I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’m sick to death of people saying sorry.
When Kevin Rudd started it with his apology to the Stolen Generations it seemed like a fitting response. Certainly, most of the Aboriginal folk in Parliament House on the day appreciated it. Many of the women cried and even some of us whitefellas had to wipe away a tear.
But since then it has gradually to descended into an empty gesture. Who really believes the apology of those characters in the banking and insurance business to the customers they ripped off and left facing a retirement where stress ruined their health and actually cut their lives short?
Or the bullies who took advantage of their power over female employees to sexually harass them?
Or the priests who abused small boys and girls. The Pope can apologise till he’s blue in the face and it’s not going to make a jot of difference to a victim whose life has been one long struggle with the booze and drugs he or she have used as self-medication, and which only made the situation worse.
Yet the malefactors trot it out ad nauseum and we’re supposed to give them marks for their ‘facing up’ to their dirty deeds. Well, I don’t buy it. The gesture has been so debased that it’s not only lost all meaning, it’s actually become a substitute for genuine remorse and regret.
Yet hardly a day passes without some new pretence at contrition. Health Minister Greg Hunt ‘apologises’ to all women affected by pelvic mesh implants, when the truth is he had nothing to do with it.
Alan Jones apologises to the Sydney Opera House chief executive Louise Herron for abusing and bullying her on radio over her opposition to having a horse race advertised on the building’s sails. Actually, I happened to catch the Jones’s apology and it was so compromised by self-serving ‘justifications’ that it lost all meaning. Yet he still received the newspaper headline praising his magnanimity.
But it took Donald J Trump (who else?) to scrape the bottom of the barrel when he actually apologised ‘on behalf of the entire nation’ to Justice Brett Kavanaugh for having put him through the ‘terrible pain and suffering he and his family have been forced to endure’ in the confirmation of his seat on the US Supreme Court. In fact, Donald merely nominated him. And he can’t speak for the entire nation since at least half of them are totally opposed to the Kavanaugh accession.
So, how do we stop this epidemic of apologetic hypocrisy from engulfing us? Fines aren’t the answer; their companies or churches or supporters would pay anyway, and the perpetrators are beyond shaming. But if they’re fair dinkum about ‘eating crow’, perhaps we should take them at their word…literally. The origin of the phrase comes from the Bible where in Leviticus it’s one of the birds listed as foul tasting and unfit for eating.
They’re protected in Australia, so we can’t use them in a meal for the mealy mouthed. But we could affirm the principle by creating a foul tasting mixture and requiring the apologisers to swallow at few mouthfuls to prove their bone fides before granting the ‘Sorry’ headline. That at least that might give them pause before desecrating what was once a noble gesture of repentance. And it would be fun to watch, wouldn’t it.