The headline, illustration and text of “Below the Beltway,” a column in The Washington Post Magazine today, may cause offense to readers. The magazine was printed before a widely publicized incident last week in which a chimpanzee attacked and badly mauled a woman in Stamford, Conn. In addition, the image and text inadvertently may conjure racial stereotypes that The Post does not countenance. We regret the lapse.
Why predictable? Because the Post has a habit of cravenly apologizing to head off controversy before so much as a single angry voice of public protest has been lifted. Remember when they torpedoed the “Opus” strip on Islam because an ad hoc focus group of their Muslim employees found it offensive? No one, not even CAIR, ended up getting worked up about it. In fact, their own ombudsman eventually scolded them for jumping to conclusions about reader reaction. When it comes to defending their contributors against bad-faith claims of prejudice, they’re happy to take the path of least resistance. Can you blame them, though? The lesson of the left’s calculated hysteria over McCain’s “celebrity” ads last summer was that racism is present if an identified victim says it is, regardless of whether it’s either intended or perceived by most of the audience. If someone’s offended, they simply must have good reason to be, which makes this WaPo apology the equivalent of those moronic warnings on coffee cups: “Caution: Hot beverage inside!” If all that stands between your business and liability is a formal disclaimer, why not be on the safe side and toss it out there unbidden? CYA.