Ahmadinejad Demand for Apology Denied by President Obama

Iranian thug, bully, tyrant, probably not re-elected but still in office President Ahmadinejad issued a demand for U.S. President Barack Obama to apologize for criticism of Iran’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters.

Not likely.

From the Washington Post:

In Washington, President Obama Friday condemned recent violence against protesters as “outrageous” and dismissed a demand by Iran’s president that he apologize for similar previous comments. Obama suggested that it was President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who should be apologizing to Iranian victims and their families for the violent actions of security forces.

Ow! In your face, Mahmoud!

Said President Obama:

“I don’t take Mr. Ahmadinejad seriously about apologies, particularlygiven the fact that the United Stats has gone out of its way not tointerfere with the election process in Iran.” He said Ahmadinejadshould “think carefully” about his “obligations to his own people,”notably the “families of those who have been beaten, shot or detained.”

Glad to see the global Obama apology tour has its limits.

David Letterman Apology to Sarah Palin for Joke About Her Daughter

David Letterman apologizes for his recent crude joke about daughter of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.  Took him long enough.

It doesn’t make any difference what my intent was, it’s the perception.
And, as they say about jokes, if you have to explain the joke, it’s not
a very good joke.  And I’m certainly – ” (audience applause) “– thank
you. Well, my responsibility – I take full blame for that. I told a bad
joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely
meaningless compared to the perception. And since it was a joke I told,
I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having
told that joke. It’s not your fault that it was misunderstood, it’s my
fault. That it was misunderstood.” (audience applauds) “Thank you. So I
would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved,
Bristol and Willow, and also to the governor and her family and
everybody else who was outraged by the joke. I’m sorry about it and
I’ll try to do better in the future. Thank you very much.” (audience
applause).

Full text of Letterman’s apology to Sarah Palin is here.

AirTran Apology for ejecting Muslim passengers

We can pretty much depend on our nation’s airlines to provide us with at least one good apology-worthy incident each month. Granted, we’ll never hear an apology for most of the things that airlines should apologize for — like cramped seats, ridiculous extra fees, late flights, canceled flights, etc. Personally, I always cheer when an airline goes bankrupt, simply because most of them have ticked me off at one time or another. Although bankruptcy doesn’t seem to kill them. They just rise up from the grave and go right back to overcharging, frustrating and inconveniencing their passengers. Or, as in the case of AirTran this week, throwing their passengers off the plane.

What happened? From the AP story, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Washington — AirTran Airways apologized Friday to nine Muslims kicked
off a New Year’s Day flight to Florida after other passengers reported
hearing a suspicious remark about airplane security. One of the
passengers said the confusion started at Reagan National Airport in
Washington, D.C., when he talked about the safest place to sit on an
airplane.

Yeah, don’t talk about that.

… Irfan said when he boarded the flight Thursday, he mentioned
something to his wife and sister-in-law about having to sit in the
back. His sister-in-law replied that she believed the back of the
airplane was the safest, but Irfan believed it was better to be by the
wings.

“She said, ‘Yes, I guess it makes sense not to be close to the
engine in case something happens,” Irfan recalled Friday. “It was a
very benign conversation.”

Or so he would have us believe, because …

Shortly after taking their seats, members of the group was
approached by federal air marshals and taken off the plane, Irfan said.
They stood in the jet bridge connected to the airport and answered
questions while other passengers exited and glared at them.

No doubt. Although maybe they should have been glaring at the jackass who dropped a dime on this group and caused everyone to miss their flight.

Irfan said he thought he and the others were profiled because of
their appearance. The men had beards and the women wore headscarves,
traditional Muslim attire.

That very well might have had something to do with it.   Now for the apology, in the form of a statement on AirTran’s website:

AirTran Airways Offers Apology to Customers on Flight 175 Yesterday

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AAI), today issued the following statement regarding AirTran flight 175 originating at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on January 1, 2009.

Gotta love that personal touch. This is a run-of-the-mill routine corporate apology. Impersonal corporate third person voice. Yeah, yeah, we insulted an inconvenienced you, we’re sorry, whatever.

Our goal at AirTran Airways is to offer a safe, pleasant and positive travel experience for all customers every day on every flight. We sincerely regret that the passengers on flight 175 did not have a positive travel experience on January 1, 2009.

