A case for Apology

H/T to Scott Greenfield for this…

Before I begin, I need to quote from Gilbert Gottfried.

Let me begin by saying I’m sorry. I’m truly, deeply, unequivocally sorry. I apologize to the people I offend with this essay, and I apologize to the people who aren’t sure why they’re offended but are pretty sure they should be. I don’t know how I live with myself, and I hope you’ll find it in your heart to forgive me.

– Gilbert Gottfried in a post at Playboy.com

Gottfried wrote that as the opening to his article in Playboy about how to handle internet outrage at whatever it is you’ve joked about.  He called it his “Preemptive Apology,” and goes on to explain why he didn’t mean it.  Or any other apology his handlers have ever written and released for him.  He details all the times he’s gotten fired for his jokes, including AFLAC, Belinda Carlisle, and others.  But he’s Gilbert Gottfried, and he’s known to be a vile and disgusting comic.  And very damn funny.  If you’ve never caught his stand up act, you should.  Just go in knowing there is a good chance you’ll be offended.

But the best part of his lengthy diatribe about apologizing for making a joke is this test, What Would Pamela Andersen Do?  Here’s how Gottfried explained it.

I did the David Hasselhoff Comedy Central Roast in 2010, and before the show somebody involved in running the thing told me that Anderson had agreed to take part at the last second. “So go a little easy on her,” they said, which is the worst thing you can ever say to me. Ninety percent of my speech was devoted to making jokes about Anderson’s vagina and whether it would ever be tight again. I’m not going to go into specifics, but let’s just say the punch line involved a genie from a magic lamp screaming, “There’s nothing that can be done about Pamela Anderson’s pussy!”

Afterward, when the show was over and everybody was shaking hands and pretending not to be pissed off, Anderson gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, “I hate you.” That’s all she said. She didn’t demand an apology or tell me she was going to ruin my career. All she said was “I hate you.” And that was the end of it.

The next time you hear a joke that offends your gentle sensibilities, I want you to ask yourself this simple question: What would Pamela Anderson do? Do you have the same emotional maturity as somebody with gigantic fake breasts whose main cultural contribution is running in slow motion on the beach? Can you take a joke better than, or at least as well as, Pamela Anderson?

– Gilbert Gottfried in a post at Playboy.com

Does this count as Rule 5? Image Credit The Independent.

So there you have it.  Are you as emotionally mature as Pamela Anderson?  That’s the real question.  Do you shrug it off, or do you go screaming for their head.  Because, seriously, no one has ever been killed by a joke.  Ever.

That’s not the same thing as saying a joke in bad taste need be ignored.  But the best defense against free speech is more free speech.  Just do it with the same emotional maturity as Pamela Andersen.  Talk about how it’s vile and disgusting, don’t demand an apology from someone who isn’t apologetic.  If Gilbert Gottfried offends you, don’t listen to him.  Don’t read his writings.  Explain yourself to the sponsors, take your business elsewhere, and don’t visit his inter webs.  But don’t act like a loose vagina bimbo with a lower emotional maturity level than Pamela Andersen and demand that the crude comic not be crude, that he be forced to apologize or threaten his career with lawsuits and blacklistings.  Besides being a big old baby, all you’re doing is giving the crude comic more crude things to mock you with.  You can’t put the genie back into the bottle after he’s declared there is nothing that can be done about your pussy.

I wish Gottfried sold WWPAD tee shirts.  Or those cool rubber wristbands.  I’ve a few online people I’d like to send them too.

An Apology to WJJ Hoge and Bill Schmalfeldt

In this comment over on Hogewash! I misunderstood what the person I was replying to was talking about, and assumed I was replying to a comment about Bill Schmalfeldt.  I was wrong.

I publicly apologize to WJJ Hoge for hijacking his comment thread, and feel sorry that I did it at a time I knew he was not available to moderate his comments do to the hearing.  My sincere apology for that.

I’ll also apologize to Bill Schmalfeldt for unintentionally starting a new comment backlash for an off topic comment.

This is not to say that I thought my comment was incorrect in any way other than it was off topic.

Thanks.

A few thoughts.

It seems like everyone is posting their thoughts, so why not.  Here are some of mine.

