- Nov 2021
After Alexi McCammond was named editor in chief of Teen Vogue, people discovered and recirculated on Instagram old anti-Asian and homophobic tweets she had written a decade earlier, while still a teenager.
Should people be judged by statements made in their youth or decades prior? Shouldn't they be given some credit for changing over time and becoming better?
How can we as a society provide credit to people's changed contexts over time?
This can be related to Heraclitus' river.
The censoriousness, the shunning, the ritualized apologies, the public sacrifices—these are rather typical behaviors in illiberal societies with rigid cultural codes, enforced by heavy peer pressure.
I'd highlighted this from a pull quote earlier, but note that the full context also includes the phrase:
enforced by heavy peer pressure.
The censoriousness, the shunning, the ritualized apologies, the public sacrifices—these are typical behaviors in illiberal societies with rigid cultural codes.
Not that everyone really wants an apology. One former journalist told me that his ex-colleagues “don’t want to endorse the process of mistake/apology/understanding/forgiveness—they don’t want to forgive.” Instead, he said, they want “to punish and purify.” But the knowledge that whatever you say will never be enough is debilitating. “If you make an apology and you know in advance that your apology will not be accepted—that it is going to be considered a move in a psychological or cultural or political game—then the integrity of your introspection is being mocked and you feel permanently marooned in a world of unforgivingness,” one person told me. “And that is a truly unethical world.”
How can restorative justice work in a broader sense when public apologies aren't more carefully considered by the public-at-large? If the accuser accepts an apology, shouldn't that be enough? Society-at-large can still be leery of the person and watch their behavior, but do we need to continue ostracizing them?
An interesting example to look at is that of Monica Lewinsky who in producing a version of her story 20+ years later is finally able to get her own story and framing out. Surely there will be political adherents who will fault her, but has she finally gotten some sort of justice and reprieve from a society that utterly shunned her for far too long for an indiscretion which happens nearly every day in our society? Compare her with Hester Prynne.
Are we moving into a realm in which everyone is a public figure on a national if not international stage? How do we as a society handle these cases? What are the third and higher order effects besides the potential for authoritarianism which Applebaum mentions?
Websites now offer “sample templates” for people who need to apologize; some universities offer advice on how to apologize to students and employees, and even include lists of good words to use (mistake, misunderstand, misinterpret).
In an era of cancel culture there are now websites that offer sample templates of apologies and even universities are offering advice to constituents about how to apologize better.
When might we see a book in the self-help section with a title like "How to apologize?" At what point have we perhaps gone too far on this scale?
Because apologies have become ritualized, they invariably seem insincere.
I often personally feel this way with others in even the most minor cases.
How far do apologies need to go to actually seem sincere?
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa...
This is typical: More often than not, apologies will be parsed, examined for “sincerity”—and then rejected.
Why are these parsed apologies being rejected and by whom? Are they being rejected by the wronged parties or by the broader society-at-large who regularly don't have or care about the full context of the situations? How much of these are propagated by social media and the ability of search engines to continually uncover them?
How might these situations have given rise to the idea of honor suicides in cultures like Japan with rituals like seppuku? How are these sorts of cultural practices passed into common practice? How can they be reversed?
- no one steps into the same river twice
- cancel culture
- Alexi McCammond
- Teen Vogue
- rigid culture codes
- public sacrifices
- restorative justice
- Monica Lewinsky
- peer pressure
- beyond the pale
- Jun 2021
What a shitty non-apology apology.
Why couldn't he backtrack and give her the opportunity to participate without the press? The media storm that this has created has quadrupled any interviews she may have given. What a jackass.
- Oct 2019
Psychiatrist Aaron Lazare agrees
Comparison showing how both sociologist Tavuchis' and psychiatrist Lazare claim that apologies can repair relationships. Interesting interdisciplinary analysis.<br> Note inclusion of historian and political scientist later in the paragraph.
- Jun 2016
Those annoying pop-up windows? My fault, at least in part. I designed a vertically-oriented popup window that included navigation tools and an ad for inclusion on webpages at some point in late 1996 or early 1997. It was intended to be less intrusive than inserting an ad into the middle of a user’s homepage. I won’t claim responsibility (irresponsibility?) for inventing the damned things, and I disclaim any responsibility for cascading popups, popups that move to the top, and those annoying “bot” windows that open different popups every few minutes. Still, the fault is at least in part mine, and I’m sorry. :-)