Tuesday, October 10, 2006

U.S.A. = United States of Apology

My, but we are a sorry bunch, aren't we?

Every day I open the paper or read online where someone is apologizing for something: Mel Gibson makes anti-semetic remarks, Avril Lavigne spits on paparazzi, Denny Hastert harbors and protects pedophiles (as does the Catholic church too, for that matter). Actors, musicians, politicians (and even popes) are eating crow on a daily basis these days for slips of the tongue or social faux pas.

Janet Jackson went on national television (as her family does) and gave a gut-wrenching mea culpa for something that was termed a "wardrobe malfunction". Kate Moss said she was sorry for disappointing people regarding her cocaine addiction. Ashlee Simpson regretted lipsynching on Saturday Night Live, but blamed her band. Hugh Grant took his show on the talk-show road, apologizing for cheating on his girlfriend and getting a blowjob from a hooker in his car. Before all that, though, who can forget Rev. Jimmy Swaggart's tearful plea for forgiveness for having sex with a hooker in a motel room.

But is it enough for them to simply say "I'm sorry"? Because there seems to be so many of them lately that it almost doesn't seem to mean anything anymore. Back when Jimmy was throwing himself on the altar, that was real news. People weren't going on national television to air their dirty secrets and apologize for their shortcomings. But the days of reality television brought us a constant barrage of nipple-slips and fuck-ups. We see people constantsly saying or doing the wrong thing - in short, being themselves - and I think it has desensitized us to being ... well ... sensitive.

Granted some things, like cheating on a spouse, should remain a private affair. The public doesn't need to know this. However, sexual predators need to register with local police departments - and that is a community affair. And certainly covering for someone who is a sexual predator carries some kind of legal weight. At least I would hope so. Because in a land where the lawmakers are the ones breaking the law, anything is possible.