Dr. Laura Schlessinger is ending her radio show at the end of the year, nudged along by the furor over her repeated use of the “n-word” in a conversation with a caller. Dr. Laura repeated the word six or seven times, not in a racist way, but in a complaint about a double standard whereby black comics can use it ad nauseum, but it’s off limits to whites.
In the conversation Dr. Laura spoke disrespectfully and hurtfully to the caller, who, after all, called in for some consoling and advice. The next day Dr. Laura taught us all a lesson about apologizing. Not a Category 1 (defiant) apology: “I’m sorry if you think I did something wrong.” Not a Category 2 (evasive) apology: “I may have made an innocent mistake, and I’m sorry for it—if I actually did it.”
No, Dr. Laura issued an all-out Category 3 apology that’s so rare in public life:
“I talk every day about doing the right thing. And yesterday, I did the wrong thing. I didn’t intend to hurt people, but I did. And that makes it the wrong thing to have done.
“I was attempting to make a philosophical point, and I articulated the “n” word all the way out – more than one time. And that was wrong. I’ll say it again – that was wrong.
“I ended up, I’m sure, with many of you losing the point I was trying to make, because you were shocked by the fact that I said the word. I, myself, realized I had made a horrible mistake, and was so upset I could not finish the show. I pulled myself off the air at the end of the hour. I had to finish the hour, because 20 minutes of dead air doesn’t work. I am very sorry. And it just won’t happen again.”
Dr. Laura has often advised callers who say they’ve done something wrong and they want to make amends to follow the four “R”‘s:
· Take Responsibility for your mistake. Make an immediate apology.
· Show true Remorse. Don’t try to explain away your action or defend it.
· Repair what is in your power to Repair.
· Make a commitment to never Repeat.
Not a bad formula. Thanks, Dr. Laura. Let’s hope other public figures follow your formula when they err.