When, exactly, did we get here?
When did America arrive at a place where every wrong choice of words, every poorly expressed thought that someone else finds offensive must result in somebody losing their livelihood?
When, in a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles, did a heartfelt apology stop being enough to make amends for saying something stupid?
Because, really, that's all that has happened.
That's all Ozzie Guillen is guilty of -- choosing the wrong words, poorly expressing a thought, saying something stupid in an interview with Time magazine, which quoted the Miami Marlins manager as saying, "I love Fidel Castro."
And, yes, that was a mistake.
A huge mistake.
A man who works in Little Havana for a baseball team based in Miami can't say those four words, regardless of context, and expect people to merely shrug it off.
South Florida is home to millions of Cuban-Americans, most of whom hate Castro. They have either experienced his cruelty and brutality or know someone who has.
They see him as their Hitler. So, for some, it doesn't matter that Guillen tried to clarify his position by adding: "I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that (expletive) is still there."
Nor does it matter that, according to reporters traveling with the Marlins last weekend, Guillen seemed surprised by the way his remarks were portrayed by the magazine.
"The interview was about sport, not politics," Guillen said during a closed-door session with Marlins beat reporters Saturday in Cincinnati. "You read what it was; it comes out (a) different way."
Maybe the article doesn't accurately represent what Guillen meant to say.
It probably doesn't.
Guillen has lived in Miami for 12 years and is fully aware of how much the Cuban-American population despises Castro. In his initial apology, in fact, the Venezuela native said he wanted everyone to know, "I'm against everything 100 percent ... the way this man (has been) treating people for the last 60 years."
Then, before Monday's game in Philadelphia, he followed up by saying he is so troubled by the article that he hadn't slept since the story broke Friday night. "I feel very guilty about it, and very bad and sad and very embarrassed," he told reporters gathered around him in the visitors' dugout.
There's no reason to not believe him -- no good reason to not embrace what appears to be genuine contrition and accept what sounds like a sincere apology.
Clearly, he knows he messed up, realizes the damage he has done, understands the potential consequences. He's not surprised by the angry reaction in Miami.
And he's doing whatever he can to make things right.
Yet, on Tuesday, the team suspended him for five games after pressure from some unforgiving zealots: Viglia Mambisa, a Cuban-American advocacy group, had threatened to demonstrate and organize boycotts against the Marlins until Guillen was fired.
Doesn't it matter that Guillen doesn't endorse Castro or his politics or his practices? Or that Guillen didn't mean to say what he said? Or that Guillen deeply regrets that his remarks upset the community?
Doesn't it matter that Guillen, whose mouth sometimes outruns his brain, often says things that shouldn't be taken seriously?
Doesn't it matter that he's sorry?
The man made a mistake.
He chose the wrong words, poorly expressed his thought and ended up saying something stupid. And when he realized what he had done, he offered a heartfelt apology.
Why isn't that enough?
When, exactly, did America get to a place where every mistake must be fatal?