These days, it almost doesn't matter what you've done, or what you intend to do about it, as long as you publicly apologize.
Drive drunk, get pulled over, and start yelling about evil Jews? "I'm sorry."
Call members of your audience "niggers"? "Oh, I am so sorry."
Shoplift $5,000 worth of baubles? Show off your pubic buzz-cut while partying with skank Paris Hilton? No problem -- just apologize. Hardly a week goes by anymore without some dimbulb celebrity apologizing for some outrage or other.
And it's not just celebs. Last year, newspapers across the country apologized for their role in supporting racism; the Charlotte Observer got specific, printing a public "our bad" for supporting the deadly 1898 race riots in Wilmington.
The problem now, though, is that even dolts in government have figured out that they can get rid of nasty PR problems by simply apologizing. Virginia, Georgia, Maryland and Missouri have either passed, or are considering, public apologies for their role in the spread of slavery. Doesn't do anyone any good, but hey, at least they apologized, right? There's also a federal slavery apology slowly making its way through Congress, and Sen. Sam Brownback, a Christian conservative candidate for President, is pushing for a national apology to American Indians.
Do the people who apologize in these cases really mean it? And will they follow up with more concrete measures to restore justice? I don't know, and frankly, it's too late to worry about those things now -- public apologies are probably going to be with us for a while, whether they're useful or not. In fact, a couple of drunk and nearly reliable sources have given us a heads-up on a few upcoming local apologies.
First, our sources tell us, the County Commission is planning the following mea culpa very soon: "We want to apologize for any distress our plans to sell Spirit Square to the highest bidder may have caused arts patrons and supporters. Uptown needs Spirit Square as a strong arts presence, and we will do everything we can to preserve that, and indeed, to make it stronger than ever. Our idea was stupid and, again, we apologize, so please quit yelling."
Charlotte Area Transit System honcho Ron Tober heard of the County Commission's plans and decided to release his own apology some time next week: "I am grieved and deeply sorry for not informing City Council of cost overruns for the South Boulevard light rail line. I am even more sorry, however, for not having set up a stringent oversight of the company which is building the line, since I knew of their past history of massive cost overruns and all-around screw-ups wherever they've worked. This was delinquent on my part and I regret it. Finally, I plan to wear a scratchy burlap sack to work for a month to atone for the fact that I make more money per year than the entire City Council put together."
Not to be outdone, realty giant Crosland is reported to be on the verge of issuing the following: "We can't apologize enough for evicting the family of 13-year-old Xavier Hendrix from The Park at Oaklawn apartments after he and other boys played basketball in an unlocked rec center. We also regret claiming later that the boys were holding stolen keys to the center when caught -- contrary to accounts by the person who caught them -- in order to justify our callous actions. We realize the eviction not only severely inconveniences the family, but also essentially dispatches them to a friggin' housing nightmare from which they may never recover. At the same time, it makes Crosland look like a bunch of heartless corporate fat-cats, shitting on some of the city's poorest residents. For these reasons, particularly the last one, we are heartily sorry."
For his part, Mayor Pat McCrory, stung by backlash to a statement he made a couple of weeks ago, plans to insert the following apology into an upcoming speech: "Now, a few words about something I said regarding the Eastland area's problems. I said, 'We built pure crap in some of these corridors, and we're paying for it now,' and I am very sorry that some of the fine, generous developers who built a mishmash of shoddy apartment complexes, 300 strip shopping centers, and a random collection of big box stores on the east side took offense. Those developers are worthwhile corporate citizens whom I may be hitting up for dough when I decide whether or not to run for governor, and I apologize if I offended them. When I said, 'we built pure crap,' I was mostly referring to a Red Lobster where I got food poisoning one time, and also the substandard housing that became havens for the illegal immigrants who ruined Eastland Mall for everybody else. So, yeah, I'm sorry as I can be about all that, or rather I'm sorry about saying something about it. Or something. Where was I?"
Rumors that City Council would apologize to the residents of Belmont for threatening to close down the neighborhood's stores remain unconfirmed as of press time.