See? So heartwarming and deeply felt.

Security is a shared responsibility and this incident highlights the multiple layers of security that are in place in today’s aviation environment. While ultimately this issue proved to be a misunderstanding, the steps taken were necessary.

It also highlights the multiple layers of numbskullery and inane nonsense that pass for airline security, but that is another whole topic.

Alert passengers reported to the flight crew what they believed were inappropriate comments allegedly made by one of the passengers onboard, and the flight crew notified the federal air marshals that were assigned to the flight.

Am I the only one troubled by the notion that my right to fly is subject to the discretion of what  “alert passengers” nearby think is an inappropriate comment?

The federal air marshals on board contacted local and federal law enforcement officials who came to the gate and escorted the individuals in question off the aircraft to ensure they posed no threat to the flight. After deplaning the remaining passengers and performing a sweep of the aircraft and rescreening all passengers, crew, checked and carry-on baggage, the flight departed two hours late without the nine passengers who were detained for questioning.

See what I mean? Some ” alert” dope in the next row thinks you look funny and you get detained and questioned by federal officials.

We regret that the issue escalated to the heightened security level it did on New Year’s Day, but we trust everyone understands that the security and the safety of our passengers is paramount and cannot be compromised.

Translation: It wasn’t really our fault. We had no choice. National security!

We apologize to all of the passengers — to the nine who had to undergo extensive interviews from the authorities and to the 95 who ultimately made the flight. Nobody on Flight 175 reached their destination on time on New Year’s Day, and we regret it.

Hey, what can you do? Crazy times we live in. Just better hope the guy sitting next to you doesn’t suddenly accuse you of saying something suspicious. But if he does,and you get hauled off by the Feds, we will regret you not reaching your destination.

The airline has refunded the air fares of the nine passengers detained for questioning, has agreed to reimburse the passengers for expenses incurred by taking another airline and has also offered to transport the passengers home to Washington, DC, free of charge.

We’ll also refund your ticket … and invite you to fly with us again, free of charge! Feel better yet?

Sadly, this is a run-of-the-mill and not very sincere apology because these kinds of incidents happen with such frequency that they have become commonplace. Bad weather, mechanical difficulty, missing crew, wild accusations of paranoid passengers … there are all routine causes of delay that generate pro forma apologies from airlines.

Just for fun, check out AirTran’s Mission Statement.

GM Apology for Making Bad Cars — Part 3: Special Comment from Special Guest John Kador

**************************
(General Motors week continues here at Apology Index
  (not as gory as Shark Week, but in some ways much more scary!). You’ve read my take on the GM non-apology and a roundup of analysis from others, such as the ever-delectable Michelle Malkin. Today we have a holiday treat for you — AI’s first ever Special Guest blogger!

In our coverage of public apologies, AI has returned to certain themes again and again:

  • What are the elements of a sincere and effective apology?
  • Why do some apologies leave a bad taste in our mouths?
  • What are the special considerations for corporate apologies as opposed to apologies by individuals?

While AI haphazardly hits these points from time to time, other students of apology take a serious and systematic look at apologies, the ethics thereof, and how to apologize effectively in personal and business situations. Bestselling author John Kador has done just that, both in his forthcoming book Effective Apology and in articles and commentaries online.

Despite his own expertise–and in a curious lapse of good judgment–John reads Apology Index. He had some thoughts on GM’s “apology” this week that he wanted to share with AI readers, so I’ve invited John to take the AI wheel today with this Special Guest commentary.)
*****************************
GM: Contrition is Good, But Where’s the Apology?

By John Kador

General Motors, the world’s largest automaker, is taking baby steps on the road to apology.    GM has been widely applauded for “apologizing” for its mistakes in a full-page advertisement in Automotive News.  But while the company admits mistakes, concedes it has disappointed consumers, and promises to do better, there is no real apology there.  Not yet.  In due course, GM will issue a genuine apology, but this is not it.  Not even close.  And when it does we will know it, because while it is hard to define effective apology, we know it when we see it.  

A genuine apology meets five requirements.  I call these the Five Rs:  Recognition, Responsibility, Regret, Restitution, and Repetition.  The GM statement meets only two of them.

