On Monday, I wrote about Minnesota State Representative Pat Garofalo, who tweeted that the NBA could fold and most people wouldn’t even notice, except for the “increase in streetcrime.” Ignoring the obvious racial undertones of such a silly tweet, Garofalo said that he was simply talking about “the NBA’s high arrest rate” and the NBA’s supposed “weaker” punishment for positive drug tests than other sports leagues. He had “no intent” to make any comparison that went beyond those lines.
After nearly 2,000 retweets and over 575 favorites, Garofalo learned the hard way that other people were clearly offended by his tweet, and he apologized:
“In the last 24 hours, I’ve had the opportunity to re-learn one of life’s lessons: whenever any of us are offering opinions, it is best to refer to people as individuals as opposed to groups. Last night, I publicly commented on the NBA and I sincerely apologize to those who I unfairly categorized. The NBA has many examples of players and owners who are role models for our communities and for our country. Those individuals did not deserve that criticism and I apologize. In addition, it’s been brought to my attention that I was mistaken and the NBA policy on drug enforcement is stronger than I previously believed. Again, I offer my sincere apologies for my comments,” stated Rep. Garofalo.
On the plus side, Garofalo admitted that he was wrong in what he said and how he said it, and that he originally had the wrong facts. That’s good. What’s bad: at no point did Garofalo disavow the racial innuendo of his remarks. He never said “I never had any intention of making a comment that was perceived as racist and I truly apologize for the any accidental racial underpinnings.” By not doing so, Garofalo misses the biggest problem of his errand tweet: it was racist, whether that was intentional or not. My honest opinion at this point is that Rep. Garofalo simply doesn’t get the biggest problem of his tweet–or, even worse–he gets it, and refuses to apologize for it because that was what he meant the whole time.
When you screw up and apologize, the apology should be comprehensive and complete. Apologize for everything and take responsibility. Rep. Garofalo only gets partial credit – he admits that he was wrong but doesn’t apologize for the biggest problem with his tweet.
One additional, interesting note: Garofalo didn’t delete the tweet. It’s still there:
I actually don’t think that’s a bad thing here. Though incomplete, Garofalo did apologize for the tweet and it’s been up for two days. Garofalo’s story has made national news, and deleting the tweet would accomplish nothing besides looking like a clumsy attempt to cover-up.