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How to Apologize

There are some who know how to apologize, but for most it is an outdated and lost art akin to canning fruit and vegetables from the garden for use during the winter.

Paul Greenberg writes:

For an example of how to apologize, allow me a little local pride in the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock. It seems the diocese had discouraged support this year for the Susan B. Komen Foundation, which sponsors the Race for the Cure against breast cancer. Why, for heaven’s sake? Because of the foundation’s supposed ties to Planned Parenthood and abortion providers. As it turns out, no funds raised by the Race for the Cure in Arkansas are used to finance abortions through Planned Parenthood, and Monsignor J. Gaston Hebert, who currently heads the diocese, minced no words when he apologized for the church’s earlier statement:

“To let that statement stand would be an act of injustice,” said the monsignor. “With apologies to Komen, to those fighting breast cancer and to the survivors, to the Catholic clergy and faithful who were embarrassed by the mistaken policy, I rescind the position statement in its entirety.”

Now that’s an apology. No excuses, no “explanations,” no weasel words. Just a cleansing act. Result: Trust is restored. Sherrye McBride of the Komen Foundation in Arkansas responded in kind, saying of the monsignor: “He realized he had made a mistake, and he was a big enough person and a fine enough man to say so.” Which is how making a proper apology respects and reconciles all concerned.

Greenberg is correct. Real apologies have all but disappeared from public life and from much of private life. I think that the apology is a casualty of lawyers and political correctness.

First, consider the way that PC usually works. Person A says something to which person B claims to take offense. Person A then either refuses to apologize, or expresses sorrow that B took offense.

Second, upon learning that one has made a mistake that may have offended others, most lawyers recommend that one clam up and not say anything. Deny, deny, deny. An apology is an admission of fault, and that leaves one open to a lawsuit.

The apology in particular, and the manners that are the lubricant of civilization, are the casualty of this PC and legalistic development.

Darn lawyers. And darn marxists with their class-warfare PC idiocy.

This article was originally posted on March 14, 2008.

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