An apology is effective when it specifies what the offender is apologizing for, accepts responsibility for the outcome, expresses regret by using the words “I’m sorry” or “I apologize,” offers appropriate restitution, and promises not to repeat the offensive behavior.  The GM statement recognizes some of the mistakes the company made.  It also suggests that it has learned from its mistakes and will not repeat them.  But the statement falls short of effective apology by failing to explicitly accept responsibility for its predicament.  Indeed, later in its statement it blames a “perfect storm” of economic conditions.  There may be truth in this, but it’s more of an explanation than an apology.

But as an apology, the GM statement misses the boat by failing to address the two hardest pieces of effective apology:  regret and restitution.

No Regret, No Restitution

Expressing regret or remorse is the central part of any apology.  It is here that the apologizer offers the magic words “I’m sorry” or “I apologize.”   Any other language pales in power.  For many people, especially leaders and people in authority, these are the two hardest words to utter.  For too long, leaders have assumed that apologizing is a sign of weakness and that followers will be rattled by evidence that leaders can make mistakes.  But those attitudes are being replaced by evidence that, to the contrary, the willingness to apologize is taken as an indication of confidence.  Followers know that no one is perfect.  What they want are leaders who can admit and learn from their mistakes.  What they want from their leaders is accountability and transparency.

Restitution is the other stumbling block where many apologizers pull back and thereby limit the effectiveness of their apology.  Restitution is the practical attempt by the offender to restore the relationship to what it was before, to disgorge property or privilege that he or she unfairly gained, and to demonstrate a measure of humility.  Restitution requires more than words.  You cannot talk your way out of a situation you acted yourself into.  Restitution is often painful, but in the long run it’s less painful than staying on the road of denial and defensiveness.  

GM has taken small steps on the road to apology, and for this the company deserves commendation.  But if a genuine apology is what it wants, GM still has a way to go.  This is part of what GM said in its ad titled “GM’s Commitment to the American People”:

 . . .  we acknowledge we have disappointed you. At times we violated your trust by letting our quality fall below industry standards and our designs become lackluster. We have proliferated our brands and dealer network to the point where we lost adequate focus on our core U.S. market. We also biased our product mix toward pick-up trucks and SUVs. And, we made commitments to compensation plans that have proven to be unsustainable in today’s globally competitive industry. We have paid dearly for these decisions, learned from them and are working hard to correct them by restructuring our U.S. business to be viable for the long term.

Nothing is more certain than GM will eventually issue a more complete apology.  When it does, the apology will come from CEO Rick Wagoner, who as the leader of GM, will accept personal responsibility.  It will be Wagoner’s final gesture of leadership at GM.  The apology may well sound something like this.  The first paragraph is pretty much the same:

On behalf of the entire General Motors team, I acknowledge we have disappointed you.  We violated your trust by letting our quality fall below industry standards and our designs become lackluster. We have proliferated our brands and dealer network to the point where we lost adequate focus on our core U.S. market. We also biased our product mix toward pick-up trucks and SUVs. And, we made commitments to compensation plans that have proven to be unsustainable in today’s globally competitive industry.

These failures will now require substantial sacrifice from the entire GM family.  As chairman and CEO of General Motors, I accept responsibility for these failures.  To the employees, retirees, dealers, consumers, and the American taxpayer who is now being called on to sacrifice for us, I say I apologize.  I’m sorry for my arrogance and failure of leadership.  I have always insisted that GM executives take responsibility for their failures.  I can ask no less of myself.  For this reason, I have informed the board of directors that I am resigning from my positions as chairman and CEO of General Motors.  I believe GM will learn enduring lessons from its mistakes and will be better positioned not to repeat them.  We are proud of our century of contribution to U.S. prosperity and look forward to making an equally meaningful contribution during our next 100 years.

Perceptions of Apology Have Shifted

The recent experience of GM, as well as Ford and Chrysler, validates the shifting perceptions of contrition and apology.  When the CEOs of the Detroit Three first went before Congress to plead for a bailout, they were roundly criticized for flying to DC in three separate private jets.  The CEOs were tone-deaf to the requirements for contrition and humility.  They walked away empty-handed.  But they quickly learned that strength flows not from defending themselves, shifting responsibility to the economy, or combativeness but from demonstrating contrition, admitting mistakes, and humbling themselves.  They walked (or jetted) away with nothing but scathing criticism.  For their next appearance before Congress, the CEOs drove hybrid cars and were willing to admit mistakes and accept salary reductions.   They drove back to Detroit with a promise of help, albeit at a level half of what they requested.

