Politics, recent

Why Does Ralph Northam Deserve No Mercy?

Over the past week, Virginia’s Democratic Governor, Ralph Northam, has been engulfed in a firestorm. It follows the publication of a medical-school yearbook page of his that shows two individuals, one dressed in blackface and one in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. It is not clear from the photo whether Northam is one of these two individuals, or why he chose to include this image on his yearbook page.

Upon the revelation of the photograph, the Governor issued a lengthy apology for the content of the page, which was published 35 years ago. He said he was “deeply sorry,” and called the costume “clearly racist and offensive.” He promised the people of Virginia that he would make amends: “I accept responsibility for my past actions and I am ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust.”

Virginia’s state Senate Minority Leader, Richard Saslaw (a Democrat), issued a statement noting that Northam has opppsed racism as a public official, and that his behaviour from decades ago simply had no relation to who he is now: “His whole life has been about exactly the opposite, and that’s what you need to examine, not something that occurred 30 years ago,” he said. “While it’s in very poor taste, I would think no one in the General Assembly would like their college conduct examined. I would hate to have to go back and examine my two years in the Army. Trust me. I was 18 years old and I was a handful, okay? His life since then has been anything but. It’s been a life of helping people, and many times for free.”

Perhaps just a few years ago, Northam’s apology and Saslaw’s defence would have been enough for the governor to be able to move on. We have all done things we’re not proud of in the past, and our most offensive and obnoxious moments do not encapsulate our lives. But given an American elite culture that is regressing to a secular version of old puritanical norms, whereby sinners are branded for life and there are political points to be scored for casting them into hellfire, it is not surprising that Northam was immediately deluged with calls to resign.

Presidential contenders such as Kamala Harris and Julian Castro called on Northam to step down. MoveOn.org—an organization based on the concept of forgiveness, which urges people to “move on” and not dwell on past misdemeanours —called for Northam to step down because “there are no excuses for such a racist display.” As every hour passes, more progressive activists and Democratic politicians are pushing to remove Northam from the governor’s office.

Yet there is a curious dissonance between the message activists are promoting—that an offensive gesture from 35 years ago should permanently end a man’s career in politics—and their campaign around America’s system of mass incarceration. When it comes to criminal-justice reform, progressives are preaching that the aim of the system should be rehabilitation, not punishment, and that criminal behaviour is forged by social influences, rather than the result of bad choices by flawed individuals. They preach a Christian message of hating the sin but loving the sinner.

I agree with that, and I consider myself in the same camp as Robert Sapolsky, a leading neurobiologist who has argued that our free will is limited if not nonexistent, and therefore we should not hate or loathe people who commit antisocial or immoral behaviour. Instead, we should try to understand the natural processes that lead to that behaviour.

But elite progressives apply this logic only on a selective basis. A year ago, for instance, the left-wing outlet I used to work for, The Intercept, published a lengthy sympathetic piece about a convicted murderer’s run for city council. The man in question knifed another man to death, and spent close to two decades behind bars. The author of that article wrote that “his experiences certainly make him an important candidate, able to connect with the thousands who have been isolated and defined by previous misdeeds of theirs or others—especially in the city’s minority communities, which as elsewhere are disproportionately impacted by the system.”

But when it comes to issues of racial offence, the publication’s editorial line—like that of much of the Left—holds expressions of bigotry to be a sort of permanent stain; as if those who committed them have revealed themselves to be demons in human form, incapable of reform. Northam must go.

One of the few liberal leaders who has not explicitly called on Northam to resign is the Reverend William Barber, a prominent pastor and left-wing activist in North Carolina. “Some are calling for the [governor] to resign [and] that’s their right,” he tweeted. “I don’t know what the [Governor] has done over the years in word, deed [and] policy to make amends for his past.” (He also tweeted that “the worst racism is policy & structural racism”).

That last line is important. As obnoxious, offensive and racist as it is to dress up in a Klan hood and don blackface, these are symbolic acts. When you offend someone, it is worth apologizing, as Northam did. But Northam did not promote or pursue policy decisions to harm the lives of African Americans. In fact, he has done the opposite. Under his tenure, Virginia finally expanded the Medicaid program as promised under the Affordable Care Act, opening up health care to 400,000 low-income Virginians. Around a third of those who benefit from Medicaid expansion are African Americans.

History is replete with politicians who at times held noxious or unseemly views but who later used their power in government to stand on the side of civil rights and peace. Former U.S. President Lyndon Johnson, for instance, refused to support federal anti-lynching legislation; he later became the president who exerted the political capital necessary to sign into law the Civil Rights Act. Former West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd didn’t just play dress-up as a Klansman—he was an actual local Klan leader. But when Byrd died, the Democratic Party acknowledged the possibility of redemption when they marked his passing by saluting his years of service. These eulogies included the following from Barack Obama, who said, “He was as much a part of the Senate as the marble busts that line its chamber and its corridors. His profound passion for that body and its role and responsibilities was as evident behind closed doors as it was in the stemwinders he peppered with history. He held the deepest respect of members of both parties, and he was generous with his time and advice, something I appreciated greatly as a young senator.”

Northam may very well buckle under the weight of the liberal intelligentsia, who have decreed that certain forms of emotional offence make someone irredeemable while at the same time demanding mercy for those who have committed felonies. On the other hand, he has had a long and distinguished career in government which may save him. But this new puritanical movement also threatens people with less power and prestige—ordinary folk who fired off an ill-thought tweet or Facebook status update. We know many lives have been absolutely ruined needlessly, especially among those who don’t have access to political power or crisis communications public relations staff.

