Michigan State Police Chief Apologizes for Facebook Meme

The head of the Michigan State Police, Kriste Kibbe Etue, posted a meme on Facebook over the weekend, criticizing NFL players who protested at the start of football games. She called them “degenerates” and accused them of hating America “and disrespect[ing] our armed forces.”

According to media reports, the meme was widely shared, although she allegedly posted it so only her friends could see it. It aligned with recent tweets by President Trump regarding NFL players.

Late Tuesday evening, Col. Kibbe Etue apologized for the post:

“It was a mistake to share this message on Facebook, and I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended. I will continue my focus on unity at the Michigan State police, and in communities across Michigan.”

As apologies go, this one is weak. An apology to “anyone who was offended” shifts the blame to the audience. It implies that the speaker spoke truth, and that it’s the listener’s fault if the listener takes offense.

Also, the use of “anyone” implies that she doesn’t know whether there was actually anyone who was offended, and yet the Detroit Free Press reported several groups who expressed dismay at the post, which is probably what prompted the apology in the first place. Apologizing to “those who were offended” would be more honest, as she knew that she had offended plenty of people.

With apologies, less is often more. The planned apology (as opposed to an extemporaneous one) should be scrutinized for extra language that distracts from the apology. In this case, the second sentence is strange and should’ve been re-worded or omitted altogether. As a Michigan citizen, “unity” isn’t really what I want the State Police to focus on; I want them to focus on law enforcement. But if she wants to focus on unity within the State Police force, then she should not have posted something on Facebook guaranteed to divide. Does she mean that she’ll go back to focusing on unity? If she’s truly sorry for dividing her troops along racial lines, realizing that’s the result of her post, then why doesn’t she say so?

If she were truly sorry, she might have issued an apology like this:

It was foolish of me to post personal opinions on social media. I realize now that my comments were divisive and caused pain to many. I truly regret what I did. One of my goals has been to unify our wonderful state police force, and I did just the opposite. I intend to make up for my poor judgment by refraining from social media comments in the future. I hope you will forgive me.