This Hallowe’en weekend, some people complained after the Royal Canadian Legion in Campbellford awarded first prize to the person wearing a Ku Klux Klan costume.

The legion’s president issued its official apology for their questionable judgement (this labelling is not just according to my values; they had to know that this might affect their reputation).

She said:

“I humbly apologize to all those offended by the events that took place at our Halloween party on October the 30th, 2010. The events in no way reflect the views of the royal Canadian legion or its members. Those responsible have been spoken to.”

In my view, this apology is a classic example of how we still use passive, indirect language when forced to take account for our mistakes. It reminds me of another phrase I often put up at workshops:

“Mistakes have been made. Others will be blamed.”

After all, was the Legion prez only apologizing to the people who were offended? What about the others, who thought they deserved a prize? And who spoke to those responsible? What did they say?

No wonder people have a hard time finding meaning in  an apology like this, no matter their education level.

Why? Because it takes the doers out of the actions and – in this case – isn’t that clear on the actions, either.

What would I have said? Something more along these lines:

“I humbly apologize about the events that took place at our Halloween party on October 30, 2010. They in no way reflect our views or those of our members. We have alerted the people responsible of how inappropriate their behaviour was. We will only let them continue to come here in future on probationary terms.”