I’ve spent a decade working in liberal and left-leaning non-profits and news outlets. During that time, I’ve seen the culture of these organizations grow increasingly judgmental and increasingly interested in the personal destruction of those with whom they disagree. More and more, elite liberalism is embracing modes of thought that I once associated with the political Right: joy in punishment and us-versus-them thinking.

Unlike many of the operators who form the elite echelons of liberal culture, I do not come from an elite background. I didn’t go to a college where a bias response team can be deployed to sanction a student who uttered an offensive phrase. I was born in a working and middle-class community full of people from ethnic minority groups.

Many of the people I knew growing up had no sense of political correctness, and would frequently behave in an offensive or obnoxious manner—because they were socialized to be that way. Someone who grows up with professors or lawyers as parents and attends an Ivy League school where they’ve been through a gamut of race- and gender-studies courses—a common background if you work at an elite liberal NGO in Washington or New York City—simply views the world very differently from the vast majority of Americans, who emerged from environments where sometimes making tasteless jokes is the norm.

Northam himself grew up on a family farm along the Eastern Shore, later shuffling through a series of working-class jobs, including as a deckhand on fishing boats. The cultural biases and norms typical of such an environment likely weighed heavily on him, and were probably reinforced at Virginia Military Institute, where he went to school. Northam went on to become a doctor, often going above and beyond normally expected efforts to get health-care access to those on society’s fringes. He has no known record of racial bias throughout his career as a doctor or politician.

None of this should be taken to suggest that we should not try to improve our culture and promote tolerance and respect. It just means that we shouldn’t try to destroy people who, at some point in their life, had neurons firing in the brain differently, and so didn’t share our exact worldview about what is offensive and what isn’t.

The Left claims to believe in compassion and rehabilitation—and purports to represent the broad working class of America. The more it demands the personal destruction of individuals who committed offensive but symbolic acts, the more hollow these representations appear.


Zaid Jilani, a journalist, is currently on fellowship, studying political and social polarization at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. Follow him on Twitter @ZaidJilani.

Featured image: Ralph Northam meeting with volunteers in Blacksburg, VA, in 2017. 


  1. Seems pretty myopic to write about Northam without even mentioning that this whole episode started with a viral video of him appearing to sanction, based on his own past experiences, infanticide.

    • TarsTarkas says

      And his political ad during the 2018 campaign calling his opponent Ed Gillespie a racist. He can’t protest ‘but it was so long ago’ when he and his allies treat the slightest misstep by a political opponent decades ago as a disqualification for higher office.

      It’s the Kavanaugh hearings reversed, except it’s more recent and more importantly unquestionable evidence.

      Also the Democrats want him out because many realize that he want to far in supporting literally an abortion of a bill and it was too problematic for too many people. So he must be sacrificed on the alter of racism forever. And it’s a no lose situation for them because the Lieutenant Governor is equally pro-abortion as Northam and has the added protection of skin color.

      Do not the supporters of abortion on demand (even if the bill might aid and abet 1-2 women a year at most, in situations where it is most likely the baby would be allowed to die (born brainless, fatally defective, etc.) realize that probably half or more are female and a disproportionate number are POC? And that Margaret Sanger was an out an out racist who wanted black people exterminated?

      • D.B. Cooper says


        Margaret Sanger was an out an out racist who wanted black people exterminated?

        So, I’m not sure this is true, although admittedly I’m not entirely sure it’s not true either. There was a time when I regular made mention of Ms. Sanger’s affinity for not only murdering babies, but being a hating black people why she did it. In fact, if memory serves me (sorry I don’t feel like googling it), there was at least one narrative that suggested Ms. Sanger came to the practice – of baby killing – originally as a consequence of her rather strong distaste (to put it charitably) for Caucasian challenged individuals.

        Having thoroughly run down her character (if she doesn’t deserve it, no one does), I can vaguely remember coming across information (from a credible source) that disproved many of the “racist” claims that are so often parroted.

        In any event, my confidence (in either direction) is, well, not very high; so, to the extent that you, or anyone else who’s reading this cares, you may take this as an opportunity to enlightened myself and possibly present company included.

        *please provide sources

        • D.B. Cooper says

          @Quillette et al.

          I can’t say for sure, but there’s better than even money I just experienced my first epileptic seizure while typing the final clause of the second sentence; which starts, “There was a time…

          In truth, this is the only reasonable explanation I can think of for the level of jibberish that manifested through my hands. However, if by some miracle it turns out that I am healthy, and that I did in fact type… whatever that is… while under the full control of my mental/physical faculties; then I can only say, I am sorry and you have my condolences for wasting your time and energy on that hot mess – one could turn an ankle just trying to get from conjunction (“but”) to punctuation.

          For what it’s worth, I live in the South, and everyone knows rednecks have a notoriously hard time with proper English. But I digress…

          • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

            @D.B. Cooper, y’awl:

            One of the better justifications for abortion always has and always will be eugenics, and if one supports the improvement of the human species as did Sanger then also achieving the feat of being PC when it comes to race is like believing in evolution and Biblical literalism at the same time. Perhaps some of our more advanced leftists can achieve it, but I don’t think Sanger even tried.

          • Jack B. Nimble says

            @Ray Andrews (the dolphin)

            You said: “….One of the better justifications for abortion always has and always will be eugenics….”

