Ahhh, a real apology. Following demi-apologies from Rush, Geraldo and others, what Fox News analyst Monica Crowley just wrote on Twitter speaks to our ability to atone. Here it is: “Regret my tweeted question caused a stir. I certainly & unequivocally apologize to Sandra & anyone else I offended. Not my intention.”

And a thorough apology was quite warranted in this case. Crowley yesterday heard the news that Fluke had been engaged. “To a man?” she asked on Twitter. Fluke would later call that question “hate speech.”

We are nothing if not a nation of apology nitpickers, and Crowley’s offering today is getting drawn and quartered right now on social media:

The dissenters have one point. “Not my intention” isn’t relevant language for an apology. No one can ever truly know your intention, so vowing that some offensive scribbling didn’t align with your plans doesn’t advance the discussion.

What does work about the apology is the “certainly & unequivocally” part. There are no conditions hanging from this apology; it’s simply stated and extended. There’s no conditional contrition, either. That is, she could have said, “I apologize certainly & unequivocally if I offended Sandra Fluke and anyone else.” Aware that she had indeed offended Fluke and others, she expressed her regrets.

Whether Crowley’s original comment was hate speech, homophobia, nastiness, a joke or all of the above, it leveraged the harmful stereotype that a left-leaning activist who speaks out on women’s health issues must be a lesbian. That’s a good thing to apologize certainly & unequivocally for.