Last weekend, my sister-in-law and her 5-year-old daughter were in town. They’re good people. Well, at least some of the time. And by that I mean that my niece can be a real pain in the bum. In fact, a good bit of the time, she’s a mean lil’ bugger, spouting off bon mots that are as biting as something that might come out of the mouth of Kathy Griffin, that is if the comedienne had the vocabulary of a pre-K.

Sometimes she even growls … and not in a funny, I’m-acting-like-a-dog sort of way. I’m talking about the vicious spittle-flying growl of a mad dog — or Nancy Grace whenever a white girl has gone missing. Honestly, over the course of those five days, I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to put Old Yeller down across my knee and paddle away.

Now, Little Miss Yeller may be mad and all, but she’s well trained. In fact, if her mommy calls her out when she’s throwing one of her fits and tells her to apologize, my niece’ll do it. But there won’t be a genuine thing about it.

Which brings us to the curious case of Rusty DePass and the Escaping Ape.

As you probably know, shortly after a gorilla escaped from the Riverbanks Zoo word got out to the masses. DePass, a former S.C. Election Commission chair, was one of them, and he decided to enlighten the world with a witty comment about the matter.

And he didn’t just do it to his wife or his co-workers or his buddies. Nope. He did it on Facebook … like a 13-year-old girl with a crush on the eldest Jonas Brother, you know the one that looks like he uses the same type of hair relaxer as Michael Jackson.

Here’s what Depass reportedly said: “I’m sure it’s just one of Michelle’s ancestors — probably harmless.”

Harmless? Evidently not, as DePass soon learned, and frankly should have known in the first place. Seriously, Facebook? What’s next? Sending nudie pictures of yourself to the entire General Assembly?

Depass’ comment soon went viral, and the NAACP and others condemned him. Shortly after the shite-storm began to rage, DePass apologized during an NAACP press conference. Surprised? Nah. That’s how it goes.

In fact, if ever there was a testament to the nearly complete irrelevancy and impotence of the NAACP, it’s right there in the mandatory apology.

See, some cracker-ass cracker is always saying something that’s racially offensive, and the NAACP in turn gets all blustery with press conferences and press releases — many times rightfully so. The DePass case was certainly one of them.

But time and time again, this ends the same way — with a half-hearted apology either to the NAACP or black society at large.

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, radio host Don Imus, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas have all apologized at one time or another.

Did it do anything to improve race relations? Nope. Did it help one single racist sheethead see the light and say, hmm, maybe I shouldn’t be a bigot anymore? Nope.

I’m beginning to think there must be some black market where apologies are traded for goods and services, and the NAACP is really just storing up all of these seemingly useless apologies to construct a new headquarters or something.

Wait. I didn’t just do what I think I just did. Crap. Now I’ve got to apologize.

Ladies and gentlemen of the NAACP, I’m sorry I used the phrase “black market.” At the time, I didn’t realize how racially insensitive it was. I am down on my hands and knees. I apologize with all of my heart. I am so very very sorry.

Wow. That was easy.