            WRONG! [at least for many genetically abnormal human fetuses]

            Many genetic abnormalities are the result of de novo chromosomal accidents during meiosis in the ovary or testes, giving rise to unbalanced gametes and thus genetically abnormal offspring. See, e.g., any modern textbook on human genetics or reproduction.

            Many of these unbalanced genomes are incompatible with even approximately normal human life, and often result in a miscarriage.

            The point is that these deficiencies are NOT transmissible defects, so the parents in question can and often do have later, normal, offspring. So eugenics is not an issue.

            People can agree or disagree on the question of whether Down fetuses, for example, should be screened and aborted early in development. But don’t bring up ‘improvement of the human species’ as a reason–that’s an irrelevant distraction.

          • D.B. Cooper says


            One of the better justifications for abortion always has and always will be eugenics

            I don’t disagree with you in principle. This may sound unnecessarily harsh (not to you, I’m sure), but I do believe it is self-evidently true: Advances in medical science over the last 100 years or so, have granted “certain” people OF ALL RACES to pass on their genes, when they might otherwise not have. The types of people I’m referring to range fron the mentally ill/handicapped to those with congenital malformations arising from their genome.

            I’m trying, but probably failing, to make these statements as value neutral as possible. While I’m in no way attempting to make value judgements on anyone of any stripe; it is nevertheless a brute fact that advances in medical science have extended the life of many such people, and in doing so, it has allowed the ones who have to pass on (or potentially pass on) genetic disorders at a rate that otherwise would not have been realized. Undoubtedly, this has had a negative effect on the gene pool, a “watering down” effect, if you will.

            Medical science aside, even allowing, or in the case of welfare recipients, incentivizing the underclass of America to breed as incontinently as they like is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a winning strategy for mankind. Sure, the occasional Einstein can be found, but this is a game of numbers, and hope is no better a strategy. The Left’s empathy and and 10 dimes might still get you a coffee at McDonald’s, but dimes are increasingly rare these days and McDonald’s is paying $15 now, where $10 used to do.

            My point is, while you’re right, abortion does provide cover for the only legal form of eugenics (in ‘Merica), myself and my conscious would much prefer that if our goal is to winnow the gene pool we do so by drastic changes to our transfer payments, rather than killing babies. Savy?

        • Num num says

          That statement about Sanger is not true. I spent a lot of time trying to pin that idea down. Sanger was for eugenics, but there’s no evidence that she wanted to target people based on race. She wanted to target the mentally disadvantaged of all races.

          There are a number of ‘clues’ if racism people cite to support the racism charge, but they don’t hold water upon close scrutiny. Like she once, during her eugenics campaign spoke before a KKK group, as she describes, but her description makes clear she spoke to any audience and her full deception makes clear her alienation from the group, an alienation that ought not exist if the accusations were true.

        • Sanger was a eugenicist, so that disabled or “inferior” Caucasians would have been subject to her tender mercies as surely as Black people. But, she was also a racist who despised Black people at the same time she sometimes expressed concern for them.She was a member of the generation that led to Nazi Germany, which put into action many of the ideas she espoused.
          She believed that “The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it”, advisedly that is taken out of context, however she as well as, to my great dismay and disappointment, George Bernard Shaw believed in “breeding” human beings. That of course fell out of favor once the Germans actually put that philosophy.into practice.

        • Yes, though her views on race would not pass muster today, especially if she were a Republican who opposed abortion, she was not a racial exterminationist.

      • Doctor Locketopus says

        > And his political ad during the 2018 campaign calling his opponent Ed Gillespie a racist.

        Yes. Northam’s defenders never seem to mention this.

        Northam isn’t the first SJW to be eaten by his own cult. He won’t be the last.

        • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

          But the counterpoint with the Kavanaugh thing is surely beautiful? What matters is Purity, and being a member of the Good Party is no help if one is found to be tainted.

          • david of Kirkland says

            No, if the house is in disorder because he was doing bad actions as governor, you’d have a valid point. This is about shaming and hating the idea of remorse or forgiveness.

          • Stephanie says

            Dava, if the Democrats were keeping their house in order, we wouldn’t have a new batch of Congresswoman calling for the destruction of Israel completely uncontested.

        • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

          @D.B. Cooper

          Very well said. We agree as to the brutal facts of the thing, but do not suppose you can infer my morality from that. Morality should not ignore facts, but it’s purpose should be to help us to minimize horror without being blind to brutal facts either. Frankly the facts are so brutal that rational discussion can be very difficult. Humane answers to some population/eugenic issues might involve trying to pick the least unthinkable answer. I’m opposed to abortion, but I do like to be honest about the issue. Even where I think it can be justified, I like to call a spade an f’ing shovel — we are committing murder.

          • D.B. Cooper says


            Just so we’re clicking on all cylinders, my quip about “eugenics” not sounding harsh to you wasn’t in any way a reflection of where I thought (or continue to think) your moral compass lies. I made the comment “(not to you, I’m sure)” as well as derived my certainty of its validity on the basis that you had already broached the topic of eugenics; and therefore, I made the logical inference that since you had already raised the issue in your own post, it stood to reason my discussion of eugenics would necessarily not sound harsh or be offensive to you. Yet, there was still some chance above nil that my discussion of eugenics may sound harsh or be offensive to others (besides yourself), and so I tried to qualify my position accordingly.

            That was a tedious explanation I just went through to validate the fact that I wasn’t making judgements on your moral code.

          • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

            @D.B. Cooper

            “Just so we’re clicking on all cylinders”

            We’re cool D.B, no offense taken, I was just clarifying the situation as you were as well. I think we both have thick skins.

          • D.B. Cooper says


            I’ve noticed you mentioned – at least twice, if memory serves me – something to the effect of you’re not one to be easily triggered; although I don’t think you used that particular phrasing (that’s what I use when describing myself or personality specifically).

            At any rate, I mention this to see if you’ve taken a Myers-Brigg personality type test. They’re fairly easy to find with a quick search and they’re free, so that’s nice. If you haven’t but would like to, you’ll know you took the type of test I’m referring to if your results are a combination of 4 different letters, you’ll see something like ENTJ (which is mine) with a brief explanation of that type. Anyway, it’s of no particular consequence, other than me just wondering.

      • Marie Zureick says

        I can’t understand what you are writing in this comment but I would like to.

      • It’s not about his actions but the actions of the media and their double standard around redemption for past transgressions.

    • Exactly what I was thinking. I’m not surprised that the “left – leaning ” writer did not mention this. It was on Australian TV yesterday morning so it can’t be hard information to find. In Australia his view on infanticide was more newsworthy than a photo from 1984.

      Another case of the left destroying themselves.

      • Sorry my comment directed to the comment of
        dmalcolmcarson. May not be sensible out of that context.

  2. NickG says

    >his experiences certainly make him an important candidate, able to connect with the thousands who have been isolated and defined by previous misdeeds of theirs or others—especially in the city’s minority communities, which as elsewhere are disproportionately impacted by the system.”<

    FBI stats reveal that Black males, who constitute around 6.5% of the US population, commit over 50% of murders. Similar disproportionate inclination to criminality is reflected in other crime. East Asians commit crime at a disproportionate lower pro-rate rate than average.

    I'm making 2 points.Firstly it isn't all minorities who are disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system, only those who disproportionately commit crime. Secondly the victims – many of whom themselves are black – are disproportional impacted by black criminality. It seems odd to overlook the victims.

    • david of Kirkland says

      Unless the racism people hold towards blacks is more powerful and wider spread than that of “East Asians” (do other central/western Asians commit lots of crimes?)
      Were East Asians sold by their brethren by the millions? Were they held for 400 years in chattel slavery? Did they then suffer Jim Crow, legalized segregation?
      Yes, many poor Asians were mistreated, as were many poor “whites.” But that treatment pales in comparison.

      • Thylacine says

        Not sure why this is relevant, but I don’t know a single person of any identity who have been held for 400 years in chattel slavery. It is hard enough leveling the playing field in the here and now, without making reparations for the last 12,000 years of civilization.

      • David

        One of the highest rates of modern slavery currently occurs in India – 16 million + people. (https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wsj.com/amp/articles/BL-IRTB-32224%3fresponsive=y)

        I’d also suggest you read about the 1200 year Arab slave trade that terrorized parts of Africa, East Asia Europe.

        One can only conclude that humans of all colors and beliefs have the ability to commit horrendous acts against each other. And not only in the past but also in the present.

      • Baloo says

        @David of Kirkland. Yes East Asians were enslaved by other East Asians in the past. And yes, the Chinese at least were denied the same rights as other Americans in the early 20th century and treated poorly by the “whites”. Learn a bit of history.

        • Doctor Locketopus says

          > Yes East Asians were enslaved by other East Asians in the past.

          Also in the present. North Korea comes immediately to mind.

      • Lert345 says

        david of Kirkland

        The Jews suffered far worse for an even greater length of time, yet the pathologies in question are practically non-existent.

        • Stephanie says

          The Jews is a interesting question. It’s my pet theory that the kind of persecution faced by Ashkenazi Jews in Europe favoured their intellectual development. If you can’t own land, you’re pushed towards more intellect-based careers, and have to be adaptable to survive. Cattle slavery, on the other hand, favours those with the greatest strength, stamina, and ability to keep their mouth shut. Add to that the long history of written history for the Jews, and its absence among Africans, and it’s little wonder their situations today are so different.

    • Thylacine says

      A lot of the commentary here seems to be way-inside American politics. I just don’t see the connection to anything discussed in the article.

    • Jackson, Mississippi, headline of the of the Clarion Ledger, Jan. 20, 2019— “1 year, 84 dead” By the numbers; 65 African-American men killed. 15 African-American women killed, nothing specific on the other 4. “We must refuse to accept this pervasive disease as being either normal or typical” , Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba

  3. You’re not talking about someone who broke a law that has no business existing in the first place (like drug possession, or practically any other reason most blacks are in prison).
    You’re talking about the literal guy who literally has the power in his hands to free every single one of those black Virginians currently in prison for nonviolent non-crimes.
    He doesn’t do that. He is therefore part of the problem.
    The fact that you took time out of your day to write in his defense, instead of pointing any of this out, makes YOU part of that problem, too.

    • prince says

      I get it.

      All public officials that don’t support the release of certain convicted criminal must resign and those who disagree with you are part of the problem and should be dealt with.

      Makes sense.

    • Heike says

      We’ll apply the same solution as MoveOn.org came up with when Bill Clinton was credible accused of rape.

      “Censure and move on.” That’s where they got their name.

      Why should this solution not be appropriate in this case? Rape is a far greater crime than a tasteless photo. Just issue a censure and move on with life.

    • ga gamba says

      nonviolent non-crimes.

