All (non) apologies: I’m sorry if this post offends you

Don't know why he was crying

When I was a kid, I used to occasionally get in fights with my brothers and sister. I said mean things and threw a punch, kick or pulled hair. After pulling us apart from each other and making us quiet down, my mom would make us apologize.

I didn’t want to apologize. I was still mad, but would sheepishly grumble, “I’m sorry if I hurt you when I hit you.”

This did not fly with my mom. She knew I wasn’t being sincere and only apologizing because I got caught and it would mean a lighter punishment.

“That’s not an apology.”

“I’m sorry for hurting and hitting you.”

“That’s better.”

That “if” made a big difference even if it was only a minute later.

I see that “if” in non-apologies all the time on blogs.

Example: blogger writes a post, uses a term that is offensive but often used in everyday talk by people who don’t know any better, or maybe just don’t care. A commenter or two point out that term is offensive. Blogger who is actually only sorry she got called out by a reader responds, “I’m sorry if I offended you. I didn’t mean to offend you or anyone else.”

An even better example, Geraldo Rivera’s non-apology regarding his statement that Trayvon Martin was partially responsible for his death because he was wearing a hoodie. Of course, Geraldo added a lot more than the typical blogger making it even harder to believe that he actually is sorry.

If you need to apologize, keep it simple and sincere. Leave the “if” out and just write, “I’m sorry I offended you.” Five simple words.


8 thoughts on “All (non) apologies: I’m sorry if this post offends you

  1. Seanathan says:

    The best part of the non-apology apology is it makes it seem like the offended party is the one in the wrong.

    “I’m sorry you’re sensitive.”

  2. I often wonder how much people think before they speak/write. Sometimes I feel tempted to write an angry tweet, but I’m quite self-conscious (except maybe when it comes to sports), so I refrain. Or I try to phrase it in a way that gets my point across without seeming like an asshole. But some people seem to have no filter.

    Your mom sounds like my mom in that way. She wouldn’t accept non-apology apologies either.

  3. Are we thinking about the same blogger, who refuses to acknowledge that a recent post is insensitive to those with mental disabilities? Ugh, I am fuming over that one. And then she coasts by with a non-apology. Yeahhhhhh, she’s a jerk.

    I really cannot believe I enjoyed her blog only 12 months ago. Why is she still on my Google Reader?

  4. Or better yet, dont apologize at all. We live in a society full of too many sensitive people…apologizing only encourages it.

    Personally, I think all this sensitivity is a form of censorship. It silences discourse and prevents much needed dialogue.

  5. I don’t see how one can promote dialogue by offending others. It seems like it’d do the opposite. I think some of the best dialogue comes when people question each others’ language, actions and even assumption. Also, you need a new avatar.

  6. I hear what you’re saying. I guess if someone wants to stick to their guns completely they can just say something like “I didn’t mean to offend you, but I stand by what I said.”. Or if they are actually sorry “I am sorry for offending you.”

    I mean, bottom line, bloggers (and even Geraldo, apparently) don’t have to apologize, but the half-assed one is meaningless. I remember the one fairly negative comment I got on my blog, and I remember feeling bad for making someone feel…bad. But I also respected that person for telling me I was coming across as snobby to them. Constructive criticism!

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