Sometimes when folks call for apologies about what other people have said, one gets the impression that they may be over-reacting. Some folks are just too sensitive sometimes, and calling for apologies isn't always appropriate. But demands from many different quarters that Michael Richards apologize for his racist rant at the Laugh Factory are inappropriate for a different reason: no apology will be sufficient to undo the horrible damage he did. He needs to just go away.
TMZ.com has the full video of Michael Richards' insane racist tirade. It's a lot worse than what has been reported in some outlets. He did not merely say "That's what happens when you interrupt the white man", but went on for several minutes spewing some unbelievably disgusting racist insults. It was like watching a Ku Klux Klan rally, and it was really appalling. Although Richards, appearing on the Letterman show, said that he just flew into "a rage" and was "all busted up" over the incident, there's no way that I can see to apologize for this thing by calling it "a rage", as though he weren't really in control of his emotions. He had plenty of time to think about what he was saying, and folks in the audience repeatedly called him on what he was doing, but he didn't stop. This is the end of his career, and rightly so in my view. He's not the only one who's "all busted up" about what he said. When people demonstrate so clearly that they are not fit to partake of civic life, it is time for them to find a nice little hole to crawl into and just stay there.
A Christian should always be merciful, compassionate, forgiving. But as I write this post, my five year old, African American daughter is standing right next to me, and I find that I cannot tolerate folks who would say such things, not just because such things are harmful in the abstract sense of being manifestly unjust and evil, but because they also cause real harm, and not just to people in comedy clubs who are ambushed by an act that turned out to be very different from the one they paid to hear, and not just to blacks, but to all decent civilized persons everywhere, who have a right to live their lives free of such hatred and vitriol. It's disgusting.