Saturday, March 31, 2018

An Apology -- And a Cautionary Tale

In theory, there is a lot we could talk about today.  We have Passover.   Easter.   The resumption of fighting in the Gaza Strip.   But in practice, there is truly but one suitable topic for this blogpost this morning.   Thanks to Laura Ingraham, I’m reminded of something I’ve needed to address for some time.  It’s called making an apology.

This week, Ingraham herself needed to apologize.  For reasons known only to her and whatever demon occupies her head on a frequent basis, Ingraham decided to take a shot at one of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas kids by accusing him of “whining” after being rejected by several colleges.   Rather than getting mad, that kid decided to get even.  He outed the corporations that buy advertising time on Ingraham’s television show.  Immediately, progressives began calling for the boycott of those advertisers.  Being the good progressive that I am, before knowing anything about the success of the boycott, I spoke to my wife about how we should stop buying products from those companies, which I realized would be a sacrifice because Hulu was one of the sponsors and that’s the network that airs “The Handmaid’s Tale.”   Not surprisingly, Ingraham’s sponsors began dropping her like a sack of potatoes at which point she took to social media and said that “in the spirit of Holy Week” she was apologizing for any pain she caused the MSD student or other “brave victims” of that school.   More recently, Ingraham announced that she would be taking off Easter Week to spend time with her family.

Trust me, I’d love to get on my high horse about this topic.  Thanks largely to Laura Ingraham and her fellow right wing talking heads, we are witnessing some of the worst fracturing of the American social fabric since the 1860s.   That playpen has given us words like “Feminazis” and “Libtards,” which to me are no less dangerous than the N-Word, the K-Word, the F-Word and whatever other terms were declared off limits when racism, anti-semitism, and homophobia were all we had to worry about.  People who listen to those shows might want to reconsider calling themselves “Americans” since it’s clear that they detest half of America.   The fact that there are liberals who share their hatred doesn’t make their problem go away, it only make its worse. 

Yes, it would have been such fun for me to write a blog focusing entirely on Laura Ingraham and right-wing talk shows and to imply that only the supporters of such programs are capable of taking public shots at kids.   Unfortunately, my home has mirrors, and I was forced to look at one.  I didn’t like what I saw.

Twelve years ago, the same year that I began this blog, I wrote a post that has haunted me for a long time.  My words would have been ugly if I had said them privately.  The fact that I said them publicly only makes the ugliness more profound.  Not once have I been called out for my disgusting comments.  The reason is obvious – this blog has never enjoyed the following of Laura Ingraham’s TV show, and back in 2006 it was hardly more than a pimple in the vast domain of cyberspace.   No matter, what I said was unacceptable whether it was read by five people, five hundred people or five million people, and I am compelled to issue a public apology, albeit a belated one. 

The topic of the post was American Idol, a show I never have liked, and in the paragraph at issue, I directed the poison of my pen at a 16-year old performer on that show.  Since the Empathic Rationalist began, I’ve written many hundreds of posts and surely said a number of things that, in hindsight, I might prefer to take back.  But nothing in those hundreds of posts bothers me nearly as much as that paragraph.  I am so sorry that I felt free to insult the musicianship of a singer who clearly had a powerful voice and no shortage of courage for standing in front of millions of people, week after week, and getting judged by strangers for what really is a beautiful act of self-expression.  

It should go without saying that when a minor inserts him or herself into the public eye either as a social activist or an entertainer, s/he deserves to be treated respectfully and compassionately and never – ever – snarkily.  Laura Ingraham violated that principle last week, but at least her notoriety gave her the chance to apologize for her sin relatively quickly.  My relative obscurity allowed me to wallow in my self-disgust for a long time.  Now, finally, she has given me the impetus to make a public apology without feeling self-indulgent about it.   So, I guess I have Laura Ingraham to thank.  Truly, her episode and mine are reminders that whenever you criticize another human being – publicly, privately, young or old – you might someday regret it. 

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