Never Having to Say You're Sorry 

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As you probably know, the Virginia General Assembly recently voted unanimously to express "profound regret" for the state's role in slavery. Hey, what's 400 years amongst friends? They also expressed regret for "the exploitation of Native Americans." Now if they'd only apologize for Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, George Allen and traffic on the Washington Beltway, then all will be forgiven.

Just imagine, Virginia is sorry about that ol' slavery thing. And about Richmond having been the capital of the Confederacy, too. They're also sorry about the statues of Lee, Davis, Stuart and other Confederate leaders that sit on Monument Avenue, but that's not really a problem since they were all negated when they stuck a statue of Arthur Ashe just up the road from them. I mean, everyone agreed that one Arthur Ashe was worth five Confederate generals. Right? So what's the problem?

Virginia joins a long stream of apologizers. It's definitely the thing to do these days. Michael Richards is sorry for going off the deep end at some hecklers and letting on that he's a racist. Isaiah Washington of "Grey's Anatomy" outed fellow actor T.R. Knight, apologized, then turned around and called him a faggot. For which, of course, he was truly sorry. Newt Gingrich apologized the other day for having an extramarital affair while he was leading the Republicans to impeach Bill Clinton. He's sorry he did it, sorry he has to apologize for it if he's going to have any chance in hell of being the Republican candidate in 2008, and more than anything else, sorry he didn't get to have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky.

Even news services are getting in on the apology action. Recently, the Associated Press apologized to Taiwan vice president Annette Lu for repeating a Chinese attack that called her "insane" and "scum of the nation." She's still waiting for CNN to say it's sorry. And is withholding sex until it does. Members of the Japanese parliament want their government to re-apologize for holding women as sex slaves during World War II. Meanwhile there are reports that the prime minister wants to retract the country's 1993 apology. It's unclear whether it's good form to apologize for an apology, but hey, anything's possible.

The new president of the New York Stock Exchange, Duncan Niederauer, has said he's going to apologize for a remark he made a couple of years ago in which he said that he liked electronic trading because he didn't "want five guys named Vinny executing my trades." Vinnys everywhere have been fuming ever since and for good reason. Don't worry, Vinnys, Niederauer's got your apology swingin' right here. As for me, I'm publicly apologizing to my mother for not winning the MegaMillions lottery so she can live the rest of her life in a way she's never been able to live it before and unfortunately still won't. Hey, I bought a ticket. I tried. Apology accepted?

The one person who isn't apologizing for anything is Ann Coulter, least of all for calling John Edwards a faggot. But then, what's to apologize for? Not being original and copying Isaiah Washington? Increasing her book sales through the publicity? Getting more and higher-paying speaking engagements? Face it, nothing makes money like shooting your mouth off. Well, as long as you're careful not to shoot yourself in the foot in the process.

Then there's JetBlue. After February's big snowstorm, the airline apologized for having stranded 100,000 people, many of whom had to sit in an airplane on a runway for up to nine hours without food, a place to stretch their legs, or a crossword puzzle in the in-flight magazine that didn't already have the answers filled in. Oh, that's right, JetBlue doesn't have an in-flight magazine. They have yet to apologize for that. They do, however, have leather seats and DirecTV that offers 36 channels with little of interest to watch, unless of course you like staring at a screen that says, "Currently experiencing problems. We might be out of range or on a tarmac in a snowstorm. Don't you wish you had a crossword puzzle now?" But it's all OK. CEO David Neeleman says he's sorry, is handing out vouchers, swears they'll follow a customer Bill of Rights from here on out, and is rotating the jets through rehab.

Yes, nothing says "I'm sorry" like going into rehab. Mel Gibson went into rehab for saying he doesn't like Jews and is sorry he ever learned the phrase "sugar tits." San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is very sorry he had an affair with his appointments secretary. Who just happened to be the wife of his deputy chief of staff at the time, a friend who later became his re-election campaign manager. Well, at least until this news hit the proverbial fan. But it's OK. Gavin's in rehab now, except they're not calling it rehab because he's outpatient and apparently going when and if he feels like it. Unlike Britney, who was in and out of rehab three times in four days. Hey, if that doesn't cure her — at least of wanting to do another Sinead O'Connor imitation by shaving her head again — then nothing will. Except maybe a few more trips into rehab next week.

I'd believe the Virginia General Assembly's apology more if the state legislators went into rehab. Or at least shaved their heads in atonement. Which Georgia, Maryland, Delaware and Missouri should all keep in mind since they're considering apologizing for slavery too. Remember, apologizing isn't supposed to be easy, just hip. And a nice way out. If I've offended anyone by saying any of this, I'm sorry.

Ah, I feel better already. S

Mad Dog, whose mother calls him Barry Gottlieb, is a former Richmonder who lives and writes in San Francisco. Contact him at md@maddogproductions.com or read more of his columns at www.maddogproductions.com.

Copyright © 2007 Barry H. Gottlieb

Opinions expressed on the Back Page are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Style Weekly.

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