Delivering and Demanding Apologies

In addition to baseball's recent steroid-induced apologies (covered here), we've also come across several other apology-related stories that we'd like to comment on. Some stories are about delivering apologies, others about demanding apologies, and one story dealt with a royal apology to a six year-old girl after a run in with a hungry (or angry) royal swan.

Delivering Apologies:

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband apologized for Britain's role in US Extraordinary Rendition efforts in 2002. In this case the practice involved the kidnapping and arrest of terrorist suspects who were then transported, confined and tortured (including water boarding) on route to the US through British territory -- the flights landed on the island of Diego Garcia, a British protectorate, before moving on to the US. Miliband began his statement to the British Parliament by admitting that "the House and the Government will share deep disappointment at this news and about its late emergence. That disappointment is shared by our US allies (who) recognize the absolute imperative for the Government to provide accurate information to Parliament." The Foreign Secretary stated the government was "very sorry indeed" for the role British territory played. The categorical assurances from the US State Department that British territory was not used obviously put the British government in a particularly embarrassing position of having to admit they accepted the misleading American assurances in good faith. In addition to the British apology, Miliband went on to acknowledge that US officials also "expressed regret" for not acknowledging the renditions through Diego Garcia. "We have to assure ourselves these procedures will never happen again," Miliband stated. Expressions of regret by Washington in no way constitute an apology by any stretch of the imagination -- Bush administration officials are likely convinced that these are necessary evils in a post-9/11 world. The real question today, of course, is whether a Clinton or Obama presidency will change the policies or produce an apology for past American foreign policy decisions and actions. We at PA are not holding our breath.

CBS' Big Brother contestant Adam Jasinsky issued a very weak apology to the various branches and affiliates of the American Autism society for his truly idiotic comments on the show over a week ago. In a conversation with one of the other contestants on the show, Adam explained what he would do with the money should he win the contest (fat chance of this happening). He was quoted as saying that, among other things, he would invest in a beauty and hair salon "so retards can…get their hair done." As someone who claims to be the public relations person for the United Autism Foundation (it's not yet clear whether this foundation even exists) Adam was either lying about his job/position or is incredibly incentive for a "public relations" expert responsible for pushing this particular cause. In either case he owes a lot of people a sincere and credible apology that goes well beyond his expression of regret for "any and all inappropriate, unprofessional and misleading comments" he made on the show. This apology is perhaps one of the worst we've come across. In addition to the obvious people who deserve Adam's mea culpa, this guy should also be apologizing for seriously undermining the credibility of so many national and regional autism organizations trying to generate funding and support for their incredibly important and worthy cause. That is perhaps one of the more unfortunate consequences of this screw-up. Hopefully the real costs (which will still not be sufficient by any means) will be incurred when the viewers kick the jerk off the show. Big Brother's producers should also have considered a more meaningful apology -- "We certainly find the statements made by Adam to be offensive, but believe they were countered by the immediate reaction of shock and condemnation from a fellow houseguest, Sheila." We at PA completely understand the slippery slope associated with chastising (or throwing off) a "reality show" contestant for offensive comments, and we understand there is screening to minimize the risk of something like this happening. But this was a battle the network should have picked and exploited for a truly good cause, if only to make an important point that even reality TV shows have limits. The only reasonable alternative at this point is for the CBS producers of the show to issue their own apology and emphasize the crucial importance of the autism cause. Hopefully they will do this when Adam is inevitably kicked off for his stupidity.

Chinese movie star Edison Chen issued an apology for inadvertently letting some very private videos and pictures of former girlfriends get into the wrong hands. Chen decided, following his apology, to take a leave of absence once his current contract obligations were fulfilled. As apologies go, Chen's expression of remorse came with an announcement that he will be taking a break from acting and giving up potentially lucrative scripts and projects. This is noteworthy gesture.

And finally, even the Queen was compelled recently to offer a royal apology for the injury to a little girl after she was bitten by one of the Queen's royal swans. Six-year-old Elishia Stevenson sent the Queen an email note about the incident and, in return, received a brief email reply written and sent by the Queen's lady in waiting -- "The Queen thought it kind of you to write to her and was sorry to hear about the swan." As apologies go this one is far from emotionally draining, but that's besides the point in light of the completely blameless nature of the incident. The Queen's problem now, of course, is that she didn’t personally craft the reply and may have to apologize for this.

Check back tomorrow for Part II: Demanding Apologies