The mea culpa season

What airborne agent or waterborne pathogen or conjunction of celestial objects is responsible for this rash of public figures saying remarkably stupid things which they have to disavow ten seconds later?

Mel "Fucking Jews" Gibson. George Felix "Macaca" Allen. Tramm "Blacks are not the greatest swimmers" Hudson. And now Andrew Young:

The civil rights leader Andrew Young, who was hired by Wal-Mart to improve its public image, resigned from that post last night after telling an African-American newspaper that Jewish, Arab and Korean shop owners had “ripped off” urban communities for years, “selling us stale bread, and bad meat and wilted vegetables.”

Hired by Wal-Mart to improve its public image. Hey, guys, how's that working out for you? CEO Lee Scott must have choked on his Cutty Sark when he heard the news.

Mr. Young, 74, a former mayor of Atlanta and a former United States representative to the United Nations, apologized for the comments and retracted them in an interview last night. Less than an hour later, he resigned as chairman of Working Families for Wal-Mart, a group created and financed by the company to trumpet its accomplishments.

“It’s against everything I ever thought in my life,” Mr. Young said. “It never should have been said. I was speaking in the context of Atlanta, and that does not work in New York or Los Angeles.”

I cannot imagine a city in the world in which the "context" would have made his remarks any less outrageous. It's a strange and pathetic turn for a public career like Young's; I can't wait to hear what his former boss has to say about it.

Seriously, though: what's up with people's mouths these days?


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