I believe that if they had apologized in terms I outlined above, the Big Three would be in a much stronger position to get the resources they need.  The take-away from all of this is, that morality aside, apology is effective.  It’s not only the virtuous thing for an organization to apologize when it makes mistakes, but it’s often the most direct avenue to getting what it wants. This is true for individuals as well as organizations.

GM Apology for Making Bad Cars — Part 2

As promised last time, we now take a closer look at GM’s recent “apology” for making bad cars. I put apology in quotes because a careful reader will note that although headline writers call it an apology, nowhere in the text (pdf here for your collection) does GM actually say they’re sorry. But they would like that $18 billion bailout please.

The always enterprising Michelle Malkin points out that GM has done this apology shtick before:

Like I said, I knew this apology strategy sounded familiar.

That’s because GM ran a “We’re sorry we suck so much” ad campaign five years ago in that sounded the same themes.

So this isn’t the first time GM has come crawling back with a mealy-mouthed apology for its corporate suckitude … that only confirms my loser boyfriend interpretation of this sorry spectacle!

Autoblog throws open the discussion. Commenters there are divided. Some blame GM for building big, gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs. Others blame American consumers for buying big, gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs. Still others blame GM for making Americans want to buy big, gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs — further reinforcing the codependency theme.

Kendra Marr of the Washington Post, interviews Gene Grabowski, chair of the crisis and litigation practice at Levick Strategic Communications, and others, about GM’s approach. (We’ve heard from the Levick crowd before, commenting on corporate apologies.) He says apologizing isn’t easy for corporate America.

But GM does seem to have the non-apology apology down.

Patricia Sellers at Fortune, rolls the GM letter into a roundup of what she calls a positive recent trend of “leaders fessing up.” All of her examples–GM letter, Vikrim Pandit and Robert Rubin at Citigroup,  President Bush are of leaders admitting to making mistakes–or at least admitting that mistakes were made–but none seem to involve actual apologies. Ms. Sellers notes that admitting mistakes is not enough.

I think that is why the GM pseudo-apology falls flat. It coincides with begging for $18 billion or more from the taxpayers, it isn’t the first time the company has used this ploy, and their statement contains no real expression of remorse or clear and specific commitment to improve their ways. I mean “produce automobiles you want to buy and are excited to own”  is a bit vague. GM basically comes across as one of those pushy panhandlers you encounter in some cities … the ones who follow you down the block spinning their yarn about how they need a dollar for bus fare to the train station because their — apparently invisible — car broke down. Exact same thing, except GM wants to shake you down for $18 billion instead of the loose change in your pocket.

If they were really, truly sorry about the sorry way they’ve run their business, might General Motors have found it in themselves to come clean and really apologize and have a real plan to once again be the innovative global leaders American car companies used to be (and I think we all wish still were) before things got this bad?

In the end, I agree with Ms. Malkin and many others:

GM’s “road to redemption” five years ago turned out to be another dead end.

If you subsidize it, you’ll get more of it.

The “$15 billion” auto bailout installment is essentially a blank check for a carmaker that admits it has run a failing business for the last 25 years.

Let them fail. Let them go bankrupt. Let some with more enterprise, more foresight, more brains, and more guts acquire GM’s assets, pick up the pieces and rebuild the American auto industry. Sorry GM. It’s just not working out.

It is time to dump this chump!

GM Apology for Making Bad Cars

On Monday, General Motors took out a full page ad in Automotive News in which the company–currently begging Congress to give it American taxpayers’ money even though American consumers don’t want its cars–acknowledges having disappointed and betrayed American consumers.

Betrayed? That’s mighty strong language. Was GM secretly selling top secret plans for the good cars to Japan?

(Full disclosure: my car is a Chrysler.)

Let’s plow through the text of the allegedly apologetic ad

GM’S COMMITMENT TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

Oh, now you want a commitment, GM. Sure, you’ve been abusing us with your sub-par cars for years and now that you realize you’re about to get kicked to the curb — well, not the curb but the junkyard –suddenly you want to talk commitment. Well, we’re seeing Honda now. But whatever.

We deeply appreciate the Congress considering General Motors’ request to borrow up to $18 billion from the United States. We want to be sure the American people know why we need it, what we’ll do with it and how it will make GM viable for the long term.

