The most damning part of making a verbal faux paus is rendering an appropriate apology. Trent Lott can tell you that humbling yourself and saying you are sorry may sometimes bring more backlash. In these particular events I found the explanation/apology to be seriously lacking. Shaq claims to have been making light fun of Yao and his name and said that he figured Yao would take it in stride. Trent Lott says that he was making a toast to a retiring statesman and was sorry if his words were taken out of context. Naomi said the same thing that she was sorry if someone took her words out of context......hmmm. I am sure that they are sorry, but sorry does not always mean remorse. Sorry is a word that means, remorseful, it can mean that something is in a sad state, and it also means "I don't like the fact that." So undoubtedly Trent Lott says, "I am sorry that people feel this way." I believe that is true. But if you are sorry someone feels a certain way, you can be simultaneously exasperated that they don't see it your way, or the way you would like them to see it.
When rendering apologies how hard is it to set your personal feelings aside and acknowledge someone else's? It shouldn't be. But often times we see people rendering conditional apologies. "I'm sorry you feel that way, but".....In my opinion that takes the solace out of an apology when you are forced to listen to the mitigating factors that caused the person to make the harmful statement or action. All one needs to do is say, "I said this/did this at the time, and it hurt you deeply....for that I am very sorry. My original reason for saying this/doing this at the time was XYZ. I didn't intend to cause you any trouble or grief. Please accept my apology, and know that I am going to make sure that I don't leave you feeling like this again." There is no garbage about "I am sorry you felt that way/I'm sorry you feel this way, or anything like that. In a nutshell you are being condescending to the person you are offering the apology when it comes in this form. Because of that, that is why there is usually a furor, or a backlash after someone makes an apology. Especially when it is just "kind of" an apology.