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We all make mistakes, and taking responsibility for them is a part of being an adult. But if you’re going to swallow your pride and draft an apology, it’s time to go all out. Here are some common errors that will render your apology meaningless. Making these mistakes increases the probability that the receiver of your apology will be comelled to either respond with four-letter epithets or ignore you altogether.
Mistake #1: Sending an e-mail, even if the person you’re apologizing to is readily available in person or by phone.
As our world becomes increasingly digital and people habitually ignore their ringing phone, sometimes an email apology is necessary. And an email apology is better than no apology at all. But if at all possible and appropriate for your situation, talking face-to-face or making that phone call is preferable.
Mistake #2: Apologizing privately, although your offense was public.
While apologizing privately is always appropriate, it’s little consolation for an offensive statement sung on the mountaintops. In addition to speaking to the person you hurt directly, a good rule of thumb is to use the same forum you screwed up on to apologize for doing so.
Mistake #3: Following your apology up with lame excuses.
“I’m sorry, but it really wasn’t my fault because ______” is not an apology, especially when the excuses are pathetic. This very week, someone apologized to me for sending inappropriate facebook messages by saying he was working a lot and was highly caffeinated, as if that somehow excuses his offensive behavior. “I am so sorry” is a surprisingly powerful sentence. Following it up with caveats and disclaimers…isn’t.
Mistake #4: The non-apology.
The non-apology is when you apologize for the other person’s misinterpretation or feelings, or chalk something up as an error in judgement, or regret any inconvenience you may have caused. If you’re going to apologize, make sure you actually mean it. And if you mean it, make sure your words reflect it.
Mistake #5: Telling the other person they must immediately accept the olive branch.
The person you’re apologizing to gets to decide whether to move on or not, and how long it’ll take them. They don’t owe you immediate forgiveness, and implying as much simply makes your apology look manipulative.
Mistake #6: Not taking any steps to try to fix any harm you’ve caused.
While this isn’t always possible, trying to right your wrongs in some way is always a nice gesture, so replace that vase you broke or, better yet, ask the person you’re apologizing to what you can do to try to make things better.
Mistake #7: Apologizing too long after the fact.
I’ll admit that I’ve made this mistake as well, when I didn’t realize I had made an error until months after the fact. But I wasn’t surprised when my email was ignored. Whenever possible, addressing issues immediately as they arise is pertinent.
And a bonus tip: Don’t apologize when you really, sincerely don’t want to.
If you really feel that your action was appropriate in the situation, sometimes it’s best to just cut and run rather than complicating things with an apology you don’t mean.
What do you hate about other people’s non-apologies? Or, what mistakes have you made yourself? Feel free to drop me a line or leave your stories in the comments.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Daniel Tosh making a rape joke, or more like a rape comment, at a comedy club a week ago. A post on tumblr detailed the incident. According to an audience member, she made a comment that rape jokes were never funny, and Tosh responded by saying “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…” (To make matters worse, she wasn’t even given a refund, but a comped pair of tickets which she didn’t really want.)
For some reason, there is still a debate going on about whether or not it is appropriate for Tosh to enthuse about how hysterical it would be if this audience member was gang-raped at that very moment, which she described as “pretty viscerally terrifying and threatening all the same, even if the actual scenario was unlikely to take place.” She added, “The suggestion of it is violent enough and was meant to put me in my place.”
For some reason, not everyone sees this abhorrent attempt at a joke the same way I do. And instead of engaging in ongoing debate about it, I thought I’d just write a blog post about it and direct people to it. Because, frankly, rehashing my feelings on the topic is exhausting, and it’s not something I want to constantly discuss. And, at the same time, I feel like it’s important to make my viewpoints on it clear. So I’ll address each of the points that have been made to me, one at a time.
Telling comedians their offensive jokes aren’t funny means you don’t support freedom of speech.
