Saturday, 10 October 2009

What constitutes an apology

Geoffrey Pullum on LanguageLog described Gordon Brown's statement about the treatment of Alan Turing as a "genuine and direct apology for once". I disagree.

Here's my idea of what would have been a genuine apology:
As Prime Minister of Great Britain I am ashamed of the way Alan Turing was treated. The shame is heightened by my recognition of the great service he rendered this country during the Second World War. To Alan Turing I say: we're sorry, you deserved so much better.

Here's what Gordon Brown did say:
on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan's work I am very proud to say: we're sorry, you deserved so much better.

Humility, not pride, should be the tone of a sincere apology.

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