HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
November 13, 2006, Herald Journal

‘Just a joke’ is not an apology

By ROZ KOHLS

By the time you read this, the election will be over. I’m writing this several days in advance, so I don’t know how it will turn out. I’m certain, though, that Sen. John Kerry’s gaffe about the troops in Iraq not being very smart will have had no effect on the results of the election.

That’s because Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, wasn’t running for any office. Also, why should any other candidate be held responsible for Kerry’s foot-in-mouth remark?

However, Kerry’s “apology” deserves some analysis. Kerry said, “I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted.” Saying words were misinterpreted means it was the listeners’ fault, not his.

Kerry is saying that if the listeners would have been smarter, or had a sense of humor, they would have been able to figure out he was joking about President Bush instead of the troops.

In his original remarks on Oct. 30, Kerry was urging students to make the most of their education by studying hard and making an effort to be smart, adding “if you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

What Kerry doesn’t mention, though, is that he left Bush’s name out of the joke, so how could anyone know he was joking about Bush?

It reminds me of a bully who was in our children’s school when they were little. Whenever he was caught doing or saying something mean, he and his parents always claimed he was “just joking.” They would be. indignant that the other students, teachers and principal were so stupid and lacked a “sense of humor” that they couldn’t discern it was just a joke.

As a result, the bully victimized his victims again with this “just joking” excuse. It gave the bully a chance to call his victims stupid and humorless.

Personally, I don’t think Kerry feels sorry at all for what he said. His first response showed his true feelings. He was angry because he was criticized.