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Illustration for article titled Talk Amongst Yourselves; An Explanation is Neither an Excuse Nor an Absolution: Discuss

I am currently late for work. That's okay though, because I will be the only person in the office today. So I'm pretty sure that I'm safe (hmmm An explanation for my tardiness? Certainly no excuse....). As I am preparing to leave for le bureau, I was having my own little think sesh mid-leg-shave and wanted to pick your brains.


Can an explanation for behavior also serve as an excuse for said behavior?

For the most part, I believe the answer is no. I will use anecdotes from my own life because yay anecdata! No, really, I think this is one of those discussions that is best illustrated by anecdotes.


Mama Farce, roughly 18 years ago, "So I met this Oriental woman...

12 y-o Farce, "Mom, rugs are Oriental, people are Asian. Don't be racist."

Mama Farce, "Oh, I did not know that!"

In the above example, my mother's ignorance explained her largely institutional bigotry, and once illuminated, she improved, but it certainly didn't excuse it.


On another front, I was hopped up on anti-depressants for years, which pushed me into a years-long bout of mania, having been misdiagnosed as depressed rather than bipolar. I did some pretty shitty things when I was manic, cheating on a boyfriend chief among my Great Big List of Shitty Things. While my mental illness can to a certain extent explain my behavior, it sure as shit doesn't excuse it, especially not in my own estimation. This is largely because, regardless of what was causing/allowing these instances, it was still me, one way or another. Part of my personal journey with mental illness is not excusing myself for these things, but certainly forgiving myself, to some degree, for being a Rather Big Douchecanoe for several years. I think there are probably gray areas here that are far more nuanced based on illness for others, but for my own personal self-esteem, I don't excuse what I did.

What do all y'all think? Can logical explanations also serve as excuses? Can an explanation absolve someone of being Ye Olde Douchecanoe (or worse?).

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