As I think we here at Apology Index have noted before, these corporate apologies sound much more sincere when coming from an actual, identifiable person at the company — such as the CEO — rather than from the anonymous, impersonal, corporate royal we. That alone should set the red light blinking on your Insincereometer.

For a century, we have been serving your personal mobility needs,
providing American jobs and serving local communities. We have been the U.S. sales leader for 76 consecutive years. Of the 250 million cars and trucks on U.S. roads today, more than 66 million are GM brands – nearly 44 million more than Toyota brands. Our goal is to continue to fulfill your aspirations and exceed your expectations.

See what I mean? This is totally the abusive, loser boyfriend begging you to take him back:

We had some good times, didn’t we, baby? Remember the Corvair …  no, wait, I mean the Vega! No, not the Vega. How about  the backseat of that Chevette? Anyway, I sill have 50% more vehicles on the road than Toyota, if you know what I mean.

While we’re still the U.S. sales leader, we acknowledge we have disappointed you. At times we violated your trust by letting our quality fall below industry standards and our designs become lackluster. We have proliferated our brands and dealer network to the point where we lost adequate focus on our core U.S. market. We also biased our product mix toward pick-up trucks and SUVs. And, we made commitments to compensation plans that have proven to be unsustainable in today’s globally competitive industry. We have paid dearly for these decisions, learned from them and are working hard to correct them by restructuring our U.S. business to be viable for the long term.

Look, baby, I know I let you down. I know my quality control wasn’t always what it should have been. Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention to your needs. You needed safe, reliable, affordable, fuel-efficient cars. I get that. I get that. . I know I betrayed you with all those pick-ups and I was very proliferate with a lot of different brands. Maybe I even gave you an SUV you didn’t want. But I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’m sorry, baby. Things are going to be better now, you’ll see!

Today, we have substantially overcome our quality gap; our newest designs like the Chevrolet Malibu and Cadillac CTS are widely heralded for their appeal; our new products are nearly all cars and “crossovers” rather than pick-ups and SUVs; our factories have greatly improved productivity and our labor agreements are much more competitive. We are also driven to lead in fuel economy, with more hybrid models for sale and biofuel-capable vehicles on the road than any other manufacturer, and determined to reinvent the automobile with products like the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle and breakthrough technology like hydrogen fuel cells.

Check out my sweet new designs, baby. You know you want my Malibu, boo. I’m not doing the pick-ups and the SUVs no more. I have crossed over. I’ve gotten really interested in being green and saving the environment now, baby. I really care about  these things. I know that surprises you, but it’s the truth. This is the only planet we got, baby! We got to share it with the rainforest and the baby seals and all that. Yeah, I’ve reinvented myself, baby. And it’s all for you. Including by breakthrough extended range. It’s all electric. Can you feel the tingle?

Until recent events, we felt the actions we’d been taking positioned us for a bright future. Just a year ago, after we reached transformational agreements with our unions, industry analysts were forecasting a positive GM turnaround. We had adequate cash on hand to continue our restructuring even under relatively conservative industry sales volume assumptions.

But I’ve got to tell you, baby. These problems we’re having lately. I never saw it coming. I thought things were going fine.

Unfortunately, along with all Americans, we were hit by a “perfect storm.” Over the past year we have all faced volatile energy prices, the collapse of the U.S. housing market, failing financial institutions, a stock market crash and the complete freezing of credit. We are in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Just like you, we have been severely impacted by events outside our control. U.S. auto industry sales have fallen to their lowest per capita rate in half a century. Despite moving quickly to reduce our planned spending by over $20 billion, GM finds itself precariously and frighteningly close to running out of cash.

Anyway, I lost my job and I’m about to get kicked out of my apartment so I thought, you know, could I stay with you for a while?

This is why we need to borrow money from U.S. taxpayers. If we run
out of cash, we will be unable to pay our bills, sustain our operations
and invest in advanced technology. A collapse of GM and the domestic
auto industry will accelerate the downward spiral of an already anemic
U.S. economy. This will be devastating to all Americans, not just GM
stakeholders, because it would put millions of jobs at risk and deepen
our recession. By lending GM money, you will provide us with a
financial bridge until the U.S. economy and auto sales return to
modestly healthy levels. This will allow us to keep operating and
complete our restructuring.

