I started this as a comment on Jon's Michael Richards post, but then I sort of got carried away.
Richards' apology was the most awkward and unusual moment I've seen on TV this year. It was raw and unrehearsed.
He obviously felt terrible about his racist rant and took responsibility, but I don't think he quite got it. I'm not sure referring to "afro-americans" was the best strategy, and the section where he talked about Katrina was just bizarre.
Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but even in his apology, he still appeared to be homogenizing the African-American population, as though it were one single entity he offended, with a single set of concerns and priorities.
The key problem with his rant - and why everyone is still talking about it -- has nothing to do with him spilling hate from stage. IT was because he used "THE N WORD" and offended people. If he was just derisive when he tore into the hecklers, this never would have made news.
I think he's sincere; I think he knows he did a bad thing. I think he honestly wants forgiveness. And I think he knows he's wrong but doesn't know why.
And I'm sure that whole apology had something to do with Jerry Seinfeld calling him up earlier that day and saying something like, "You'd better come on Letterman tonight and apologize because I will NOT have you screwing up the release of the 7th season of Seinfeld on DVD this week."