Actually, telling comedians their offensive jokes aren’t funny is an expression of freedom of speech. And, as my friend Jury Nelson put it, “If the person telling you to shut up is not representing the U.S. Government, the First Amendment is utterly irrelevant.” Or, as Bitch magazine puts it, “Comics are allowed to make rape jokes, and audience members are allowed to say they don’t like them. That’s where things get extra douche-y here. Tosh’s response to his audience member, threatening and silencing her, was not okay. And the comedians and members of the media who are defending him, saying that a comedy club is a sacred space where anything goes and no one is allowed to talk back? And if they do they deserve to be threatened and humiliated? Yeah, those people can fuck off.”
Not laughing at offensive jokes makes you a part of a “witch hunting lynch mob.”
Um, actually, I believe it makes me human.
When you go to a comedy club, you know what to expect.
Which still doesn’t mean you can’t express your distaste at offensive jokes or conduct. Just like people who won’t enjoy every joke at a comedy club might take the extreme measure of avoiding comedy clubs, comedians who don’t like audience members commenting on how much their jokes suck could decide not to perform at comedy clubs.
Tosh wasn’t being serious when he said he’d find it funny if this audience member was gang-raped.
And that makes a difference because why? It doesn’t look like the audience member thought everybody laughing at the joke about it wasn’t serious. But seriously, a lot of people will make offensive jokes and think they don’t “count” because they’re simply trying to ACT like people who would think those jokes are funny, while not actually being any different from them. Jay Smooth mentioned this phenomenon in a recent video about sexist gamer dudes. He pointed out that this reasoning doesn’t make it any better.
This was just a poorly worded joke.
And that doesn’t explain the intellectual perspective that supports it in the first place.
The club owner said Tosh’s joke was slightly different than did the person it was directed at.
And the club owner also said, “I really didn’t hear properly.” Listening both sides doesn’t mean giving equal weight to someone who heard something and to the rendition of someone who says they didn’t.
Heckling a comedian is wrong, and those people should be asked to leave.
Fair enough. Being asked to leave is different than being told that it’d be funny if you got gang-raped. And, as comedian Curtis Luciana put it, if a comedian makes a genocide joke and someone who’s, say, a Holocaust survivor’s kid and heckles, walks out and writes something nasty on the internet… There’s different ways comedians can handle it. As Luciana asks, “Would you be more likely to be a human being and say ‘Wow. I can understand why that person’s authentic response to what I was doing was so emotional and negative. Maybe my genocide material just isn’t good enough to justify the pain that it inflicts. Maybe I need more skill in order to pull this off.’ Or are you gonna be a lousy piece of shit and say, ‘Yeah, I apologize, I guess, IF YOU WERE OFFENDED.’ Offended hasn’t got anything to do with it, moron. People have wounds, and those wounds are painful. That doesn’t have shit to do with the weak concept of ‘taking offense.’ If someone talks about Texas being a shitty state, I might ‘take offense’ at that. Fine, whatever. All of us who like comedy are generally in agreement with the idea that ‘taking offense’ is lame, and a comedian should be willing to ‘offend’ whenever he or she wants to. But causing pain is quite a different fucking matter. Your job as a comedian is to take us through pain, transcend pain, transform pain. And if you don’t get that, you are a fucking bully, and I’ve got zero time for bullies.”
Making rape jokes is so edgy.
Actually, it’s pretty mainstream. Women deal with this on a regular basis. Many women have been raped or live in fear of rape. But if you really want to make edgy rape jokes and don’t, as Jezebel writer Lindy West puts it, “want to be called a garbage-flavored dick on the internet by me and other humans with souls and brains,” you can read her great piece about how to construct rape jokes responsibly, Hint: don’t make victims of rape the butt of the joke. (I actually found this Onion piece about Daniel Tosh chuckling through his own violent rape hilarious, but only in light of his non-apology and slew of comedians rushing to his defense.
You should totally discuss this with me ad nauseum.
