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Lewis Offers Pseudo-Apology

In Apologetic rhetoric on September 6, 2007 at 2:23 pm


Jerry Lewis released an apology for using an anti-gay slur during his annual Labor Day telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In his statement, Lewis said:

“I made a joking comment to a member of my production staff. I apologize to anyone offended….That something like this would distract from the true purpose of the Telethon pains me deeply. The success of the show and all the good that will come of it shouldn’t be lost because of one unfortunate word. I accept responsibility for what I said. There are no excuses. I am sorry.”

Although Lewis says he accepts responsibility, the regret in his statement is related to the negative shadow cast on the telethon, as opposed to regretting the pain or hurt feelings he caused other people.

According to apology scholar Aaron Lazare, such failed or pseudo-apologies contain “a conditional acknowledgement of the offense” indicating that the offender “may not even believe an offense was committed.”

Moreover, Lewis’s statements “I made a joking comment” and “I apologize to anyone offended” sounds much like a dismissive “If you were hurt, I am sorry” type remark–implying that the root of the problem is the audience’s over-sensitivity, not the anti-gay remark itself.

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