If you asked his parents, they'd acknowledge that no, he probably doesn't feel very sorry right now. Maybe when they get a chance to talk it over they might find a way to explain to him why he's supposed to feel sorry, why what he did was so wrong, and how awful it made the other kid or whatever feel. Or maybe they won't, because there are only so many hours in the day, and Christ, is it spaghetti night again, and oh let's just see what's on Netflix.
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"Eh. Eh. Eh. Seen it. Eh. I've heard that's good. Eh. Eh. Hmm. Eh. Eh. Eh."
But they'd also say that that's not the only reason they made him apologize. They do it because that's what you do in these situations. An apology, even an insincere one, is at least an acknowledgment that an apology of some sort is warranted. It acknowledges that we're all playing by some sort of rules, that our personal feelings to each other matter, and that apologizing is one way to mend those feelings. Even if the kid doesn't feel sorry, understanding that there are things worth apologizing over is a valuable lesson.
Goddammit, why do I keep putting this picture of this kid here? I hate his stupid butt-dumb-faced stupidness.
And it signals the same thing to anyone who might be watching. For example, horrible sexist behavior in the workplace was pretty common for a time, until eventually the world smartened up and realized that women have, like, skills and aspirations and the ability to process pain. But not everyone smartened up at the same speed, and when some moron continued behaving horribly, there's a good chance he would have been made to apologize for it. And even though he probably wasn't that sorry, that apology would have sent a pretty clear signal to any other morons that this behavior wasn't acceptable. Sincere or not, that fake apology mattered, and after time and enough fake apologies, attitudes began to change.
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And workplace sexism was solved forever.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and is very sorry for it. Join him on Facebook or Twitter to express your regrets.
For more from Bucholz, check out 6 Service Industry Code Words They Don't Want You to Know and 4 Offensive Words That Started Out as the Polite Alternative.