There was a time when an apology meant a reasoned defence of one's beliefs or opinions. But now the word has become associated with unreason, with insane and deranged ranting.
The Roman Pope, Benedict XVI, speaks at a university where he once taught, and cites someone else (whose views he admitted he found surprising), and suddenly fanatical secularists are making common cause with fanatical religionists in demanding an apology, and denouncing what apologies and explanations are given as inadequate.
This comes a couple of weeks after Adriaan Vlok, former Minister of Police in South Africa, knelt at the feet of a church leader he had once tried to have killed, and apologised for his past actions. All sorts of people, whose political views ranged from the far left to the far right, rushed to denounce Vlok's action, and one commentator called it "deeply offensive".
Screaming demands for an apology for a passing reference in an academic paper on the one hand, and denouncing an apology for attempted murder as deeply offensive on the other -- what kind of world do we live in? Whatever it is, it is not a sane one.
But I have seen two tiny glimmers of sanity in the world media: an article In defence of Pope Benedict, and, from a Muslim, Subtle scholar, but an inept politician
Nevertheless, I never, never, ever want to see another demand for an apology, ever again. That way lies madness.