And could you loan me a few billion bucks? I’ll pay you back. It’s just until things pick up, I promise!

Wait, I didn’t mean to say “pick-up.”

Baby, you can’t just leave me on the street. That would be devastating, to you and to me. I know you couldn’t sleep at night, thinking about me all hungry and cold and lonely out there. Loan me the money and you’ll feel much better, I promise.

We submitted a plan to Congress Dec. 2, 2008, detailing our commitments to ensure our viability, strengthen our competitiveness, and deliver energy-efficient products. Specifically, we are committed to:

• produce automobiles you want to buy and are excited to own
• lead the reinvention of the automobile based on promising new technology
• focus on our core brands to consistently deliver on their promises
• streamline our dealer network to ensure the best sales and service
• ensure sacrifices are shared by all GM stakeholders
• meet appropriate standards for executive pay and corporate governance
• work with our unions to quickly realize competitive wages and benefits
• reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil
• protect our environment
• pay you back the entire loan with appropriate oversight and returns

See, baby, I wrote it all down for you in a poem. Because this is how I really feel.

These actions, combined with a modest rebound of the U.S. economy, should allow us to begin repaying you in 2011.

Honest, I’ll pay you back! Starting three years from now. Maybe.

In summary, our plan is designed to provide a secure return on your investment in GM’s future. We accept the conditions of your loan, the commitments of our plan, and the results needed to transform our business for long-term success. We will contribute to strengthening U.S. energy and environmental security. We will contribute to America’s technical and manufacturing know-how and create high quality jobs for the “new economy.” And, we will continue to deliver personal mobility freedom to Americans using the most advanced transportation solutions. We are proud of our century of contribution to U.S. prosperity and look forward to making an equally meaningful contribution during our next 100 years.

Come on, baby, don’t be that way! We were meant to be together, just you and me. Forget those foreign guys, with their smooth styling, plush comfort, high gas mileage and maintenance-free reliability. We’ve been together for a long, long time. We’ve got history. You and GM, we were meant to be. Are you just going to let that end? Do you want me to go bankrupt? Is that it? Is that it? Is that what you want? Will that make you happy! I bet it would! You skanky little two-timing, import model chasing, good for nothing —

No, wait, baby! I’m sorry I lost my temper! I didn’t mean it! Please open the door. Please don’t leave me standing out here in the rain knocking on the door. No, don’t call the cops, baby! Look, just slip the money under the door and I’ll leave, okay?

******
Well, that’s my take. This isn’t so much an apology from GM as it is a ploy to emotionally manipulate America into bailing out the auto industry. One way you can tell it is not an apology: the complete absence of the words “apology” “apologize” “sorry” or even “regret” in the actual text of the GM letter. It is a psuedo-apology. They want us to think they’re sorry just long enough to sign the check.

Next time, we’ll see what others may  think.

OJ Simpson Apology for Armed Robbery. (But not the other thing.)

After being convicted of kidnap and armed robbery for his role in a 2007 hotel room confrontation with a memorabilia dealer, O.J. Simpson made this apology and plea for leniency in sentencing:

The judge, alas for O.J., was unmoved, and sentenced him to up to 33 years behind bars. Said Judge Glass:

Earlier in this case, at a bail hearing, I asked — said — to Mr.
Simpson I didn’t know if he was arrogant or ignorant or both. And
during the trial and through this proceeding, I got this answer, and it
was both.

When you take a gun with you and you take men with you to show in a
show of force, that’s not just a hey, give me my stuff back. That’s
something else. And that’s what went on here. And that’s why we are all
here because this is not behavior that we can just say, oops, it’s OK,
no problem, don’t worry. No harm, no foul.

(Full transcript of the judge’s statement here)

I’m not going to waste much time commenting on Mr. Simpson or his apology. It speaks for itself.

Never mind the apology he really needs to make.

Time for O.J. to go away.

Pope John Paul II Apology List

The blog Stinque, in the course of making an altogether different point, lists various apologies issued by the late Pope John Paul II and current Pope Benedict on behalf of the Catholic Church, including such classics as long overdue apologies for the Church’s treatment of women, child sex abuse by clergy, burning Jan Hus at the stake, Christian involvement in the slave trade, anti-Protestant violence during the Counter-Reformation (helpful hint: when your side is called the Counter-Reformation, you might want to rethink), condemning Galileo (Yeah, not the Church’s finest hour), and injustices committed by missionaries against indigenous peoples in the South Pacific.

