Friday, February 21, 2014

How honorable people behave when a public apology has been publicly accepted

Mary Kowal accepted Sean Fodera's apology. I was one of the first to see that. I hesitated for a moment, then, in the thread here, left this:
    *slow clap* 
William Monetta asked if that was intentional rudeness, so I clarified:
    Not at all. I admired the way they both handled this. I realize many people will be parsing each syllable of what they each said because outrage culture encourages that, but it seems to me when an apology has been publicly made and accepted, the only honorable options are silence or applause, and since this pleased me, I applauded. It was very well done. Since you're not familiar with the slow clap, google it and see the Urban Dictionary's explanation. 
Esther Friesner said,
    I'm too lazy to look up the slow clap but I have seen it applied as both a tribute and as a slightly ironic gesture. I am glad to see it here applied as a tribute. 
To which I said,
    It was my bad for forgetting one of the basic rules of the internet: If you mean something sarcastically, it will be interpreted sincerely; if you mean something sincerely, it will be interpreted sarcastically. So I was glad to clarify.
If you want to see how people who think rage trumps honor respond, you can find more than a few in the comments at Sean Fodera Makes an Apology | Whatever.

An apology that has been accepted is part of a relationship between the apologizer and the accepter. Criticizing it is like criticizing any aspect of any other relationship: It ain't your business. Gossips cannot be stopped from gossiping, but honorable people tell them to be discreet. Alice Roosevelt Longworth said, "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me." She knew that gossip done right is done intimately.

I'll repeat the Malcolm X quote that I wish every self-righteous champion of goodness would remember: "Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery."

The basic principle has been covered thousands of times in music. Here's one that's fun, Slim Harpo's "That Ain't Your Business":