Not even when your convictions are highly offensive? I can think of a few former dictators who held some pretty strong opinions that led to a few genocides. Are you sure they shouldn't apologize?
This comes on the same day that my mother handed me a clipping from the Washington Post about the apology Tom Cruise gave to Brooke Shields:
He came over to my house, and he gave me a heartfelt apology, and he apologized for bringing me into the whole thing and for everything that happened. And
through it all, I was so impressed with how heartfelt it was. And I didn't feel at any time that I had to defend myself, nor did I feel that he was trying to
convince me of anything other than the fact that he was deeply sorry. And I
-- Brooke Shields on "The Tonight Show" Friday, describing Tom Cruise's apology for his criticism of her use of antidepressants.
In another article on the topic, Cruise's spokesperson, Arnold Robinson added their camp's opinion on the apology. "It is true that his friendship with Ms. Shields has been mended.
(But) he has not changed his position about anti-depressants, which as evidenced by the black label warnings issued by the FDA on these types of drugs, are unhealthy."
Looks like someone over in Hollywood has my mother's Life's Little Instruction Calendar.
Because in the end, he's standing by his convictions. He still knows more about postpartum depression and vitamins than Brooke Shields, but he apologized for using her name during his rant and bringing her into the fallout from his comments. It's sort of like slapping someone and telling them that you're sorry that it hurts. You're not sorry that you hit the person, but you're sorry that they're feeling pain from it. If only you could hit them and not have their skin smart.
And it all goes back to two things: (1) why I actually care about his opinion (yes, you read that correctly)--when he shouldn't be expressing an opinion at all and (2) he forgot that even celebrities can't unring bells.
Last week, we were talking about celebrities and being out about infertility. And people defended their right to privacy. And I'm all for their right to privacy--they are a private citizen first and foremost. But what about when their quest for selective privacy (and I'm talking about celebrities who pick and choose what they share--not celebrities who are notorious about protecting their privacy) is creating a skewed view of reality? The seemingly hyper-fertility of Hollywood creating a lower sense of self-worth in women who are struggling to conceive? They have great hair, great abs, great skin, AND easy breeding? It creates a fine layer of bright astroturf on land that may not truly be greener. As someone said in the comments, they may have the money to pay for treatments, but if they're going through infertility, they're experiencing the same emotional pain. So come stand by your sisters.
Which brings us to both points with Tom Cruise. I care about what he says not because I think he has any clue, but because I know other people are listening to him and it's shaping their views (in the same way other people are listening to these seemingly hyper-fertile celebrities and forming ideas about infertility based on their withholding or lying). Someone who had no opinion on PPD now has an opinion on PPD, and it's not a very sound opinion. Think back how often you've parroted something you heard when you didn't have a strong conviction in place already. The times you said a restaurant sucked when you had never had a meal within its walls (but you had heard about it from a review or through a friend). The times you've argued with your spouse about which brand is the better brand--even when you had yet to try the product!
And you can't unring a bell.
He can apologize and try to do a little P.R. spin on the whole incident, but his words shaped opinions and you can't undo that damage with an apology. And he did a huge disservice to women everywhere because...well...united we stand, divided we fall. Never say never--PPD can strike on the first pregnancy or the second pregnancy or the third. It can strike women who adopt or women who do fertility treatments. In fact, women who do fertility treatments are MORE likely to experience PPD (4 times more likely according to a study in Fertility and Sterility). Even if you have not currently experience PPD, you have an obligation to support other women who have PPD because you never know when it may be you on the other side of that line.
Which brings us back to Life's Little Instruction Calendar. How about this for a little instruction: if you hold a conviction, take it out every once in a while and examine it. Make sure you understand why you hold it. Make sure your internal argument is sound. Especially before you speak it. Since you can't unring the bell.