I’m Sorry If I Offended Anyone

I have one piece of advice to all would-be apologists out there: If you’re not sorry, then don’t apologize!

I am tired of hearing the standard non-apology of I’m sorry if I offended anyone. Apologies are not conditional upon whether the listener was offended. The only condition should be that the person who made the mistake wants to express his or her regret in a sincere way.

This, I believe, is the first entry that is also included in the book, but I felt the need to talk about it when I heard Bill O’Reilly’s supposed apology for an offensive comment related to Michelle Obama (MediaMatters.org report on Bill O’Reilly). It was a classic non-apology–I’m sorry if my statement offended anyone.

In other words, Bill O’Reilly was not sorry for what he said–the offensive comment. He was sorry if anyone was offended, so I’m left to assume that Bill, himself, didn’t find the comment to be offensive; otherwise, Bill would have said something similar to I used poor judgment, and I’m sorry for the offensive comment.

Then why is he pretending to apologize–and using language to try to fool people into believing it?


Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

Sherry’s Grammar List

This entry was posted in language, politics, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to I’m Sorry If I Offended Anyone

  1. Paul Grady says:

    Hard to take MediaMatters.org seriously, especially when talking about O’Reilly! I always check the source before reading the story. There is enough reasonable media out there to give Media Matters the time of day.

  2. robin oberg says:

    It’s very interesting that apologies can be conditional. It makes it so more social and existential. It’s not about a feeling, people don’t feel sorry, it’s about making amends, mending bonds. “I’m sorry if I offend you” implies by logic “I’m not sorry if you’re not offended” 🙂

    But then it can also just be rhetorics, maybe “I’m sorry if I offend you” has the connotation “I beg for your forgiveness”. Humans aren’t logical after all, and context is everything, and there’s a difference between a signifier and it’s signified.

Comments are closed.