Is there a person alive who hasn’t said or done something stupid they regret, if not immediately then at some future date? Most of us will admit this sad fact in the privacy of our own thoughts, if we do at all. MP Tom Lukiwski is not most people.
When public figures get caught making the same mistakes ordinary, everyday people do, it becomes front-page, six-o?clock-lead-story worthy.
By now, everyone and his brother know that 17 years ago Lukiwski said something ignorant in a party situation. He has duly offered a sincere, heartfelt apology for his ill-advised homophobic remarks.
He didn’t try one of those oblique, pseudo apologies so popular with politicians. You know: the ones where they say they’re sorry ?you misunderstood and were hurt by? whatever ?words you took out of context? and here they are being vilified by an unholy press who can’t see that they are in fact the victims in ?this unfortunate and regrettable incident.?
This has been handy for the transgression of the day: whether a presidential escapade with his intern, a misunderstood senator in a public restroom, a shoplifting MP or actress, drunk driving or drug charges, and of course adultery.
Lukiwski’s apology has been different. It seems sincere. There’s been no excuse making or scapegoating. The Opposition would, of course, love to have his head on a platter at high noon in front of the Centennial Flame.
This is not the first time nor will it be the last time that beliefs about a group of people have changed over time, making once-accepted intolerance subsequently repugnant. Think women, Aboriginals, African-Americans, Jews, the disabled, the elderly, the overweight, homosexuals.
The language changes as we change?from faggot or queer to homosexual or gay, from nigger to black to coloured to African-American. Of course, sometimes the discourse goes in the other direction: from acceptance to rejection. Think emaciated models, fur-wearing socialites, or smoking.
While at the core most of us stay the same, many of us try to grow and evolve. Am I the same person I was 17 years ago? No. Hopefully I’m better, wiser, more tolerant, more humble, and more sure that I’m unsure.
Likewise Tom Lukiwski. His behaviour was reflective of the time. If he had made those remarks a week ago, we’d all have reason to be morally outraged. Only knuckle-dragging fools question the equality of women in 2008. Not so in 1908. Beliefs change.
Little by little, one group at a time, perhaps one individual at a time, we change and broaden our definition of acceptance. We censor the derogatory names we may have heard growing up and try to role-model more enlightened views for our own children.
I say accept Lukiwski’s apology. I’m willing to bet we all have something to apologize for. The difference is the NDP didn’t stumble across us on tape. The tolerance should start here and now, from where I sit.