11/16/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

White Guys Can't Apologize

What do we mean when we say we're sorry? Or what do we mean when we say, "Say you're sorry!"

Apologizing has become some formal social, political, and media condition. It's a ritual and nicety like a thank you; it's part of a political process, like a campaign; it's a media event like a season finale.

If you do it, and do it well, you're excused and even coddled. If you fail to do it, especially when people are demanding that you do it,'re not very nice. Actually, you're pretty peculiar: Because why wouldn't you do it? It costs you nothing, you get credit for it, and you get high-rated air time.

Kanye West, for his recent outburst on music video award show, gave many apologies which seemed to have redounded to his credit and public profile. Representative Joe Wilson, for his recent outburst on the floor of Congress, failed to apologize enough and for this was reprimanded by Congress. Democrats, according to the Times, "would not have pursued any action at all had Mr. Wilson taken the floor and apologized to his colleagues."

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