      Hmm… I need a clarification. For example, assault and battery is two acts. The threat of violence, which is technically not violent, and the actual violence. Is assault a nonviolent non-crime?

      May I get yes/no of what those are “nonviolent non-crimes”?

      Possession of child pornography?
      Tax evasion?
      Home invasion?
      Car theft to also include non-violent car jacking?
      Drunk driving?
      Contributing to the delinquency of a minor?
      Reckless endangerment?
      Identity theft?
      Drug trafficking?
      Pimping / running a house of prostitution?
      Illegally dumping chemicals or other hazardous agents?
      Making a bomb threat?
      Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit?
      Jury interference?
      Driving away from the scene of an accident?
      Receipt of stolen goods?
      Insider trading?
      Money laundering?

      Is it possible that you’re part of the problem?

      • E. Olson says

        Ga Gamba – One thing I do know for sure, if any of your listed crimes are committed by an illegal immigrant, they aren’t actually crimes worthy of jail time, deportation, or a call to ICE. In fact just asking the criminal about their immigration status may lead to sanctions against the arresting officer, who therefore is encouraged to look the other way to avoid any problems.

    • D.B. Cooper says


      Let the record show, I’m calling it right now. @Fisharmor is a troll. No one is that dumb. Yeah, I know it’s out there, but people who are dumb enough to not only believe but also parrot it off on a forum like Quillette are, I would argue, exceedingly difficult to come by. In any regard, I’m saying troll.

      • ga gamba says

        S/He may be. That said, frequently I come across similar comments on Reddit, Youtube, and even the Guardian. There appears to be a narrative floating around that the jails and prisons are chock full of black fellas convicted for possession of a joint. There is an accompanying narrative that non-violent crimes are excusable, perhaps even justified because of capitalism, and don’t warrant prosecution. Bugger that.

        For those who are interested in the breakdown, this study, by a sentencing reform group, breaks down the jail and prison population by crime. You’ll see of the 1,316,000 in state prison nationally – those convicted of felonies – 45,000 were convicted of possession. That’s about 3.4 per cent. Because these were felony convictions this excludes simple possession of cannabis and other drugs, especially by first time offenders, which are often civil infractions and misdemeanors. Generally, these are men who violated their probation or parole, are recidivists, or they were arrested in zero-tolerance zones, for example near schools, where mandatory sentencing is applied. You’ll also have those who were arrested on more serious distribution charges and pled guilty to the reduced charge of possession to get shorter sentences. The rest of those convicted of ‘other drugs’ crimes are those involved in trafficking, manufacture, etc.

        Of those drug offenders in jail and not convicted, many are awaiting their bail hearing or trial. The study mentions jail churn.

        The minority in jail are those convicted of misdemeanor drugs offences. There will be a variety a reasons why the person was sentenced to time in jail and not a fine, probation, or administrative procedure. Often it’s a plea down from felony to misdemeanor. There are those who plead guilty to a drugs charge in exchange for dropping other charges – I suppose it’s preferable to be viewed by society as an unfortunate person caught up in the War of Drugs than to be convicted of mugging or burglary.

        Lastly, of the federal prison population, again those are almost all felons – major ones at that. The DEA and FBI don’t waste their resources on Dimebag Darryl.

        Drugs offences are ridiculously easy to convict because almost everyone arrested is caught red handed – it’s greater than 95%. However, prosecutors are often given wide discretion to pursue charges, and the phenomenon of prosecutorial decriminalisation has emerged in recent years.

        For those who may voice objections that had drugs been legalised these men wouldn’t have been arrested, I mostly agree. However, everyone knew the law, and as a maxim goes: Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. Further, drug legalisation tends to be focussed on cannabis, which thus leaves heroin, cocaine, and other drugs illegal. We may have some sympathy for the fella arrested with a few grams of cocaine, but do we have the same sympathy for those organised and violent narco traffickers? Personally I’d legalise it all and accept the overdose deaths that accompany it. We allow people to drink themselves to death, so overdosing on heroin is no different. We’d likely see an increase in motor vehicle accidents and fatalities, and I suppose some people who ought to know better, for example pilots and surgeons, may perform their jobs whilst impaired. Weigh the risks and accept the consequences. Will legalisation end the organised crime? The end of prohibition didn’t end the mafia. Because those under 18 are not allowed to purchase legal drugs, there’s still a market for traffickers, and if legal drugs are priced prohibitively or sold inconveniently, you may find adults opting to use illegal suppliers. In 2013, $100 billion worth of illegal drugs were sold in the US; I reckon a few billion of that is the youth market. Enticing enough for someone to serve.

        • D.B. Cooper says


          Two things:

          (1) All I can say is, thanks! I appreciate the information. You’re like the non-liberal version of Wiki, but without the bi-annual solicitation for $3.

          Strangely enough, I just recently had a conversation with a far, far-Lefty the other day concerning this very topic. I’ve known this Lefty (female) for awhile and although we speak infrequently, every time we do it ends up pretty much the same – the nerves of everyone with/around us is completely shot. Just to give you some idea of the level of moral rot and emotional instability that I was dealing with, this chick doesn’t simply check off every box of the far Left manifesto, her level of contempt (mostly hate) for white males is about one tweet from the FBI’s Hate Crime Division opening a file on her.

          Point being, I could’ve used this info during that near-fisticuff political derby, especially since she would discreetly vomit “suspicious” data figures (that I had no way of validating at that moment) to instantiate her bromides about blacks and the illegitimacy of our racist criminal justice system. Anyway, you’re right insofar as that narrative is concerned. It’s definitely floating around. A 110lbs chick tried her best to choke me with it.

