2
   

The Forgiveness Dance

 
 
snood
 
Reply Sat 2 Feb, 2019 12:10 pm
When a celebrity says “I’m sorry” about some real or perceived misdoing, a lot of peculiar stuff happens. Immediately, people seem to split into two camps – those who accept the apology as resolution, and those who don’t (there’s of course a third group which is perhaps the largest in number – those who don’t know about it, and don’t care one way or the other). But that’s just the immediate reaction. Then, the discussions and arguments kick in – about who deserves forgiveness, and (when you start to get down into the weeds), what offenses are unforgiveable… and even about the nature and meaning of forgiveness.

What got me thinking about it this time around was this Governor of Virginia kerfluffle - His medical school yearbook page was revealed to contain a picture of him and a companion wearing blackface and a KKK costume. As a black man all my adult life, my immediate reaction meshed smoothly with those whose answer was “Not no, but HELL no – he must resign!” After two days of constant media coverage, my reaction stays mostly the same… Although I’m not proud to say that I had to factor in a purely political consideration – if they let this go, my Democratic Party will lose the moral bonifides to call out the racism of 45, Steve King, and all the other wildly racist occupiers of the Republican party.

But I also thought about things like what’s the statute of limitations on racist or misogynist or homophobic acts? Remember Robert Byrd, longtime Democratic Senator from West Virginia? Well, somehow the Democrats found it in their pea-pickin’ hearts to overlook the troublesome fact that Byrd had been a proud Exalted Cyclops in a KKK chapter. Byrd was an avowed racist who said things like “I shall never fight in the armed forces with a negro by my side…”and used terms like “race mongrels”. So, that’s forgivable, but not a depiction of racist memes from a yearbook in the early 80s? Is 40 years too soon for public absolution?

We (the American mass-media consuming public) seem to be very picky about who gets to go on with their lives after a past wrong is found out, and who doesn’t. Joy Reid, the beloved MSNBC personality, was found to have some clearly homophobic and intolerant commentary in her blogs from the early 2000s. She is still a prominent host of her own show on weekends and many guest appearances on other shows throughout the week. There was a small buzz about how those found comments were completely to her progressive, everybody-welcome-at-the-cookout persona, but it was quickly drowned out by more praise for what a great broadcaster, person and co-worker Joy is. Case closed. Why was she so easily let off the hook?

These days we have celebrities like Louis CK, R. Kelly, Kevin Spacey and Les Moonves all accused of a vast spectrum of sex-related offenses. Roseanne Barr, Mel Gibson and Paula Deen were caught being racist. Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Kevin Hart have been recorded saying things considered to be homophobic. We seem to crucify some and cuddle others. There doesn’t seem to be any method to the madness of which ones get the virtual public stoning and which get to carry on earning a living unscathed.

Who gets to decide which apologies count?
How does this putatively majority – Christian nation justify their clear fascination with crucifying some in social media?

Why do I think I can get a decent discussion going on A2K about this?Smile
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Feb, 2019 01:09 pm
@snood,
A public apology is not a real apology. It is public theater, everyone plays their part. There are two parts. The ritual of public apology is a very strange part of modern society.

The ritual of public shaming has long been part of Western cultures. We have had public display of adulterers, tar and feathering of cowards, walks of shame for blasphemers, and public trials of witches. Guy Fawkes is still shamed in public hundreds of years after his death. The idea is simple... by exposing individuals to humiliation in front of the public at large, we will discourage undesirable behavior in other people.

Our modern society has put a couple of twists on this ancient tradition...

1. We have a culture of outrage, partially aided by new technology. Our news is full of stories cherry picked to upset and anger us. Half of Americans Facebook feeds are filled with MAGA kids facing down Native Americans and the other are filled with Immigrants committing crimes or government taking guns.

We live for outrage.

2. We have invented the ritual of apology as a way to appease the outraged public. The primary goal is to support the social narrative... it is giving an ideological narrative more indication that they are right in exchange for a possible reduction in the punishment of public shaming.

This whole cycle of outrage, apology, further outrage or vindication... all in service of shallow ideological beliefs. It is isn't real. It can't be real.

A genuine apology is between one person and another person. It isn't a public spectacle and it doesn't come from a place of avoiding public humiliation.

0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Sat 2 Feb, 2019 01:12 pm
@snood,
Let me ask this question...

If you were the focus of public shaming on Facebook and CNN, and if you felt that the public outrage was misguided (without understanding the real issues around your shame).... would you make a public apology?

The only reasonable goal in a public apology is to minimize the damage done to yourself from public shaming. There is no room in a public apology to explain how you really think... that will just get you in more trouble. There is no room for sincerity. The only logical way forward is to carefully pick the exact words that the outraged public wants to hear (whether they have any bearing on facts or your true feelings).

