There is also the passive-voice, non-responsibility apology — “I’m sorry if what I did upset you.”

You’re not sorry you did it. You’re sorry that someone was upset about what you did. You’re saying that, actually, they’re to blame for being overly sensitive and taking your actions so personally.

And the general, passive-voice apology — “I’m sorry about what happened to Bill.”

You’re not sorry you stabbed Bill 14 times and threw his body in the river. You’re sorry that fate/the universe/bad luck or “something” hurt Bill.

Or, “What happened to Bill was a terrible thing.” Essentially, “Something bad happened to Bill, but I’m not admitting it had anything to do with me.”

A variant of this is: “I wish this had never happened” which translates to: “If I had known I was going to get caught and made to live the next 20 years in a cage, I never would have done this.”

This is equivalent to, “I’m very sorry I bet on red. If I had known I was going to lose I would have bet on black instead.” Sort of a “I guessed wrong” rather than “I did something wrong” apology.

If you watch true-crime-show videos of convicted criminals addressing the court at sentencing, you will see a lot of passive-voice apologies.

For actions that did not rise to the level of felonies, I think there should be a 20-year statute of limitations on things we did while under the age of 30.

When you were 22 you said or did something that was insulting, rude, politically incorrect, hurtful, insensitive, etc. You are now 50 and if you’re like 95% of the population you’re a very different person today with a lot more awareness and wisdom than that 22-year-old jerk you were in your senior year in college.

Under those circumstances, I think we all deserve a pass, so my response would be “I was a 22-year-old clueless kid. I’m playing the statute of limitations card.”

— David Grace

Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 17 novels and over 200 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.

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