Massachusetts sends out tweet that seems to blame rape victims

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has an official Twitter account, @MassGov.  As the name would imply, this Twitter account is also an extension of Mass.Gov, which is the online portal for Massachusetts.  Two days ago, @MassGov was tweeting about sexual assault, in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which takes place in April.  Then came this tweet:

Mass Twitter

I guess that the tweet was trying to give advice on strategies that young women and men can employ to avoid sexual assault.  To say that it is “always avoidable,” however, implies that the victim is to blame for sexual assault – clearly, all blame for a sexual assault falls on a perpetrator, not the victim.  This was clearly not the message that Massachusetts was going for, and a backlash quickly started, with many users noting that the tweet implied that victims were to blame for sexual assaults that “weren’t avoided.”

The tweet, which went up at 10:40pm on Wednesday, was deleted around 9am on Thursday.  That same day, apology tweets appeared from the @MassGov account:

A full statement was also released.  In the statement, MassGov said that there was a process breakdown and that the tweet was sent independently and not reviewed before publication.  The author of the tweet said that no malicious intent was implied and would undergo sexual assault awareness training.  Interestingly, the words “apology” or “sorry” were never in the statement, though the tweets contained a clear statement of regret.

On the whole, I’d say that the apology tweets were good – they expressed regret and linked to more information about the incident itself and sexual assault.  The statement itself did a good job of explaining the issue and the consequences, but it bugged me that it never contained a statement expressing remorse or responsibility.  I think that should always be in an apology – otherwise, an apology statement looks less like a statement of regret and more like a statement of excuses.

What do you think?  Good apology, or no?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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