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The art of empty apologies Genuine remorse can't be compelled

Was Florence Pugh sorry enough? Credit: LOIC VENANCE/AFP/ Getty

Was Florence Pugh sorry enough? Credit: LOIC VENANCE/AFP/ Getty


January 12, 2023   6 mins

Everyday life is full of unwitting moral pitfalls. Overnight, formerly benign words can take on strange and harmful new meanings. It is easy to be blindsided by the rapidly changing public fortunes of activities you’ve always enjoyed — using gas stoves, for instance, or staring at people on the Tube. According to a new book, the next time we fall foul of the morality police we should add yet another item to the list of things to worry about: the likelihood that any apology we stammer out won’t be good enough. Muttering “mistakes were made” plus something about having been very drunk at the time is no longer going to cut it.

For several years, Americans Marjorie Ingall and Susan McCarthy have been running a website, Sorrywatch, in which they rate public apologies for their effectiveness. Now they have expanded their purported wisdom into a very long book: Sorry, Sorry, Sorry: The Case For Good Apologies. As I started reading, I was already vaguely aware of what pop culture would insist makes a good apology. You should claim responsibility for your action; avoid vague and weaselly phrases; show some understanding of the effect of what you did; don’t make excuses; and so on. Such therapeutic banalities have been knocking round the internet for decades, beloved of psychology blogs and adolescent girls looking for new ways to criticise each other on Tumblr. Essentially, Sorry, Sorry, Sorry reiterates this sort of received wisdom at great length, embellishing it with cherry-picked social science and a lot of heavy-handed irony and whimsy.

The book issues highly specific rules about when and how to say sorry. For instance, you shouldn’t use the words “Obviously”, “Regrettable”, “Already”, “Dialogue”, “Alleged”, “Positivity”, “Jesus”, “Journey”, “Self-discovery”, “If”, “But”, “Context” or “Unfortunate”. There are also rules about how and when to forgive someone who is saying sorry to you. Various celebrity apologies are scrutinised for flaws, including attempts by actress Florence Pugh to apologise for cultural appropriation (quite good, the authors pronounce); and by David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz for his serial-killing spree in the summer of 1977 (not good enough, apparently).

The background moral framework here is the standard-issue US bourgeois liberal one: transwomen are women, men are dogs, white people don’t listen hard enough. The book reads as if written by a pair of loquacious hippy aunts, tipsily cornering their nephew at a wedding to give him a lecture on life skills. There is a lot of spry perkiness. Acerbic asides disrupt the flow of almost every paragraph: “Yes, if we hold ourselves to a standard of utter crystalline perfection, we’ll always fail, even if we’re actually kind of superb. (Which we are! And we bet you are too!)” At one point, philosopher J.L. Austin’s concept of performative utterance is shortened to “perf uttos” because, as the authors put it, “we’re jaunty like that”.

As these examples perhaps suggest, the writing gets a bit wearing after a while. The authors tend to use an ex cathedra “we” — “We at SorryWatch believe in education and redemption” — except when they use the third person to pick out one of them in particular for a relatable anecdote (“Those of us who do struggle with depression, anxiety, and guilt — Marjorie raises her hand to you, reader, in a cheery, antidepressant-fuelled wave! …”).  They also spend a lot of time inventing bad apologies, some of which are so bizarrely specific and dream-like in quality that they beg for psychoanalysis. For instance:

“Consider all the ways you may have caused offence. If you grab someone’s Japanese naval officer’s sabre to open a stubborn jar of pickles and snap the tip off, well. You broke their expensive sabre. You also showed contempt for their collection. Maybe they care that you demonstrated disrespect for the Japanese Navy, maybe they don’t. But you need to take these matters into account when apologising. Simply offering to share the pickles may not be enough.”

As I waded through the book, feeling increasingly unforgiving about the prose style, I began to ask myself what the real rules of a good apology are. There seems to me to be only one: you should feel genuine remorse, and that should be your primary motive for saying you’re sorry. Whatever else an apology is, it at least should be a sincere communication between you and the person you wronged, offered because you regret what you did and wish to acknowledge your remorse to the person concerned. Weirdly though, recognition of this basic rule renders most of the argument in Sorry, Sorry, Sorry beside the point, and may even undermine the project of the book as a whole.

For one thing, Ingall and McCarthy seem to want to motivate the reader to make apologies for reasons that apparently have little to do with remorse. They tell us that apologising makes you feel good. It is beneficial for your health. It helps in “trust-building processes”. It stops people suing you. (Forgiving is talked up in similar terms: “One 2014 review of 54 studies of ‘forgiveness intervention’ found that such interventions help people increase their feelings of hopefulness and decrease their feelings of anxiety, depression, and anger”.)  Yet to go through the rituals of apologising, motivated only by the thought of some separate personal or social good that might come out of the process, is surely to undermine the grounds of the action. You’re supposed to do it because you feel sorry, not because you have your eye on some other benefit.

That the book’s authors don’t really understand this is betrayed by the fact they seem to think there’s no big difference between interpersonal and corporate apologies. They write: “The rules are the same for institutions as for individuals: Say you’re sorry, name the thing you did, show you understand its impact, don’t make excuses or blame others, make things right to the degree possible, make reparations to the degree possible.” But corporations don’t feel remorse. And obviously, an apology launched into the public domain by a company for the benefit of onlookers is purely transactional, and primarily aimed at reputation-saving rather than the honest expression of a regretful state of mind. The only reasons the “rules” for corporate apologies look superficially the same as for interpersonal ones is because a simulacrum of remorse is being attempted, which depends on trying to grasp what a sincere apology would look like in the paradigm case, and mimicking that. When CEOs offer desperately contrite monologues to camera (for instance, here’s the boss of Domino’s Pizza, apologising for a video of his employees going viral in which they put cheese up their nose and farted on the salami), it’s authentic fear of shareholders you can hear in their voices, and not much else.

Once it’s recognised that an apology should be genuinely remorseful, a further difference with the central claim of Sorry, Sorry, Sorry swiftly emerges, concerning whether the words of an apology must fit a certain linguistic form or else be judged deficient. Ingall and McCarthy certainly think so, and spend most of the book describing various dos and don’ts. They insist that good apologies never contain phrases such as “sorry if…” or “sorry but…”; should be in an active not passive voice; should always include an explanation of why whatever it was won’t happen again; should not “centre” the offender too dramatically; and so on.

But requiring strict forms of words on pain of failure seem to me to profoundly misunderstand the nature of an apologetic act of communication. If the main point is to express something meaningful and intensely personal to another human being, then ticking off a checklist of phrases you read in a book in the right order is likely to be a hindrance rather than a help. And in real life, how one speaker expresses remorse can differ wildly from another, depending on interaction with their respective background characters and personality traits — yet both can be equally meaningful. A mumbled and grudging “sorry if you feel hurt”, uttered by someone intensely proud who finds it overwhelmingly humiliating to face and admit his own flaws, should be worth just as much to the perceptive listener as a robotic parroting of approved phrases. More, even. “Bad” apologies reveal the deep humanity of a person — and in forgiveness, being put in touch with the offender’s humanity is precisely what matters, isn’t it?

But perhaps this book’s biggest flaw is its failure to appreciate that genuine regret can’t be compelled. If your goal is to allow for spontaneous feelings of remorse to be generated, then exerting heavy social pressure to apologise is counterproductive. After all, it’s supposed to be their moral compass doing the navigating, not yours.

