Saying sorry can do wonders for your rehabilitation - especially if you blame outside forces for your transgressions. So I hope shamed footballer Ched Evans finds time to learn the lessons of previously-shamed fashion designer John Galliano - a man who has not only returned to the catwalk but has also just been named as one of Debretts' most influential people in fashion.
Evans has apologised not for what he did but for the 'effects' that his rape has had on his victim. If he appeals, the precise reasons for this stance may emerge. In the meantime, he is a social and professional pariah, a man who is being hounded by a braying mob from every conceivable work opportunity for which he is skilled. Not even the justice system, which put him behind bars for almost two years, is enough to satisfy those who believe his crime was so vile that he shouldn't be given a second chance.
By contrast, the man who makes pretty frocks has been welcomed back with open arms by fashionistas who insist forgiveness is the only decent way to treat those who have committed and apologised for truly upsetting crimes.
And yet what has Galliano apologised for? Being an antisemite, or merely spouting hateful antisemitic comments whilst under the influence of drink and drugs? We can call Evans a rapist, even though he insisted during his trial that his drunken victim was a willing participant in their sordid encounter. But can I call Galliano an antisemite? Am I able to echo a fellow darling of the fashion clique, Vidal Sassoon, who once memorably said that: 'It's OK saying sorry but when you are drunk you say what you really feel.'?
Is it enough - as so many giddy, excitable sycophants clearly think - for a man to apologise not for what he said but for saying these things in a drink and drug-fuelled fug of madness?
Personally, I am not forgiving of either man. But if there are more kind-hearted souls out there who want to employ them because they have served their time in isolation, have sort-of apologised and are still good at what they do - kicking a ball and sewing a thread - then, that's fine.
But it is extreme hypocrisy to suggest a man convicted of racism can be forgiven but a man convicted of rape can't. Both men have suffered for their appalling acts and so both, reasonably, should be rehabilitated. In The Observer newspaper recently fashion journalist Melanie Rickey, the wife of fashion PR guru Mary Portas, wrote an astonishingly gushing page about the thrill of seeing 'fragile poet' Galliano's new comeback collection and that 'forgiveness is coming from powerful places' even - incredibly - the Chief Rabbi, she implied.
Six pages later, the paper's brilliant columnist, Catherine Bennett suggested that Ched Evans should be treated in the same manner as any celebrity who has been convicted of 'discernible sleazebaggery...where clemency might be mistaken for approval'. She used the example of film director Roman Polanski as someone who was forgiven for having sex with a minor but it could equally apply to her colleague's apparent hero-worship of a man who, let us not forget (and perhaps Melanie has because she omitted this bit in her fawning profile) screamed 'f****** ugly dirty Jewish b******' in a Parisian bar before telling two Italian women that their ancestors should have been 'gassed', and 'I love Hitler'. He was handed a £2.60 fine by the way.
I'm not trying to compare the crimes - of course, violence against women is far worse than verbal abuse. I'm trying to compare our reaction to them. Role model who engages in rather meaningless and occasionally thuggish activity in a rarified bubble with lots of other men? Get lost. Role model who engages in rather meaningless activity with lots of women in a rarified world of champagne, air-kisses and self-congratulation? Welcome back.Suggest a correction