The occasion of a public apology is, for me anyway, almost always a trigger to cause me to wince. No matter who it comes from, a politician, athlete (Tiger Woods last week), or entertainer saying sorry for cheating on a spouse, or found guilty for drunk driving, or a national leader giving a formal apology to a hushed legislature over a past misdeed which might’ve affected millions, nothing, no matter how passionate the blubbing appears before a camera can move me enough to take seriously. Here’s a list of the top 15 most insincere public apologies.
I can see the merits of saying sorry if one is seeking forgiveness. That’s the way it works on a person to person level. The problem with giving an apology to a camera is that the camera can’t accept your apology. The people watching from behind the camera can’t exactly indicate their acceptance either. One thing is clear, no apology, no matter how much money is included, is going to be received with 100 % acceptance which pretty much makes any public statement of sorrow ring hollow.
When a leader offers an apology on behalf of a state they aren’t exactly speaking on behalf of 100% of the population. The apology for the razing of Africville 40 years ago in Halifax, for example, has been argued by some to this day as a necessary (albeit it, brutal) means to control dangerous living conditions and pestilence.
Apologies can only be done on face-to-face personal terms. When it comes to a politician apologizing on behalf of his government for something a previous government did to people many generations ago I’m one to think that it’s worse than being hollow, it’s simply an insulting trivial move designed more to score points for a political legacy or a reelection campaign.