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Friday, February 19, 2010

Remorse is a funny thing ...

"The only thing you owe the public is a good performance." H. Bogart.

"I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in.I know people want to find out how I could be so selfish and so foolish." T. Woods.

T. Woods has a string of outstanding performances in his chosen field, which is golf. Let's get that straight. Golf. Not religion, politics, ethics, oratory. It is golf talent that has made him celebrated, envied, and vulnerable to attack for hubris.

He is also living proof of a central principle of Borenstein's Law - the counter intuitive truth that human beings can be counted on to act against their own best interests - sometimes to the point of self-destruction.

This Law applies to anyone, from the most sociopathic criminal to the highest achieving powerful people on earth.

Here's how Tiger phrased it:

"I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them."

Now, Mr. Woods has exemplified another lesson I have learned in almost forty years of defending people accused of wrongdoing:

No expression of remorse can ever satisfy everyone.

There are ramifications of this fact.
The transgressor is usually in a no-win posture.
Failure to express remorse for bad conduct is seen as aggravating, but expressions of remorse are usually suspiciously self-serving.

"Sincerity" is completely subjective and tentative. Bill Clinton apologized with the same "sincere" voice he had used to deny guilt under oath months before.

Cynical responses such as "he wouldn't be sorry if he hadn't been caught" are earned by the initial deception.

The reaction to "I'm sorry" has as much to do with the listener's attitude as the transgressor's. People whose faith in another's goodness is shattered by revelations of transgression are usually hurt and angry.

The media does not have the "right" to know all the facts about everybody's life, even so-called "public figures." The First Amendment does not demand that people who want to sell products must give power over their lives to commercial media, whose primary purpose is to profit from celebrities rather than to provide information people need to form a better world.


  1. Hi, Mort:

    I am glad you said that the media doesn't have to know everything about a public figure's private life, and that you mention the 1st Amendment. I agree with you. Regardless of what Tiger did, he does NOT have to apologize before the public. I wonder what, or who had coerced him to do so. Yes, he did a bad thing, but he hasn't committed a crime. Yes, he has hurt his wife and his family, but it's no one's business but his family's. Moreover, he cheats again by saying that his wife never hit him. It's laughable and hypocritical. I believe he has been "treated" by his sponsors' "counselors," and his apology reminds us once again how dominated this country is by religious doctrine. A public figure doesn't have to be a saint, but is expected to be. The same happened to Bill Clinton - and even the Democrats didn't stand by his side, because they themselves are dominated by the religious sensibility that is ubiquitous in this country. In my not so humble opinion:)

  2. Rina, Why is is "laughable" that his wife never hit him? Is it because she "allegedly" pried him from his SUV with a 3 iron? Or because you believe women (in general) are prone to spousal violence in retaliation for perceived indiscretions by their hubbies? Or because you hope Elin did it?

  3. Mort, what is laughable is that he is probably deceiving everyone by saying that she didn't hit him. I think she did. So he, while apologizing about one lie, is telling another (granted, it's my assumption). I do not believe that women in general are prone to violence in retaliation, even though being cheated hurts like hell. I am not hoping Elin did it, but, based on all the previous news stories, it seems as if she did. I am not a vindictive person, I am very forgiving. Mark Sanford's wife forgave her husband, I listened to her interview today, about her book, and I believed her. I wish we could talk about it with you more in person, but I am geographically so removed now, as I have moved to Texas at the end of last year...for a job.
    Hope all is well.
    I somehow knew you would post on this subject today, so I decided to check, and I was right:)

  4. In addition: I have posted on the subject on my own blog, too, tonight:) Here it is - and I quote:

    "There are certain things in this culture I will never understand or accept. One of them is what they did to Bill Clinton after the Monica affair. Another one is Tiger Woods' public apology. Why does he have to apologize in public? It's between him and his wife! Who has coerced him into that? What happened to the alleged sanctity of privacy in this country? Yes, he's a public figure, but he's not a saint. None of us are. Yes, being cheated hurts like hell, but that doesn't mean that every cheater has to come out on a podium and apologize before his/her respective community!

    Are we dominated by religious doctrines? Yes, we are. And no one wants to come out and say it like it is.

    I find it ironic and hypocritical that, while apologizing for cheating, Tiger already cheats again by saying that his wife has never hit him. It would be laughable if it weren't so sad.

    So what has compelled him to apologize publicly? I think it's probably two things: a) his (and the public's) idea that he serves as a role model for kids, and b) wanting to clear his wife's name after she did hit him pretty hard

    He refers to Buddhism with which he grew up as a "faith." Last I've heard Buddhism wasn't a religion.

    I suspect that some "counselors" paid by his sponsors had done a lot of "work" on him to get him to that apology.

    I am appalled that it has come to that!!!

    What are your thoughts on the subject? "