The recent apology of Herbert Volney and his acceptance of full blame in the Section 34 controversy has sparked debate on whether it was authentic or not. I too wondered about this fact too. I did some research and found that Southern Oregon University professor and published author in this field, Edwin Battistella, says there are four features that are usually present in a solid mea culpa:
- Being able to actually say out loud what you did wrong, because that shows some level of moral understanding and awareness
- Being specific and taking ownership with your language (e.g. “I’m sorry I smashed your car window with a bat” vs. “Sorry you’re upset that your window got blown out”)
- Indicating that the apology is leading somewhere, like to better behavior in the future
- Not making excuses
This is a part of what Volney said. “One must never be too big to admit when one has faulted in life and I accept the responsibility for what I said. It was unfortunate, incorrect, not malicious but it could have affected persons in a way it was not intended. Let me make it abundantly clear to all that I take full responsibility for Section 34.” He also said given his background in the criminal justice system as a former prosecutor and High Court judge, he was the “one who not only helped to calibrate Section 34 and to bring it about, but also to have it amended in the Senate during the course of the debates and also to have it at the time when it was proclaimed.”
It would appear that looking at the list outlined by the expert to verify whether the mea culpa was authentic or not, all the conditions are satisfied. People could swing it however which way they want for their political gains, but the truth is what it is.