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Doug Robinson: We are in the midst of an era of 'I'm sorry'

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 10 2013 9:07 a.m. MST

Alaska Congressman Don Young apologized for using an ethnic slur in a radio interview. "I apologize for the insensitive term I used ... it was a poor choice of words," he said. Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley and Arizona state representative Bob Thorpe were among the many politicians who had to apologize for "insensitive" tweets and communiques.

Tennis player Serena Williams apologized for making what she termed “insensitive and misinformed comments” after saying a certain rape victim “shouldn’t have put herself in that position.” Actually, she apologized twice — the first one was considered inadequate.

After George Zimmerman was exonerated in the Trayvon Martin murder trial, Spike Lee tweeted that someone should kill Zimmerman. Then he retweeted: “HERE GO HIS ADDRESS, LET THE HUNGER GAMES BEGIN.” With that, he tweeted what he thought was Zimmerman's address, but it was the address of a couple who had nothing to do with any of this, and they received so many death threats they had to flee their home. Lee settled their lawsuit out of court.

"There’s nothing I can say that can defend that,” Lee said in his apology. “It was stupid.”

NFL players also had to eat rash tweets about Zimmerman's exoneration. Roddy White tweeted that the jurors should kill themselves. His apology: “I understand my tweet last nite (sic) was extreme. I never meant for the people to do that.”

Victor Cruz tweeted: "Zimmerman doesn't last a year before the hood catches up with him." Later he tweeted, “My Tweet last night was my initial interpretation of the reaction I was reading on twitter. I immediately realized my tweet was a mistake ….”

That's the problem. People tweet before they think instead of vice versa. There was a time you couldn’t instantly broadcast your feelings to the world, which allowed time for calmer heads to prevail. But we are caught in the perfect storm of events — the confluence of tweeting/YouTube/Facebook/IM and political correctness. That’s a bad combination. Warning: Think twice, send once, or, better yet, give it a few hours.

Today’s theme seems to be, if you don’t have anything nice to say, tweet it to me. Even for non-Mormons, the advice once offered by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the LDS Church’s First Presidency are words to remember: “When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!”

Doug Robinson's columns run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Email: drob@deseretnews.com

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