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Does Saying "Sorry" Make It Ok?

When do apologies work, and when are they just an excuse?

by Karen

Apologies are in the headlines this week, with several notable celebs trying to make up for their bad behavior -- namely, flipping off the paparazzi, dropping an F-bomb at the Oscars, making anti-Semitic remarks and just, well, being Charlie Sheen.

But all these public apologies beg us to ask the question, does saying sorry for misbehavior really make it OK? Or is it just a convenient way to excuse it?

We asked around, and the typical response we got to that question is that it depends on the gravity of what the person is apologizing for, and how heartfelt the apology is.

For example, Justin Bieber apologized today for giving the middle finger to the paparazzi when they got too close. He said via Twitter, “I'm sorry… It’s not always easy but I know better than to react in anger."

Bieber’s apology is a lot easier to accept than that of ex-Christian Dior fashion designer John Galliano apologizing for his anti-Semitic remarks, because we know Bieber is sincere. We’ll even let him keep his status as our Karmic Defender of the month -- not because we’re endorsing this behavior, but because we know he’s a sincere guy.

But Galliano? Mel Gibson? Or the long roster of celebrities who’ve made anti-Semitic or just plain hateful remarks? Can an apology really make up for that?

And what about Charlie Sheen? When Sheen apologized (sort of) to producer Chuck Lorre of Two and a Half Men, this is what he said: “I’m sorry if I offended you. Didn’t know you were so sensitive. I thought after you wailing on me for eight years, that I could take a few shots back. I didn’t know you were going to take your ball and go home and punish everybody in the process.”

Sorry, Charlie. We’re not buying it.

We do know holding on to anger is one of the worst things you can do for your mental health (not to mention your Karma), so we’re all for apologizing, of course. Let’s just make sure those apologies are sincere, and keep in mind it’s perfectly ok NOT to accept someone’s apology.

What do you think? Does an apology always make things better, or are there some things saying sorry just won’t solve?

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