The Apology (and a taxonomy)

Lately there have been a lot of revelations of embarrassing or offensive behaviours from public notables. Perhaps to say ‘lately’ is not so accurate as this has always been the case as long as there has been a public eye. However in the age of social media and constant scrutiny, even our scrutiny is under scrutiny.


Last week on the notable BBC current affairs Question Time show, a notable footballer made a comment that he immediately apologised for. I thought it was incredibly refreshing to see an immediate apology as with the more menacing cases in the public eye, many notables have denied responsibility for things that a court of law has convicted them of. In the age of apologies there is a thing called the non-apology apology which is something of the form: I’m sorry you feel that way. This is not a genuine repentance but a disingenuous cop-out.


Then there are the cases (amusing perhaps) of the deniers-then-apologies. Deniers are notables who firstly do not acknowledge that any wrongdoing has taken place, usually in the lack of any public evidence. When such public evidence comes out – they apologise. This is also menacing in two senses. One is the sense that a person denies something that they know of doing but thinks that the public will not find out. The other sense of menace comes in the overly public nature of the modern world that potentially anything can be leaked, released, found out or dug up forensically. When our emails and financial transactions are not secure, we potentially have a lot more public about us than we know, and probably in the case of many notables. A lot to potentially apologise for in the future, or deny, or non-apologise.

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