Of course, if the goal of demanding an apology from someone is rather to humiliate them, or to take revenge, or to wield power for the purposes of social control, such pressure may work very well. This was amply illustrated during the bloodletting of the #MeToo moment, when various public apologies were dragged out of humiliated men, only to be automatically judged by their accusers as wholly inadequate anyway. Some of those apologies turned out to be for things that hadn’t even happened. Even at the time, though, nobody seriously thought every apology being offered was sincere. Sincerity was not the point of this particular ritual, and nor was forgiveness.

Though Sorry, Sorry, Sorry gives an occasional nod to the idea that remorse can’t be forced, I don’t really think the authors mean it. For along with the associated website, the whole book can be understood as an extended attempt to cajole, pressurise, and mock the reader into giving apologies she otherwise might not make, in words she otherwise might not use.  Considered as a way of keeping intimidated readers compliantly in line with contemporary social mores, the entire project may very well be considered a success. But in terms of increasing interpersonal understanding and forgiveness in today’s pitiless moral climate, it seems to me to do precisely the opposite.


Kathleen Stock is an UnHerd columnist and a co-director of The Lesbian Project.
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Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Poor Kathleen, having to wade through such illiterate dross in order to save us the trouble and to explain with her usual precision why the issue in question just doesn’t make sense, except in the very narrow terms she refers to at the end:
“Considered as a way of keeping intimidated readers compliantly in line with contemporary social mores, the entire project may very well be considered a success.”
One might almost feel sorry for her… except the efforts by the media to force an apology out of people is one of the most glaring examples of our current malaise; as if an apology is ever sufficient anyway, when what they want is blood.
The old adage: never apologise, never explain should apply in many more circumstances than it does. The last major example was the apology by Jeremy Clarkson for his diatribe on Meghan Markle. He should’ve just kept schtum, and if he’d lost a couple of media gigs then so what? It’s a typical example of a public apology, when the real resonance of a true apology almost invariably takes place in private, on a one-to-one basis; no witnesses necessary. That’s the type of genuine apology that this article contrasts with the charade we’re seeing played out in a performative way. I was disappointed with Clarkson, he should apologise.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“The last major example was the apology by Jeremy Clarkson for his diatribe on Meghan Markle. He should’ve just kept schtum”
On the contrary, he should have said “It was a joke and I still think it was funny.”

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Yes, you’re right. Clarkson has made a career out of excoriatingly funny take downs. Everyone knows what he’s about. By pandering to the media (and his daughter, who waded in) his apology made him redundant in a way losing a gig such as “Millionaire” never could.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Daughters can be pretty effective at bringing their fathers to heel.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

I think you may be on to something. I suspect that the “CEO’s woke daughter” phenomenon may have become a bit of a blight on the workplace.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

It played a crucial part in the Eton scandal of about a year ago, whereby a senior master was dismissed for allegedly making offensive remarks about the ‘Coven’ or ‘Sisterhood’ as it is sometimes known.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

Ooh- I missed that bit of ‘blokes being really scared of girls’ stuff. Did they have to burn them in the end?

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Sorry- I hope you don’t find that “offensive” in some way- we have to be careful these days…

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

The Provost and Headmaster should have been dismissed.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Sorry- I hope you don’t find that “offensive” in some way- we have to be careful these days…

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

The Provost and Headmaster should have been dismissed.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

Ooh- I missed that bit of ‘blokes being really scared of girls’ stuff. Did they have to burn them in the end?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

It played a crucial part in the Eton scandal of about a year ago, whereby a senior master was dismissed for allegedly making offensive remarks about the ‘Coven’ or ‘Sisterhood’ as it is sometimes known.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

I think you may be on to something. I suspect that the “CEO’s woke daughter” phenomenon may have become a bit of a blight on the workplace.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

It reminds me of the David Starkey debacle!

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Daughters can be pretty effective at bringing their fathers to heel.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

It reminds me of the David Starkey debacle!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Yes, you’re right. Clarkson has made a career out of excoriatingly funny take downs. Everyone knows what he’s about. By pandering to the media (and his daughter, who waded in) his apology made him redundant in a way losing a gig such as “Millionaire” never could.

Mark Chadwick
Mark Chadwick
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I learned it the hard way a long time ago : NEVER apologise for anything, because all it does is show weakness and let the person receiving the apology believe that they’re right and your wrong.

Kevin Ludbrook
Kevin Ludbrook
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Chadwick

Does that mean you are never wrong? Sometimes an apology is exactly the right thing to do but the point of the article is it simply needs to be genuine.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Chadwick

Ever accidentally bump into someone? Don’t say ‘sorry’ or ‘excuse me’?
Boor.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Chadwick

To be perfectly frank, you sound like an arse.
Sorry.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

You’re projecting again, Rubber.
Sorry.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

You’re trying now d**k (a bit). Well done. Excellent use of irony (albeit the fifth person to do so) with the “sorry”, although the concept of ‘projection’ is a bit “Woke” for you, surely.
And talking of “Woke”, you forgot to include your Socratic catchphrase of “Woke scum”- try it twice next time.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Sorry, woke scum.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Sorry, woke scum.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

And I haven’t heard “rubber” since I was eleven. Good stuff.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

You’re trying now d**k (a bit). Well done. Excellent use of irony (albeit the fifth person to do so) with the “sorry”, although the concept of ‘projection’ is a bit “Woke” for you, surely.
And talking of “Woke”, you forgot to include your Socratic catchphrase of “Woke scum”- try it twice next time.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

And I haven’t heard “rubber” since I was eleven. Good stuff.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

You’re projecting again, Rubber.
Sorry.

John Ramsden
John Ramsden
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Chadwick

The only apologies I regret are when I say sorry to someone who has trodden on my foot! Also, I must stop apologising to tailors’ dummies when I accidently back into them in clothes shops.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Chadwick

I disagree. I think it’s ok to apologise when you’ve actually done something wrong. But you should never apologise for offending the woke scum, because offending the woke scum is never wrong.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Two points in my ‘Woke scum’ bingo!
Top prize- a month’s supply of Gaviscon.

Rob J
Rob J
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Christ on a bike.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob J

Careful- Dickie here gets a bit upset if anyone is mean about his splenetic outbursts. He finds it “offensive”. An apology might be required.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob J

Careful- Dickie here gets a bit upset if anyone is mean about his splenetic outbursts. He finds it “offensive”. An apology might be required.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Two points in my ‘Woke scum’ bingo!
Top prize- a month’s supply of Gaviscon.

Rob J
Rob J
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Christ on a bike.

Michael Askew
Michael Askew
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Chadwick

you’re

Kevin Ludbrook
Kevin Ludbrook
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Chadwick

Does that mean you are never wrong? Sometimes an apology is exactly the right thing to do but the point of the article is it simply needs to be genuine.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Chadwick

Ever accidentally bump into someone? Don’t say ‘sorry’ or ‘excuse me’?
Boor.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Chadwick

To be perfectly frank, you sound like an arse.
Sorry.

John Ramsden
John Ramsden
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Chadwick

The only apologies I regret are when I say sorry to someone who has trodden on my foot! Also, I must stop apologising to tailors’ dummies when I accidently back into them in clothes shops.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Chadwick

I disagree. I think it’s ok to apologise when you’ve actually done something wrong. But you should never apologise for offending the woke scum, because offending the woke scum is never wrong.