I’m sure the Catholic Church alone could keep Apology Index busy for the next few decades. (In fact, the post I link to is called “The Catholic Apology Index.”  Interesting idea for a spin-off.)

I give the Popes credit for admitting that they (or their predecessors) were wrong. That is hard for an individual to do, and even harder for a two-thousand-years-plus old religious institution. Since one of the Church’s core messages is preaching repentance and seeking of forgiveness, these apologies set the right example. Even if some are hundreds of years too late. I mean, it is nice to get an apology 584 years after being burned at the stake for your ideas. But it is much better not to be burned at the stake in the first place.

A religion that has true faith in the power of its teachings doesn’t need to burn, stone, put to the sword, torture, or otherwise abuse those who might see things another way. A lesson certain bloodthirsty cave-dwelling jihadi  lunatics would do well to heed. Perhaps their  successors will apologize for their actions 500 years from now. The civilized world can only hope.

Police Must Make Apology to Man Who Taped Traffic Stops

From time to time, Apology Index looks at apologies by the police. These often involve cases of wrongful arrest or other police misconduct. Here is a case from Pennsylvania in which “Two local police departments have agreed to apologize for citing a man who took video footage of officers’ traffic stops in early 2007.” (Pottstown Mercury)

Here is the gist of the incident:

On Feb. 19, 2007, Spring City police officers asked Hookway to step out of his vehicle after he was seen filming a traffic stop from a distance, according to the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Police then handcuffed Hookway, placed him in a police car and searched his vehicle, said ACLU staff attorney Mary-Catherine Roper.

Based on (unconfirmed) information in the reader comments following the article, Mr. Hookway may not exactly be a model citizen himself. But that is quite irrelevant to the question of whether he, as a private citizen, has the right to videotape uniformed police officers in the performance of their duties. Under Pennsylvania law, it appears that he does. Hence the settlement in this case:

Roper, the ACLU attorney, said police officers often believe residents do not have the right to film them. She said they erroneously apply the Pennsylvania Wiretap Act, which deals with the discreet recording of private conversations.

Courts have been “very clear” on this matter, she said. So long as residents do not interfere with police duties or harass any other person, they have a right to document officers’ activities while they are in uniform.

I am sure that many police officers do not like the idea of private citizens monitoring their activities, but in a free society it is absolutely essential that our right to do so be protected. We grant our law enforcement officers great powers, including the power to detain, arrest, and question citizens and to use deadly force in the appropriate circumstances. Most officers take that responsibility as seriously as they should. Some bad few abuse it. The police make great sacrifices on our behalf–but that does not mean they should be immune to public scrutiny. 

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  The answer is, we, the people.

We don’t have the text of the letters of apology here. They may not have been written yet. But this is a case where an apology is most certainly called for.

Obama Apology to Nancy Reagan

President-elect Barack Obama learned in his first post-election press conference that as President (and even President-to-be) his every public utterance will be scrutinized, analyzed, reinterpreted, and exploited.

In the course of noting that he has, of course, spoken with all of the ex-presidents as he prepares to assume the Oval Office, Obama made an off-hand joke about not holding any Nancy Reagan type séances to conjure up dead presidents:

A more or less harmless quip coming from, say, Jay Leno. But hot water for our next President, for several reasons:

  • Nancy Reagan is a presidential widow. And in poor health at that.
  • More importantly, while Mrs. Reagan was dinged for consulting astrologers during her time in the White House, she didn’t conduct any séances.
  • That was actually First Lady Hillary Clinton, conversing with the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt with the aid of some New Age consultant type. (In fairness, Hillary didn’t hold a séance either — it was more of a creative exercise: “What would Eleanor Roosevelt say if you could speak to her?” But still goofy enough for ridicule.)

Quickly realizing his error, President-elect Senator The One Obama (thank goodness he’ll be down to just one title come January 20) phoned Mrs. Reagan to apologize for “the careless and offhanded remark,” Obama transition team spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said. (CNN)

I’m sure it won’t be Obama’s last apology, but it is certainly better for him to learn now that he must choose his words more carefully. The campaign spotlight was bright, but he’s about to walk into a supernova of attention.