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To be extremely irritated when wrongdoers describe what they have done as a 'mistake'.

(25 Posts)
MiceElf Wed 01-May-13 19:53:45

It's not a mistake. A mistake is when a person does something incorrect but in good faith.
Wrongdoing is not a mistake. Recently I've heard theft, assault, fraud, drunkenness, abuse, and dreadful driving described as 'mistakes'. They aren't.

nanaej Wed 01-May-13 20:06:40

MiceElf I understand your point of view but will challenge it! I have made 'mistakes' in my life..bad choices which with time and hindsight I realised that I made an error (mistake) of judgement.

I agree that it should not be an excuse to avoid a consequence but people can make mistakes which have unintentional and tragic consequences.

MiceElf Wed 01-May-13 20:12:29

I wasn't meaning bad choices though Nanaej. I mean, just as one example, someone who deliberately defrauded their employer of £20,000. That was deliberate, so was the man who repeatedly hit his wife for no reason other than that he could.

There's a world of difference between immature choices and that sort of behaviour.

nanaej Wed 01-May-13 20:15:15

Oh if it is a planned act certainly a different scenario.

MiceElf Wed 01-May-13 20:25:01

Indeed. It's the way the language acts to remove the personal culpability for either a criminal or totally unacceptable action.

Saying 'I made a mistake, I only hit her once when I lost my temper' or

'He made a mistake when he bit an opponent on the football field' takes away the responsibility and minimises the offence.

Ana Wed 01-May-13 20:52:12

I've noticed this more and more in the news recently. Even the most flagrant breaches of the law are referred to as 'mistakes' by the perpetrators - 'Upon reflection, it was an unforgivable mistake' or 'I admit I made a mistake...'

Ana Wed 01-May-13 20:53:06

'Error of judgement' is another one!

janeainsworth Wed 01-May-13 21:05:37

Isn't the important thing though, whether someone has expressed remorse?
I agree with you MiceElf, but I'm not sure it is the words themselves that grate, but the fact that they are used as an excuse, rather than an admission of wrongdoing.
But if they say they are sincerely sorry they have made a mistake, doesn't that make a difference?

MiceElf Wed 01-May-13 21:10:13

Perhaps I'm being very judgemental but I'd rather hear

'Im sorry, I did something wrong'.

Lilygran Wed 01-May-13 21:10:51

The other annoying avoidance of personal responsibility is the use of the external agent, 'Something bad happened'. 'Then it all kicked off'.

cathy Wed 01-May-13 21:28:43

I have to agree with you MiceElf

laidback Thu 02-May-13 01:05:19

Is'nt it also something to do with human nature? Not many people I know would admit to a 'wrong doing' when infact IT IS. To say they 'made a mistake' even if it was a deliberate act is much easier and softer to admit, a cop out really,a phrase which seems to cover a multitude of sins. Legally also a term which is very overused to take the sting out of a bad action.

Granny23 Thu 02-May-13 01:46:30

Totally agree Micelf. The other 'excuse' that I deplore is the 'It was the drink that made me do it' or 'I'm sorry, but I was off my face at the time'. Drink does not make people violent or abusive, it merely counters their normal inhibitions allowing some people to be violent, some to be romantic, some to dance or sing, some to swear like troupers.

Biker Thu 02-May-13 06:50:01

Agree entirely - 'I was drunk' which covers everything from murder to extra marital affairs.
I think the intention is to get the Police/Judge on their side as in, "We're all guys together here, I'm sure you understand?"
I for one do not understand!

absent Thu 02-May-13 06:55:26

"I made a mistake" goes with "I'm sorry about what happened". It – whether beating your wife, defrauding your employer or biting a member of an opposing football team – didn't just happen. You did it. Once again, this is a way of using language to distance oneself as perpetrator from the offence.

Riverwalk Thu 02-May-13 07:35:58

John Major described his two-year adulterous affair with Edwina Currie as a 'mistake'!

absent Thu 02-May-13 08:01:34

Riverwalk I'm surprised she didn't kill him when he said that.

gillybob Thu 02-May-13 08:06:14

A two year full on affair is hardly a "mistake" is it? A one night stand perhaps. Plenty little mistakes have been born over the years too.

Joan Thu 02-May-13 11:58:38

I think 'I made a mistake' really means 'I made a mistake in getting caught'.

I agree it is a cop out.

Greatnan Thu 02-May-13 12:47:51

Exactly, Joan. The crocodile tears of the few bankers that have been caught out are nauseating. If they are really sorry, they will make reparations.

janthea Thu 02-May-13 13:23:26

Joan I was just about the post the same about the mistake being caught. Took the words right out of my mouth!

gillybob Thu 02-May-13 13:34:51

Just remembered something quite amusing. My youngest grandaughter (5) announced while doing some colouring that she had done a steak Her sister (7) said don't be silly you haven't DONE a steak, you have made a steak


Deedaa Thu 02-May-13 21:03:12

The thing that is really infuriating is when a spokesman for an organisation that has totally screwed something up, stands there and says "IF mistakes have been made....." What he should be saying is "I'm really sorry we have employed such conniving, dishonest crooks. They will all be handed over to the Police immediately!"

I imagine this will not happen and we will just be stuck with the "mistakes".

absent Fri 03-May-13 07:33:10

There's also the politician's apology – "I'm sorry if anyone has been offended" or "I'm sorry if anyone has misunderstood". It's never I'm sorry for lying/cheating/flipping my houses to make a lot of money out of the taxpayer/copulating with my work experience researcher on top of my House of Commons desk, etc. etc.

Bags Fri 03-May-13 07:56:54

Hmm. People phrase their public "apologies" carefully for obvious reasons, I think, the main one being the same reason you don't admit culpability when there has been a traffic accident. You wait for all the facts to be collected.

That doesn't mean you aren't accepting responsibility and feeling sorry internally (and even making amends). I don't think we should judge on public and "media-blessed" apologies.

As for apologies in case anyone has taken offence (when, at the same time, most people haven't), well, I think those are daft anyway. People take offence for all sorts of stupid and rationally unjustifiable 'reasons'.