Archive for ‘C.K. MacLeod’

August 3, 2009

How to Apologize (If You Must)

Two of my bad habits seem to have intersected recently, as I allowed myself to become distracted by an argument, rather than to focus on following up the matter of Jesse Griffin.

Being able to resist neither arguments nor distractions, there was yet another temptation — humor — awaiting at this particular intersection, and again I did not resist. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

Therefore, for the benefit of those who do not read my posts at the Hot Air Green Room, I wish to share my formal apology to C.K. MacLeod:

Your criticism is acknowledged and I have no desire, by further dispute, to alienate whatever esteem I might otherwise retain by ceasing to argue.
Perhaps I should explain how an indifference to my own notorious reputation has become habitual. I arrived in Washington in 1997, and in subsequent years various individuals, choosing me as their particular enemy, decided to advance themselves by maligning me. It was therefore as a matter of self-interest — indeed, at times, a matter of professional survival — that I learned to flaunt a disdainful attitude about the reputation these enemies purposefully damaged. It became my custom to jest cheerfully about the harm to my career and the insult to my good name, so as never to give these vile two-faced slanderers the satisfaction of thinking they had inflicted any blow worthy of my notice.
Of course, I understand that most other people, having never suffered from such treatment, can never truly empathize with those who have suffered thus. Like Coriolanus, my pride is wounded to be required to display my scars.
Pride is my great flaw, and you will note the irony that one so naturally proud should choose to take pride in an undeserved shame, rather than be obliged to explain or defend himself, when considerations of honor ought to have required that the many who had benefitted from his labors would have leapt unbidden to his defense. Alas, as Burke said, the age of chivalry died long ago, and the man is rightly thought a sentimental fool who expects nowadays to be treated with an old-fashioned sense of justice
It was by no desire to reduce the prestige of others, and certainly not to embarrass the Palin family, that the above satire was composed. The object was to lampoon the ridiculous way in which Messrs. “Gryphen” and Zaki resorted to what I call Cargo Cult Journalism, with their alleged “sources” to justify their lies.
Although my intent was innocent — indeed, my personal feelings toward the Palins are entirely those of admiration and affection, as with one’s fellow sufferers — it is evident that my judgment was so inferior that it constituted an offense to “standards of decency,” as you say.
Accepting the superiority of your judgment in such matters, Mr. MacLeod, I have this moment resolved not to risk further offense to Hot Air readers. Therefore, I shall post nothing further at the Green Room without your express prior permission.
Thank you for your courtesy and kindness, sir, and with sincere apology for every previous offense given, it is with the warmest regard that I assure you I remain
Your most humble and obedient servant,
ROBERT STACY McCAIN

And I will further assure my regular readers here that the “express prior permission” mentioned shall never be requested. When I told Mr. MacLeod that pride is my great fault, it was with complete sincerity. At some point, further argument becomes insult, a cruel attempt to humiliate another by impugning his judgment, thus to enhance one’s own reputation at his expense.

Rather than to engage in such un-Christian and uncivilized behavior, to behave like an arrogant bully, insisting on the rightness of my own judgment (which I have always freely admitted is not always perfect), I bowed gracefully, and exited the room.

Those who concern themselves with standards of decency should feel free to pass judgment as to whether my exit was accomplished with as much good cheer as anyone might be expected to muster on such an unfortunate occasion, and with the dignity of a gentleman.