You won’t have to ride the bus with THOSE PEOPLE

When a small business places an advertisement, they usually hope to attract customers. Not hate mail, boycotts, hearings, subpoenas, and people digging into their past.

So ads should be carefully worded. And if a business owner is moved to make the copy more… dynamic, maybe they should reconsider that.

Suburban Express is a bus company running 3 large buses and half a dozen smaller ones, ferrying people from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana to Chicago.

Take a look at their recent email ad. We bet you can see the problem.

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Shut up and let’s heal

Helpful Dr. Larry

When Dr. Larry Nassar pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct last week in Michigan, he was facing 7 counts. Three of the crimes were against girls under 13, the rest against girls between 13 and 15. Nassar was an osteopathic physician seeing patients – rising gymnasts – through USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University, and the Twistars gymnastics club. He was an Olympics team physician. He regularly and repeatedly molested girls under the guise of treatment.

He’s scheduled to be sentenced in January, and additional victims are to be allowed to speak about the impact of his actions against them. Because there are more who’ve come forward. ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTEEN of them. Even more are speaking up now that it’s all in the open. Some have been encouraged by the attention given to the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

The number of his crimes and the many years during which he got away with it are horrifying. In court, he asked if he could make a statement. The word “sorry” appeared. Would that apology help?

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When the Army takes your mother’s side

In one of those “One Hundred Years Ago” columns newspapers sometimes run, SorryWatch came across an interesting 1917 account of a soldier, Thomas J. Ryan, whose mother was having a hard time letting go.

Ryan was stationed at the Presidio Army Base in San Francisco. Reportedly he “was always getting into trouble” and “his mother was always getting him out of it.” How? Maybe the Army listened to mothers more then?

Photo: Louis Adolphe Humbert de Molard. “Louis Dodier as a prisoner, 1847.” Public domain.

Thanks, MOM.

Ryan got into trouble again. They tossed him in the guardhouse. His mother wrote to him, pleading with him to straighten up and fly right.

He wrote right back, “You mind your own business. I never want to hear from you again.”

Oh yeah? Sez you, Sonny. Watch this!

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Apologies are awkward

One reason so many apologies are terrible is that apologizing well is HARD. Look how excruciatingly awkward John’s apology to Karen is. Karen was right to be angry when John impugned her fishing and swimming.

Bravo to John for apologizing in person, and for giving Karen the opportunity to close the door in his face. Less good, however, is John’s failure to say up front what it is he is apologizing for. (Good for Karen, letting him squirm like that and not leaping in to fill the conversational silences. DRAG HIM, KAREN.) He eventually does get the words out, but it takes a while, and naming your sin is an important part of good apologies.

If John had thought ahead about what he planned to say, and rehearsed in front of a mirror, this could have been far less awkward. He could have demonstrated that he understood just HOW he knows that she is a good hunter and swimmer (by pointing out, say, that penguins can hold their breath for six minutes underwater, while polar bears can only do so for two minutes, or he could have noted how effectively her supraorbital gland filters saltwater from her bloodstream as she fishes, or he could have indicated that he is totally jazzed by the series of spines pointing down her throat that allow her to ingest krill without chewing). Instead he stammers out that she’s good at catching “little fishes” and says that her hunting isn’t really important to him, which is kind of condescending?

But you know what? It doesn’t matter what I think. It matters what Karen thinks, and Karen is willing to forgive and go to the movies with him on Saturday, so you go girl. (It matters what other people think if John broke the law — if he was abusing Karen, or if Karen were an underage penguin —  in which case her forgiveness could be noted in criminal proceedings but is not the final word. But it sounds more like he was a boorish bearish dick, maybe trying to act like a big macher in front of the other wildlife at the bar.)

I am hopeful. I want those two crazy kids to be happy together. But KAREN, if he insults you again, you kick his vanilla ass to the curb and go clubbing like a baby seal.

Also, I hate to be a wet glacier, but I do have to say that I am unsure about the long-term prospects for this relationship, what with Karen living in the Antarctic and John living in the Arctic. But stranger things have happened! I’m a New Yorker who dated a San Francisco raver for much of the ’90s and now we have two children so I AM ROOTING FOR YOU, JOHN AND KAREN!

Hat tip to Friend of SorryWatch Aviva W. for the heads up.

Editor’s Note, 11/26: An earlier version of this story stated incorrectly that Karen lives in the Arctic and John lives in the Antarctic. SorryWatch regrets the error. DAMMIT.

Posted in Animals and Apologies, Funny-on-Purpose Apologies, Good apologies, TV and Movie Apologies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

We’re doing this why?

Guest post from SorryWatch Senior Tennis Correspondent Wendy Grossman.

Why is this happening to me?

One of the most commonly heard complaints of the suspicious tennis fan is this: the draw is fixed. The suspicious tennis fan is delusional, as I established last year. Draws are public. The press is there, also at least one professional player and representatives of other players to watch for foul play. They do whatever they can to dress up these draw ceremonies – draw rituals? – into something vaguely entertaining. One or two tournament representatives make speeches. At London’s Queen’s Club, a formally dressed steward in white gloves asks randomly selected audience members to draw a slip of paper out of a silver bowl; at other events someone hits a button on a computer. But there’s always some fanfare.

