Joey Barton, a footballer probably not as heavily schooled in political correctness as actual politicians, has apologised over his UKIP 'four ugly girls' comment made on Question Time. Talking about UKIP's European election victory he said, 'So if I am somewhere and there were four really ugly girls, I'm thinking, 'Well, she's not the worst', because that is all you are, that is all you are to us.'
He's apologised because that's apparently what everyone has to do these days, apologise for everything and anything that may offend anyone; somewhat undermining the concept of personal opinions. If that's how Joey Barton choses a woman to interact with then that's up to him - his analogy stands inoffensive to me. The comment doesn't undermine women or even criticise women; all it does is show that he's pretty shallow when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex. Y'know what? I bet he's not the only person to base first impressions on looks either.
An audience member approached him after the show and made the easy prophecy, saying that Barton's comment would soon be on Twitter and he'd be 'buried for it'. Of course he would, because the population of the major global superpower known as Twitter, goes through everything that a famous person says with a fine tooth comb and judges them with alarming speed.
Back to bigoted
Barton has apologised for saying it and so presumably everyone's happy again - because he's said a 'sorry' forced by public pressure. Who else has apologised for something recently? Oh yeah, Alex Cunningham MP. He's apologised for calling Mrs Duffy, the pensioner Gordon Brown called 'bigoted' four years ago, once again, 'bigoted'. Aside from not being intelligent enough to learn from his former leader's mistake, he's apologised and announced he'll be sending her a written apology. Sure he's sorry for saying it, but is he sorry for thinking it? It wasn't exactly a slip of the tongue.
Politicians and, generally, anyone in the public eye are forever apologising. Someone says something they believe, someone gets offended because we love getting offended and the original person issues an apology. Our politicians are increasingly bland, muted and soft because they constantly have to undermine their integrity by apologising for everything. Despite what your mother may have told you, saying 'sorry' doesn't always help the situation.
There are obviously occasions where grave errors of judgement have been made with genuine detrimental effects to individuals, groups or the country as a whole; but these are in the minority. So many of these public apologies are for fairly innocuous remarks and the apologies are clearly to placate, nothing more. There are few things more pointless than an empty apology and yet the demand for apologies seems to be increasing.
Recently the 23-year-old founder of Snapchat has had to apologise after emails were leaked referring to drugs, parties and being pretty carefree and juvenile about women at said parties. What's he apologising for? His momentary lapse in judgement? Perhaps he was trying to appear cool to the recipient and he's apologising for not upholding his normally gentlemanly correspondence and attitude. Hardly. He's apologising for getting caught. What's been discovered is that he's not exactly Mr Darcy - well quelle surprise, he did, after all, invent an app almost exclusively designed to display split second photographs of people's genitals.
A forced apology isn't an apology
I'm not saying that the public should just accept all this behaviour and let it all go unnoticed. That super famous person called all women sluts? Awrh it's just kids being kids. Not at all. But these stories are usually headed with 'forced apology' and there's nothing genuine about an apology that's 'forced'. Hearing someone say, 'sorry I was tired and should've used better phrasing' is just modern speak for saying, 'I accidentally told the truth about what I thought, what would you like me to say instead?'
If Joey Barton only judges women on their looks, Alex Cunningham MP genuinely thinks Mrs Duffy is bigoted and Evan Spiegel, man-child founder of Snapchat, loves to snort cocaine off the stomachs of sorority girls - well sure, tell them you disagree and think that they're not great people and judge them however you see fit. Getting a forced apology and feeling satisfied is just taking part in a giant charade. No one wins and no one retains their integrity.