          (2) As someone who appreciates the value you provide, I feel compelled to mention that, as a rule, it is believed that anyone who would voluntarily involve themselves in an enterprise such as “frequently” reading YouTube comments, and only slightly less concerning, Guardian articles, is by most acceptable standard of the DSM (5th ed., I believe), either manifesting the initial symptoms of his/her predilection for masochism; OR is likely suffering from some low grade form of occult dysthymia. Why else subject yourself to that lunacy? In either case, I don’t recommend it.

          • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

            @D.B. Cooper

            You’re the sort of guy who really is looking for the right answer, you’re not just here to flog your religion. Dellingdog, who seems to have abandoned that handle, is another guy like that — rather a leftie, but an honesty fella.

    • david of Kirkland says

      The governor’s youthful actions are not even a little but illegal.

  4. Julia says

    He’s a state level official elected by people of the state of Virginia. If a number of his constituents feel that he’s not good enough to be their governor because of the photo and call for his resignation, so be it. But the federal government officials have no position to gang up pushing for his resignation. IT’S AUTHORITARIAN.

    • Doctor Locketopus says

      > But the federal government officials have no position to gang up pushing for his resignation. IT’S AUTHORITARIAN.

      Authoritarianism requires authority.

      The federal government has no power to oust Northam. That doesn’t mean that individual members of the federal government can’t suggest (or even demand) that he leave.

  5. prince says

    I fully agree with the author. Most states have a statue of limitations on rape of 10 years. But for taking an offensive photo 35 years ago we destroy a person life?

    We need to regain some sense of proportions in our civil discourse.

    Like many others, I am much more alarmed with events that preceded the revelations. His infanticide interview was horrific.

    The willingness to kill a fully developed baby is outrageous. The fact that public is panicking wrt how one painted their face 35 years ago and not about the idea of legalizing the murder of babies shows a complete loss of our basic moral compass.

    The governor should resign. Not for his blackface photo but for his willingness to support an inhumane practice.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Somebody credibly accused of rape even beyond the statue of limitations is very unlikely to become a governor, so apples and oranges.

      You know what the KKK did, right? They murdered people. Somebody in that photo is dressed up as a racist murderer, but no biggie, I guess. And you’re blathering on about a basic moral compass.

      • ga gamba says

        You know what Che Guevara and other communists did, right? They murdered people. I often see people in real life presently, and also in photos taken over the years, wearing t-shirts with the faces and symbols of these murderers, but no biggie, I guess. And you’re blathering on about a basic moral compass.

        • Doctor Locketopus says

          Wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt should be treated exactly the same as wearing a Klan robe or a Nazi uniform.

          • Barney Doran says

            Or a MAGA hat, as some on the Left are now suggesting.

          • Doctor Locketopus says

            > Or a MAGA hat, as some on the Left are now suggesting.

            MAGA hat-wearers have not racked up anything like the body count of the Klan, Nazis, and Communists. Not by tens of millions.

            So, no.

      • Nakatomi, I’m not necessarily defending the photo, but if I were going to a Halloween party and wanted to wear a really scary costume, a kkk outfit would certainly fit the bill. So would a simple priest outfit (pedos) or a nazi uniform. We don’t know the context of the photo. Even the blackface could be seen as a tongue in cheek look how scary black people are costume, (because really they’re not). If I were a black man, I might go as myself, and crack jokes about stereotypes.

        Now granted, I have a sick sense of humor and did not grow up in the south. But despite the fact that I can’t stand Northam, I’m not willing to condemn without more information.

      • @Nakatomi Plaza, I disagree completely. I don’t like this governor at all but your arguments are morally reprehensible. What are you really saying? If ever someone is merely associated with an evil symbol – not doing the evil itself at all – they ought to be permanently cast out. That’s not a moral stance. I have trouble believing you believe in sin that deep and wide and without mercy.

        As a child of Holocaust survivors, if I found a 35 year old photo of a student dressed up as a Nazi, and their entire life was not anti-semitic, I’d simply chalk it up to stupidity. I’d use it to talk to them, see how they feel about it now. It wouldn’t be this horrible permanent stain that marks them for erasure and banishment 35 years later. That’s absurd. People change and mature. I mean, Prince Harry (I think it was him) wore a Gestapo outfit when he was young.

        I also believe that this is applied completely without principles. KKK=Never ever associate ever even as a young person or you will be banished forever. Jews are termites = totally fine if you’re Farrakhan. Black people shouting to boys that they are fa**ts and n**= totally fine and unremarkable. Boy standing with a smile= deserved to be punished and punched. In other words, the issue isn’t about the evil itself, but instead a club or weapon to wield power in their hierarchy to push white men into scapegoat and Other status.

    • D.B. Cooper says


      The governor should resign. Not for his blackface photo but for his willingness to support an inhumane practice.

      This is little more than a political gambit for officials in Washington, where the ends justify the means and the means is a well-orchestrated outrage where all the right things pedestrian platitudes are said; but mostly it’s just race reductionist discourse (see @Nakatomi) posing as a moral measuring tape for the plurality of white guilt sympathizers – so, on the whole, predictably and uniformly progressive screed.

