In my never-ending vigilance with Nell Minow through the World of Apologies, and my love of baseball, I can't believe that I missed the news story the past few days about former Atlanta Braves star Chipper Jones, and his insane tweet and attempted "apology." Thanks to Greg Van Buskirk, one of the whizzes behind that Sofft (tm) stain repellent I've written about so often for giving me the heads-up. He'd watched that amazing video I posted below about Chicago Cub Anthony Rizzo overcoming Hodgins lymphoma, and noted the gulf between such a remarkable mensch and the Chipper Jones tale. Not knowing what he was referring to, I tracked it down.
For those who don't know, Chipper Jones was a great player for the Atlanta Braves who recently retired and is expected to make the Hall of Fame. A few days ago, he tweeted the following --
As you might imagine, he received a LOT of replies. Very pointed ones. And one of the most powerful came from a family of the victims.
Cristina Hassinger, for instance, wrote two: "Really @RealCJ10? I can introduce you to my family and 25 others who would beg to differ." And then,"@RealCJ10 Come for dinner. You can meet my grandmother-less children and I'll show you my mom's clothes riddled with bullet holes."
Some journalists chimed in, as well, along with a lot of the public, my favorite of which came from Dave Southern, who wrote (referring to the day when Jones likely gets enshrined in the Hall of Fame) -- "Seems Chipper won't need a Braves hat for his HOF bust, but a tinfoil one... "
Eventually, Chipper Jones did leave two "apologies" on his Twitter account, which is what prompted all this.
And there you have it. Well...that's certainly unimpressive
First of all, if you're a celebrity at the level of Chipper Jones, and you do something so monumentally idiotic and offensively hurtful, you don't sent a couple of "Oops" tweets out. If you're really, actually full of remorse, you pick up the phone, call one of those many sports reporters you spent 15 years dealing with and ask if you can make a statement.
And then there's the "apology" itself. Honestly, I don't think much needs be explained why it was so horribly bad. For starters, I suspect he had a typo in his second sentence. No doubt Chipper Jones didn't mean that he had sent out his initial tweet "w/out researching," but rather, without "thinking."
I mean...seriously, he "heard something from someone" that not only contradicted one of the biggest, most heart-wrenching news tragedies of the year,that was in the headlines for weeks, but also would have been one of the biggest conspiracy news stories in decades -- the FBI confirming a massive tragedy was a hoax -- and he took "I heard from someone about something" at face value??? And that's his "explanation"?? What this tells me is that what this "someone" told him is precisely what he wanted to hear, and it just simply confirmed what was in hi his small-mindedness, so there was no need to check it out..
And further, it wasn't merely "irresponsible". It was stupid, thoughtless, hurtful and wrong. But more than that, it wasn't just stupid, thoughtless, hurtful and wrong of him "to do", like he says, but to think it was true. All he's apologizing for is merely tweeting something insane without researching. But that he believed it at face value without researching, that is mind-numbingly idiotic all on its own. And while he gives his word that it won't happen again (which is the "Max Bialystock Promise" -- when the con man tells the judge at the end of The Producers that "We promise to never do it again"...only to do it again in the very next scene),. he gives no indication in the slightest as to why anyone should believe that he won't do it again. Based on what? Mr. Jones has shown himself to be rash and gutterly thoughtless, so what value does "I'll never do it again" have, without explanation. For that matter, there's no real sense of him understanding what he's apologizing for.
That's because, in the end, his apology really only boils down to the classic Words of the Empty -- being merely sorry to those who were hurt or offended. Not what actually he's sorry for having done, or why. He doesn't understand that the responsibility is not on those who "were hurt" -- that's like saying it's their fault for being hurt or offended. (Hey, if they weren't so sensitive to be hurt or offended, this would be all okay, and I wouldn't have had to apologize.) The responsibility is on YOU, and the obligation of a real, "heartfelt apology" is to understand that and to say something more like, "I'm sorry for hurting and offending people who were so harmed by this very real tragedy." What he wrote in his two tweets is not anything close to a "heartfelt apology." If it is, he has a pretty unfeeling heart.
Though, based on what we've seen, that might be the case.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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