1. On Boasting

To boast grandly is to set yourself for a grand fall.  As I’ve stated, I’m in Alabama, so I know a good boast when I hears it.  And I’m hearing it loud and clear at a certain blog I won’t link to that is run by this blog’s Best Buddy Bill Schmalfeldt.  In particular he has taken great umbrage to a post at Hogewash!.  In it, WJJ Hoge threatened laughter.  But one wouldn’t want to sink to the level of Hoge, right?

And then, there’s the matter of something I learned the previous evening. The reason why Hoge has been silent on the lawsuit. Something his pet toad “Paul Krendler” either doesn’t understand or doesn’t know because he scoffed at my generous offer to let him out of the case.

Bill Schmalfeldt on his blog

This boast is mistaken on two fronts.  One, that Best Buddy knows why Hoge is being silent.  Two, that Paul Krendler is in any way involved in the Copyright issues of the lawsuit in question.  At best, he is a disinterested third party who may be called at some point as a witness.  Paul did not file an infringement lawsuit against Best Buddy.  In fact, Paul only has to worry about the stuff filed in the counterclaims.  And the counterclaims, specifically against Paul, are weak.

But that’s where Best Buddy’s boasts go even more off the rails.  Reading his writings he’s already claiming victory.  He’s so sure that he’s won that he even made this so called “generous offer” to Krendler to drop the lawsuit.  Here is what Best Buddy needed to make good on the offer.

1. His real name, address, etc.

2. A copy of the signed agreement he made with Hoge selling partial rights to his blog post.

3. A promise to refrain from further defamatory, libelous comments.

4. An apology to my wife for the filthy things he wrote about her.

Bill Schmalfeldt on his blog

This is hardly a generous offer.  To make it, Best Buddy must assume that Paul is an idiot.  That would be a mistake.  I don’t think that is a mistake, I think this is a planned piece of his litigation strategy.  He’s trying to look like he’s willing to settle.  But Paul has no reason to assume that Best Buddy will follow through on his word.  (It doesn’t matter, the offer has been rescinded.) And like the smart man Paul seems to be, he soundly refused the offer.

But let’s parse the offer anyway.  On the first part of the offer, why would Paul ever willingly give up his identity?  Even if Best Buddy follows through on his word and drops Paul from the lawsuit, which would be an interesting concept, Paul would have provided Best Buddy with everything he needs for another lawsuit in the future.  Or when Best Buddy crosses the line with someone else who sues him, which is very close to have happen at the moment.  A fact that I know he is completely clueless about.  So let’s say Best Buddy did drop Paul from the lawsuit, when this person in the wings does their thing, Best Buddy could counterclaim and add Paul back.  In other words, Paul gets nothing out of the deal.

As for the rest, they are even sillier.  If Best Buddy is right and Hoge’s suit is seconds away from being dismissed, then the agreement between Paul and Hoge is meaningless.  If Best Buddy is wrong, then the agreement has nothing to do with Best Buddy.  The first step of an infringement suit is ensuring that the claimed infringement occurred to copyrighted works and the person bringing suit is the person who holds the copyright.  That is between Hoge and the Judge, and has nothing to do with Paul or Best Buddy.  As Best Buddy likes to claim, it has yet to be determined if Paul did write defamatory or libelous comments.  An agreement to this would be meaningless, as if Paul doesn’t believe he’s libeled Best Buddy, he wouldn’t change it at all.  As for the apology, I find that laughable on its face, considering the things Best Buddy wrote about Hoge’s wife that he’s yet to apologize for, and what Paul wrote was a parody of that post.

Best Buddy wasn’t negotiating in good faith, nor was he attempting to truly negotiate at all.  And that may be his biggest mistake and why his recent boasting is a ride for failure.  Best Buddy knows almost nothing about Paul.  I’m not claiming to have inside information into the man behind the pseudonym, but this doxing, which may well be inevitable, is a potential bombshell.  Only not on who Best Buddy thinks.

Paul may be a malnourished teenager living in his mother’s dank basement with cheese curl powder on his face.  In that case, Best Buddy most likely will be right, and it will be devastating to Paul.  Or Paul could be a wealthy owner of a business, with lawyers on retainer for days.  That would be devastating to Best Buddy.  I suspect Paul is somewhere between these two extremes, and that makes it even tricker.  Best Buddy has no idea what Paul’s resources are, and once he finds out it will be too late to do anything but deal with the fallout.

