On January 8th, Meryl Streep was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes. She used her time on stage accepting the award to talk about the importance of art, the importance of diversity in art, and to publicly criticize president-elect Donald Trump for his resistance to and animosity towards the media. She specifically reflected on how, during his election campaign, Mr. Trump appeared to mock a journalist with a physical disability.

Let me come back to that.

First, a story ...

My fourth year in college saw me working for the university Housing department, attending various planning committee meetings and managing people for the first time. It was a powerful and rewarding experience that helped me grow and showed me first-hand many of my limitations.

I had the privilege of sitting on a diversity committee with one of the women on my staff. We usually made it to every meeting together, but occasionally one of us would be busy and miss the meeting.

Usually, I'd be the one absent - one week, though, it was my teammate. Her absence slipped my mind and, during a later all-team meeting I called on her to give a status report.

"I wasn't able to make it this week."

"Oh, well I was. This week we discussed ..."

Those of you smarter than I was at 22 can see immediately what I did. I singled out a woman who reported to me for failing to attend a meeting. In front of her peers. Then glossed over it as if she were unimportant and moved on with other business.

That wasn't my intention, but it's how my words and actions were received. That meeting damaged our working relationship and, ultimately, cost me several friendships where people were now convinced I was a calloused misogynist.

Let me come back to that.

But first, Donald Trump ...

Donald Trump is an interesting man to watch. He says whatever is on his mind, whether appropriate or otherwise, and moves forward with no thought to the impact or repercussion of his words. Many people voted for him exactly due to this quality.

He also likes to mock people. Not directly, but with a vague "I'm going to flail about for a moment in caricature of my opinion about ___." He did so on the campaign trail with Marco Rubio. He did so with Ted Cruz. It's a source of laughter for many, and the unfiltered nature of his impersonation his opinion of individuals' competency is a defining characteristic.

When he did so with Serge Kovalesk, though, everyone saw something else. They didn't see Mr. Trump flailing in mockery of apparent incompetence. They saw Mr. Trump flailing in mockery of a man with a physical disability.

Another story ...

In 2012, ESPN ran an article about NBA star Jeremy Lin titled "Chink in the Armor." Honestly, when I read the article I saw nothing wrong with it. In my world, this particular phrase is a reference to medieval knights and a "chink in the armor" is a reflection on how their battle dress isn't as powerful or invulnerable as it used to be.

But that's not how everyone took it, and very understandably.

"Chink" is also a racial epithet - toward people of Chinese descent like Mr. Lin. Many readers were, rightfully, outraged by the column. Their outrage ultimately cost the ESPN writer his job.

In his apology letter, the writer both explained his intention and apologized for not thinking things through:

I wrote the headline in reference to the tone of the column and not to Jeremy Lin’s race. It was a lapse in judgment and not a racist pun. It was an awful editorial omission and it cost me my job.

I owe an apology to Jeremy Lin and all people offended. I am truly sorry.

This writer owned his mistake. He never denied that it happened, but explained what he had meant and apologized all the same.

The Bottom Line

I never intended to humiliate my coworker in college. I never intended to call her out in front of her peers for missing a meeting. I never intended to imply she wasn't doing her job. I never intended to criticize her.

But that's what happened.

The writer at ESPN never intended to use a racial epithet in the title of his column. He never intended to offend the athlete about whom he was writing or any of his readers.

But that's what happened.

I will give Mr. Trump the benefit of the doubt when he says he never intended to mock Mr. Kovalesk's disability. But make no mistake - he absolutely intended to mock the man.

That's what happened.

It's up to you and no one else to own your words and actions. If they're taken to mean something hostile, hurtful, or hateful you need to own that, too. Not intending to offend someone doesn't make what you've done any less offensive.

No one can apologize for my words in that meeting but me.

No one can apologize for writing that article but the writer.

No one can apologize for mocking Mr. Kovalesk but Donald Trump.