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Do you know what I’m tired of? People who make crude, insulting and derogatory remarks and then when there is a public outcry, retract what they said.

How sorry of a “sorry” can that be?

The comments are foul and the retraction is demanded, but how sincere can the apology really be? I don’t care if they were taking Ambien, or preaching to the studio choir on their one-sided TV or radio show, or if they were drunk, high or crazy with anger; they said it and our interest should turn from what they said to why.

Apologies are nice from our children when they scratch the front bumper or drop their cellphone into the toilet, and even then it is only a semi-sincere charade to avoid punishment. But at least the effort brings some satisfaction to a parent.

However, when the apology is from a media personality or a politician who thought the microphone was off, it is nothing but an expedient pretension to do damage control. It is as sincere as a fox claiming the eggs somehow found their way into his den. It is nothing more than, “Oops, I forgot my lips were moving and I have the social grace of a rhinoceros.”

I haven’t thought every “controversy” has been truly controversial, and we all have a habit of only getting angry when the insult is directed toward someone we align with politically, but we can save the conversation about malignant hypocrisy for later. This is about the noxious state of our discourse.

I’m not advocating for censorship. The First Amendment protects our right to speak foolishly, even to be repugnant. My question is: Why do so many people want to be offensive?

And why do those who are caught in the act of malodorous speech then offer the same tearful retraction?

“My statement was not a reflection of who I really am or of my values. I was sun-stroked after a long day of windsurfing and downing a fifth of Jack.”

Au contraire. It was probably a statement that reflected exactly who you are and how you speak to those who agree with you. Alcohol, Ambien and a giant ego probably act more like truth serum.

This is not a liberal calling out conservatives, or a Democrat pointing a finger at Republicans; this is about all sides saying stupid, or at least inappropriately insulting things.

Yes, there should be a space (a big wide space) for commentary, humor and satire, but the nastiness that has infected such rhetoric is the result of the nastiness that has infected our discourse.

We have become a nasty society.

Lenny Bruce used swear words, so did Richard Pryor. George Carlin and Louis CK put “forbidden” words under the spotlight. But it was to examine the relevance of perceived meanings, not to bathe in the impact of their insults.

There is a difference, and it’s time to own up. Or shut up. Legally, we don’t have to, but morally it might behoove some of us.

Gary Kroeger is a local business owner and advertising executive in Cedar Falls.


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