Disclaimer: This is not in response to any particular apology. This has been on my topics list for years. Frustratingly, when I finally committed it to words, someone went and made a public apology, and I had to postpone this to avoid association. So here we are.
The title, “Against apologies” can be interpreted in several ways, so I will clarify my meaning up front. There’s nothing wrong with people apologizing for things they’ve done wrong. There’s nothing wrong with accepting or rejecting those apologies. The thing I am complaining about, is when people demand public apologies, and then when the apology arrives, they pick out some small detail that they say shows the apology wasn’t really sincere. I think this is more often than not, a flimsy pretext to reject apologies no matter their content.
But I am not saying that we need to accept bad apologies. Rather, I propose that if we’re going to reject an apology, then we don’t need to invent an excuse. For some kinds of wrongdoing, we may decide that no apology will ever be acceptable. We should be unashamed to say so.