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Why Britt McHenry Deserves to Be Fired…From Her Apology Alone

Like seemingly most of America, I believe that Britt McHenry deserves to be fired. Unlike most of America however, I don’t think the ultimate decision to fire her should stem from her outburst towards a tow truck company employee, but rather from her subsequent “apology” for the incident.

Make no mistake, I am convinced that Britt McHenry is exactly what the video makes her out to be - a bad person. It’s like my first ever boss (a restaurant manager at a national Mexican chain restaurant) once told me when a Britt McHenry-esc customer berated me for bringing her soup that wasn’t hot enough, “some people suck and the sooner you accept that, the better.” Over a decade later, I’ve had enough life experiences to know that my former boss was right-some people are just mean-spirited, jerks. They were born that way, they live their lives that way, and when they die, they are remembered that way.

So what makes me think that Britt McHenry falls into the category of being an inherently bad person? Ironically, it was from her so called “apology.” The rant she went on in the tow truck office can sort of be explained away: Her car was towed so her day was probably ruined; the clerk at the tow truck company was probably provoking her (she did, after all, try and ruin Britt McHenry’s life by releasing this video, which doesn’t exactly reflect positively on the tow truck employee’s own character); the video was edited for the purpose of damaging McHenry’s character with very little context provided for her repeated outbursts; perhaps McHenry was just having a really, really bad day.

The truth is, yesterday afternoon when I watched the video and read all of the horrible things people were writing about McHenry, I wanted to come to her defense. I wanted to berate people for jumping to conclusions about a person they don’t know and making global assertions of her character based on an incident that in its totality constitutes less than .001% of her life. I wanted to remind people that 100% of human beings, at some point in their lives, have acted regrettably and point out what it would feel like if a person were judged for that moment in time alone. I wanted to do all of these things…but then I read Britt McHenry’s apology and all of my empathy for her situation disappeared quicker than Vanilla Ice’s rap career.

Here’s McHenry’s twitter “apology” in its totality

In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things. As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake.

Now, I will break the apology down to its constituent parts so the world can see it for the insulting piece of garbage it is:

The Venue for her Apology

Twitter? Really? She posted her apology on her twitter account? The same twitter account where her background is her wearing a tight, designer dress and posing for the camera like she’s in a Macy’s catalogue? Someone who is sincerely apologetic doesn’t post their “sincere” apology on a social media website that they maintain for the sole purpose of making themselves more popular. Currently, McHenry has 108,000 followers on Twitter. Something tells me that the biggest 1 day bump she has had in attaining new twitter followers will have occurred in the 24 hours following her twitter apology.[i]

The Intense and Stressful “Moment”

Intense and stressful? Absolutely. I challenge anyone who’s had their car towed to tell me that they weren’t worked up and stressed out about it. Human beings can be very impulsive and reactionary-it’s sort of in our nature. In fact, it is so common for humans to act out when they are overcome by the intensity and stressfulness of a moment that there’s a word in the english language that is meant for a person who has a “momentary” reaction to an intense and stressful moment-it’s called a rant. In a rant, a person “speaks or shouts at length in a wild, impassioned way.” In the movie “Knocked Up,” Leslie Mann’s character goes on a “rant” when she is denied entrance to a club because of her age. Sure it’s only a movie, but it’s telling that this scene was largely embraced by the American public and thought of as one of the funniest scenes in the movie. We give Leslie’s character a pass because she was reacting to an intense and stressful moment. We’ve all been there, so we appreciate the feeling and forgive the person who gets caught up in that moment. We even find humor in it.

So why is the American public filled with disgust over the Britt McHenry video rather than finding the humor in it? Because Britt McHenry’s outburst wasn’t a “rant.” This wasn’t an instance of a person becoming so overcome with emotion that it bursts out of them in an uncontrollable stream of consciousness. This was Britt McHenry being a bad person for a prolonged period of time in a relatively controlled demeanor. She isn’t “wild” in the video. She isn’t “impassioned.” She is repeatedly, over various intervals of time, making personal attacks at a person who has absolutely nothing to do with the reason her car got towed. This video didn’t happen in the “moment,” it’s quite the opposite. It was edited to show Britt’s continuously deplorable behavior over a segment of time. The fact that Britt tries to pass this off as some sort of momentary lapse in judgment is a clear misrepresentation of what actually occurred and therefore not an actual apology.

