Joe Queenan offers a dazzlingly insightful look at the modern apology and its apparently utter lack of actual remorse.
Even in more recent, less theatrically vindictive times, true regret for one’s transgressions has always required a willingness to accept punishment, even if the punishment consists of nothing more than humiliation. The wrongdoer must admit that he has behaved shamefully and then accept being shamed. This means that if he is going to apologize for his actions, his apology must be abject and mortifying, with no wheedling, no qualifications, no whining. The apology cannot be used as a justification for one’s misdeeds, nor can the apology be hijacked to make the penitent seem in some way noble. For an apology to work, the apologist must get down on his knees and grovel. It is not enough to ask for forgiveness. He must beg for it.