Have you ever taken full responsibility?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

“I accept full responsibility.”’

In your lifetime you’ve doubtless heard umpteen public figures (elected officials, bureaucrats, corporate executives, celebrities) promise, “I accept full responsibility” after some manifestation of corruption, incompetence or social injustice comes to light.

(And if you’ve ever witnessed your cat insinuate, “I accept full responsibility,” you need to take full responsibility for the potency of the weed you’re smoking.)

The first dozen times you heard this, you naively expected heads to roll, policies to be overhauled and restitution to be made.
This is probably because you have bittersweet childhood memories of marching over to Mr. Beasley’s house, confessing to knocking a baseball through his window and mowing his lawn all summer to make amends.

In the grown-up world, repercussions are more nuanced.

As Lucy Van Pelt from “Peanuts” might announce, “The spin doctor is IN.”

You might think justice demands terminations, resignations or demotions; but semantics can cover a multitude of sins. (“In the interest of proper context, I have corralled a distant cousin of Noah Webster who would like to shed some light on alternative meanings of the words ‘I,’ ‘accept,’ ‘full’ and ‘responsibility.’”)

Crafty speakers disguise throwing others under the bus. (“I accept complete responsibility, although … neither my immediate predecessor nor my executive assistant bothered to tell me that a dollar-store sticky note is not the optimal substitute for a ‘Bridge Out’ sign.”)

Sometimes we peons are too easily distracted. (“Before I go hang my head in shame, I must point out that all the smoke and mirrors you see up here are 100 percent American-made.”)

Even our information gatekeepers can be misdirected. (“I also take full responsibility for the recycling of the swag bags we provided for each of you fine representatives of the Fourth Estate.”)

The savviest public figures know how to accentuate the positive. (“Going forward, we must think globally. I’ll bet there are cultures where two-headed infants with gills are considered a blessing!”)

Tugging at the heart-strings is a way to seal the deal. (“I am redoubling my efforts to regain the public’s trust. My aged mother always taught me to clean up my own messes. My aged mother who will probably stop eating and wither away if her only daughter is condemned to give up her reserved parking space over some trivial Cayman Islands bank account kerfuffle…”)

Apologies need to be heavily scripted. Public figures tend to dig the hole deeper when they speak extemporaneously, as with “Some of my best friends are dumb blondes and inscrutable Orientals” or “Baby, I swear that next time – um, er, I mean, we have put in place revised protocols and stringent guardrails.”

I know the more bloodthirsty among us would love seeing the typical insincere display of contrition replaced with a good old-fashioned hara-kiri act of self-disembowelment, but don’t get your hopes up. (“Oops. The ceremonial sword from the lowest bidder shattered on my pocket protector! Who wants to face the music on this one?”)

As long as there are fallible institutions and opportunistic image consultants, expect to endure a steady stream of dog and pony shows competing for the public’s mercy.

Heck, even if all the image consultants went on strike, semi-remorseful public figures could brainstorm rehabilitation campaigns just by watching Seventies sitcoms.

“As God is my witness, I didn’t know that haphazardly handled thermonuclear devices could desecrate Native American burial grounds!”

Copyright 2024 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”

Controversial author Harlan Ellison once described the work of Danny Tyree as "wonkily extrapolative" and said Tyree's mind "works like a demented cuckoo clock."

Ellison was speaking primarily of Tyree’s 1983-2000 stint on the "Dan T’s Inferno" column for “Comics Buyer’s Guide” hobby magazine, but the description would also fit his weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades" column for mainstream newspapers.

Inspired by Dave Barry, Al "Li'l Abner" Capp, Lewis Grizzard, David Letterman, and "Saturday Night Live," "Tyree's Tyrades" has been taking a humorous look at politics and popular culture since 1998.

Tyree has written on topics as varied as Rent-A-Friend.com, the Lincoln bicentennial, "Woodstock At 40," worm ranching, the Vatican conference on extraterrestrials, violent video games, synthetic meat, the decline of soap operas, robotic soldiers, the nation's first marijuana café, Sen. Joe Wilson’s "You lie!" outburst at President Obama, Internet addiction, "Is marriage obsolete?," electronic cigarettes, 8-minute sermons, early puberty, the Civil War sesquicentennial, Arizona's immigration law, the 50th anniversary of the Andy Griffith Show, armed teachers, "Are women smarter than men?," Archie Andrews' proposal to Veronica, 2012 and the Mayan calendar, ACLU school lawsuits, cutbacks at ABC News, and the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon.

Tyree generated a particular buzz on the Internet with his column spoofing real-life Christian nudist camps.

Most of the editors carrying "Tyree’s Tyrades" keep it firmly in place on the opinion page, but the column is very versatile. It can also anchor the lifestyles section or float throughout the paper.

Nancy Brewer, assistant editor of the "Lawrence County (TN) Advocate" says she "really appreciates" what Tyree contributes to the paper. Tyree has appeared in Tennesee newspapers continuously since 1998.

Tyree is a lifelong small-town southerner. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications. In addition to writing the weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades," he writes freelance articles for MegaBucks Marketing of Elkhart, Indiana.

Tyree wears many hats (but still falls back on that lame comb-over). He is a warehousing and communications specialist for his hometown farmers cooperative, a church deacon, a comic book collector, a husband (wife Melissa is a college biology teacher), and a late-in-life father. (Six-year-old son Gideon frequently pops up in the columns.)

Bringing the formerly self-syndicated "Tyree's Tyrades" to Cagle Cartoons is part of Tyree's mid-life crisis master plan. Look for things to get even crazier if you use his columns.