Friday, June 8, 2012

How a real man apologizes

I've discussed apologies here and elsewhere before.  Today an apology by Jason Alexander, famously known for his portrayal of Seinfeld's George Costanza, crossed my desk.  Jason, on a talk show, found himself in the midst of a discussion about the sport of Cricket, and proceeded to crack some jokes designed to distinguish the polite sport from rougher ground sports.  He used "kinda gay" as one of his descriptors.  The audience laughed, but later, he heard from some offended fans.

Alexander's apology is an exceptional example of what a real apology should be.  It is both thoughtful and genuinely remorseful, but it goes an extra mile by striving to understand the reasons he offended, to acknowledge his acts caused harm, and to show clearly that he's learned.

"But what we really got down to is quite serious. It is not that we can’t laugh at and with each other. It is not a question of oversensitivity. The problem is that today, as I write this, young men and women whose behaviors, choices or attitudes are not deemed “man enough” or “normal” are being subjected to all kinds of abuse from verbal to physical to societal. They are being demeaned and threatened because they don’t fit the group’s idea of what a “real man” or a “real woman” are supposed to look like, act like and feel like.

For these people, my building a joke upon the premise I did added to the pejorative stereotype that they are forced to deal with everyday. It is at the very heart of this whole ugly world of bullying that has been getting rightful and overdue attention in the media. And with my well-intentioned comedy bit, I played right into those hurtful assumptions and diminishments."

That was just a whistle-wetter.  Click this sentence to read the rest of it.

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