      Anyway, situations like this provide politicians the perfect opportunity for them to prove to minorities that their opponents across the aisle are the racists, sexist, xenophobic, etc. they always said they were. Put simply, politicians leverage minorities (b/c they vote as a single bloc) to meet their own political ends. Of course, this is not so much an open secret as it is a brute fact, especially as it pertains to the Left.

      Which, again, is predictable seeing as how they’ve fetishized all things race within the last decade. But I’ll go one better – it could be said, that the casting couch was to Harvey Weinstein, what perpetuating racial demagoguery has been to the Left. Am I lying?

      What’s more, amidst the sly duplicity of all race hustlers – who are perpetually insensitive to data and no less allergic to rational discourse – the Leftists are paramount among those in the media and Quillette (#Nakatomi) who, in judging the relations of racial discord, are always willing to redistribute the facts until they can actually see what they believe. If it’s not the most prudent course of action, it is certainly the most convenient.

    • wormcycle says

      He should be allowed to stay in the office. He is a model Democrat: he supports the third term abortion, shortly after birth abortion, and gender fluidity. That he comes in a KKK hood, well you cannot have it all.

    • Thylacine says

      “Most states have a statue of limitations on rape of 10 years. But for taking an offensive photo 35 years ago we destroy a person life?”

      If you think a person has to be governor to have a meaningful life, that might be where you need to rethink things. Northam can do an infinite number of things to better himself and his family and community; losing the sole ability to be governor is hardly “ruinous.” In fact, getting out of the cesspool of politics would probably be good for anyone’s soul.

      • Stephanie says

        Thylacine, he is already governor, though. If he were running that might be different, but losing the position you’ve already earned over an old, contextless photo seems a little much. He should instead lose his position because he supports murdering babies.

    • bumble bee says

      I totally agree. It is beyond the pale that anyone would support the murder of innocence. This is also NOT about women’s health either. Those rabid individuals who even brought this to a vote, are also guilty. Have politicians lost sight of not only what they are voting for, or are they just spineless against lobbyists and special interest groups to know what they are doing.

      Not too long ago, I too was a sucker for a sob story. Not any more when the sob story in not only just propaganda, but is so non representative of the issues at hand.

      I also believe that social media is to blame, where the low informed think a few hundred supporters of an issue means everyone agrees. It is a phenomenon that needs to be addressed by society and how much or little importance needs to be given to the rabble.

    • Craig WIllms says


      You are a prince among us! I agree 100% I fall to the center/right and find it delicious to see the lefties devouring their own, but his guy does not deserve this treatment for something that happened so long ago in his youth. Nothing in his actions in subsequent 35 years points to a racist.

      As for his abortion stand, I have lost all hope for the pro-death party. These people are delusional. I don’t know how a seemingly intelligent human being with a beating heart can rationalize such a policy as was enacted in NY state, and attempted in Virginia. It’s just beyond my ability to comprehend. Is this really what women want?

  6. Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

    Have folks forgotten that college lads do outrageous things for the express purpose of outraging their elders, not for the purpose of expressing their real views? That Northam engaged in that little outrage is actually proof that he understands it to be outrageous and that was the point. If anything it indicates that his views are the opposite of those that he was deliberately making fun of. This is so bloody obvious. A German friend of mine once went to a costume party as an SS officer, it was ‘in character’ for him and got many laughs, but is was anything but an expression of his real values. When protesters lining the route of a neo-Nazi march give the Sieg Heil they are mocking the Nazis, not joining them, ferkrissakes.

    Along with others here, was does shock me is that we are now on the threshhold of outright infanticide. But it had to happen, didn’t it?

    • ga gamba says

      Prince Harry wore a Nazi outfit to some fancy dress event. I’m making my way to Nottingham Cottage to remove his crown and seize his royal garters. No more Harry Windsor for him. He’s back to being Harry Hewitt.

      • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

        @ga gamba

        It seems that there yet remains some vestige of Royal Privilege — Harry can be — what’s the word?: forgiven, purified, explained away, overlooked. Or perhaps the mob will indeed be breaking into the palace one day.

      • Doctor Locketopus says

        Prince Harry doesn’t hold his position by popular consent.

        Also, the mere fact that you’re bringing it up nearly 15 years later demonstrates rather conclusively that the incident has neither been forgiven nor forgotten, nor will it likely ever be.

    • D.B. Cooper says

      @Ray Andrews

      Threshold of outright infanticide?

      No, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to disagree. We have arrived. Babies, at least those of the American variety, are born (and survive) at 22, 23, and 24 weeks somewhat regularly (comparatively speaking), I believe. Medical science is pushing viability earlier and earlier, every few years now it seems.

      Anyway, the point I’m getting at is that – despite the assurances of many of my former gfs – the vaginal canal is not some magical tunnel that bestows the inalienable rights of personhood onto a child as he/she is sliding out of his/her mother. While there’s no doubt that I’m a big fan, it simply isn’t the case – or is at least not logically defensible – that the act (it’s a miracle really) of being born is what distinguishes an infant (infanticide) from a fetus (abortion).

      *full disclosure: not an obstetrician

      • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

        @D.B. Cooper

        I agree. But surely what comrade Northam proposes is outright infanticide?

        • D.B. Cooper says


          What Northam proposes is outright infanticide?

          This is prima facie infanticide by any other name, my friend. For the skeptics in attendance, a thought experiment might be more persuasive.

