Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Apologies a la carte

Today is no different than any other day. Once again the landscape is littered with lame demands from the deeply offended for apologies, which, however contrived, inevitably become news stories.

The surest way to create a news event out of thin air is to call upon a politician to apologize. The second surest way seems to be to call upon a talking head, even if the professional talker is mostly a comedian, to apologize. Then the story goes through its predictable cycle.

The most recent such scandal has been the Don Imus imbroglio which has earned him a two-week suspension from CBS Radio and MSNBC. But it won’t be long before another brouhaha will erupt over a wisecrack from another high-profile celebrity and it will supplant Imus’ lowbrow attempt at humor, to create another tidal wave of demands for an apology.

It usually goes something like this:

The Demander: Sir, I demand an apology. When you said, “war is hell,” you demeaned every single young American in uniform today, particularly those serving on the Iraqi battlefield of this nation’s War on Terror. You were saying they’ve gone to hell, which is to say they do not deserve to go to heaven. Who are you to judge?

The Offender: What in heaven’s name are you talking about? “War is hell,” is a quote from General William Tecumseh Sherman.

The Demander: That’s your opinion.

The Offender: OK. I regret accidentally offending anyone who agrees with you, if it is actually true that they were offended.

The Demander: If? I demand you apologize for issuing an insulting apology, and I also call upon you to apologize to Maria Shriver Schwarzenegger.

The Offender: What’s she got to do with this?

The Demander: When you say “war is hell” it has to remind her of the assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, because that was the title of the war movie he slipped into a Dallas theater to see, after he alone shot President Kennedy. Why do you hate poor Maria and the rest of the Kennedy family?

The Offender: How about I just hate Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movies?

The Demander: Your un-apology apologies reek of sarcasm, which is outrageously disrespectful of our troops in Iraq, and brave veterans such as President Bush.

The Offender: Does saying, “war is the h-word,” make it any better? How about “war is heck?”

The Demander: The hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers” should convince you that saying war is hell, while we are engaged in righteous war against heathen terrorists is tantamount to blasphemous treason.

The Offender: How about I say “war is so dangerous it can be hell-like?”

The Demander: You’d be emboldening the enemy.

The Offender: To hell with the enemy!

The Demander: Better.

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