Last week, comedian and 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan brought his act to Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. While Morgan is known for his fairly raunchy sets, that night, his routine veered a bit off course.
Kevin Rogers was an audience member that night, who wrote a Facebook account of the evening entitled "Why I No Longer 'LIKE' Tracy MorganA MUST READ." According to Rogers, while Morgan's "typical hysterical dick, cum and pussy humor" was expectedas were some gay jokesMorgan's anti-gay routine wasn't very funny.
"He said if his son that was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high pitched voice] or he would pull out a knife and stab that little N (one word I refuse to use) to death. Tracy then said he didn't fucking care if he pissed off some gays, because if they can take a fucking dick up their ass...they can take a fucking joke."
After public outrage followed accounts of Morgan's diatribe, he apologized for his "choice of words," saying that his remarks "went too far." Tina Fey and NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt denounced Morgan's remarks, as did GLAAD.
And then came Russell Crowe. Earlier this week, Crowe took to Twitter to express his outrage against those who circumcise their children. Crowe, who said he was taking a "stand for the perfection of babies," tweeted, "Circumcision is barbaric and stupid. Who are you to correct nature? Is it real that GOD requires a donation of foreskin? Babies are perfect."
While Crowe is certainly entitled to express his opinion, once he started questioning circumcision as a Jewish custom, he crossed the line, even tweeting actor/director Eli Roth to say, "I love my Jewish friends, I love the apples and the honey and the funny little hats but stop cutting yr babies @eliroth." (Roth expressed anger that Crowe's tweets were being used to vilify him.)
Later, Crowe apologized for his remarks and deleted the controversial tweets, although he initially stood by his opinions. He took to Twitter again to apologize, saying, "This is a great forum for communication. Like any human have my opinions and you all have yours, thank you for trusting me with them."
He then continued with, "I have a deep and abiding love for all people of all nationalities. I'm very sorry that I have said things on here that have caused distress." He concluded with, "My personal beliefs aside I realize that some will interpret this debate as me mocking the rituals and traditions of others. "I am very sorry."
While I found Morgan's routine tremendously disturbing, especially in light of continuing anti-gay violence and young gay teenagers committing suicide, I didn't really have an issue with Crowe's feelings on circumcision until they took what appeared to be an anti-semitic slant.
My problem is that both Morgan and Crowe felt like simply saying "I'm sorry" could erase the impact that their words had, and that just apologizing would make it better. More and more we see athletes like Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah, or celebrities like Mel Gibson and Michael Richards, make bigoted and hateful statements; once they witness public outcry and then say "I'm sorry," we're supposed to think that an apology made everything better.
"I'm sorry" doesn't take away the words or the hurt they cause people. "I'm sorry" doesn't turn back the clock to a time before those words were never said or the actions were never done. To quote a friend, "you say 'I'm sorry' when you step on someone's foot, not when you criticize someone's sexuality or religion, or wish them harm."
Everyone makes mistakes in the heat of the moment. But it appears that all too often we're using "I'm sorry" as a get out of jail free card rather than an opportunity to reflect on your words or actions. And that just isn't a good thing.