guy at Mandela’s funeral, the one who appeared to be signalling base runners to steal home.

* Facing a defamation suit, Rob Ford, who is to apologies what Starbucks is to coffee, apologized, sort of, for implying a Toronto newspaper reporter was a pedophile. Because it was Two-For-One Tuesday, his stuporship also apologized, sort of, for calling fellow city council members corrupt. Wednesday, he took another run at apologizing to the reporter, this time with success.

For those keeping score at home, Ford has also apologized recently for smoking crack, bowling over a fellow councillor in city hall, threatening to kill someone in a drunken tirade, being “hammered” in public, calling reporters “maggots” and dragging his wife into his troubles in a way that would have any other husband sleeping with one eye open.

“I can’t do anything else but apologize and apologize,” he said at one point. Well, he could

From the courtroom to the hockey rink, apologies get spent like Get Out Of Jail Free cards, an alternative to accepting real consequences for our actions.

Among this year’s offerings:

The city of Abbotsford apologized for dumping chicken manure in a homeless camp. Christy Clark apologized for the “quick win” scandal, which upset voters so much that they gave her an increased majority in May.

Barack Obama apologized for calling California’s Kamala Harris “the best-looking attorney general” in the U.S. (imagine the fuss if a conservative said that).

Justin Bieber phoned Bill Clinton to apologize after a video caught the 19-year-old spraying cleaning fluid on a photo of the ex-president and urinating in a mop bucket in a New York restaurant (no word on whether he also phoned the restaurant janitor).

Air Canada had to apologize not just for losing a B.C.-bound greyhound in California but for an internal email in which an airline public relations rep scoffed at a San Francisco TV reporter’s query about it: “It is local news doing a story on a lost dog. Their entire government is shut down and about to default and this is how the U.S. media spends its time.” In July, another Bay-area TV station apologized for making up racially offensive names for the pilots of the Asiana Air plane that crashed there in July.

Saying sorry isn’t always enough. Lululemon’s chairman resigned weeks after throwing himself into the downward facing dog position to apologize for saying “some women’s bodies just don’t actually work” for the company’s yoga pants. Paula Deen’s tearful apology for dropping the N-bomb didn’t save her from getting nuked by the Food Network. Alec Baldwin lost his late-night NBC talk show despite saying sorry for using an anti-gay slur. MSNBC host Martin Bashir quit after apologizing for ranting about Sarah Palin, who did not apologize for comparing America’s debt load to slavery, which is what sent Bashir off his nut in the first place.

Still, the apology as damage-control device has become a joke. Sorry.

Jack Knox writes for the Victoria Times Colonist. He was born and raised in Kamloops.

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