Michael Askew
Michael Askew
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Chadwick

you’re

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Another recent example is the Lady Hussey apology which should not have been extracted with menaces.
After all it turned out we didn’t know where Ngozi Fulani was from, or at lest we didn’t know her real name.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Agreed that Kathleen does us a favour by ploughing through this rubbish and deconstructing it – but it probably only needed 3-4 paragraphs.
Sorry Kathleen – nah, I’m not really.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Stewart
Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I want to start a Foundation for the Revival of Editing.

Niall Cusack
Niall Cusack
1 year ago
Reply to  Nona Yubiz

Hear hear! The typical UnHerd article consists of three paragraphs corresponding to Aristotle’s Beginning, Middle and End.
These are then paraphrased or lazily repeated verbatim to fill up what must be the quota.
I hope that UnHerd writers are well paid! It seems to be as in Charles Dickens’ day – a penny a word (updated for inflation, of course!).

Niall Cusack
Niall Cusack
1 year ago
Reply to  Nona Yubiz

Hear hear! The typical UnHerd article consists of three paragraphs corresponding to Aristotle’s Beginning, Middle and End.
These are then paraphrased or lazily repeated verbatim to fill up what must be the quota.
I hope that UnHerd writers are well paid! It seems to be as in Charles Dickens’ day – a penny a word (updated for inflation, of course!).

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I want to start a Foundation for the Revival of Editing.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I find Jeremy Clarkson’s public persona to be deeply unpleasant,and his comments about Meghan Markle were, likewise, deeply unpleasant, however I suspect he meant every word and to give a false apology is ridiculous. As an aside, his comment did not seem to me to be either sexist or racist, just vanilla offensive.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Whilst there’s no doubt that Clarkson, like many others, dislikes Meghan Markle for the way she’s assumed the mantle of victim whilst marrying into a lifelong celebrity gig, his comments are of course so way over the top that no-one with any sense would assume he carries such a visceral hatred of her, or would actually wish to see her paraded naked through the streets. It’s a deliberate technique which he’s used throughout his career, beginning with such coruscating verdicts on rubbish cars that the British car industry was almost certainly improved as a result.
You don’t have to like Clarkson, but at least try to understand the type of humour he employs as a very well-established career option.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I didn’t even find it humorous, though.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Fair enough, he’s probably lost something as he’s grown older, but surely it’s understood as intending to be humorous rather than vituperative?

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Fairly difficult to see how saying you hate a woman so much that you want to see them paraded along the streets whilst splenetic red-faced men throw shit at them might NOT be just a teeny bit “vituperative”, surely?
I suppose they might describe such wierd coprophilic fantasies as ‘salty’, although in my experience such chaps tend to get terribly upset when anyone is remotely ‘salty’ in response. Still, Clarkson muttered his ‘sorry’ and is unaffected save for the usual extra publicity for his asinine Sun column. Kerching, as the kids say.

carl taylor
carl taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

It was a reference to a scene in Game of Thrones, apparently. Without the cultural reference – which I guess most of his readers would have got immediately – it would ostensibly look crass; in that context, however, it’s obviously a joke, and imo a funny one

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  carl taylor

“..it would ostensibly look crass”.
Really? Just “ostensibly”?
He still hates the woman to a frankly unhinged degree- and if you truly hate someone- where’s the joke? A joke is a joke because it’s not real. The chicken didn’t actually cross the road.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Oh, how our cultural expectations have changed. You practically have to execute someone in a livestream from your living room in order to qualify as “crass” these days.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Oh, how our cultural expectations have changed. You practically have to execute someone in a livestream from your living room in order to qualify as “crass” these days.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago
Reply to  carl taylor

Game of Thrones is full of violence and rape and sadism. Most people don’t find it funny. At least, not the people I know. And I say that as a fan of the show.

TERRY JESSOP
TERRY JESSOP
1 year ago
Reply to  carl taylor

Sorry (no, I’m not) but it’s not Game of Thrones; well it might have been, but the image that it first brought to my mind was that of Lady Godiva.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  carl taylor

“..it would ostensibly look crass”.
Really? Just “ostensibly”?
He still hates the woman to a frankly unhinged degree- and if you truly hate someone- where’s the joke? A joke is a joke because it’s not real. The chicken didn’t actually cross the road.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago
Reply to  carl taylor

Game of Thrones is full of violence and rape and sadism. Most people don’t find it funny. At least, not the people I know. And I say that as a fan of the show.

TERRY JESSOP
TERRY JESSOP
1 year ago
Reply to  carl taylor

Sorry (no, I’m not) but it’s not Game of Thrones; well it might have been, but the image that it first brought to my mind was that of Lady Godiva.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

They never like salty back. They only like it when they are salty and everyone laughs. Thin skin, you know. Comes with the territory.

carl taylor
carl taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

It was a reference to a scene in Game of Thrones, apparently. Without the cultural reference – which I guess most of his readers would have got immediately – it would ostensibly look crass; in that context, however, it’s obviously a joke, and imo a funny one

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

They never like salty back. They only like it when they are salty and everyone laughs. Thin skin, you know. Comes with the territory.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

If I intend to pat you but I punch you in the face instead, do you really care?

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Fairly difficult to see how saying you hate a woman so much that you want to see them paraded along the streets whilst splenetic red-faced men throw shit at them might NOT be just a teeny bit “vituperative”, surely?
I suppose they might describe such wierd coprophilic fantasies as ‘salty’, although in my experience such chaps tend to get terribly upset when anyone is remotely ‘salty’ in response. Still, Clarkson muttered his ‘sorry’ and is unaffected save for the usual extra publicity for his asinine Sun column. Kerching, as the kids say.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

If I intend to pat you but I punch you in the face instead, do you really care?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago

Perhaps being forced to close his restaurant Diddly Squat will raise a smile.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago

Because it wasn’t humorous. It was ugly and in bad taste.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Fair enough, he’s probably lost something as he’s grown older, but surely it’s understood as intending to be humorous rather than vituperative?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago

Perhaps being forced to close his restaurant Diddly Squat will raise a smile.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago

Because it wasn’t humorous. It was ugly and in bad taste.

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

He must be the only person in the world that says he hates her but doesn’t mean it. All my DM reading chums say they hate her, and they really, really do. The same folk who genuinely wanted Thunberg to drown when she took that yacht trip.
The comment about Clarkson improving the British car industry is another joke presumably, seeking reaction? He had f**k all to do with it, but the Japanese did.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

Its a “Trump joke”- i.e., not.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

Its a “Trump joke”- i.e., not.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Actually, that type of humour is generally a veil for a lot of hostility and anger and often it thins with age and the hate and the anger become more apparent as the humor disappears. That seems to be happening with Clarkson.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I didn’t even find it humorous, though.

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

He must be the only person in the world that says he hates her but doesn’t mean it. All my DM reading chums say they hate her, and they really, really do. The same folk who genuinely wanted Thunberg to drown when she took that yacht trip.
The comment about Clarkson improving the British car industry is another joke presumably, seeking reaction? He had f**k all to do with it, but the Japanese did.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Actually, that type of humour is generally a veil for a lot of hostility and anger and often it thins with age and the hate and the anger become more apparent as the humor disappears. That seems to be happening with Clarkson.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

So why WAS it offensive, in your view?
There is something about Markle that makes a certain type of middle-aged bloke (see also Piers Morgan, though most would rather not) go absolutely puce-faced with fury.
I’m sure a shrink might have some explanations..

