Friday, 12 November 2010

Why can't folk just accept an apology?


Today I'm off to sunny Scunthorpe to speak with councillors about social media - twitter, blogs, facebook and so forth. And with all furore around the #twiterjoketrial and Cllr Gareth Compton's rather ill-advised attack on a well-known left-wing journalist, there will be plenty to speak about.

However, it seems to me that we have lost our sense of perspective in all this. I'm not passing judgment on either case except to say that, as ever, the law is an ass. But I do think that the protagonists in each case, as well as others involved, would not have taken this approach were we a better cultured and more civil society.

However much I respect and admire folk like David Allen Green and Robert Dougans for their efforts to minimise the law's ass-like nature, it seems to me that a society which turns instantly to law in order to resolve the insults inevitable in discourse is a truly decadent society. The lofty ideals of free speech, chivalry, decency and tolerance that we ought to treasure are cast aside as the insane literal-ness of the legal process crashes through the doors of our culture.

I listen to the fake offence being taken by people involved in these sort of cases. I scream silently as another person hides behind race, creed or gender to make indefensible accusations of their protagonists. And I seeth with anger when I see people who dish out ad hominum attacks every day respond to the mildest of criticism with an appeal to the law.

In a truly civilised society we would not need to conduct expensive court cases and appeals over jokes on twitter. The offender would put his or her hand up and apologise. The authorities would stand there and say:"don't be such an idiot again" - and their advice would be heeded.

In a truly civilised society the first response to causing offence should be an apology. Followed by that apology being accepted by the offended party and a shaking of hands. A lesson learned.

Instead people lose their jobs, their careers are ruined and their health is destroyed.

All because some folk are too grand to accept and apology or too rules-bound to do anything but prosecute. Or motivated by the opportunity to destroy someone's life so as to gain a temporary political advantage.

Next time...

...just accept the apology!



cwtchcorner said...


Especially as it often the case that by the time the "offensive" thing is pointed out to the person in question, there has usually already been an apology provided - People are trying their very best to be great big pains Telephone calls hours after the event - "look at this thing and do your best offended face, but make sure you stare straight at it in case you catch a glimpse of humour, context or an apology"

Anonymous said...

For once, I agree with 90% of your post!

SadButMadLad said...

I agree with it 100%!