Ugh. I already linked to 50 posts that explain my stance. I think that’s enough. And I won’t change my mind on this issue.
But I think it’d be fun to debate this with you endlessly.
I’ve actually been working on saving my energy regarding this topic, and that’s why I wrote this post. And honestly, people who want to argue about why rape jokes are funny aren’t welcome to do so in my space. This doesn’t mean I think you’re a rapist or a bad person, just that I don’t want to waste energy responding to you. And because I like to create a safe space for myself and my friends who are rape survivors or friends of rape survivors or dislike living in a culture where rape is so mainstream, I actually actively de-friend people on facebook, for example, who want to spend time debating this, or complaining about it, or not respecting people’s desire for a safe, peaceful space. I am not trying to change or shame people who disagree with me on this, but I choose not to engage in it.
A year and a half ago, I began covering the debacle that was the Ultimate Women Challenge on the now-defunct blog at MMA HQ. What what was supposed to be filming for a women’s reality fight TV show turned into something more closely resembling a kidnapping scenario, where female fighters had to ration food, were exploited for advertising purposes and were barely able to train in addition to getting stiffed out of the paycheck promised in their contracts. Sanctioned fights which took place in St. George, Utah at the Dixie Center on September 25, 2010 were held hostage–until now.
The results are below. Judges included William Brewer, Anthony Monsen, Joseph Slick, Max Ah Quin and Jeffrey Mulhollan. The referee was Joseph Slick. The matchmaker was Keith Evans, and Robert Park was the timekeeper. The cageside physician was Robert Potts.
Michelle Ould vs. Karina Taylor, contested at 125 lbs., was ruled a no contest. “Taylor gouged Ould in the eye. Ould could not continue.”
Patricia Vidonic defeated Martha Benavides by decision. Judges Brewer, Ah Quin and Mulhollan all scored it 29-28. This bout was also contested at 125 lbs.
Angela Hayes defeated Brandi Hainey via guillotine choke 2:37 into the 2nd round. This fight was contested at 135 lbs.
Casey Noland defeated Colleen Schneider via unanimous decision. Brewer 29-28 and Mulhollan scored it 29-28, Monsen: 30-27. This fight was contested at 135 lbs.
Angela Magana defeated Barbara Honchak by split decision. Brewer and Mulhollan had it 29-28, Monsen 28-29. This fight was contested at 125 lbs.
Kaitlin Young defeated Julie Kedzie by split decision. Brewer and Monsen had it 29-28, Mulhollan 28-29. This fight was contested at 135 lbs.
This truly disturbing situation was never appropriately resolved. The fighters were never paid, and Lyle Howry is now working for BOSS TV. Obviously, the TV show never aired, though this may be because a lot of footage was missing. Rumor is that it mysteriously disappeared when crew members were stiffed on their paychecks. (I don’t know where it is, Howry, in case you’re planning to leave me another voicemail message threatening legal action.)
For more information on the background behind these stories, feel free to follow the paper trail, especially the “Leaked! Ultimate Women Challenge Disaster: Filming Plagued by Lack of Foods, Funds and Training.”
“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” —Malcolm S. Forbes
By now, many of you have probably seen Jonathan Maseng’s article in the L.A. Weekly, in which he exposed Crossfit Mean Streets owner Ronnie Teasdale (along with some gym goers) for posing in photos with passed out homeless people, and posting those photos with mocking captions on facebook. The photos are pretty egregious, and also include captions indicating that gym owners found it amusing to see people injure themselves in the gym, and even purposely put a homeless man in a situation where he was likely to injure himself by having him left an Atlas ball with poor form.
I’ll let you look for yourself (if you haven’t already). But what I found just as shocking as the article itself was the slew of commenters (both in the original post and on facebook) rushing to Teasedale’s defense.