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Maybe my use of the word “offensive” at the end was not apposite; at the start I called it unpleasant, and I will stick to that adjective. As for why middle-aged men are so maddened by her I have no idea; I’m no fan, but I just let her be, she’s not worth it.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I didn’t even know who she was until she got hitched to Harry. She seemed nice, if naive. But given the vitriol directed at her I’m now on her and Harry’s side. Seriously: I often wonder if people have a clue how they come off. The mental image I have is of a bunch of rabid pit bulls snarling and foaming at a pretty young black woman.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Maybe my use of the word “offensive” at the end was not apposite; at the start I called it unpleasant, and I will stick to that adjective. As for why middle-aged men are so maddened by her I have no idea; I’m no fan, but I just let her be, she’s not worth it.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I didn’t even know who she was until she got hitched to Harry. She seemed nice, if naive. But given the vitriol directed at her I’m now on her and Harry’s side. Seriously: I often wonder if people have a clue how they come off. The mental image I have is of a bunch of rabid pit bulls snarling and foaming at a pretty young black woman.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago

Meghan ought to pay you rent for the space she and her dopy husband occupy in your mind.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

Pardon. Other than the occasion article here and what I can’t avoid on the broadcaste news I don’t bother, I haven’t seen interviews or newspaper articles, or have any intention of reading that book, so very little space taken up. As you are lurking here, I can only assume that some of your grey calls are taken up with H&M

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

Sadly she’d already be broke having to pay millions to all the Clarkson- types who’ve been providing her with all the mental space they have for months.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

Pardon. Other than the occasion article here and what I can’t avoid on the broadcaste news I don’t bother, I haven’t seen interviews or newspaper articles, or have any intention of reading that book, so very little space taken up. As you are lurking here, I can only assume that some of your grey calls are taken up with H&M

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

Sadly she’d already be broke having to pay millions to all the Clarkson- types who’ve been providing her with all the mental space they have for months.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Whilst there’s no doubt that Clarkson, like many others, dislikes Meghan Markle for the way she’s assumed the mantle of victim whilst marrying into a lifelong celebrity gig, his comments are of course so way over the top that no-one with any sense would assume he carries such a visceral hatred of her, or would actually wish to see her paraded naked through the streets. It’s a deliberate technique which he’s used throughout his career, beginning with such coruscating verdicts on rubbish cars that the British car industry was almost certainly improved as a result.
You don’t have to like Clarkson, but at least try to understand the type of humour he employs as a very well-established career option.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

So why WAS it offensive, in your view?
There is something about Markle that makes a certain type of middle-aged bloke (see also Piers Morgan, though most would rather not) go absolutely puce-faced with fury.
I’m sure a shrink might have some explanations..

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago

Meghan ought to pay you rent for the space she and her dopy husband occupy in your mind.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“The last major example was the apology by Jeremy Clarkson for his diatribe on Meghan Markle. He should’ve just kept schtum”
On the contrary, he should have said “It was a joke and I still think it was funny.”

Mark Chadwick
Mark Chadwick
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I learned it the hard way a long time ago : NEVER apologise for anything, because all it does is show weakness and let the person receiving the apology believe that they’re right and your wrong.

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Another recent example is the Lady Hussey apology which should not have been extracted with menaces.
After all it turned out we didn’t know where Ngozi Fulani was from, or at lest we didn’t know her real name.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Agreed that Kathleen does us a favour by ploughing through this rubbish and deconstructing it – but it probably only needed 3-4 paragraphs.
Sorry Kathleen – nah, I’m not really.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Stewart
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I find Jeremy Clarkson’s public persona to be deeply unpleasant,and his comments about Meghan Markle were, likewise, deeply unpleasant, however I suspect he meant every word and to give a false apology is ridiculous. As an aside, his comment did not seem to me to be either sexist or racist, just vanilla offensive.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Poor Kathleen, having to wade through such illiterate dross in order to save us the trouble and to explain with her usual precision why the issue in question just doesn’t make sense, except in the very narrow terms she refers to at the end:
“Considered as a way of keeping intimidated readers compliantly in line with contemporary social mores, the entire project may very well be considered a success.”
One might almost feel sorry for her… except the efforts by the media to force an apology out of people is one of the most glaring examples of our current malaise; as if an apology is ever sufficient anyway, when what they want is blood.
The old adage: never apologise, never explain should apply in many more circumstances than it does. The last major example was the apology by Jeremy Clarkson for his diatribe on Meghan Markle. He should’ve just kept schtum, and if he’d lost a couple of media gigs then so what? It’s a typical example of a public apology, when the real resonance of a true apology almost invariably takes place in private, on a one-to-one basis; no witnesses necessary. That’s the type of genuine apology that this article contrasts with the charade we’re seeing played out in a performative way. I was disappointed with Clarkson, he should apologise.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago

I think the first rule of social media should simply be never say you are sorry. No one is going to forgive you – your attackers will then say you admitted to a much larger number of things than you actually apologized for – and most importantly it makes you look like a unprincipled weakling. One of the reasons Donald Trump became popular was that he was one of the first politicians who never apologized to the media or anyone for their real and imagined accusations- he usually doubled down on them. I enjoyed that immensely even when Trump was in the wrong.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Exactly right. I can’t stand Trump, but do admire his steadfast contempt for the woke scum.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Thanks for yet another intelligent and thoughtful contribution, Dickie.
Try Gaviscon after meals.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Yet another offensive outburst Mr Holland?
You need to seek help whilst you still can.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

Afternoon Charles. I find that giving his boilerplate abuse back to him, modified as necessary, costs very little effort.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Good afternoon Richard.

Yes it is odd how he has these frequent outbursts. Mr Ian Stewart in similarly afflicted.

I know I should ignore them, but life is short and I enjoy the ‘sport’.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

By the way, I thought our chat about art was quite enjoyable. I’m disappointed to hear you thought of it as ‘getting back’ at me somehow.
Still, it must have made a change from discussing how to smash people’s heads in with a rifle butt, surely? Or am I being “offensive” again? So hard to know with you sensitive types.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Holland
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

No, you are being stupid and over sensitive, but at least you have lost that mid-Atlantic twang!

I also enjoyed our little chat about art, but I was rather surprised when you unnecessarily ‘launched’ into Richard in such a puerile way.

Anyway back to Art and Rifle Butts!

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

Am I being “offensive”, or “over-sensitive”?
I can’t really be both, if you think about it. You are dipping in and out of ‘woke’ sensibilities rather randomly, according to whatever might work.
As for “puerile” (not to mention the amusing hysteria of me “launching myself at Richard”, poor ickle not-over-sensitive mouse), remind me what the actual content of Dickie’s comment was…. ah, yes, the ‘nth comment about “woke scum”. Very profound. We mustn’t be rude about that.
I have genuinely enjoyed some of our chats, Charles, and I would rather engage than rant- but I honestly ask if you think that you aren’t applying just a little, tiny bit of a double standard here. Am I REALLY being “offensive” when I mock a comment wanting to violently abuse “woke scum”? No, not really. You might be guilty of the kind of “over-sensitivity” that you profess to despise.
Oh, and what was my “mid-Atlantic twang”? That does sound awful. If that IS true, I apologise. Nothing worse.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

Am I being “offensive”, or “over-sensitive”?
I can’t really be both, if you think about it. You are dipping in and out of ‘woke’ sensibilities rather randomly, according to whatever might work.
As for “puerile” (not to mention the amusing hysteria of me “launching myself at Richard”, poor ickle not-over-sensitive mouse), remind me what the actual content of Dickie’s comment was…. ah, yes, the ‘nth comment about “woke scum”. Very profound. We mustn’t be rude about that.
I have genuinely enjoyed some of our chats, Charles, and I would rather engage than rant- but I honestly ask if you think that you aren’t applying just a little, tiny bit of a double standard here. Am I REALLY being “offensive” when I mock a comment wanting to violently abuse “woke scum”? No, not really. You might be guilty of the kind of “over-sensitivity” that you profess to despise.
Oh, and what was my “mid-Atlantic twang”? That does sound awful. If that IS true, I apologise. Nothing worse.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

No, you are being stupid and over sensitive, but at least you have lost that mid-Atlantic twang!

