Some poorly chosen words

January 10, 2008

Last Friday, Golf Channel announcer Kelly Tilghman joked that Tiger Woods’ opponents should gang up on him and “[l]ynch him in a back alley.”

Let that sink in for a minute.

Tilghman’s apology statement said she “used some poorly chosen words…I have known Tiger for 12 years and I have apologized directly to him. I also apologize to our viewers who may have been offended by my comments.”

Woods has apparently accepted the apology, but this news item really puts what I do here into perspective.

“Poorly chosen words” bore. They can turn potential customers away. A poorly chosen word is one that needs revision or editing or just that final tweak to make an article sing. Tilghman’s comment, I think, goes beyond “poorly chosen” and into the realm of “really stupid.”

Here, “poorly chosen words” are themselves very poorly chosen.


4 Responses to “Some poorly chosen words”

  1. Vox Says:

    I can’t get over how she can’t just admit it was a racist statement and apologize for that. (Okay, I can, because the “I’m not racist! I have a black friend!” defense is SOP when this stuff happens, but it still makes me mad.) Apologies ring very hollow when the person won’t take responsibility for what they are apologizing for.

    And you’re right. So many of these scandals could be avoided if people would stop to think about what they are saying instead of just opening their mouths every time a thought pops into their head (something I need to work on, too, but I’m not on live television).

  2. Rachel Says:

    You’re absolutely right. I mean, from a writing perspective alone there are so many better ways to describe what she did. “I accidentally made a racist statement and apologize for those I offended” is so much better than “I used some poorly chosen words.” I think the word “racist” is itself becoming taboo in mainstream media…Don Imus coverage notwithstanding. I don’t think making a stupid racist joke once makes a person into a racist, but people seem to be afraid of the word in case it brands them, you know?

    And I don’t know Tilghman’s history so I’m not speaking of her directly, but if she and Tiger have been friends for 12 years and they like making lynching jokes in private, fine. But not on national TV.

  3. Vox Says:

    Seriously. I think that a lot of people are afraid to admit to being racist or making racist comments, because they associate racism with lynchings, the KKK, the Holocaust, and other acts of evil. But institutional and casual racism is still a major issue in the U.S., and just about everyone adds to it, intentionally, unintentionally, whatever. If people would just say, “You know what? That was a really racist comment. I’m sorry, and I will try to do better,” maybe it would remove some of the taboo and let us as a society actually deal with the issue instead of looking the other way while the offender seeks absolution from Al Sharpton.

    Saying something racist doesn’t make (general) you a horrible person. It just means you said something racist. Own up to it and apologize. Doing the “I’m not a racist!” dance just makes everyone disrespect you and makes it even more taboo to admit to racism for everyone else.

  4. Rachel Says:

    Exactly! I don’t think I could have said it better, so I won’t.

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