Look, at the moment we live in mea culpa hell. People are so sorry so often and so quickly … . Very rarely are people honestly sorry—if they were, they would not have done it in the first place. Except for in small chance mishaps, ‘sorry’ is an obnoxious trivial word… . the main reason we ought never apologize for such a thing is that it’s just too easy. It is so facile, so self-satisfying, so meaningless… . Ever since [Eden] it has been a world of men behaving badly, of women sometimes behaving even worse, and everyone just covering their tracks, saying I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Saying, basically: I’m sorry I ruined your life.
But there is real dignity in the occasional moment when some public figure says I’m not sorry. I mean, any idiot can say I’m sorry, but it takes a real mensch to say I’m not sorry, or better still, to just shut up. Quiet—or quiet resignation—and a reluctant, pained acceptance of one’s responsibility for how he has hurt and harmed and maimed and destroyed others is the only real way to do penitence. After a long and thoughtful time of living with the burden of whatever wrong it might be, then maybe there might be an appropriate moment to ask the wronged party for forgiveness. But remorse is not a rhetorical device.”—Elizabeth Wurtzel, Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women