I also enjoyed our little chat about art, but I was rather surprised when you unnecessarily ‘launched’ into Richard in such a puerile way.

Anyway back to Art and Rifle Butts!

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

By the way, I thought our chat about art was quite enjoyable. I’m disappointed to hear you thought of it as ‘getting back’ at me somehow.
Still, it must have made a change from discussing how to smash people’s heads in with a rifle butt, surely? Or am I being “offensive” again? So hard to know with you sensitive types.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Holland
John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

You mean you cleverly repeated what I said word for word?
My, d**k, your scintillating intellect makes fools of us all. “Zing”, as they say on social media I hear.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Good afternoon Richard.

Yes it is odd how he has these frequent outbursts. Mr Ian Stewart in similarly afflicted.

I know I should ignore them, but life is short and I enjoy the ‘sport’.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

You mean you cleverly repeated what I said word for word?
My, d**k, your scintillating intellect makes fools of us all. “Zing”, as they say on social media I hear.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

Afternoon Charles. In what strange universe is gently mocking a commenter who’s standard post is something along the lines of “kick the woke scum in the t******s and s**t on their writhing bodies” (or words to that effect) “abuse”? I take it you regard Dickies splenetic, witless and potty-mouthed outbursts the very apogee of reasoned and considered thinking, and me mentioning Gaviscon to be nasty, howible bullying. Would either of you like an apology, by any chance?
What wee snowflakes you both are.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Holland
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

You only demean yourself by such an infantile rant, which is curious as you can be quite reasonable on occasion.

Incidentally what is Gaviscon….a brand of Gin? I haven’t heard of it.

What is this:-“howible”….mid-Atlantic?

Make I take it that you have the grave misfortune to be a Scotchman, given your last sentence has the words “wee snowflakes” in it? If so my commiserations!

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

Gaviscon, as you should surely know, is a brand of antacid, useful for those who develop acid-reflux in their digestive system, leading to bilious digestive problems and a propensity to acidic belching in public. Your chum Richard does seem to be in need of it.
“Howible” isn’t “mid-Atlantic”; it’s my homophonic term for the sound people make when they spew some half-witted abuse at the “Woke” and then play the whiny victim if anyone contradicts them. You are better than that, I know, because you can talk intelligently. when you want to. You are capable of rational judgement.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Thanks for that. I have traditionally always relied on Beecham Powders to cure “gut rot”, but now I have an alternative!
I see our little disagreement meant our comments ended in the ‘sin bin’, but fortunately they have now been restored.
Anyway I enjoy the banter as I am sure you do, and after all, nobody has died. So let us continue, with no malice intended.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

Indeed. The comments policy here is a bit opaque. Comments come and go like the mountain mists…
Bottoms up!

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

Indeed. The comments policy here is a bit opaque. Comments come and go like the mountain mists…
Bottoms up!

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Thanks for that. I have traditionally always relied on Beecham Powders to cure “gut rot”, but now I have an alternative!
I see our little disagreement meant our comments ended in the ‘sin bin’, but fortunately they have now been restored.
Anyway I enjoy the banter as I am sure you do, and after all, nobody has died. So let us continue, with no malice intended.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

Gaviscon, as you should surely know, is a brand of antacid, useful for those who develop acid-reflux in their digestive system, leading to bilious digestive problems and a propensity to acidic belching in public. Your chum Richard does seem to be in need of it.
“Howible” isn’t “mid-Atlantic”; it’s my homophonic term for the sound people make when they spew some half-witted abuse at the “Woke” and then play the whiny victim if anyone contradicts them. You are better than that, I know, because you can talk intelligently. when you want to. You are capable of rational judgement.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

You only demean yourself by such an infantile rant, which is curious as you can be quite reasonable on occasion.

Incidentally what is Gaviscon….a brand of Gin? I haven’t heard of it.

What is this:-“howible”….mid-Atlantic?

Make I take it that you have the grave misfortune to be a Scotchman, given your last sentence has the words “wee snowflakes” in it? If so my commiserations!

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

Afternoon Charles. I find that giving his boilerplate abuse back to him, modified as necessary, costs very little effort.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

Afternoon Charles. In what strange universe is gently mocking a commenter who’s standard post is something along the lines of “kick the woke scum in the t******s and s**t on their writhing bodies” (or words to that effect) “abuse”? I take it you regard Dickies splenetic, witless and potty-mouthed outbursts the very apogee of reasoned and considered thinking, and me mentioning Gaviscon to be nasty, howible bullying. Would either of you like an apology, by any chance?
What wee snowflakes you both are.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Holland
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Thanks for yet another intelligent and thoughtful contribution, Rubber.
Try Gaviscon after meals.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Yet another offensive outburst Mr Holland?
You need to seek help whilst you still can.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Thanks for yet another intelligent and thoughtful contribution, Rubber.
Try Gaviscon after meals.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I think you speak for a major chunk of his voters, and our enemy-focused zeitgeist more generally.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

And they do tend to come in “chunks”, I find.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

And they do tend to come in “chunks”, I find.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Thanks for yet another intelligent and thoughtful contribution, Dickie.
Try Gaviscon after meals.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I think you speak for a major chunk of his voters, and our enemy-focused zeitgeist more generally.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Exactly right. I can’t stand Trump, but do admire his steadfast contempt for the woke scum.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago

I think the first rule of social media should simply be never say you are sorry. No one is going to forgive you – your attackers will then say you admitted to a much larger number of things than you actually apologized for – and most importantly it makes you look like a unprincipled weakling. One of the reasons Donald Trump became popular was that he was one of the first politicians who never apologized to the media or anyone for their real and imagined accusations- he usually doubled down on them. I enjoyed that immensely even when Trump was in the wrong.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

“But in terms of increasing interpersonal understanding and forgiveness in today’s pitiless moral climate,…”
Some countries have a formal morality police unit (e.g. The Guidance Patrol in Iran). It appears the Western World is sliding into oversight by an informal morality police. The key point being that there is no satisfying their application of ‘morality’ for they define the offence and judge the apology against it.
Unless you have caused real harm (stepped on someone’s toe, allowed your dog to foul their lawn) you should ignore the informal morality police and never apologise – because you cannot win playing their game.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

“But in terms of increasing interpersonal understanding and forgiveness in today’s pitiless moral climate,…”
Some countries have a formal morality police unit (e.g. The Guidance Patrol in Iran). It appears the Western World is sliding into oversight by an informal morality police. The key point being that there is no satisfying their application of ‘morality’ for they define the offence and judge the apology against it.
Unless you have caused real harm (stepped on someone’s toe, allowed your dog to foul their lawn) you should ignore the informal morality police and never apologise – because you cannot win playing their game.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 year ago

When celebs apologise, they should remember the wise words of Bob Monkhouse.

“What you need to succeed in this business is sincerity and if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

Along with his “they laughed when they said I wanted to be a comedian. Well, they’re not laughing now..”

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

My favourite of his jokes.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

My favourite of his jokes.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

Along with his “they laughed when they said I wanted to be a comedian. Well, they’re not laughing now..”

