Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mea Culpa

The genre of the apology has a long rhetorical history of one-to-many communications from classical oratory to digital epistolarity. A piece in today's New York Times, "Mistakes Were Made," examines the "past exonerative" as it has been used by recent presidential administrations. The title refers to the Attorney General's admission in the passive voice that "mistakes were made" in the termination of federal prosecutors who didn't toe the party line. No official apology yet on the DOJ website beyond acknowledging the fact that one of the policy's architects, D. Kyle Sampson, was stepping down. According to "E-mails detail White House Firings," there is a digital rhetoric dimension to this story, in that there are electronic ephemera that record the evidence of the scandal.

Another prominent left-handed apology is coming from Khalid Shayk Muhammad, according to transcripts released by the Department of Defense. This excerpt shows how this "high-value detainee" is expressing his regrets to U.S. authorities and by extension to the American people.

Because war, for sure, there will be victims. When I said I’m not happy that 3,000 been killed in America. I feel sorry even. I don’t like to kill children and the kids. Never Islam are, give me green light to kill peoples. Killing, as in the Christianity, Jews, and Islam, are prohibited. But there are exception of rule when you are killing people in Iraq. You said we have to do it. We don’t like Saddam. But this the way to deal with Saddam. Same thing you are saying. Same language you use, I use. When you are invading two-thirds of Mexican, you call your war manifest destiny. It up to you to call it what you want. But other side are calling you oppressors. If now George Washington. If now we were living in the Revolutionary War and George Washington he being arrested through Britain. For sure he, they would consider him enemy combatant. But American they consider him as hero.

Of course, "Dear Internet, I'm Sorry" may be a better example of personal responsibility -- with only a light dose of legalism -- as the apology-of-the-week. It took the form of an Internet video from Michael Crook, who had to accept defeat as a result of over-reaching on his intellectual property claims to his own likeness after free speech claims won out over his DMCA litigiousness.

Update: The Associated Press is now reporting that the e-mail trail on the Justice Department scandal reaches to Karl Rove. As a rhetorician, I personally am fascinated with how these political players use "etc." in their e-mails.

Thanks to Dean Sharon Salinger for pointing out the article in The New York Times. Perhaps one day we will be teaching how to write appropriate apologies in our writing classes.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home