Political stories about impatient demands for apologies from the deeply offended are an everyday thing. It seems the surest way to create a news event out of thin air is to puff yourself up with blustery indignation and call upon a politician or a pundit to apologize.
Typically, a planted outrage story goes through its predictable cycle, which usually plays out something like this:
Player No. 1: 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 battlefields 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?
Player No. 2: What in heaven’s name are you talking about? “War is hell,” is a quote from General William Tecumseh Sherman.
Player No. 1: That’s your opinion.
Player No. 2: OK. I regret accidentally offending anyone who agrees with you, if it is true that offense was taken.
Player No. 1: If? I demand you apologize for issuing an insulting apology, and I also call upon you to apologize to Maria Shriver and Caroline Kennedy.
Player No. 2: What have they got to do with this?
Player No. 1: When you say “war is hell” it has to remind them 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?
Player No. 2: How about I just hate Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movies?
Player No. 1: Your un-apology apologies reek of sarcasm. I demand a full and unqualified apology, immediately. And your elitist opinions about movies are only making it worse.
Player No. 2: Does saying “war is heck” make it any better?
Player No. 1: 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.
Player No. 2: The First Amendment says you can't put blasphemy and treason in the same sentence. How about I phrase it this way?: “War is so dangerous it can be hell-like?”
Player No. 1: You’d only be emboldening the enemy.
Player No. 2: To hell with the enemy!
Player No. 1: Better, now we're getting somewhere.