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 year ago

When celebs apologise, they should remember the wise words of Bob Monkhouse.

“What you need to succeed in this business is sincerity and if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

Michael James
Michael James
1 year ago

Where on earth did this reign of puritanical terror come from? Young people in particular seem to be inflicting it on one another at a time when they should be enjoying themselves trying out lots of things. If someone’s offended by what you do or say, it’s their problem, not yours.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael James
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael James

I think the problem is that society is far more prohibitive now than when we were young. I remember a time I was pretty much allowed to do and say any thing that I like (within commonsensical reason) and no-one batted an eyelid. With the rise of social media children are used to publishing their lives to all and sundry. None of them want the grind of a real job (who can blame them?) and so seek stardom through channels such as TikTok and Youtube. The risk of doing that is that you expose yourself to others and risk judgment and condemnation for saying or doing the most innocuous of things.
Moreover, in the US, the public education system teaches children that white men are evil, heterosexuality is not cool, and the planet is facing imminent destruction. They act very much like those trapped in an apocalypse cult. I do wonder sometimes if we are about to have our own brush with cultural Marxism in the form of Red Guard-like students who go around denouncing their past, their elders, and their traditions.

Michael James
Michael James
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Maoist terror was controlled from the top. Now we have bottom-up totalitarianism.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael James

I don’t think “bottom-up totalitarianism” actually means anything. It’s an oxymoron.
Can you expand on what you mean?

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Maybe it’s something to do with enforced homosexuality?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Probably the Red Guards:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Guards

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Maybe it’s something to do with enforced homosexuality?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Probably the Red Guards:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Guards

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael James

I don’t think “bottom-up totalitarianism” actually means anything. It’s an oxymoron.
Can you expand on what you mean?

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Does the US ACTUALLY teach children that “white men are evil”?
Or are you just repeating exactly the kind of social media hysteria and half-baked echo-chamber ‘my truthiness’ that you think you are condemning?

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Furthermore, in terms of saying what we liked back then ; when I was a lad, we called the few black kids at school jungle b####s, w##s and c###s. Yet their ability to “say what they liked” was a bit more proscribed, the phrase ‘chip on their shoulder’ describing anyone not finding it funny. Sticks and stones, and all that.
Ah, the good Old days.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Not being racist to white people does not necessitate being racist toward black people. It’s not an either-or situation.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Not being racist to white people does not necessitate being racist toward black people. It’s not an either-or situation.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I’ve worked in US education and can tell you that this is definitely happening – not all schools and not all teachers, but more than enough times to cause lots of parents across the country to complain to their school boards. Moreover, record numbers of parents are hauling their children out of public education in order to homeschool them:
https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/a-homeschool-perspective-on-critical-race-theory/
A lot of this is due to Critical Race Theory which, contrary to popular thought, is not about correcting racial injustices, but perpetuating racial grievances in order to profit from them.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Furthermore, in terms of saying what we liked back then ; when I was a lad, we called the few black kids at school jungle b####s, w##s and c###s. Yet their ability to “say what they liked” was a bit more proscribed, the phrase ‘chip on their shoulder’ describing anyone not finding it funny. Sticks and stones, and all that.
Ah, the good Old days.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I’ve worked in US education and can tell you that this is definitely happening – not all schools and not all teachers, but more than enough times to cause lots of parents across the country to complain to their school boards. Moreover, record numbers of parents are hauling their children out of public education in order to homeschool them:
https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/a-homeschool-perspective-on-critical-race-theory/
A lot of this is due to Critical Race Theory which, contrary to popular thought, is not about correcting racial injustices, but perpetuating racial grievances in order to profit from them.

Michael James
Michael James
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Maoist terror was controlled from the top. Now we have bottom-up totalitarianism.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Does the US ACTUALLY teach children that “white men are evil”?
Or are you just repeating exactly the kind of social media hysteria and half-baked echo-chamber ‘my truthiness’ that you think you are condemning?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael James

I think the problem is that society is far more prohibitive now than when we were young. I remember a time I was pretty much allowed to do and say any thing that I like (within commonsensical reason) and no-one batted an eyelid. With the rise of social media children are used to publishing their lives to all and sundry. None of them want the grind of a real job (who can blame them?) and so seek stardom through channels such as TikTok and Youtube. The risk of doing that is that you expose yourself to others and risk judgment and condemnation for saying or doing the most innocuous of things.
Moreover, in the US, the public education system teaches children that white men are evil, heterosexuality is not cool, and the planet is facing imminent destruction. They act very much like those trapped in an apocalypse cult. I do wonder sometimes if we are about to have our own brush with cultural Marxism in the form of Red Guard-like students who go around denouncing their past, their elders, and their traditions.

Michael James
Michael James
1 year ago

Where on earth did this reign of puritanical terror come from? Young people in particular seem to be inflicting it on one another at a time when they should be enjoying themselves trying out lots of things. If someone’s offended by what you do or say, it’s their problem, not yours.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael James
Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago

It is a good principle that apologies should only ever be offered by one person to another, for some wrong that the giver has done to the receiver. Anything else is just posturing and, usually these days, pandering to the media. “Will you apologise to people for the mini-budget?” is utterly asinine.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

I agree if the principle is flexible. If you’ve offended a specific group–like a group of family, co-workers, classmates, or friends that includes people one doesn’t know well–it might be correct to apologize to several people at once. That said, I now feel a bit sorry for the many mea culpas I’ve offered to or in front of multiple people, partly as a performance or cleansing ritual, even when my remorse was sincere.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

By offended I mean “been unduly hurtful or offensive in one’s own estimation”–which has not been a rare thing with me.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

By offended I mean “been unduly hurtful or offensive in one’s own estimation”–which has not been a rare thing with me.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

The idea that a corporation can, in any meaningful sense, apologise for anything is an absurd contemporary delusion, and a fundamental category mistake. It’s all part of the desperate new desire to believe that companies and brands are people, with feelings and morals, who ‘care’ about their customers or ‘the world’.
I suppose if one is dumb enough to think that a brand has deep emotional heft, that companies really are, as they idiotically claim on the tin, “passionate” about oak milk or “loving making us look great”, then it might follow that the same corporation might be weeping hot tears of regret when it upsets someone. But then we were told a few years ago by US Republicans that corporations could be regarded legally as “people” with regard to the rules about political funding and free speech, so it’s not just “Wokists” who are falling for this absurdity.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Holland
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I agree with you but in the case of disasters like Union Carbide. Exxon, and British Petroleum, wouldn’t the apologies still be called for and warranted, even in a less Woke world, though the apology itself lacks meaning?
Of course this is way different than something like Aunt Jemima pancake mix changing its name and packaging after pretending to have gone through a company-wide reckoning with the legacy of slavery.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Even in those cases – and I think for example of the apology for Bloody Sunday – I don’t think an apology is really appropriate, although it is said that the relevant communities appreciate it. I always think of an old Monty Python sketch of a small van with a megaphone traversing a Hiroshima-like cityscape, proclaiming “we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Haha!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Another one: relatives of someone who’s suffered as a result of substandard treatment in the NHS saying “We just wanted an apology”. Whaaaaaat??
Usually followed by “lessons have been learned” which translates as “until the next time”.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Haha!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Another one: relatives of someone who’s suffered as a result of substandard treatment in the NHS saying “We just wanted an apology”. Whaaaaaat??
Usually followed by “lessons have been learned” which translates as “until the next time”.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

