Here’s a context-less story to set the stage for this post:
Recently, I got into an argument regarding a popular SF/F character and sexism. From my perspective at the time, certain features associated with that character were undeniably sexist and, by extension, ridiculous. I still think there’s a lot of sexism involved with this character, and most of the historical details that came up in the argument simply complicated what I was saying by getting rid of all the black and white, but I would be lying if I said my argument and perspective didn’t change. During that argument, I also made a rather flippant comment to an individual. This led to someone else calling me a bigot and the offended individual’s eventual demand for an apology. I ended up closing the discussion thread and blocking one of the trolls.
One of the things that makes me uncomfortable about otherwise uncomfortable situations
(redundancy much?) involves that demand for an apology. It’s not that I don’t think apologies are necessary in situations where you’re wrong — quite the opposite. Rather, I think apologies must be arrived at from an honest introspection of self. An apology made by demand is no more valuable than any statement made as a result of coercion. For me, apologies should not be made in intense emotional states OR in response to an intense emotional state; doing so strips away comprehension and understanding.
So when I was told I had to apologize, I refused to do so (non-verbally). Why? Because I knew I wouldn’t mean it at the time. There’s no way I could. With all the accusations of bigotry and trolling, I was undeniably in an intense emotional state when that apology-demand was made, and that meant I couldn’t think clearly about every aspect of the situation.
Apologies must be honest. You cannot coerce apologies if you want them to mean anything. In some cases, demanding apologies doesn’t actually solve the issue (an offense), but simply provides a self-righteous barrier between the transgressor and the transgressed. I, for one, don’t seem much value in that.
What do you all think about demanded apologies?