Thursday, December 10, 2015

When is an apology worth squat?

I always thought the only “apology” worth anything was the one comedian Steve Martin gave all those decades ago.

MARTIN: From the past
Remember back in the days of the arrow through the head and the banjo riffs when he’d build himself up into a frenzy of alleged gaffes, then wind them up with the over-the-top, “Well, Excuuuuuuuuse Meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

IT WAS SO insincere. It meant nothing. It was just a formality meant to shut people up, and Martin mocked the very idea that an apology was necessary, or that it meant anything.

Anyway, all this speculation over the sincerity of an apology has popped into my mind on account of the fact that Mayor Rahm Emanuel – in theory – has apologized for the death of Laquan McDonald.

He conceded that since all this mishap has occurred with the police under a superintendent he picked and during his time in office, he has to take the blame.

As Emanuel put it, “If we’re going to fix it, you have to understand it’s my responsibility with you. But if we’re also going to begin the healing process, the first step in that journey is my step, and I’m sorry.”

TO PARROTT MARTIN, “Well Excuuuuuuuuse Meeeeeeeeeeeee!” for thinking that Emanuel is less than sincere, or that there’s anything he could possibly say that would appease anyone who isn’t already looking for any excuse to forgive him.

The reality is that the people who are most concerned about the issue of police misconduct in modern-day Chicago are looking for someone to blame. They are less interested at this point in time in trying to find a solution so much as they want someone’s face to post on the problem.

For many, particularly those who wanted Anybody But Emanuel back in the February and April elections earlier this year, they’re more than willing to put the blame on Rahm.

EMANUEL: Is he about as sincere ...
They want him to go. They’re not interested in him being a part of the solution. If anything, they would have found a problem to blame him for no matter what had happened. The death of McDonald was just a convenient occurrence for them.

MY POINT IS that I don’t think there’s such a thing as an apology in a case like this. We have to acknowledge the cause of a problem then figure out how to fix it.

But the idea that someone’s “I’m sorry” really means anything just doesn’t wash. If anything, it always comes across as sounding like someone means to say “I’m sorry I got caught!”

So if by having Emanuel make his little speech Wednesday morning it means that city officials are willing to work together to try to resolve our societal differences that are truly at the heart of this particular problem, then perhaps it meant something.

... as the Hamburger Dude?
Otherwise, it was wasted words that ought to best be forgotten by Friday – if not sooner!

THE REAL PROBLEM we face here is one that goes back much farther than Emanuel as mayor. Or either Daley. It is something that isn’t even limited to Chicago, no matter how many politically partisan outsiders are now wishing they could say it is.

I’m wondering how long it will be before someone tries to claim that the outrage felt toward police because of the death of McDonald and certain other young black men is nothing but political correctness run amok. I have no doubt that some people really feel those 16 shots fired at Laquan were somehow justified.

So long as we have those attitudes amongst us, we will have this problem – no matter whether or not political partisans are able to concoct a way to pressure Emanuel out of the mayor’s office against his will.

Which makes me think we’ll someday hear something the equivalent of the Hamburger Dude, the character played by Paul Reubens in a Cheech and Chong film when he apologized for trying to steal $5 million – only to screech out “I’m not sorry” when he thought nobody was looking.


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