Friday, August 17, 2007

Sorry--the apology trend seems to be heading the other way lately

Last spring it seemed that tout le monde was demanding an apology from someone for something:
I'm designating this particular phenomenon Nothstine's Corollary to Kinsley's Law of Gaffes: No one expects a politician to apologize for telling a lie, but they will often demand an apology for telling the truth.

I also asked a question back then that I still haven't gotten a satisfactory answer to:
By the way--am I the only one in America who found it very, very odd that every news or entertainment source reporting on this story, including those calling for his head, has made a specific point of repeating the three-word phrase that caused such offense and finally cost him his job? What--is it only offensive when Imus says it?

Apparently it is, since an editorial in this morning's Oregonian does it again. I suppose it hangs on some sort of speech-act theoretical distinction between "use" and "reference."

But back to my point: If everyone was preemptively demanding apologies from everyone last April, by late summer the trend seems to be reversing, and people are stepping forward to preemptively insist they won't be apologizing for anything.

For example, in a move that I've predicted will come back to haunt him before next November, Oregon's junior senator recently claimed he was "not here to make any apologies" for his as-yet-completely explained involvement in the Klamath basin salmon kill-off of 2002.

And now Think Progress reports that the NYTimes' Thomas Friedman--staunch contemporaneous supporter of the Iraq invasion and namesake of the eponymous "Friedman Unit"--made a similar pronoucement:
As Iraq has deteriorated, Friedman has criticized Bush’s execution of the war and has even called for “disengagement” himself. Yet, he remains steadfast in his initial war support. On the Charlie Rose show yesterday, Friedman stated, “I’m not going to apologize” for his lofty dreams of democratization in the Middle East, alleging that Iraqis “craved” regime change.

Kind of makes you wonder: What will public figures be refusing to apologize for next?

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