To apologize is to express heartfelt contrition, and contrition is only possible when we feel bad not because our actions — or at any rate the fact of their being discovered by others — have exposed us to unpleasantness but because we recognize that they are fundamentally wrong. This is why when Catholics confess our sins we tell the priest that we are “heartily sorry for all our sins because we dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, O God.”

Instead, what non-apologies like Weinstein’s or the recent “statement” released by the office of Rep. Tim Murphy, the ostensibly pro-life Ohio Republican accused of pressuring his mistress to abort a child, do is absolve the persons to whom they are attributed of culpability for the wrongdoing to which they are not, in fact, confessing. They never refer to the actions in question, in part, no doubt, for reasons that could be explained by the well-remunerated graduates of prestigious law schools and public-relations professionals who are their real authors. These pseudo-confessions are soaked in the language of therapy and addiction; windy phrases about “the journey” and “my demons” abound; there is always an emphasis on how “sincerely” (has any genuinely sincere utterance in history ever carried that qualifier, I wonder?) the parodies of feelings being referred to are; parades of excuses are invariably lined up before our eyes so that we can be informed that they are, in fact, “not excuses.”