MP Apologizes for “Any Offense Caused” by Nazi-Themed Bachelor Party

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I guess I should say right up front that there is no evidence that British MP Aidan Burley actually wore an SS uniform himself, or that he joined in the toast to "the ideology and thought process of the Third Reich" or the chants of "Eichmann! Eichmann! Eichmann!" Nor does this report in the Guardian suggest that he knew this would be a Nazi-themed stag party when he decided to attend. Still, I thought I'd post this as a reminder to aspiring politicians that if any Nazi, let alone Adolf Eichmann, is praised in your presence, it's probably a good idea to get up and note your objection for the record.

Burley reportedly attended a bachelor party recently at a ski resort in the Alps, along with 12 friends who, at best, have an odd sense of humor. Alcohol was certainly involved, but while alcohol can make you say stupid things you don't mean, I really don't see it justifying a call for "three cheers for Hitler" (also "Fuhrer," "Himmler," and yes, even "Eichmann"). And putting on an SS uniform is not something you just do on a whim, like putting a lampshade on your head. That takes some planning.

Burley, who "was said to be standing a few feet away" but "was not seen to object" during the Hitler-praising, apologized through his Twitter account on Sunday after the Nazi party (small p) came to light:

@aidanburleymp: Deeply regret inappropriate behaviour by some guests at Stag party I attended and i am extremely sorry for any offence that was caused.

That's the standard formulation for such apologies, of course, namely using the passive voice to avoid assigning responsibility and make it seem like the unpleasantness just "happened." See "TSA Settles With Woman Whose Top Was Pulled Down," Lowering the Bar (June 8, 2011) (TSA spokesperson: "We regret that the passenger had an unpleasant experience."); "Filing Instructions Too Hard, Says Supreme Court Justice," Lowering the Bar (Jan. 26, 2011) (Justice Thomas: "It has come to my attention that information … was inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions.")

The difference here, of course, is that Burley did not personally do anything wrong, so far as we know, and may just have been using the passive voice out of habit. Why not say "My friends did something utterly stupid and I should have objected and was wrong not to do so, and also I hate the Nazis"? That seems a lot more respectable and it still fits in 140 characters.

Burley's idiot friends could actually be prosecuted for this, since French law makes it a crime to wear or exhibit Nazi stuff in public unless it is for a film or something like that. That'd be unconstitutional in the U.S. (unless maybe you were trying to incite a riot), though still idiotic.