What My Confirmation Students Could Teach Joy Behar

Joy Behar went viral this week – again.  This time, the cause of her fame was either a simple careless comment or evidence of disrespect for the work of millions of nurses. It depends on who’s doing the interpretation.

When the firestorm started, my question was if and when she would make some sort of apology.  For several days, she offered no apology, seemed not to understand how offensive her comments were to millions of people.  Today, late today, actually, around supper time, she finally said what she hoped were the magic words: “I’m truly sorry to anyone I have offended.”  This was coupled with a quick attempt at image repair: I have enormous respect for nurses.

Sorry, Joy; your “apology” sounds flat and insincere.  My confirmation students could teach you a thing or two about a proper apology and a request for forgiveness.  These 7th and 8th graders learned this past year that the proper way to apologize and ask for forgiveness involves four steps:

  1. I am sorry that I (describe your specific behavior here).  Note to Joy: I’m sorry that you were offended does not meet this standard.  Maybe something more like “I’m sorry that I showed a lack of respect for nurses when I made fun of Ms. Johnson’s uniform and stethoscope.
  2. I know it was wrong because (describe what was wrong about your action). This was totally missing from Joy Behar’s statement. Perhaps “I know that something as important to a person as their career should not be ridiculed.”
  3. In the future, I will (tell what specific changes you will make so that this doesn’t happen again).  I could find no commitment to change in any of Joy Behar’s comments on this matter.  How about “In the future, I will find my humor in ways that do not demean others.”
  4. Will you forgive me?

I suspect that an apology like that, issued promptly and sincerely, could have defused the backlash.  Perhaps we would all have forgotten the matter by now and moved on to find other things to get upset about.

Any time you need an apology coach, Ms. Behar, I have some 8th graders I can refer to you.

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Barbara Bruneau

Barbara Bruneau is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She is semi-retired, having previously served congregations in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Barbara enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and weaving. She shares her home with cats named Abigail and Bijou.

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