If you were faced with public shaming... would you do any different?
oralloy
 
  -3  
Reply Sat 2 Feb, 2019 06:38 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
If you were faced with public shaming... would you do any different?
From time to time these nutty leftists hit me with their phony outrage. "How dare I" do something or other?

I never apologize. I just laugh at them.

If I ever felt that I had truly wronged someone, I would offer a sincere apology. I would not gauge my words on what the public wanted to hear.

I've been told that I don't really understand diplomacy. But that's OK. I'm not a diplomat. Nor am I at all interested in public office.
maxdancona
 
  3  
Reply Sat 2 Feb, 2019 08:47 pm
@oralloy,
Nonsense. You are just as nutty as the "nutty leftists", Oralloy.

The right wing outrage machine is just as outrageous... prayer rugs on the border, men in girls locker rooms, Warren, Hillary, gun grabbers. It is the same game played on both political sides.
oralloy
 
  -2  
Reply Sat 2 Feb, 2019 11:50 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
Nonsense. You are just as nutty as the "nutty leftists", Oralloy.
Not at all. I believe in facts and reality.

maxdancona wrote:
The right wing outrage machine is just as outrageous... prayer rugs on the border,
I have no idea what you are even referring to.

maxdancona wrote:
men in girls locker rooms,
I expect that girls might legitimately object to that. But that's nothing to do with me.

maxdancona wrote:
Warren,
Are you referring to her fake native heritage? I'd hardly call that outrage. But it was fair game to call her on her lies when she tried to deny them.

maxdancona wrote:
Hillary,
What about her?

maxdancona wrote:
gun grabbers.
Here you finally mention something that causes actual outrage. But rightly so. It is wrong for leftists to run around violating people's civil liberties for fun.

maxdancona wrote:
It is the same game played on both political sides.
Civil liberties are not a game, even though leftists think it is fun to violate them.
0 Replies
 
snood
 
  2  
Reply Tue 5 Feb, 2019 09:49 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Let me ask this question...

If you were the focus of public shaming on Facebook and CNN, and if you felt that the public outrage was misguided (without understanding the real issues around your shame).... would you make a public apology?

The only reasonable goal in a public apology is to minimize the damage done to yourself from public shaming. There is no room in a public apology to explain how you really think... that will just get you in more trouble. There is no room for sincerity. The only logical way forward is to carefully pick the exact words that the outraged public wants to hear (whether they have any bearing on facts or your true feelings).

If you were faced with public shaming... would you do any different?


I hear what you're saying. There's no lack of insincerity and hypocrisy to go around.

In some limited cases, I can see the appropriateness of a public apology. I just saw one today that seemed like it was the right thing to do. A mother had been forcibly separated from her one year old when she was wrongfully arrested for sitting on the floor at a public benefits office in NYC. The New York City Council held a public appearance outside a courthouse to publicly apologize to the woman. She had been publicly humiliated and wronged by city officials so I think in this case a public apology from city officials was fitting.
engineer
 
  3  
Reply Tue 5 Feb, 2019 10:06 am
@snood,
I posted this on the Northam thread, but I'll repost here because it fits better.

engineer wrote:
This whole thing is a legacy for Southerners. I grew up in the South in the 70's, I heard relatives and friends make racist remarks, I went to schools that were almost entirely white and where school boards were working hard to keep it that way. I didn't realize any of that as a kid, but looking back, it was pretty clear. There was racial tension at school, but I just saw the tension and heard the comments. Was there backface? Yes. Would I be surprised to see it in yearbooks or to hear that someone in their teens or early twenties participated in it? No. Would I be surprised to see teachers and administrators participating in it? No. None of that makes it right, but it doesn't surprise me that people turn this stuff up. It wasn't hard to find. IMO, Northam is playing it wrong. He should say "Yes, that stuff happened and it was wrong. We didn't know any better but I've learned and grown beyond the casual racism of the communities I grew up in and you can look at my actions today as a measure of the person I've become."


If Northam said "this is how I was taught growing up, I now understand this is wrong", that would work for me but I'm not in the wronged group. Would you consider something like that sincere or would you consider it political expedience or perhaps both?
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Feb, 2019 10:56 am
@snood,
Quote:
In some limited cases, I can see the appropriateness of a public apology. I just saw one today that seemed like it was the right thing to do. A mother had been forcibly separated from her one year old when she was wrongfully arrested for sitting on the floor at a public benefits office in NYC. The New York City Council held a public appearance outside a courthouse to publicly apologize to the woman. She had been publicly humiliated and wronged by city officials so I think in this case a public apology from city officials was fitting.


