"Sorry. And as long as we're all looking for things to get offended about...."
"I didn't mean to offend..."
"Sorry that people got offended by what I said."
Cyborgology has a nice article on apologies and the apparent increase in demands for public ones. In it, Dr. Aaron Lazare, author of the book On Apology, notes:
“We are in a pandemic of bad behavior,” says Dr. Aaron Lazare, chancellor and dean emeritus of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and author of the 2004 book “On Apology.”
He has studied the frequency of apologies in published news reports from 1900 to the present day and says since the 1980s, “the number of apologies has tripled.” But, he adds, the effectiveness and sincerity of those apologies has plummeted.
“Most of these people simply want to have their cake and eat it too,” he says, noting that the key to a genuine apology is humility and restoration of dignity for the offended party.I emphasized that last sentence because that concept really seems to confuse people.
Too often, when people say something racist, sexist, misogynistic, or otherwise offensive, they act as though the key to an apology is a restoration of their own reputation as Being Not Bigoted. No concern, let alone humility, is expressed about restoring the dignity of the people they have offended. No attempt is made to understand why people were offended.
That's why so many people think that if they didn't intend to say something offensive, then it's magically not offensive. (Hint: It can be). They center themselves- their feelings, their perspectives- rather than the people they have harmed or offended.
You can tell a non-apology apology when you see it because the person who has given offense acts as though the apology is about hirself, rather than about the people ze has offended.