As Jonathan suggests below, I don’t think an apology from Union Carbide is a meaningful act.
Partly because no corporation can actually be remorseful (perhaps individuals involved might be), partly because no-one surely believes they were truly regretful in a moral as opposed to a strategic sense, and partly because the only meaningful response are not public statements but serious remedial action.
It’s all become a bit Catholic- confess to the priest, say the requisite Hail Marys and carry on.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Holland
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Nice analogy at the end there. Absolution on the cheap, made in heaven.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Nice analogy at the end there. Absolution on the cheap, made in heaven.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Even in those cases – and I think for example of the apology for Bloody Sunday – I don’t think an apology is really appropriate, although it is said that the relevant communities appreciate it. I always think of an old Monty Python sketch of a small van with a megaphone traversing a Hiroshima-like cityscape, proclaiming “we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

As Jonathan suggests below, I don’t think an apology from Union Carbide is a meaningful act.
Partly because no corporation can actually be remorseful (perhaps individuals involved might be), partly because no-one surely believes they were truly regretful in a moral as opposed to a strategic sense, and partly because the only meaningful response are not public statements but serious remedial action.
It’s all become a bit Catholic- confess to the priest, say the requisite Hail Marys and carry on.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Holland
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Here’s an example: Should the Metropolitan police apologise for killing Jean Charles de Menezes? Just saying ‘sorry’ is obviously silly, but intuitively I’d say it would be good with something that showed they accepted that it was their fault, that this should not have happened, and they would do something serious to avoid a repetition. As it is they never either accepted blame or promised to do better, which left the message that shooting innocent people without checking if they have the right ones is just something that anti-terror police is supposed to do.

In contrast – should the police apologise for killing Mark Duggan? Here maybe not – if you are being stopped by armed police while carrying an illegal weapon and do nothing to make it clear that you are not going to shoot, it is too much to expect the police to guarantee against bad outcomes.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Yes- accepting blame and proposing to avoid it happening again are more useful than an apology, I’d have thought. I don’t believe the entire Metropolitan Police Force can be “sorry” about anything. Cressida d**k could be, but she generally- or wasn’t.
By the way, I like the fact that this site’s language policy ‘bleeps’ the ex-Commissioner’s name as if it was a swearword.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Down in the details: Not sure that Cressida is the right person to blame. There is of course the cop who was not at his post when de Menezes left home. But the big culprit is whoever briefed the firearms officers to put an immediate bullet in the brain of their target without spending a minute to check if he was the right man or armed or carried something that could have been a bomb. Was that Cressida, or on her orders?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Best to use d**k Cressida, or CD.
Looks like the accepted abbreviation for Richard is also ‘Verboten’!

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Down in the details: Not sure that Cressida is the right person to blame. There is of course the cop who was not at his post when de Menezes left home. But the big culprit is whoever briefed the firearms officers to put an immediate bullet in the brain of their target without spending a minute to check if he was the right man or armed or carried something that could have been a bomb. Was that Cressida, or on her orders?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Best to use d**k Cressida, or CD.
Looks like the accepted abbreviation for Richard is also ‘Verboten’!

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Yes- accepting blame and proposing to avoid it happening again are more useful than an apology, I’d have thought. I don’t believe the entire Metropolitan Police Force can be “sorry” about anything. Cressida d**k could be, but she generally- or wasn’t.
By the way, I like the fact that this site’s language policy ‘bleeps’ the ex-Commissioner’s name as if it was a swearword.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I agree with you but in the case of disasters like Union Carbide. Exxon, and British Petroleum, wouldn’t the apologies still be called for and warranted, even in a less Woke world, though the apology itself lacks meaning?
Of course this is way different than something like Aunt Jemima pancake mix changing its name and packaging after pretending to have gone through a company-wide reckoning with the legacy of slavery.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Here’s an example: Should the Metropolitan police apologise for killing Jean Charles de Menezes? Just saying ‘sorry’ is obviously silly, but intuitively I’d say it would be good with something that showed they accepted that it was their fault, that this should not have happened, and they would do something serious to avoid a repetition. As it is they never either accepted blame or promised to do better, which left the message that shooting innocent people without checking if they have the right ones is just something that anti-terror police is supposed to do.

In contrast – should the police apologise for killing Mark Duggan? Here maybe not – if you are being stopped by armed police while carrying an illegal weapon and do nothing to make it clear that you are not going to shoot, it is too much to expect the police to guarantee against bad outcomes.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

I agree if the principle is flexible. If you’ve offended a specific group–like a group of family, co-workers, classmates, or friends that includes people one doesn’t know well–it might be correct to apologize to several people at once. That said, I now feel a bit sorry for the many mea culpas I’ve offered to or in front of multiple people, partly as a performance or cleansing ritual, even when my remorse was sincere.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

The idea that a corporation can, in any meaningful sense, apologise for anything is an absurd contemporary delusion, and a fundamental category mistake. It’s all part of the desperate new desire to believe that companies and brands are people, with feelings and morals, who ‘care’ about their customers or ‘the world’.
I suppose if one is dumb enough to think that a brand has deep emotional heft, that companies really are, as they idiotically claim on the tin, “passionate” about oak milk or “loving making us look great”, then it might follow that the same corporation might be weeping hot tears of regret when it upsets someone. But then we were told a few years ago by US Republicans that corporations could be regarded legally as “people” with regard to the rules about political funding and free speech, so it’s not just “Wokists” who are falling for this absurdity.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Holland
Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago

It is a good principle that apologies should only ever be offered by one person to another, for some wrong that the giver has done to the receiver. Anything else is just posturing and, usually these days, pandering to the media. “Will you apologise to people for the mini-budget?” is utterly asinine.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

More permissive, sometimes nonexistent standards of personal ethics are often accompanied by harsher judgements of others, especially those we see from afar on various screens. Kathleen Stock aptly calls this a “pitiless moral climate”–one that follows previous climates that seemed pretty unforgiving already. Too many of us expect to be understood in all our complexities and saving graces while readily declaring others to be “monsters” or “pieces of shit” (an expression now thrown around a lot in the States) who are beyond all possible, or at least plausible forgiveness.
As a person who can’t claim to have left all hypocrisy and judgementalism behind–and that’s going easy on myself–I hope the golden rule can prevail over some of this ready-click sanctimoniousness and condemnation we’re living through, even for the sake of our selfish, individual wellbeing.
The self-proclaimed apology experts whose book Stock saves us from having to bother with any further here are also mentioned passingly in a good, longer article on the apology, current and historical, by Jill Lepore…
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/11/14/the-case-against-the-twitter-apology-matthew-ichihashi-potts-forgiveness-danya-ruttenberg-on-repentance-and-repair

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

More permissive, sometimes nonexistent standards of personal ethics are often accompanied by harsher judgements of others, especially those we see from afar on various screens. Kathleen Stock aptly calls this a “pitiless moral climate”–one that follows previous climates that seemed pretty unforgiving already. Too many of us expect to be understood in all our complexities and saving graces while readily declaring others to be “monsters” or “pieces of shit” (an expression now thrown around a lot in the States) who are beyond all possible, or at least plausible forgiveness.
As a person who can’t claim to have left all hypocrisy and judgementalism behind–and that’s going easy on myself–I hope the golden rule can prevail over some of this ready-click sanctimoniousness and condemnation we’re living through, even for the sake of our selfish, individual wellbeing.
The self-proclaimed apology experts whose book Stock saves us from having to bother with any further here are also mentioned passingly in a good, longer article on the apology, current and historical, by Jill Lepore…
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/11/14/the-case-against-the-twitter-apology-matthew-ichihashi-potts-forgiveness-danya-ruttenberg-on-repentance-and-repair

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Ben P
Ben P
1 year ago

All these issues are manufactured by the media for the media. The rest of us can just get on with our lives.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben P

True that!

