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Charisma News: Why Ask for an Apology?

September 12, 2014

Charisma News’ horrible column calling for genocide has been in the news recently– here’s a good accounting of it from the excellent Slacktivist blog.

Now we have heard that the article has been taken down and there is some comment about there not being an apology.

To which, I must ask: why? Why do we want an apology?

One problem with our society is the transformation of the apology into a simple formality. The murderer who up until the jury returned a guilty verdict was shouting his innocence to the hills is now “apologetic” and desires only forgiveness from his victim’s family– coincidentally just before the judge passes sentence. The man who spent years looting the accounts of those who entrusted him with his money now “apologizes” for his actions.

Apologies are easy. An apology can be a matter of a quick comment or a twitter message.

But to be meaningful, an apology should only be an outward symptom of a far more meaningful action–repentance.   Repentance is knowing that what you did was wrong, and seeking to make amends for it. The  repentant criminal seeks to pay for his wrongs because they were wrong, not because he might get a few years off.  Absent repentance, an apology is merely an attempt to get out of jail free.

And that is why I hope we don’t get an apology from Charisma.  Their actions show that they are unlikely to truly repent of the mindset that led to the publication of this odious article.   Taking it down was not repentance, it was attempting to avoid blow-back.  Repentance would mean shifting the orientation of the publication away from this odious viewpoint, not merely removing articles that proved too “out there” even for many supporters.

If they are truly repentant, then we will see it in Charisma News’ later actions.  Those actions will include an apology, but more importantly will include action.  if they are not repentant, then an apology is just a meaningless waste of words.

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One Comment
  1. My view (which is sort of complementary to yours) is that an apology (as distinct from a Notpology, which is merely a collection of coded language designed to add conditions to an apology, thereby making it meaningless) has to be followed by a change in behavior. Repetition of the original bad behavior eliminates the credibility of the original apology, confirming that it was merely uttered to avoid blowback.

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