The blame for abhorrent behavior, whether that’s mocking people in unfortunate situations, purposely putting people in harm’s way or simply not preventing people from injuring themselves (and finding it hilarious when they do), of course rests with those participated in these actions.
Gym owner Ronnie Teasdale might wish to further than “removing all of the questionable content” to try to change the image of his gym and actually seek the psychological help he desperately needs.
Fellow affiliates might want to stop enabling or making excuses for this type of behavior, as some have. Stating that you don’t endorse such behavior is much more humane than searching for creative ways to justify someone mocking people who are obviously in pain and need help.
Organizations should investigate ethical issues and respond appropriately. And one really good way of doing that is by holding affiliates accountable for their behavior. Another way is to simply issue a statement saying they don’t condone it.
“I’d just like to point out that this article ran on Thursday, and CrossFit HQ has known about this conduct for over a week. As of yet, no one from HQ has even decried the conduct depicted, let alone apologized for it. And as for CrossFit Mean Streets, they still have their affiliate status, and their owner was at the Crossfit Games, yesterday, smiling. Tell me again how this is an isolated problem,” Maseng recently wrote on facebook.
CrossFit attorney Dale Saran has responded by calling the factual article “irresponsible journalism” and saying the organization is not responsible for policing its affiliates. “We do not have franchisees — we have licensees,” he was quoted as saying.) Yet not condemning someone delighting in the humiliation of others reflects on the organization as a whole–especially when others are kicked out for expressing concerns about quality control or not liking the Zone diet.
A really good way to not have people question your integrity is to demonstrate some.
Really, this article isn’t just about CrossFit. (And it goes without saying that there are many people involved in the organization who are decent people. I know many of them.) But aside from reflecting larger societal issues of arrogant pretension and outright bullying, I find myself wondering whether it many just don’t want to hold people accountable if those people happen to be athletic.
I personally don’t give a rat’s ass how fit someone is if they don’t have moral decency to treat those in unfortunate circumstances with respect. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that being athletic is not a virtue in itself. Sure, it’s natural to admire those who are good at what they do. That’s something many of us do on a regular basis, whether we prefer to watch grappling tournament footage or the Olympic games or any other activity or sport. And certainly its admirable to want to be healthy and strong. But if it’s not helping with character development, then what the hell’s the point?
“Neither are the two arts of music and gymnastics really designed, as is often supposed, the one for the training of the soul, the other for the training of the body,” said the great philosopher Socrates in Plato’s Republic. What is the real object of them? “I believe…that the teachers of both have in view chiefly the improvement of the soul.”
Socrates warned that those focusing exclusively on the athletic often have “a temper of hardness and ferocity” and must guard against savageness and brutality. It must be balanced with gentleness and moderation, so that one is both temperate and courageous instead of growing “feeble and dull and blind, his mind never waking up or receiving nourishment, and his senses not being purged of their mists… and he ends by becoming…uncivilized, like a wild beast, all violence and fierceness, and knows no other way of dealing; and he lives in all ignorance and evil conditions, and has no sense of propriety and grace.”
I’m not trying to single out just one person or one organization here. No action takes place within a vacuum. But perhaps we must all do our part to strive towards a paradigm shift in our culture, where character and ethics are rewarded in the same way that breaking a PR is… where protecting the safety and well-being of children who are victims of abuse is considering more important, to give another recent example, than protecting the reputation of a football program. Where expressing distaste for those who treat homeless people as if they are less than human is more important than protecting the reputation of a gym affiliation.
Of course as a society we view people who save the lives of others or put themselves in harm’s way to help people as heroic, and rightly so. But how you treat others on a smaller scale, in day-to-day situations, is also quite telling. Let’s demonstrate our strength of character as well as our physical strength, working not just to get fit and look hot but also to hold people accountable for disgusting behavior, and to speak out on behalf of the disadvantaged–and to do our part to help.
Each of us has the power to be the change which makes a positive difference in this world.
“To love is to act.” -Victor Hugo