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben P

True that!

Ben P
Ben P
1 year ago

All these issues are manufactured by the media for the media. The rest of us can just get on with our lives.

Sue Frisby
Sue Frisby
1 year ago

‘If you apologise for things that are really not worth apologising for, you create more of this’. Coleman Hughes on Unherd Club. Excellent conversation about Ngosi Fulani and Lady Susan Hussey (and much more)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9P9yLXP1Hk

Sue Frisby
Sue Frisby
1 year ago

‘If you apologise for things that are really not worth apologising for, you create more of this’. Coleman Hughes on Unherd Club. Excellent conversation about Ngosi Fulani and Lady Susan Hussey (and much more)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9P9yLXP1Hk

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago

I am a connoisseur of the non-apology apology for some invented slight or complaint, made to make the complainer look good in the eyes of their peers:
You say “If anone feels offended then I must regret that and offer my apologies”, that sort of weasel words. Basically saying “f*** off” in a way that the stupid won’t realise isn’t an apology at all.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

Why bother making such a smug non-apology at all though? Why not have the balls to just ignore it?

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

Why bother making such a smug non-apology at all though? Why not have the balls to just ignore it?

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago

I am a connoisseur of the non-apology apology for some invented slight or complaint, made to make the complainer look good in the eyes of their peers:
You say “If anone feels offended then I must regret that and offer my apologies”, that sort of weasel words. Basically saying “f*** off” in a way that the stupid won’t realise isn’t an apology at all.

George Scipio
George Scipio
1 year ago

Po-faced “we know better” hectoring disguised as chirpy, matey “advice”. Stock is completely right. It’s bourgeois American illiberal-liberalism putting on a self-congratulatory show to boost the writers’ self-regard and make some money. Apologise from the heart when you hurt someone or don’t bother. And no one need apologise for minor upsets like letting it slip that we all know trans women are not really women.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  George Scipio

Do you seriously think this phenomena is restricted to Americans?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  George Scipio

“…to boost the writers’ self-regard and make some money.”
Well, doesn’t that apply to virtually everything we read online or watch on the tele these days?

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  George Scipio

Do you seriously think this phenomena is restricted to Americans?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  George Scipio

“…to boost the writers’ self-regard and make some money.”
Well, doesn’t that apply to virtually everything we read online or watch on the tele these days?

George Scipio
George Scipio
1 year ago

Po-faced “we know better” hectoring disguised as chirpy, matey “advice”. Stock is completely right. It’s bourgeois American illiberal-liberalism putting on a self-congratulatory show to boost the writers’ self-regard and make some money. Apologise from the heart when you hurt someone or don’t bother. And no one need apologise for minor upsets like letting it slip that we all know trans women are not really women.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

Excellent take. The public apology is basically the modern equivalent of the ancient practice of putting people in the stocks for crimes or transgressions of social mores. It has nothing to do with sincerity or even the feelings of the individuals in question and everything to do with intimidation and enforcing social norms. At least with stocks, pillories, and public executions, there was a legal process, albeit a primitive one, backing the practice. Modern public apologies and the people who demand them, however, are an extralegal form of mob justice aided and abetted by a corrupt media for the sake of profit. Those who demand public apologies are generally of the ‘progressive’ persuasion who like to believe that we are more enlightened than our benighted ancestors, that we have ‘progressed’ beyond such primitive practices. I submit that available evidence does not support this belief.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

Excellent take. The public apology is basically the modern equivalent of the ancient practice of putting people in the stocks for crimes or transgressions of social mores. It has nothing to do with sincerity or even the feelings of the individuals in question and everything to do with intimidation and enforcing social norms. At least with stocks, pillories, and public executions, there was a legal process, albeit a primitive one, backing the practice. Modern public apologies and the people who demand them, however, are an extralegal form of mob justice aided and abetted by a corrupt media for the sake of profit. Those who demand public apologies are generally of the ‘progressive’ persuasion who like to believe that we are more enlightened than our benighted ancestors, that we have ‘progressed’ beyond such primitive practices. I submit that available evidence does not support this belief.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 year ago

Writing a book on how to fake a convincing apology is a bad idea. Equally to determine that one should never apologise and never explain goes too far. We all make mistakes which we should regret and surely we should at least admit our error – as much for our own sakes as for that of others. However, forgiveness is not a matter for the transgressor and to expect it when apologising is another serious error.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

It’s true that expecting forgiveness undermines repentance and turns forgiveness into nothing more than a commodity. Even so, we do have a moral obligation to forgive those who sincerely ask us to do so (assuming that we can discern sincerity). Otherwise, no community could endure.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

I agree for the most part but I consider forgiveness to be more of usual best practice or aspirational principle than an obligation, especially if someone has been deeply or repeatedly wronged, as with an abusive parent or manipulative former friend. The wronged party would still stand to benefit if they can truly forgive, but that can’t always be managed, and forcing oneself to “perform forgiveness” is not always wise. (That is not meant as a rebuke to your worthy comment).

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Thank you, AJ. Yes, I agree that forgiveness is an “aspirational principle.” And so are all moral principles. My point is only that everyone should take it seriously on communal grounds, not only on the transient grounds of personal psychology. I don’t advocate either forgiveness or apologies as rituals or “performances.” It’s a sad (and very inconvenient) fact of the human condition, that we can’t always forgive or apologize with sincerity. Otherwise, we’d all be living in paradise.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Thank you both . A good and helpful exchange (for me at least!)

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

For me too. Thanks for prompting it with your balanced and thoughtful comment.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

For me too. Thanks for prompting it with your balanced and thoughtful comment.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Well said, Paul. I wholeheartedly agree with your follow-up remarks.
On both sides of the Atlantic, but more so here in the US, it seems community ethics are very often advocated or defended (when they are) on the grounds of personal benefit or so-called enlightened self-interest: be good to thy neighbor for thine own sake.
I do think that a seeming paradise of total cooperation or clean resolution would be an unproductive nightmare–in a sense, not human–given humankind’s perhaps inescapable appetite for independence, illusory as it may be, and tendency to stagnate without challenge or conflict. But we could certainly go a great distance before “risking” the endless contentment of Eden!

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Thank you both . A good and helpful exchange (for me at least!)

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Well said, Paul. I wholeheartedly agree with your follow-up remarks.
On both sides of the Atlantic, but more so here in the US, it seems community ethics are very often advocated or defended (when they are) on the grounds of personal benefit or so-called enlightened self-interest: be good to thy neighbor for thine own sake.
I do think that a seeming paradise of total cooperation or clean resolution would be an unproductive nightmare–in a sense, not human–given humankind’s perhaps inescapable appetite for independence, illusory as it may be, and tendency to stagnate without challenge or conflict. But we could certainly go a great distance before “risking” the endless contentment of Eden!

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Thank you, AJ. Yes, I agree that forgiveness is an “aspirational principle.” And so are all moral principles. My point is only that everyone should take it seriously on communal grounds, not only on the transient grounds of personal psychology. I don’t advocate either forgiveness or apologies as rituals or “performances.” It’s a sad (and very inconvenient) fact of the human condition, that we can’t always forgive or apologize with sincerity. Otherwise, we’d all be living in paradise.