The apology that follows a gut punch to the public needs to be appropriately gutsy, too. Stiff and sanitized won’t do. Neither will “I’m sorry you were offended,” nor any variation on “Mistakes were made.” People have to hear it all the way in the cheap seats.

Yet the bobbled apology happens again and again.

Joe Ricketts, billionaire patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs, drew fire after Splinter News published a trove of emails in which he engaged in Islamophobic conspiracy theories and other bonkers, bigoted exchanges.

While Ricketts and the Cubs responded quickly, they didn’t blow anyone away with the passion of their regret. We wondered whether a public relations consultant and a dozen lawyers had signed off.

“I strongly believe that bigoted ideas are wrong,” Ricketts said.

“Let me be clear: The language and views expressed in those emails have no place in our society,” said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts’ chilly statement.

They didn’t even match the heat of the MLB, which offered that the emails were “extremely offensive and completely at odds with the principles of Major League Baseball.”

Offended fans called for more convincing action. Some noted that the New York Mets hosted their first Muslim American Night last season. One fan expressed a wish to eat a halal Chicago hot dog at a Cubs game.

Amends take time. Improvements in communication or culture may not be immediately visible. A person can’t resign from the title of “patriarch.” That’s why those early responses in a fraught moment matter so much.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, no fan of Joe Ricketts, pronounced that the “ignorance and intolerance he has espoused are not welcome in Chicago” and added that Ricketts “should consider himself lucky he has never met my mother. She would teach him a lesson.”

And not, we imagine, a lesson applicable only in Illinois. In Virginia, plagued by a series of scandals at the top levels of state government, Attorney General Mark Herring followed an admission that he had worn blackface in college with a statement saying he was “deeply, deeply sorry” and including the words “ignorance,” “glib,” “callous” “inexcusable” “insensitivity” and “horrific.”

Exhausting the thesaurus isn’t enough. But it’s a start.

Strong words begin to reassure communities and restore trust. They indicate that the offenders understand the harm they’ve caused and now seek to do better. We’re braced for more revelations from yearbooks, texts and who knows where else. Plenty of people in the public eye routinely need to find healing words.

As for the Cubs, they should fashion a stadium-sized gesture of apology. It will take no less to express that hate has no place here.