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A lot can happen in a conversation

Minnesota Representative Garofalo: “There is not a racist bone in my body.”

with 8 comments

The short, turbulent life of a tweet.

What we say and do demonstrates who we are. We cannot help but draw conclusions based on the actions we see and the comments we hear. In the end, no one of us can know more than that about each other.

That’s how communication works.

Representative Garofalo’s Sunday Tweet landed on ESPN Monday morning. Tweeters were quick to jump on the tweet, denouncing Mr. Garofalo’s latent racism, Republicans and politicians generally. Colleagues lambasted the tweet and national media held it up for examination, which is to say, the typical circus-posse was formed around these 140 characters. Mr. Garofalo denied racist overtones but ultimately apologized for the tweet as the water got hotter.

Mr. Garofalo’s apology was unusual because he is an outspoken Tweeter and communicator who remains unafraid to confidently assert. The apology was also sort of usual: “to those NBA players and other who were unfairly categorized by my comments….” So, typical of public apologies, this one creates distance even as it acknowledges pain and takes responsibility.

I’m interested in what happens in our quick responses. Responding to each other is one of the fun bits of conversation. Our quick responses are often revelatory: sometimes they show us things about ourselves we did not know. I wonder if in Mr. Garofalo’s case—despite his confident, well-reasoned quote on top—his quick tweet peeled away layers to reveal unseemly categories.

I suspect we all have those layers. Maybe we need to tweet and talk all the more rapidly so we can do the work of peeling the layers.

It can be a painful work—all the more so when put it in the form of a tweet that catches the national eye.



8 Responses

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  1. Good thoughts, Kirk. I’ve read that during the Civil War, President Lincoln would sometimes become exasperated with his generals and would occasionally dash off an angry letters to them. Most times these angry letters, written in the evening, went into a desk drawer until the morning. And usually he would craft a more reasoned response in the light of day. I’m thinking Mr. Garofalo wishes he’d placed his tweet in the “desk drawer” over night. Probably a good lesson here for all of us.

    Bruce Schultz

    March 11, 2014 at 10:20 am

    • Terrific point, Bruce. We’d all do well to wait at times. Other times I wonder if we are better served to speak quickly to hear what we really think. Thanks for reading.


      March 11, 2014 at 10:24 am

  2. He couldn’t have said it unless it was in his heart,
    other than future votes,
    why did he bother to apologize ?

    Nat Turner

    March 12, 2014 at 12:44 am

    • Agreed. Then again, what if it was a moment of clarity for him when he suddenly realized how he was categorizing people? Thanks for stopping by, Nat.


      March 12, 2014 at 6:11 am

      • Part of the deal being a politician,
        particularly with “sensitive issues”
        is to Think before you Speak,
        Look before you Leap

        Nat Turner

        March 12, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      • Agreed.


        March 12, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      • Keep up the good work,
        society will never be rid of it’s ills if we don’t,
        air them, acknowledged them and tackle them.

        Nat Turner

        March 12, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      • Nat, Thanks. I appreciate it. And thanks again for stopping by.


        March 12, 2014 at 1:50 pm

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