The English media seems to be obsessed with the need for apologies to be made by an infinite variety of alleged non-apologists. Yesterday a cabinet minister was forced, asked, told, demanded, condemned for comments made (allegedly) which were or may have been offensive or hurtful to rape victims.There was some mentionn of whether the Queen would be making any apologies to the Irish people past and present for any/some/a variety of wrongs/killings/oppressive actions committed allegedly or in reality otherwise in the past against Irish people/soldiers/freedom fighters/unarmed civilians and/or militants and/or innocent or guilty persons of Irish nationality, Republican persuasuion or sympathies. A few years ago there was an apology for the slave trade. The cabinet minister in question may have wronged or hurt and may be culpable or responsible, but what has the poor queen done? The perpetrators of the various actions that might be the subject of required or demanded are mostly long dead, as are their victims. If some Spanish mayor in 2011 says sorry for the Inquisition, or some bleeding heart modern day Egyptian feels the need to apologise for the slavery to the Israelites we have a big problem on our hands.
In railway stations one hears anouncers drong apologies for sorts of malfeasance and delay. 'I am sorry for the late running of the 10:35 Portsmouth train.' To think for one moment that he(or she) feels any actual regret, or that any of the senior management or responsible party (which there often is not when leaves get on the lines). Further more it is absurd to contemplate the notion of corporate regret, pennance and sorrow.
Does corporate Cadburys feel anything about its role in the slave trade? Probably not. Neither do any of its current management or employees bear any moral responsibility of the wrongs of previous times.
Yet returning to our cabinet minister. I am not sure what he said, and I do not particularly care for the details. I am aware that he has been attacked and the comment was made in the context of sentencing for rape. Now rape is a particularly disgusting crime. Its harm and trauma linger long throughout the life time of the victim. An insensitive remark by a politician or anyone else may be injuidicious, insensitive and hurtful. We should all strive to the utmost sensitivity to others, particularly to victims of horrific trauma. What is very disturbing about this hue and cry is that it focuses attention away from the fundamental issues of society, law and criminal justice. In dealing with moral culpability in relation to rape what is more dangerous, harmful or hurtful, the possibly flippant and potentially obnoxious comment of a 'public figure' or the dastardly evil act of the rapist and potential rapist? Is it any real and substantial comfort to rape victims, women and society in general when a politician'ss suitability for office is reduced to leaping at his less than savvy comments? The criminal, legal and judicial process should be geared to holding the true criminal responsible for his or her actions. Our politicians and jurists are concerned with debating our paint-by-numbers-discount-for-guilty-plea sentencing system. There is very little focus on the moral responsibility of the perpetrator in that.
There are no letters, editorials or other loud outcries beseeching rapists, murderers and other nasty folk to even say sorry for what they have done. There are no public outcries calling on polticians to apologise for their years in office spent in waste and plunder. All that legislation and red tape that has squandered revenue and deprived the country of its much needed resources. There is no accountability for that. There is not even a discount for an early guilty plea, even if unaccompanied by actual regret or acceptance of responsibility. There are book deals, peerages and consultancies.
Are the journalists, politicians and others aware that they may have done wrong in their lives? They may just have hurt betrayed, misled, been insensitive to someone at some point. Apology demanders look to yourselves.
Please accept my apology if this has offended anyone, even if it is not you. If you are a rapist who has either gotten away with it or feel I have been insensitive to your plight, I am truly sorry.
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