Hey there! It looks like you’re drafting a lengthy opus in response to the Awful Thing(s) you did. Need a hand?
You may remember Clippy, the wiry leering spectator with an infuriating one-note script. Well, I’m Clappy! A brand new Microsoft Assistant created expressly for public figures responding to misdeeds.
Whether you’re penning a “reflection,” an “explanation,” or an “apology,” the world definitely wants to hear more from you! Let’s get started.
First off, a brisk round of Claps for all these progressive accolades you’re rattling off. Framed photo of you and 2 Dope Queens? Interviews with Malala Yousafzai and Temple Grandin? A PEN America award? Excellent setup for the big revelation: that none of your Social Justice Warrior experience prevented you from doing an Awful Thing. That, in fact, these credentials may have indeed aided you in your ability to do Awful Things. What a powerful moment that will be. For you and for the reader.
Whenever that happens. Is that going to happen?
I would say it’s definitely past time to detail the Awful Things you did, and the ways in which you hurt people. You know, just so this is journalistically complete and makes any sense at all. I guess… I guess you’ll do that later.
Right after you spend five paragraphs defending your intentions. You know what though? Explaining what you meant to do is taking up a whole lot of space in this piece. I suggest jumping in, stating explicitly what you did, why it was wrong, and what you learned. Wow. Okay, ignore my finger wagging and do it your way then.
Let me just grab an eraser for a quick correction: “pariah” is not how you spell “accountable.”
Alright, moving on. Very compelling account of your own pain, and your melancholy life post-Awful-Thing. So descriptive. So long. Seriously, so long and so descriptive. I can practically see the strangers’ faces as they recognize you and cross to the other sidewalk. I can hear the cries of the children. I can smell your isolation, your huntedness, the degradation of it all. I am primed and ready for that stunning pivot right into what you’ve gained from all this: an empathy for those you have harmed. For those more vulnerable to Awful Things. For the fear and frustration that they have lived with, of which you are now experiencing a miniscule and shallow facsimile.
Here it comes, the newfound wisdom, the turning point. I’m rubbing my Clappers together in anticipation. I’m waggling my little eyebrows. No. No. You’ve discovered a new sense of empathy for your fellow accused? No, you do not get a high five for that. Never has the point of something been so catastrophically missed.
Stop, eraser time: “My gestures were interpreted unfairly” is not how you spell “I utilized structural power disparity to exploit others and deep down I knew it was wrong all along.”
Seems like you really want to draw some overarching conclusions about “culture nowadays.” I strongly discourage this.
Are you…are you quoting Byron right now? Dear god, please do not. Can’t you see me wringing myself in anguish? From the position of your own personal disgrace, you decry the death of romance? This is even more bizarre than the “Native American handshake” fiasco.
If I could make one last, desperate little suggestion, it will be to rethink the instances of the term “family man” in this essay. It appears seven times. And yowza, my eraser is on fire! “My life is ruined” is definitely not how you spell “I am sorry.”
Okay, fucking leave it in then. It’s not like any editor from a reputable journal would ever print this, right? Because they’re holding that space for those who have been marginalized by a system which, traditionally, has valued your voice above all others, right? Riiiiiiight? Right.