Rep. Joe Wilson, Kanye and Serena: civility requires some sort of apology, and then another

So, it’s been a strange week or so of famous people acting like Big Jerks and then tossing off hollow mea culpas. I won’t profess to know what it all might mean (well, at least until the last paragraphs, and only some of it), but it is an odd collection of a-hole moments.

What, yet another internet post on our ever-coarsening public behavior? Well, yeah, sort of. Perhaps more like a look at the ever-coarsening public behavior of the American powerful, important and heroic. And the spreading inability of the same to offer any sort of apology that is remotely meaningful. Why they seem to be clinically incapable of apologizing is a mystery.

MTV video awards, Kanye West decides to take the stage and grab the mic out of the hands of 19 year-old Taylor Swift, winner of Best Female Video. “Thank you so much!” Swift began. “I always dreamed about what it would be like to maybe win one of these some day, but I never actually thought it would have happened. I sing country music so thank you so much for giving me a chance to win a VMA award.” Cue Kanye:

How’s that for self-centered? If you don’t agree exactly with the Entertainer Known As Kanye, especially if you’re a loser in his eyes, well, he’s gonna storm the stage during your big moment and tell everybody who the real winner–the Kanye Winner–is. Taylor of course, was crushed.

This was Kanye’s apology, on the internet, of course: “I’m sooooo sorry to taylor swift and her fans and her mom. I spoke to her mother right after and she said the same thing my mother would’ve said. She is very talented! I like the lyrics about being a cheerleader and she’s in the bleachers! …………………… i’m in the wrong for going on stage and taking away from her moment!……………. beyonce’s video was the best of this decade! I’m sorry to my fans if I let you guys down! I’m sorry to my friends at mtv. I will apologize to taylor 2mrw. welcome to the real world! everybody wanna booooo me but i’m a fan of real pop culture! No disrespect but we watchin’ the show at the crib right now cause … well you know! i’m still happy for taylor! Boooyaaawwww! you are very very talented! I gave my awards to outkast when they deserved it over me… that’s what it is!! i’m not crazy yall, i’m just real. Sorry for that! I really feel bad for taylor and i’m sincerely sorry! Much respect!!”

And because that stank, there was another. On the internet. “I feel like Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents when he messed up everything and Robert DeNiro asked him to leave… That was Taylor’s moment and I had no right in any way to take it from her. I am truly sorry.” Well, if you feel like Ben Stiller, dude.

How about Serena Williams? Nearing the end of a semifinal U.S. Open match, she got called for a foot fault and lost a crucial point. She glared at the official and then said something pretty nasty.

Unsportsmanlike conduct, 2nd warning, loss of point, game, set, match. What did she say? “I swear to God I’ll fucking take the ball and shove it down your fucking throat.” Serena, incidentally, later agreed that the foot fault was the right call. So why was she acting that way toward an official that did her job so well?

Let’s see, here are her statements after the fiasco: Williams later released a statement through a public relations firm admitting that “in the heat of battle I let my passion and emotion get the better of me” and that she handled the situation poorly, but the statement did not include an apology. Right, naturally. So you know exactly what’s coming next…A second statement, posted on Williams’ website a day later, did apologize: “I want to amend my press statement of yesterday, and want to make it clear as possible – I want to sincerely apologize FIRST to the lines woman, Kim Clijsters, the USTA, and tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst.”

She won the doubles today. Patrick McEnroe gave her two opportunities to personally apologize to the tournament and the fans, but she refused to do so [see from about 4:00 on]. Apologies are a formality best left to lesser folks, your ‘people’, stuck in back rooms full of phones and computers.

Which leaves us with an actually powerful American person, Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina. One of the people who could help save the lives of perhaps thousands of Americans were he to educate himself about the healthcare crisis in his own state and district. But, no, he’s more concerned with the horrors of illegal immigrants, apparently.

Joe was the guy who made American Asshole History by yelling at the President in a joint session of Congress.

Yeah, you know what comes next: Wilson’s office did issue an apology for his accusation that the president was lying about illegal immigrants getting coverage under his healthcare plan.

“This evening I let my emotions get the best of me,” the South Carolina Republican said in a statement. “While I disagree with the president’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility.”

Another shaky effort, here we go again. Seeing as how this guy is an actual important person, not just an entertainer or a person who chases fuzzy balls for a living, you can bet the real apology, before congress, is just around the corner.

And you shouldn’t bet–didn’t your Mom tell you that? Especially that the class-and-civility poor Republicans will do what they should. Specially especially when, like Rush and Sean and Glenn, they can turn this low-life stuff into money.

Wilson Defends Outburst, Says He Will Not Apologize on House Floor

Rep. Joe Wilson said Sunday that he will not apologize on the House floor for his outburst during President Obama’s health care address, even though Democratic leaders have threatened to formally discipline him if he does not.

Wilson noted that he already apologized directly to the White House after shouting, “You lie,” to the president during his Wednesday address to a joint session of Congress. The outburst triggered a political firestorm, but Wilson told “FOX News Sunday” that Democrats are just “playing politics” by trying to drag out the issue and force another apology.

What of ever-coarsening behavior? It’s working overtime and getting paid handsomely: Wilson funds reach $1 million after ‘you lie’ cry, aide says. Kanye and Serena are also obviously doing fine, thanks.

To me, civility is supposed to be an external set of behaviors that express a deep respect for the ‘other’. Absent this deep respect for certain individuals, it’s still a perfectly good place to hide. I don’t see anything wrong with treating somebody with respect who probably doesn’t deserve it, in most cases.

These obnoxious folks are lacking both the fundamental respect and the mask of civility. They think that the world desperately needs to know immediately what they really feel about every living thing on the planet. Like we could never figure out that Serena now probably hates the lines-woman: Serena has got to tell the world, and she’s not backing down. Like the President wouldn’t have a clue that Joe Wilson opposes his policies: Joe has just got to shout it out, right now. It’s selfishness, and it’s stupid.


2 thoughts Rep. Joe Wilson, Kanye and Serena: civility requires some sort of apology, and then another

  1. avatar HenHen says:

    You know, given that the Video awards were also paying tribute to the Child Molester Michael Jackson, who is now somehow absolved of his sins by being a dead drug addict, Kanye is probably in his dressing rooms think, WTF all I did was mouth off.

  2. avatar toma says:

    Why not, let’s take the insults even further: Michael the molester was wonderful and Kanye the stage-crasher is a monster. What a rational world.

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