Last week, celebrity chef Mario Batali emerged as one of the latest in a long list of powerful men accused of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Soon thereafter, ABC fired Batali from The Chew, the daytime show he's co-hosted since 2011.
But Batali's latest attempt at an apology simply added insult to injury.
Par for the course, right?
But what has people talking is the conclusion of the message, which read:
"ps. in case you're searching for a holiday-inspired breakfast, these Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls are a fan favorite."
The postscript included a picture of the referenced sweet treats, along with a link to the recipe.
If you haven't seen the Mario Batali apology, you should. Starts off ok, but he includes a recipe at the end.-- Matt Kelly (@SoMattKelly) December 16, 2017
Not making this up. pic.twitter.com/tsHcFVDmh3
I'd like to think that this newsletter was an honest mistake. That the conclusion was simply an automatic feature that someone on Batali's team neglected to remove, and that the famous chef is truly "deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort" he caused his victims, as he said in his original statement. (I've reached out to Batali's team for comment, and will update if I get a response.)
But while this epic blunder betrays a complete lack of emotional intelligence, it also carries a major lesson.
The real lesson
At first glance, the offensive postscript is a sad juxtaposition, an awkward add-on that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
But it's actually something far greater.
The ironic conclusion to Batali's newsletter is a glaring reminder of the message that has come through loud and clear in recent months: We live in a culture and society that is so inundated with shameful behavior, so filled to the brim with examples of wanton lasciviousness, that it's become normalized in the eyes of many.
That it should be considered no big deal.
That, OK, maybe he shouldn't have abused that person, but can't we just forget about it now ... because, you know, cinnamon rolls?
While there may be some value in a well-meant apology, in most cases these have come years (sometimes decades) too late--and only after the assailant has been exposed. Also, make no mistake: A simple "sorry," sincere or not, is not enough to make up for the emotional trauma that victims of sexual harassment and abuse have suffered.
But we can take advantage of this pivotal moment in history to examine our own behavior.
To ask ourselves: What am I doing to build a culture in my workplace--and in my home--where there is zero tolerance for conduct like this?
It begins by acknowledging the problem for what it is:
Sexual misconduct, harassment, assault, and abuse are all part of a serious pandemic.
It's all a very. Big. Deal.
None of it is normal.
So put the cinnamon rolls away and do something about it.