“[I] Said Some Insulting and Regrettable Things”

First of all, let’s actually examine this comment in the context of what was actually said:

  • That’s why I have a degree and you don’t.
  • Makes my skin crawl even being here.
  • …with no education, no skill set, just wanted to clarify that.”
  • Do you feel good about your job?
  • So I could be a college drop out and do the same thing?
  • Why, cause I have a brain and you don’t?
  • Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me, huh…like yours cause they look so stunning.
  • I’m on television and you’re in a fucking trailer honey.
  • Lose some weight baby girl

She didn’t say “some” insulting and regrettable things. She said ONLY insulting and regrettable things. And I don’t even care that the video was spliced together to only show her being defamatory because the fact is, she made far too many virulent personal attacks to later go back and try and distinguish the moments she was nasty from the moments she wasn’t.

“As Frustrated As I Was”

This is yet another attempt to pass off this incident as a “rant” of sorts-as a reaction to an overwhelming amount of frustration that ultimately caused her to erupt. Don’t fall for it. At no point in the incident does McHenry appear to be overwhelmed by her apparent “frustration.” She seems surprisingly cool and collected. I believe that the reason this video was received so negatively was precisely because she DIDN’T seem very frustrated when she began hurling these personal attacks. To hear such nasty statements made in such a dispassionate tone is precisely why the American public has rallied against her. It gives the impression that she is perfectly comfortable demeaning people. And how do you get comfortable at doing something? By practicing…. A LOT.

The Failure to Acknowledge the Person She Hurt

This is the part of her apology that upset me the most-the omission of the only part of the apology that was actually important. In order to apologize for your actions, you need to acknowledge your actions. No one cared that McHenry threatened to sue the tow truck company. I probably do that 4 times a month. No one cared about her accusation that the tow truck company only wants her money. That’s just a fact. The only thing people cared about is that Britt McHenry insulted, belittled, and mocked a woman who clearly didn’t deserve it. Married couples have gotten divorces after fights with less personal attacks than Britt hurled at a relative stranger within the first half hour of meeting her. And that’s precisely why she had to take accountability for her actions. She needed to show the American public – and more importantly, the insulted clerk - that she understands how deplorable her actions are. She needed to admit that her words were meant to inflict a great deal of pain and were likely successful in doing so. She needed to acknowledge that the insults in the video were ultimately a reflection of her own inner ugliness and insecurity. She needed to beg the clerk to forgive her, to say that she admires the clerk for bringing this video to light because it will help her to address her flaws and to work and become a better person. Instead, she (probably out of spite of the clerk releasing the video) refused to acknowledge her actions towards the clerk and made the apology-like all things in her life-all about her.

We live in a society of forgiveness and the American public will jump at the opportunity to give someone a second chance. But a second chance comes with strings attached-it requires actual contrition. And until Britt McHenry actually acknowledges the pain and suffering she caused and her own character flaws, which caused her to inflict that pain and suffering, the American public will continue to call for her joke of a one week suspension to blossom into a full blown firing. Personally, I won’t be watching ESPN anymore when Britt McHenry is on TV, it makes my skin crawl just looking at her.

[i] McHenry gained over 8,500 followers from Thursday April 16 to Friday April 17, 2015.

About Andrew Schwartz

Andrew graduated from Tulane Law School in 2012, after graduating from the University of Rochester in 2007 with a B.A. in English. He is currently Of Counsel at a Washington, DC law firm, specializing in Commercial Arbitration. Andrew played college baseball at the University of Rochester where he remains the only player in the team’s history to hit a teammate in the head with a pitch during batting practice. Twice.

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One comment

  1. Britt McHenry is a colossal bitch. I wrote a lengthy post about her on my own blog and included a few details I got straight from towing office cashier that no one else seems to know about….mainly how both ESPN and McHenry immediately blocked the woman on their social media accounts right after the incident happened. There was no way that Gina could have read McHenry’s apology on Twitter or Facebook for herself because McHenry had already blocked her. And when Gina went to ESPN’s Facebook page to inform them of what their employee had done at her place of employment, they just blocked her instead of looking into the matter, meaning they did not care about it at all. They would have been more than happy to ignore the entire matter and let McHenry get off scot free if the video had not been released. It really makes you wonder what McHenry has been doing behind the scenes to make her bosses so eager to let her do as she pleases without any consequences.

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