This year, the men’s tour (the ATP/Association of Tennis Professionals) opened a new event in Milan, the second-to-last-week-of-the-year “Next Gen” event for the best eight players aged between 18 and 21. The idea was to try to open up the game, which has been dominated by four now-30-somethings for more than a decade, to a new generation of players and fans. Like the tour finals, this is a round robin event in which each member of two four-man groups plays against each other to determine the semifinalists. The “draw,” therefore, consists of determining who goes in which group.

Someone decided to make this more interesting to view. So, yes, an apology will soon be needed.

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Take an apology lesson from Thor

Last year, SorryWatch approvingly noted that actor Chris Hemsworth made a good apology for insensitive behavior. It turns out that his character Thor is also a good apologizer! In a deleted scene from the first Thor movie in 2011, we learn that during the Asgardian god’s time on earth, he grows from imperious musclebound war-prince to sensitive dude who has learned to apologize.

Remember this diner scene?

Later in the movie, Thor helps his friend Jane make breakfast for her colleagues and refrains from hurling drinking receptacles. Go, Thor. But he goes further: In a scene left on the cutting room floor, he shows us that he regrets the crockery-shattering public outburst earlier in the film and wants to make amends.

What has Thor done right, apology fans?

He says “excuse me,” indicating he knows he’s interrupting Isabel’s work. He uses her name, which shows he’s paid attention. He tries to make amends and offer reparations (new cup). He is sincere, but he does not waste Isabel’s time or emotional energy; he does what has to be done and gets out of Dodge.

A very minor quibble: Ordinarily SorryWatch prefers “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” to “Please forgive me.” The “I” construction shows that the speaker recognizes their own fault, while “please forgive me” puts too much onus on the listener. The listener is the one who is owed something; the person who is apologizing should not be asking for a boon. Forgiveness is a gift. The person acknowledging that they’re in the wrong should not be asking for a gift at the same time that they’re supposed to be genuflecting. Right?

HOWEVER. Thor is not of our earth. He is still learning to speak in a less formal Midgardian manner. Dude is a god; he’s not accustomed to being a supplicant. We’ll let his phrasing go, because for Thor, saying “Please forgive me for my behavior” is a LOT. Our buff blond hammer-wielding pal has clearly come a long way. It should be possible for mere mortals, too.





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all the subtext in Kevin Spacey’s apology

Kevin Spacey would like you to know some things!

3. IF IT HAPPENED IT WAS THREE DECADES AGO (when I was a grown man and he was a child but SHHHH)
6. DUDE I WAS WICKED DRUNK (if it happened which it probably didn’t)
7. SORRY ABOUT YOUR FEEEEELINGS ANTHONY (that are your feelings and have nought to do with me)
8. “ALL THESE YEARS” — you are clearly clinging to your sense of victimization, sorry ur so stuck

We at SorryWatch should not have to say this but: Spacey’s statement (issued in response to this) is not an apology. It is a diversion, a distraction, a parry. It is dishonesty. Homosexuality is nothing to apologize for; it has nothing to do with pedophilia. As George Takei noted:

Takei is right, of course. Harassment and assault are abuses of power; the abuser’s sexual identity is not relevant. But it’s no accident that in this statement, Spacey doesn’t come out [sic] and say what he’s apologizing for. He’s implying that he’s being persecuted for not being out of the closet. This is offensive. Rapp was 14 (and look at him at 14! a WEE BABBY!) when, he says, Spacey picked him up, threw him on a bed, and climbed on top of him. And despite Spacey’s airy attempts at discrediting Rapp, Buzzfeed didn’t merely repeat Rapp’s allegations; the site talked to folks Rapp has been telling this story to since 1990. (And for whatever it’s worth, in 1992 or 1993, when I was a journalist at Sassy, a different underage theater actor told me he’d had a brief sexual relationship with Spacey, who was then in his mid-30s.)

The last line of Spacey’s statement is confusing. (Almost as confusing as serial harasser Leon Wieseltier’s “shaken apology” to his former employees — what is a shaken apology? is the apology shaken because the apologizer had had absolutely no idea until this very moment that he’d done anything wrong? because he’d been outed? because he’d, you know, HARASSED PEOPLE?) What behavior, exactly, is Spacey claiming he needs to examine? What, precisely, demands sudden openness and honesty? His drinking, maybe? I think? Honestly, the sentence is so Keyser-Söze-esque in its cageyness, it’s hard to say.

Regardless, it’s a vile non-apology. To quote Spacey’s character John Williamson in Glengarry Glen Ross: “FUCK you.”

Posted in Artistic apologies, Bad Apologies, Celebrity Apologies, Social Media Apologies, Sorry If, Twitpologies | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

You asked. Ugh, fine. Here’s Harvey Weinstein.

As you know, on October 5, the New York Times broke the news (or rather, reported extensively on an open secret and got on-the-record confirmation from famous actresses) about years of sexual harassment claims about producer Harvey Weinstein. Continue reading

Posted in Bad Apologies, Bropology, Media Apologies | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments