The Washington Post

Dan Savage executes expert apology

(Charles Sykes/AP)

First, Fox News analyst Monica Crowley tweets out a full-throated, plenty-contrite apology for her spasm of homophobic nastiness toward Sandra Fluke.

Then, sex columnist and anti-bullying activist Dan Savage demonstrates that he has something in common with Crowley. He, too, can articulate regret. Savage’s offense was to use the term “pansy-assed” to describe how youngsters walked out of a Savage speech in which he condemned biblical teachings on homosexuality.

Here’s how he expressed his remorse for that slam: “[M]y use of ‘pansy-assed’ was insulting, it was name-calling, and it was wrong. And I apologize for saying it.”

That formulation passes the three tests for a real apology:

1) Harm acknowledgment: Savage concedes that his words were insulting. Good.

2) No “ifs”: Too many lame apologies feature conditional contrition, as in, “I apologize if I have offended anyone.” No such dodge in the Savage statement.

3) No re-slam: Sometimes apologizers use their “apologies” to make some slight concession to contrition, only to circle back to criticize those they’ve offended. On this front, Savage doesn’t have perfect hygiene. He writes at the end of his apology post, “All Christians read the Bible selectively. Some read it hypocritically — and the hypocrites react very angrily when anyone has the nerve to point that out.” That’s a bit of a snapper, but at least Savage doesn’t repeat the insult that they are faint of heart.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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