'What do you expect them to do? Fall on the ground and grovel? Eat dirt? I mean -- get real.'
These were the sensitive and diplomatic words of Foreign Minister Alexander Downer when asked on the teeve tonight about the possibility of an apology to Dr Mohamed Haneef. He did not add, but might as well have, 'I hold the rule of law, the doctrine of the separation of powers, the Australian judiciary, and the whole notion of justice, natural or otherwise, in complete contempt.'
The contrast with the gentle dignity of Dr Haneef could not have been more jarring.
We all know that there's a certain kind of person who would rather be carried out in a straitjacket on a stretcher, babbling and frothing, than utter the words 'I made a mistake', 'I'm sorry', or 'I was wrong.' The question is, are these the people we want in charge of the country?
When -- and why -- did the ancient concepts of reparation, reconciliation and redemption become nothing more than a contemptible sign of weakness? They are, after all, at the basis of Christianity, of the greatest classical tragedies, and of most of Shakespeare -- all things that this government would have us believe they value, and that they feel must be saved from The Evil Postmodernists at any cost. If it were not so soul-destroying it would be very funny.