The Proliferance of the Non-Apology

Drarun Ravi has elected to begin his 30 day sentence and issued an apology.

“I accept responsibility for and regret my thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish choices that I made on Sept. 19, 2010, and Sept. 21, 2010. My behavior and actions, which at no time were motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice or desire to hurt, humiliate or embarrass anyone, were nonetheless the wrong choices and decisions. I apologize to everyone affected by those choices.” 

My personal take is that Ravi is probably still in shock from the entire situation so expecting him to process & express true remorse for his part in the death of Tyler Clementi is expecting too much. For now. I would hope that his jail sentence and the ensuing hours of community service help him mature enough to truly accept responsibility for his actions & find some sort of way to pay reparations.

How do you offer reparation for the loss of a person’s life?

Well, I don’t think Ravi is solely to blame. I’ve noticed people making him and/or Tyler’s parents some sort of scapegoat when it fact it seems a series of events and strained relationships contributed to his Tyler’s decision. And when we talk about bullying in the schools, we tend to focus on the systemic breakdown of the education system – probably because we are talking about children.  It is hard to find a system to blame here, so perhaps our need to reconcile Tyler’s death leads us to seek a little more vengeance than is warranted.

Ravi’s apology is bogus. I despise when people say “I’m sorry if I’ve offended you …” which simply blames me for being offended rather than taking responsibility for words/actions that caused offense. It has no meaning, no sense of taking responsibility for one’s actions.

Ravi says he takes responsibility for his choices but proceeds to explain what they were NOT motived by: which at no time were motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice or desire to hurt, humiliate or embarrass anyone.

It is ludicrous to suggest that spying on your roommate via webcam was not intended to humiliate or embarrass him, especially since you included a second person on the viewing. As for his motive – was it hate, bigotry or prejudice? – I cannot say. Perhaps it was boredom or a sexual fetish. But to suggest that the violation of Tyler’s dignity was not born of some malfeasance is a sign that Ravi has not matured.

This is an apology:

In this scene from Sports Night, Dan is forced by his employer to apologize for comments supporting drug legalization because it might encourage kids to use drugs.

The other types of apologies are prolific – politicians don’t intent to hurt their families when they have affairs, hurt the taxpayers when they steal or cheat. Athletes in particular don’t intend to hurt anyone when they use the word “fag” as put-down of a rival or opponent or referee.

“I’m sorry if” is a clear indication that the person is simply sorry for having been called out or caught. “I can see that I’ve hurt your feelings and I regret that” is a bit better.

What should Ravi have said? Well, if this is where he is in his head — then this what he should have said. A lack of sincerity with better words wouldn’t matter. I’ve been told by people at GLAAD and Change.Org that some of the educators in the movie “Bully” apologized to the specific children. The staffers seemed moved by that, but I wonder how the students felt?

The power of a simple “I’m sorry” is amazing. It can soothe a damaged soul and heal a wound. I still say that if James Harrison actually apologized for calling Roger Goodell a faggot with no justifications or rationalizations or attributing it to cultural slang – if he simply said “I’m sorry I used that word” it would go a long way. As it stands, Harrison has left the door wide open for anyone who wants to use slang to do further damage to LGBTQ youth which seems strikingly at odds with the values of his charitable efforts to support special needs children and their families.

Ravi is being slammed left and right for his words. And that’s fine with me because he made incredibly hurtful choices that contributed to the death of another person. I hope the public scrutiny helps him become a better man.

(And I’m still hoping for that from James Harrison, too.)