That’s not wise.  I’ve always been told that in legal issues, never ask a question you don’t already know the answer too.  Best Buddy has no idea what the answer to the question he’s asked will be.  Claiming victory before Paul is even known, much less responded to the counterclaims is gutsy, but not smart. Paul said it best in the heavily edited comments on his own blog.

2. On Bill Schmalfeldt

I’ve had a change of heart on the issue of Bill Schmalfeldt, so I’m going to man up about it and do what I should.  I am going to apologize.

Bill, I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned your Parkinson’s.  I also don’t believe I’ve ever mocked you for it, at least not intentionally.  I haven’t scrubbed through every comment I’ve ever made concerning you, so it is quite possible that I did without realizing it.  For example, I know I’ve called you Cabin Boy, but at the time I thought you chose that name for yourself.  I may have used a phrase someone else used to make fun of your Parkinson’s without realizing it was about your condition.  I don’t think so, but I’ll admit it may have happened.

What I did do is not fully understand the seriousness of the condition, and for that I apologize in complete honesty and sincerity.

Bill, you are not innocent in this affair.  I don’t appreciate the blackmail attempt you made on me here at my own blog.  I think other things, such as the blackmail attempt you currently have on Perfect Tommy and how you handled other doxes have been proper or above board, no mater how you attempt to spin them in your mind.

But what I didn’t really understand is what Parkinson’s had done to you.  I now cringe at the comments on various blogs making fun of you for not having a life.  I understand how angry you must be at Hoge and others.  I now see that your life IS the internet.  You practically do live in a virtual world.  And I can honestly see that from your perspective, the world you thought you controlled has been polluted by the people you rail against.

I’m not going to participate in that any longer.

That’s not to say I trust you, Bill.  That’s to say I have a new respect for your condition.  I fully understand what this could lead to.  I could be inviting the same amount of pollution into my virtual world as you found in yours.  That’s okay, I can take it.  But after reading an eloquent post by another Alabama Blogger that I have shamefully lost the link to, I feel I owe you that.  You commented on the post, so if you would, I’d love for you to leave me the link in comments.

Before you do, and in case (as I think to be true) several other commenters here will know the post I’m talking about, that is not me saying I agree with everything in the post.  I don’t.  I think it is one sided and doesn’t treat your actions with the truth as to the damage you have also done to others.  But it brought home some points that have lead me to this.

As such, I give you my word that I will do my best not to belittle you.  I offer no such promises to your ideas or words.  I don’t suddenly like you, but I can and will show enough respect that I won’t intentionally belittle you as a person.  And, at my discretion, I’ll attempt to moderate others comments here.

I also won’t ban you from posting comments, but I will hold your comments to my rules because this is my bandwidth.  All comments here are moderated, so feel free to let me know when something is private and I won’t publish the comment.

This may be a weak offering to you.  By offering it to you, I may loose the readership I’ve gained so you’ll just be talking to me.  I can live with that too.  I’ve been blogging for decades about stuff I care about that no one else does, so I can return to that in a heartbeat.  But this is the best I can offer you.

3. On blogfare

I enjoy a good heated discussion.  So on one hand, blogfare is fun.  But when blogfare spills over into lawsuits, that’s silly.  I’ve not been harassed to any great degree, so I’m not sure what I’d do if a blogfare opponent stepped over the line.  I’m sure I have a line where I’ll do like others did.  I hope that line is never crossed.  But come on folks, it’s blogfare.  It’s not all there is to life.  Took another ride on the motorcycle today, and this post was bouncing around inside my head.  And I had to force myself to remember that blogfare isn’t that important.  Instead of looking at the sites I was passing, I was thinking about this and that’s just wrong.  Be present in your moments as they come.  This isn’t everything.  This isn’t even real life.  It’s a fun distraction, but that’s all it should be.

Retraction…

I must offer a retraction.  Earlier on this blog I referred to someone in a way that was mistaken, and this is my official retraction.

In this post, I claimed that I believed Bill Schmalfeldt went to get a peace order to kick a man while he was down.  That man was a certain IT specialist in Illinois that had lost his job.  I must correct a mistake in the following sentences.

So why did BS get this peace order against Grady?  I believe it was to kick a man while he was down.

So here is my official apology.  Mr. Grady has already lined up employment and watched his son graduate this weekend, the same weekend Schmalfeldt got his peace order.  I still believe that Schmalfeldt only got the peace order to kick a man while he was down, but it is now clear that Mr. Grady was hardly a man down.

My apology, Mr. Grady.