Saying sorry is easy but saying it like they mean it seems impossible

‘Learn about myself’, ‘learn from my actions’, ‘conquer my demons’, ‘a wake up call’, ‘pursuing shared feelings’, ‘was mistaken’, ‘fallen below the high standards’, ‘difficult conversations’, ‘face your missteps’, ‘been made aware’, ‘crossed the line’, ‘how benign my intent’, ‘caused upset’, ‘see things differently now’, ‘up until now’, ‘ebullient behaviour’, ‘examining my own behaviour’, ‘no time intended to upset anyone’.

Saying sorry is easy but saying it like they mean it seems impossible

No big prizes for guessing that those phrases are a selection taken from recent “apologies” from men, here, in the UK, and in the US, accused of sexual harassment over recent weeks and months.

It’s an interesting exercise to do a bit of cutting and pasting, and then to read them one after another to realise the perpetrators have more in common than their wandering hands, no matter where they were born and brought up.

To save you the bother of having to do the same I’ll sum it up — these are, for the most part, tragic thumb sucking efforts with lashings of self pity, written with a constant eye on career rehabilitation, speaking of dawning and shocked “awareness” when a quick read of their words make it clear that really they don’t get it at all, even now.

In fact, when you read the statements and note their tone, the original sins and misdemeanours make all the more sense.

I must say I’ve three personal favourite tidbits from the growing list from which to choose.

The first is from ex-UK defence secretary Michael Fallon, knee grabber and lunger, who said that in the past his actions fell “below the high standards” required of the armed forces he had represented.

The second is from comedian Louis CK, who said he had learned too late in life that “that when you have power over another person asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question.

It’s a predicament for them”. Or the plaintive cry from former Gate supremo Michael Colgan in his extended essay saying: “I genuinely thought everyone at the Gate liked me”.

How fabulously delusional.

We have credible accusations against a growing list of men and these statements are becoming an almost daily occurrence.

In the US, it all kicked off with Harvey Weinstein and it’s getting so that it’s hard to keep up. This week a major figure in US media Charlie Rose — named by Time magazine in 2014 as one of its 100 most influential people — was the latest man to be brought face to face with his behaviour.

Eight women told The Washington Post that longtime television host Charlie Rose made unwanted sexual advances toward them, including lewd phone calls, walking around naked in their presence, or groping their breasts, buttocks or genital areas. He is also said to have a notorious temper.

The women were either employees at the Charlie Rose show, which aired on PBS and Bloomberg TV, or aspired to work for the show, in allegations spanning from the late 1990s to 2011.

There is such a sense of déjà vu when reading Charlie’s statement (it’s a whole new genre, these contrition chronicles) which did not address the grabbing, lewdness or strolling around naked.

The 75-year-old opened with his advocacy over the past 45 years for the careers of the women he’s worked with.

“Nevertheless, in the past few days, claims have been made about my behaviour toward some former female colleagues.” Ah the insertion of the “nevertheless”, it reeks of his annoyance at the ingratitude of the females involved.

"He went on to say it was essential these women know that “I hear them and that I deeply apologize for my in appropriate behaviour”.

“I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate. I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.” There’s the ever present delusion again.

It was interesting then to read the statement issued by comedian Al Porter.

I’ve appeared on the Cutting Edge as a co-panellist with Porter and was hugely impressed by his apparent emotional intelligence and the articulate way in which he expressed himself given his relatively tender years.

He was particularly impressive when he spoke about the stigma surrounding taking anti-depressants.

Last weekend, we heard how four comedians separately alleged that he had inappropriately touched them.

He subsequently issued a statement. He said he was “completely taken aback” by the reports in the media and on social networks.

In yet another egregious example of the “having your cake an eating it” tone of these apologies, Al said his conduct “which had been in keeping with my flamboyant and outrageous public persona may be regarded as offensive and unacceptable by many people, I at no time intended to upset anyone”.

He went on to say he’d been unaware of the “impact of my conduct” and was “truly sorry for any distress I may have caused in what I had regarded as light-hearted and good-natured circumstances”.

There is clearly a spectrum with these allegations that range in seriousness — Harvey Weinstein has been accused of rape; despite allegations of frequent inappropriate touching and highly sexualised comments, Michael Colgan said his behaviour should not be equated with “sexual crimes” and he took “serious issue” with much of what has been said about him.

All situations though involve a power differential between the two individuals involved.

But what really bends my mind is the idea that in anyone’s reality it is alright, for instance, to parade around naked in front of a colleague, to masturbate in front of someone without their consent, or to put your hand down someone else’s trousers inside their underwear and grope them, to name but a few.

But more than that, once your behaviour is reflected back to you, how could you subsequently come up with such a pathetic excuse of a statement, each and every one which has the commonality of being self-serving.

I have seen no statement to date which has indicated genuine and non-self-pitying remorse, or that doesn’t read like it has an eye to a possibility of repairing a reputation.

Genuine apologies involve an admission of fault, they carry a sense of genuine regret, atonement or an effort at restitution.

A real apology shows that one person recognises and acknowledges the wrong done and

communicates that and the other person can sense their sincerity.

I doubt there is a single woman out of those we have heard about, or the men in the Al Porter case, who would feel that a single one of the men involved had come close to such an apology.

I have seen no statement to date which has indicated genuine and non-self-pitying remorse

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