Tuesday, May 06, 2008

When an Apology Isn't

Roger Clemens, possibly the greatest pitcher in baseball history, continues to wreak havoc on his reputation. Last week The Daily News of New York City claimed that
Roger Clemens carried on a decade-long affair with country star Mindy McCready, a romance that began when McCready was a 15-year-old aspiring singer performing in a karaoke bar and Clemens was a 28-year-old Red Sox ace and married father of two, several sources have told the Daily News.
This is an interesting sentence since it refers both to an affair (sexual) and a romance (possibly not sexual). So, it is not asserted that Mr. Clemens committed statutory rape. Clemens' spokesman claimed that she was a long time friend of his family. Ms. McCready said
"I cannot refute anything in the story,"
So, she denies neither that she had an affair nor a romance with Clemons.

What interests me is, first, that Clemens does not speak for himself but rather uses a spokesman. This may be because Clemens is involved in a suit and counter-suit with his former trainer, Brian McNamee, the source for claims that he used performance enhancing drugs. The second thing that occurs to me is his apology. Clemens said, according to the Columbus Dispatch (the AP being the source)
"Even though these articles contain many false accusations and mistakes, I need to say that I have made mistakes in my personal life for which I am sorry," Clemens said in a statement issued by spokesman Patrick Dorton. "I have apologized to my family and apologize to my fans. Like everyone, I have flaws. I have sometimes made choices which have not been right."
This is as far from a genuine apology as one can get. He claims that he has made "mistakes" in his personal life. I trust it is clear that sleeping with a 15 year old, if he did that, is rather more than a mistake. It is a crime. And cheating on his wife is not my idea of a mistake. We use the quite powerful term "adultery" to refer to that sort of "mistake". Perhaps he needs a scarlet "A" tattooed on his forehead. If I were his wife I would insist on it.

I am totally fed up with people referring to serious errors of judgment leading to actions that are reprehensible as "mistakes." Getting the result "5" on adding "2" and "4" is a mistake. Committing adultery is not a mistake. It is an immoral action of a particularly nasty sort for it betrays the one person in one's life who should be able to count on you. (This is my former Baptist self speaking.)

Roger's biggest "mistake" was to sue Brian McNamee for outing him as just another jock who used performance enhancing drugs, for this made him vulnerable to McNamee's lawyers during their depositions. These disclosures about his personal life might have stayed quietly buried in the past had Clemons simply ignored McNamee. He should simply have said, "These pernicious allegations are unworthy of comment."

The lamest part of Clemons is his statement that "Like everyone, I have flaws." So, now he is saying that statutory rape (something he might have done) are excusable on the grounds that everyone does stuff like that. Sorry, Roger. We don't all make "mistakes" of that sort.

The McNamee camp is itself not lacking in flaws. The Dispatch reports
"I think what it says without saying it is that he apparently admits he cheated on his wife and family. And if he cheated on them, I think it's reasonable to assume that he cheated his fans and baseball," Richard Emery, one of McNamee's lawyers, said in a telephone interview.
Sorry Mr. Emery, cheating in one compartment of one's life does not mean that one cheats in all parts of one's life and that would have to be true for this squalid inference to hold.

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Blogger Chimera said...

I'm afraid I don't see the urgent need for Clemens to offer any kind of public apology, here. Whether or not he had a romance/sexual affair with Mindy McCready is, quite frankly, nobody's business. Maybe his wife's. No one else's. People ought to be apologizing to him for poking their noses into that which is clearly private.

And as for the 15-year-old, it's my understanding that the age-of-consent laws vary from place to place and from circumstance to circumstance. But whatever the law, does anyone really think a fifteen-year-old does not know her own mind? And then, what's the statute of limitations on that, anyway? Didn't Jerry Lee Lewis also go through some kind of public furor about his thirteen-year-old wife, who also happened to be his cousin?

Clemens' using a spokesman only makes sense in a world of attack-trained "journalists."

I'm with you, however, regarding the over-use of the word "mistake." Whatever this was, it was no mistake. I'd have a lot more respect for him if he'd stand his ground and tell people to *poot* off.

9:34 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

I think Clemons should have kept his mouth shut rather than have a spokesman be his front man. You are right, no one deserves an account of his misbehavior other than statutory rape and use of steroids.

Clearly a 15 year old girl getting lavish attention from a good looking superstar will find it difficult to resist. People of her age are notorious for a lack of good judgment. I certainly had poor judgment then and for years to come. Sadly.

7:02 AM

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12:53 AM


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