Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"If I Have Offended Anybody" . . . . Revisited

A clown (a real professionial clown) made racist comments during a rodeo in Creston, CA, recently. Today the SLO TRIBUNE quotes the board of directors of Creston Classic Rodeo as apologizing "to anyone offended by the inexcusable behavior of 2012 rodeo clown Mike Hayhurst." That's typical. The board should have apologized for the inexcusable remarks rather than leaving open the possibility that many, many, might not have been offended by the remarks (and letters in the TRIBUNE show that many in the audience were happy with the clown's racist comments). When I protested that the mayor of Morro Bay, Williiam Yates, was standing with his lighted cigarette within the Vet's Hall he apologized if I was offended. I was not all that much offended. I was hurt. My eyes, nose, skin--I was hurting. "Offended" was way down the list of what I felt. People who apologize just can't face up to how wrong something was and have to fall back on the possibility that someone, somewhere might have been offended, not that everyone should have been outraged and that the behavior really was inexcusable and that everyone was, of course, offended, hurt, or whatever. Anyone sissy enough to take offense . . . . We have a long way to go in learning to play nicely with each other and to take responsibility for our words and actions.
Ah, later I see that the SLO TRIBUNE has an editorial which proclaims that the "leaders of the Creston redeo and bull-riding events got it right when they condemned the bigoted, sexist 'humor' unleashed  by rodeo clown Mike Hayhurst and offered apologies to those who were offended." No, they should have apologized, period. A true apology would take for granted that everyone was offended (whether or not some bigots were pleased). The bigots in the audience should not be catered to as the part of the audience that did not need an apology. The remarks were offensive. That's all.
Then the TRIBUNE of Sandra Duerr indulged in a remarkable piece of excuse making. Having mis-identified an innocent man as the purveyor of hate rather than waiting for confirmation, the TRIBUNE in the editorial says that "the identity of the person responsible for the remarks should have been clear from the start." In other words, the TRIBUNE has long renounced the ideal of INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING, though now and then a reporter is allowed to go out and investigate, as one did in a recent article on the way Obamacare is already helping some SLO county citizens. It is not the responsibility of the newspaper to find out who was responsible for the remarks before identifying the wrong person!  Somebody, doing what used to be the work of the newspaper, ought to have laid out all the facts for the TRIBUNE! Then a juvenile reporter could have written up the story. (Where are all the mature reporters? dropping off one or two or three a year and being replaced by infants with no historical knowledge and no eagerness to learn about the county's past?)
And someone wiser than me points out that while SLO County has been treated to the photograph of the wrong man as the maker of racist "jokes" the TRIBUNE prints a picture of Mike Hayhurst in full clown makeup. The wretch is unrecognizable! What would the falsely accused fellow, who will never be able to clear his name, give to have been photographed only in clown makeup?

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