Many people found the resulting film extremely funny, but unfortunately some didn't and we sincerely apologise to anybody we have offended. (src)I can understand how our inclusion of Joel Osteen’s book in our stores may not please some people, but many people claim these books are helpful in their Christian journey. (src: private communication)Readers who know me in person may be able to guess at the provenance of the latter sentence. In both cases, the person wants to portray the complainant as part of a minority, a way to set themselves in the majority. I'm hardly a rampant postmodernist, but even I can see that this is a simple play for power using words: 'I have many people on my side; you only have some.' It doesn't matter that the video was clearly a dopey thing to put out, or that Joel Osteen's books are so devoid of any distinctively Christian content that even Wikipedia lists his major book as 'Self Help' (src): 'many' are on our side, but 'some' are on yours. And so even some Christian bookshops now appear to think that truth, taste, decency are all matters of majority vote.The 'many … some …' construction is a wonderful way to puff yourself up and to paint your position as more defensible than really it is. In fact, if you find yourself feeling a need to use it in order to locate yourself in the majority, the odds are that you're the one in the wrong. So let me encourage you, when you apologise (yes, when), not to use it. Apologise graciously, rather than attempting to justify your position by the back door.
Saturday, October 02, 2010
On apologising properly
While I'm on the subject, spot the similarity between the two sentences: