“Never apologize to the mob.”
This has become one of the most common phrases used in conservative circles over the past five years. It’s a particularly necessary piece of advice given the political climate in which we currently live. It seems every other day, there is a new piece of outrage porn circulating the airwaves and interwebs. The Cancel Culture Community™ is always on the digital prowl, searching for a tweet, post, or video in which some unsuspecting target said something that could be construed as at least mildly offensive.
But, are there situations in which it makes sense to apologize? If so, is there a way to offer a mea culpa that won’t serve the interests of the social media mob?
Comedian Bill Burr may have shown us the way.
Burr, who is no stranger to controversy, is notorious for refusing to bow down to the Confederation of the Perpetually Offended whenever they freak out over one of his jokes. But during a recent appearance on “Steve-O’s Wild Ride,” a podcast hosted by Stephen Gilchrist Glover, star of the show “Jackass,” Burr did describe a scenario in which he would have no problem offering an apology.
Steve-O asked, “Okay I got a random question. I really thought about this because I’m genuinely curious if you’ve ever apologized for a joke?”
The comedian answered in the affirmative, but clarified that “I do it to the individual that I hurt.”
He said “if [he] told a joke about something that somebody had a personal effect to, and [he] made them sad or made them cry,” he would apologize to that person if they were offended by a joke at one of his comedy shows.
The comedian clarified that he would “refuse to apologize to anybody that is upset that they heard a joke at a show they weren’t at, especially if somebody filmed it.”
Burr continued in this vein, explaining that “if it’s one of those things where someone in the crowd films you and then they put it up, it’s like, ‘get mad at them and you,’ because you saw the subject and you clicked on it.”
He suggested that “they have videos of just dogs snoring that you could watch and feel good about your day,” as an alternative to watching one of his shows and getting offended. “But you went out of your way to f***ing watch this thing, it’s on you,” the comedian argued.
Burr then explained how he refuses to apologize to the mob:
“I am a big believer in if you are wrong, and if you feel you’re wrong, you apologize. But I’m not a believer in the mob mentality and I’m not gonna apologize just cause it’s not worth it. Because then all I do is give that strength that it’s okay to do that and then some other comic’s going to have to deal with it.”
The comedian continued:
“If you come up to me after a f****ing show, I’ll listen to you, and if I agree with what you’re saying I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, okay. It wasn’t a personal thing, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you went through that or whatever.’ And what I’ve found is they’ll actually be cool with you. People, anybody, like us… They want to be heard.”
He also reiterated the fact that he will not apologize to the “professional being offended” folks.
This is the type of apologizing I can co-sign. In my estimation, there are times to apologize. If one truly feels they did something that does not align with their morals, then they should apologize only to the party who was harmed – not to a bunch of randos on Twitter seeking a pound of flesh. There is a difference between a sincere act of contrition and groveling before purple-haired, social justice warrior types.
Of course, most of us won’t have to deal with this scenario because we are not world-renowned comedians. But even still, it could happen on a smaller scale to some of us. This is especially true with the rise of corporate cancel culture, which is a subject I’ll be writing about soon. I believe that in the not-so-distant future, we will see a sharp increase in cases in which everyday folks go through some of the same issues as some of our celebrities. The difference is that when it happens to normal folks, the consequences can be far more severe. Hopefully, we will be ready for it.