Performance Perspectives Blog

Mea culpa penalty

by | Jun 16, 2009

I just learned that David Letterman made, what has been come to thought of as, an offensive joke a week ago, directed at Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s daughters. Since I don’t watch late night talk shows, I was unaware of this event until this morning. Letterman recognized his error and offered an apology to Gov. Palin and her family (,2933,526525,00.html).

This is a bit of a coincidence since I have just come to realize that I may have offended some of the attendees at last month’s Performance Measurement, Attribution & Risk (PMAR) conference when I referred to Canada as the “51st state.” This sarcastic remark was more of an acknowledgement of ignorant Americans (not that any were in attendance) who unfortunately don’t (a) know geography or (b) appreciate our friend and neighbor to the north. As with Letterman’s efforts, mine was intended to be funny, not offensive. I respect our long-term ally and largest trading partner a great deal, and in no way would ever knowingly wish to offend any of its citizens. And therefore I will send out e-mails later today to the several Canadians who attended our event, offering an apology.

Well, all of this, in turn, made me think of the change which goes into effect this coming January, of which I recently spoke, which mandates that firms that make corrections to GIPS(r) presentations because of material errors must confess their sins for an entire year on their presentations, even though they would have been expected to communicate their error to any party who had previously received the erroneous material (talk about a run-on sentence!). (This requirement is analogous to saying “I know that you probably didn’t know this, but during the past year I made an error, and even though it didn’t affect you and it’s been corrected, I wanted to let you know that I made a mistake).

Imagine if the same rule applied to talk show hosts and conference speakers, in which case at the beginning of every show for a year Letterman would have to apologize for his errors. And I guess I’d have to seek a mea culpa at least every time I met a Canadian. A bit overboard, yes?

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