The art of the non-apology

notsorryThese days, it’s super easy to offend someone. People can do it without even realizing it or intending to. As can be shown by my recently invented, Star’s Law, which states that no matter what you do, someone, somewhere, is offended by it. But in this volatile time where people are quick to call you out on your privilege and/or ignorance, the offending parties are sometimes felt as if they have no choice but to issue an apology. But they just don’t want to admit that they did anything wrong.

An apology is defined as an expression of regret for having done or said something wrong. A non-apology is a statement formed to sound like an apology but lacks actual elements of contrition and understanding that what they did was wrong. Saying things such as “I’m sorry that you were offended,” “mistakes were made,” and other forms of rhetoric that use words of apology with no actual substance. The thing is that an apology should only be issued when someone is actually sorry and they really understand what they did was wrong.

For example, when Phil Robertson was called out for making bigoted and hateful remarks about gay people he issued what he called an apology, but it contained nothing  in it that actually indicated that the was sorry or he understood what he did wrong. He first explained why he stated what he did (“I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.”)

Then he went on to add that even though he thinks gay people are flawed sinners who shouldn’t be attracted to men’s anuses he still respects them, (“However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”) He clearly showed that he didn’t understand why what he said was wrong and he clearly doesn’t feel sorry about it. He just worked to justify what he said and squirm his way out of actually admitting fault.

When the Fit Mom, Maria Kang, “apologized” for her body shaming photo, she stated that she was sorry that everyone took offense to the photo, as if the photo and her implications weren’t offensive and it’s just us normal people that got all uppity about it. She then implied that her detractors were all unhappy fat people who were jealous of her and told them that they have to take control of their own lives if they want to look just like her. She also blamed everyone else for their “interpretation” of her image.

Apparently her photo was totally innocent and sweet and meant to motivate women and the fact that very few people saw it like that meant that we’re all silly heifers who couldn’t put the Twinkies down long enough to realize what she was trying to do. Here’s the thing though; your intent is not the be-all, end-all of the impact of your image. In theory, people could make any kind of offensive statement that they want and then claim that it’s everyone else’s fault because they interpreted it wrong. She put out an offensive and body-shaming image, it’s not everyone else’s fault that they felt offended and body shamed.

But what I’m trying to say is that if you’re not sorry, then don’t apologize. Don’t go through the motions of making it look like you give a shit and are bothered that you offended people when you really want to blame others and not deal with the fact that you have discriminated against an entire group of people. Just admit that you’re an asshole. Own that shit. Because doing the non-apology really just makes you look like an insincere asshole, instead of just a regular one.

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