In an unfunny case of mistaken identity, Spike Lee retweeted to his 250K followers the alleged address of George Zimmerman which urged mob justice, instead it was the mistaken address of Elaine and David McClain — a Florida couple in their 70s who say they have a son named William George Zimmerman. Since then they have been the target of hate mail and a barrage of reporters.
He’s publicly apologized on twitter, writing “I Deeply Apologize To The McClain Family For Retweeting Their Address.It Was A Mistake.Please Leave The McClain’s In Peace.Justice In Court”
In addition, he is now literally paying for his mistake by coughing up hotel room costs for the dislocated couple while the shitstorm of internet ignorance blows over. Lee also made a personal call to the Zimmermans asking for forgiveness. “He was really kind,” Elaine McClain said. “And when he called us, you could just tell he really felt bad about it. And it was just a slip, and I just know that he really, really has been concerned.”
Obviously it’s going to be a learning lesson, so I hope he at least booked them in an obnoxiously nice hotel for their troubles. But good on him. One apology down, one to go.
And on cue, here’s an article at the Christian Science Monitor pointing out how people are apologizing more and that somehow this is a bad thing:
“We are in a pandemic of bad behavior,” says Dr. Aaron Lazare, chancellor and dean emeritus of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and author of the 2004 book, “On Apology.”
He has studied the frequency of apologies in published news reports from 1900 to the present day and says since the 1980s, “the number of apologies has tripled.” But, he adds, the effectiveness and sincerity of those apologies has plummeted.
“Most of these people simply want to have their cake and eat it too,” he says, noting that the key to a genuine apology is humility and restoration of dignity for the offended party.
“What we’re seeing now is most of these apologies are simply efforts at self-justification and an attempt to show how brilliant they really are, rather than any thought about the victim,” who more often than not, ends up being blamed, he adds.
Mr. Rivera has spent the past week fending off criticism of his efforts to apologize for his comments that the Florida teenager Trayvon Martin might not have been shot had he not been wearing a hoodie.
Spike Lee, meanwhile, has been knocked for merely tweeting his apologies to a Florida couple whose address he mistakenly passed along as being the home of the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed the Florida teen.
Merely tweeting? Oh no, now this journalist (Gloria Goodale) owes an apology to Spike Lee for not even full investigating this story. Such a vicious cycle.