Amidst all the fallout of the “reveal” that the initial story about the Covington High School students was grossly misleading is the qualified mea culpa from many who rushed to judgment and condemnation. It takes the form of “well, I got it wrong, but that bastard Trump has got me so wound up that I was justified in reacting as I did when I saw the MAGA hats!”

Flash back just about two years, or a month or so into Trump’s term. Comedian/actress Sarah Silverman managed to shove her whole leg in her mouth when she mistook some spray-painted utility markings she saw on the street for swastikas, and took her outrage to Twitter. When the truth was pointed out (amid mountains of merciless mockery), she admitted her error but justified it by asserting that the Trump age had ushered in a massive amount of anti-semitism, including much directed at her (she is Jewish).

This “I was wrong but it’s understandable that I reacted as I did because X” is a classic dodge that people use to avoid the shame and humiliation of a full retraction of an error.

Silverman’s gaffe stands out from the crowd in that it’s very Godwin, so I’m going to call this tactic/viewpoint/mindset the Sarah Silverman Alibi, and add it to the Joy Behar Rule, the Seinfeld Corollary, and the Franco Addendum as a tool for understanding and describing the attitudes and behavior of many in the political arena. They all boil down to the same thing: human nature and personal biases outweigh facts and logic 99 times out of a hundred.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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