Thursday, July 19, 2012

How Not To Apologize for a Stupid Remark

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling
Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling mad a thoughtless and insensitive remark a couple of days ago, saying, in effect, that anybody who believes Barack Obama has done a good job as president should be in a mental institute. That remark is wrong on so many levels that I can't begin to count, but his "apology" may be worse because it is one of those political passive "mistakes were made" non-admissions that amplifies the original problem.

Bolling was criticized by fellow Republican Joseph Yost of Blacksburg, who said (in a Daily Press report), "... I call on [Bolling] to issue an apology not only to the citizens of this Commonwealth but to all individuals who suffer from a mental health issue and their friends and family. The comments were not only a disappointment and distasteful but continue the stigmatization of individuals with mental illness. This is not a partisan issue. Twenty-five percent of the population suffers from a diagnosable mental health problem.

"While we may elect to disagree with each other's political views, we should chose to do it in a respectful manner and not one that continues the practice of stigmatizing individuals with mental illness or any others."

Bolling did not dignify the criticism with a direct response, instead going to spokeswoman Ibbie Hedrick, who said, "The Lieutenant Governor did not intend to offend anyone, and if anyone was offended by his comment he would certainly apologize for that." (Incidentally, the way this sentence is structured, the offended person would apologize.)

The proper response would have been, "I apologize. The statement was meant as a joke, but I take full responsibility for its insensitivity and I thank those of you who pointed out my error. I will learn from this and will not make the mistake again." That would be sincere. The response he gave covered his ass. With bathroom tissue.


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