That's an interesting counter-example... and I agree. That seems sincere, and more importantly the apology implies something real in terms of a change in policy. I assume this implies a guarantee that this won't happen again.

snood
 
  2  
Reply Tue 5 Feb, 2019 11:48 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Quote:
In some limited cases, I can see the appropriateness of a public apology. I just saw one today that seemed like it was the right thing to do. A mother had been forcibly separated from her one year old when she was wrongfully arrested for sitting on the floor at a public benefits office in NYC. The New York City Council held a public appearance outside a courthouse to publicly apologize to the woman. She had been publicly humiliated and wronged by city officials so I think in this case a public apology from city officials was fitting.


Quote:

That's an interesting counter-example... and I agree. That seems sincere, and more importantly the apology implies something real in terms of a change in policy. I assume this implies a guarantee that this won't happen again.


Well, if nothing else those people at that particular office who had her arrested for simply trying to find a place to sit in a crowded lobby will be on notice because they have been exposed.

As to your question about Northam...
I couldunder other circumstances personally accept his apology, based on the fact that multiple people of color who have had interaction with him for years vouch for his character. But I find that my opinion in this case is influenced by the inconvenient truth that if Democrats don't come down hard on him, they lose the moral high ground and can't effectively critique racism on the right.


maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Feb, 2019 12:38 pm
@snood,
Quote:
But I find that my opinion in this case is influenced by the inconvenient truth that if Democrats don't come down hard on him, they lose the moral high ground and can't effectively critique racism on the right.


I don't think the symbolic moral high ground is worth anything to the Democrats. Quite the contrary. I think that Democrats are spending way too much political capital fighting over symbols. They are making very little progress in things that could make a real difference.

There are viral videos with White people being attacked for wearing dreadlocks, and long arguments over Christmas songs. These silly arguments are sucking the air out of the room.

When there are ways that Democrats could truly make progress with minority groups, they don't have any leverage, the backlash against the excesses of MeToo makes it much easier for people to ignore places where real change can be made; in education, healthcare, food security and workplace protections.

When Trump called Democrats "a screaming mob" the Democrats all screamed in protest. If everything is an outrage... then nothing is an outrage.
0 Replies
 
oralloy
 
  -2  
Reply Tue 5 Feb, 2019 05:21 pm
@snood,
snood wrote:
I find that my opinion in this case is influenced by the inconvenient truth that if Democrats don't come down hard on him, they lose the moral high ground and can't effectively critique racism on the right.
These silly accusations of imaginary racism are not effective. They are merely silly.
0 Replies
 
snood
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2019 06:19 am
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

I posted this on the Northam thread, but I'll repost here because it fits better.

engineer wrote:
This whole thing is a legacy for Southerners. I grew up in the South in the 70's, I heard relatives and friends make racist remarks, I went to schools that were almost entirely white and where school boards were working hard to keep it that way. I didn't realize any of that as a kid, but looking back, it was pretty clear. There was racial tension at school, but I just saw the tension and heard the comments. Was there backface? Yes. Would I be surprised to see it in yearbooks or to hear that someone in their teens or early twenties participated in it? No. Would I be surprised to see teachers and administrators participating in it? No. None of that makes it right, but it doesn't surprise me that people turn this stuff up. It wasn't hard to find. IMO, Northam is playing it wrong. He should say "Yes, that stuff happened and it was wrong.
We didn't know any better but I've learned and grown beyond the casual racism of the communities I grew up in and you can look at my actions today as a measure of the person I've become."


If Northam said "this is how I was taught growing up, I now understand this is wrong", that would work for me but I'm not in the wronged group. Would you consider something like that sincere or would you consider it political expedience or perhaps both?


Sorry, engineer. I answered you in a response to max. Thought he had said this.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2019 06:30 am
Let's look at the progress we have made in the past 30 years (since the 1980s)

- We have failed to lower our incarceration rate, or address the racial disparities in criminal justice.
- We have failed to stop racial profiling and aggressive police tactics.
- We have failed to address deep racial inequalities in our educational system in resources and in outcomes.
- We have failed to address racial inequality in wealth, and income.

On the bright side we have made face paint socially unacceptable and torn down some statues.

Is there a possibility that maybe this is a distraction and that our priorities in social justice are really screwed up?
snood
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2019 01:29 pm
@maxdancona,
Do you see anything positive about modern American society or about the current political scene? Anything hopeful about the midterms or about the economy or your local politics, or anything at all?
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2019 02:20 pm
@snood,
Yes, I see plenty positive about modern American society. Those things aren't as interesting to talk about. I do think that modern Americans feel like our current society is some universal reflection of all that is right and true. This is why I feel it is important to question, and criticize our own culture.

But, sure... there are many things about American culture for which I am grateful; free speech, the way we mix cultures, our relatively direct way of communicating, our belief in self-reliance, the role science plays in our culture, our imperfect but historically remarkable struggle for social justice and many other things.

This thread is about public apologies. This topic is closely related to the current trend of public shaming.... that puts it on my list of criticisms.
0 Replies
 
 

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