So, sorry, or sorry he got caught? To ask that question typically is to answer it. And that certainly is the case with our friend Huppenthal.
The gap between sorry and sorry about being caught is a mile wide. You can’t be on both sides of it.
The tell-tale sign that someone only is sorry he got caught is the “non-apology apology.” And ole Thucky aka Huppenthal has treated us to a humdinger of a non-apology apology. Former BfAZ writer and friend of the blog David Safier captured a bit of this in his post at The Range, Huppenthal Admits He Is “Thucydides” and “Falcon9.”:
No surprise here, including his politician’s non-apology apology: “I sincerely regret if my comments have offended anyone.” In typically clueless fashion, Huppenthal’s statement is more of a defense of his actions than an apology, citing the anonymity of the Federalist Papers (which I mentioned in a post a few days ago) to justify his use of “Thucydides” and “Falcon9” to express his ideas in public. Yes, the Federalist Papers were anonymous, and yes, writing anonymously is fine. But Huppenthal went beyond mere anonymity and used the posts to defend and promote himself, frequently writing about himself in the third person. That’s deception, pure and simple. It’s so despised on the web, it’s got its own name: sock puppetry.
The statement Huppenthal sent to the Republic didn’t refer to his serial editing of Wikipedia in 2006, or at least it wasn’t mentioned in the excerpts in the article. Also not mentioned was Huppenthal’s own defense of his Wikipedia editing, saying it was “honest” because it wasn’t anonymous.
But David only scratched the surface. Consider the lead-up to the non apology:
Beginning in March, I asked the same question of Huppenthal 14 times in the comment section of this blog: “Is it dishonest, using a pseudonym, to refer to yourself in the third person, leaving the false impression that your are not the person to whom you refer?”
It’s a rhetorical question, but if Huppenthal were truly sorry, wouldn’t he have issued some sort of acknowledgment that what he’d been doing was wrong, BEFORE he had no choice but to do so?
As readers here know, I began hinting at Thucky’s identity some time back. Huppenthal could have come out at that time and apologized for the lack of candor. He chose not to.
Then, both Brahm Resnik and Steve Lemons called him for a comment. Would a person who is truly sorry have ducked Resnik’s call and snottily hung up the phone on Lemons, as Huppenthal did?
Now, consider the apology. It contains the classic “I’m sorry if I offended anyone.” But there’s no acknowledgment of wrongdoing and no apology for acting dishonestly. Instead, there’s a lame explanation and defense. We were informed how even anonymous speech is protected under the first amendment. We were told how the offending remarks were just a handful out of his hundreds of comments, sort of like the murderer who notes that he didn’t kill anyone on the other 364 days of the year. We were told how he was afraid using his real name would impair the free flow of the debate. We were told his remarks were taken out of context. And, in regard to one particularly offensive comment, that poor people are “lazy pigs,” that he had inadvertently failed to make clear that he was alluding to the lazy pig in the nursery fable, The Little Red Hen.
Hopefully, nobody is buying this malarkey. The first amendment thing, neatly packaged in a reference to the Federalist Papers, is a red herring. The issue here is not free speech rights, it’s dishonesty and deception on the part of an elected official.
There was no concern on Huppenthal’s part about impairing the free flow of the debate. That “concern” was made up after the fact and is itself a lie. John Kavanagh posted here repeatedly in his own name. We welcomed it. It didn’t impair the free flow of the debate; it fostered it. What was Huppenthal’s true concern about using his real name? Obviously, he was concerned about the political implications of his true beliefs being tied to him poblicly, which goes to the heart of why it’s wrong for an elected official to speak anonymously.
Were Huppenthal’s remarks taken out of context, as he claims? Of course not. The “context” defense nearly always accompanies the “I’m sorry if I offended anyone” non-apology.
The Little Red Hen explanation capsulizes the absurdity of Huppenthal’s response to the situation. It’s ludicrous to think that one would use the term “lazy pigs” intending it to be an obscure allusion to a nursery fable, while knowing it would be offensive if interpreted literally, without making the allusion more obvious. Unless, of course, you intended to offend in the first place and concocted the Little Red Hen explanation after the fact. I’m guessing the concocting took place sometime between Brahm Resnik’s unanswered phone message and Huppenthal’s statement.
Think I’m being too cynical? Then consider the upshot of the Little Red Hen explanation. Essentially, Huppenthal is saying he didn’t intend to say poor people were fat and lazy. He only intended to say they were lazy. Thanks, John.
Lastly, let’s not forget that this is not Huppenthal’s first ethical breach on this front. As has been reported by AZ BlueMeanie on this blog, eight years ago Huppenthal was busted for whitewashing his Wikipedia page. As David Safier reported (see above) he defended his action by claiming he’d been honest because he had not acted anonymously.
How do you square that with his current claim that anonymous speech by an elected official is acceptable?
You can’t. It’s dishonest. It’s deceptive. And above all it’s cowardly.
And like any dishonest coward, Huppenthal is not sorry. He’s just sorry he got caught.