          For example, let’s assume a murderer woman elected at 39 weeks gestation to have an abortion. And let’s say, just by happenstance – a miracle from the Almighty, if you like – right before the doctor started to perform the abortion the child suddenly and almost spontaneously fell out of that magic tunnel, the vaginal canal, and onto a recently laid red-plush carpet. And further, let’s say when that 39 weeker gently bounced off that new carpet, it was like a obstetrician spanking him/her on the butt for the first time and the baby took its first breath as he/her started crying.

          Question: Can the baby still be “aborted”?

          Obviously rhetorical, but why can it not now, but could just seconds ago? Was it the slide out of the magic tunnel?

          I think not.

          • Thylacine says

            @Cooper – Birth does seem to be a salient bright line. After birth, it is no longer necessary to kill the infant to separate it from the mother; both person’s right to independent life can be respected simultaneously.

          • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

            @D.B. Cooper

            I think we’re on the same side. There are many similar thought experiments (which are often realities) that make the point. My favorite the attempt to square the circle when it is stated that abortion is between a woman and her doctor *unless* it is for sex-selection in which case it reverts to being a crime. But a crime against whom? If the fetus is a person, we of course have a crime, except that the fetus is not a person, therefore sex-selection abortion cannot be an offense of any kind, but if it is a crime, we have a de facto admission that the fetus is a person.

          • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says


            Well then, third trimester babies should simply be delivered by cesarean thus separating the infant from the female without killing it and respecting both person’s right to independent life simultaneously.

          • D.B. Cooper says


            After birth, it is no longer necessary to kill the infant to separate it from the mother; both person’s right to independent life can be respected simultaneously.

            Yes, I would agree, after a child is born, it is no longer necessary to kill the infant to separate it from the mother. But what I’m not clear on, is why would it be necessary to kill the baby, pre-birth, in order to separate it from its mother.

            In truth, it’s not necessary, at least not once the child breaches the 3rd trimester. There’s no disagreement about the viability of a healthy child being separated (born). Obviously, this is not the case the earlier a child is in his/her gestation, but that’s not the point in question. The issue is late-term (3rd trimester) abortions, and the viability of a otherwise healthy child is not in dispute.

            To be clear, I’m not at all interested in the legality of the question, nor necessarily even in the morality of the issue; although it would be disingenuous to deny the moral valence that is naturally associated to the killing of a child at or near term. And so, the question remains, what changed in those couple seconds in the child from my thought experiment?

            If the claim is that the “act of birth” is the mediating unit that distinguishes a fetus from a child, then we are in the grip of a terrible delusion. To claim that the vaginal canal doubles as an enchantress, imbuing all the requisite traits of personhood onto the child – via a hand slide I can only suppose – as it slides by is so decidedly confused that it rivals even the most speculative of transcendental forces. I’m not sure it’s even sophism. To me, it seems something closer to just bullshit. It’s a shill gambit, that doesn’t even rise to the dignity of error.

            Just step back and think about what this claim is asking you to believe. Think about the level of intellectual dishonesty that’s required to accept this assertion. Furthermore, ask yourself, if the same or a similar claim were applied to any other circumstance, under any other condition, would you be more likely to respond to it with the contempt it deserves. Hell, I’d be more likely break into a nervous laughter, if someone seriously tried to defend this to me.

            Assuming you agree with me that the “act of birth” is an untenable position for the purposes of defining life or personhood, more specifically, then on what grounds can late term abortons be defended. I personally don’t believe there’s a coherent arguement to be had, but I’m open to suggestions.

            Also, if by chace you dont agree me and you think this claim is logically defensible, please, please respond to this post. I would love to hear your defense.

    • Lightning Rose says

      When I was a kid only the under-12 crowd “dressed up” for Halloweeen. Maybe we ought to return to that? It seems when ersatz “grownups” adopted the behavior of little children, all this trouble started. Let’s leave “playing dress-up” to children (a man graduating med school is HARDLY a child) and try some mature dignity for a change. It would be a welcome change.

      • ga gamba says

        Keep this craziness going and twenty years from now long forgotten photos of students who attended Hawaiian or Mexican themed parties will be used to exclude adults from jobs and public life.

        Later it’ll be the wrong people who rapped, performed in jazz trios, played basketball, or dined with chopsticks – awkwardly or not.

        • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

          @ga gamba

          Like just about all Canadian Canadians who come from Vancouver, I can use chopsticks as well as any Chinese. I hadn’t realized before now that I’ve been Appropriating, and that I’m no longer fit to be a member of society. Thanks, I needed to be told. I’d rather not even think about that Hawaiian themed party I once attended and … best not to say more.

        • Ga gamba, I’ve been wondering about the history of rap. I was reading the electric kool-aid acid test and Wolf uses it repeatedly to describe when Cassady or someone starts chanting with music. That was written in ’68, describing events in beginning in 64.

      • Craig WIllms says


        I don’t know about that. Costume parties are an old (and fun) tradition. People need to lighten up and laugh at themselves. Everyone one is so uptight and ready for offense that we all have to become experts at walking on eggshells.

        As an oh so dreadful white man I could scream offense 20 times just watching an evening of American TV commercials. ‘Course no would would give a shit, but the point is offense is so easy to find.

        I don’t advocate giving up adult costume parties, but I guess we all have to uses our heads in this day and age.

      • I’m guilty of dressing up for Halloween as an adult, and yet I find I increasingly agree with this sentiment. Where have all the adults gone? (The only answer I can come up with in reply is that we were supposed to be the adults but set aside that responsibility long ago. It’s probably worth mentioning that we did so with a good deal of help from the previous generation. It’s probably also worth mentioning that that excuse is almost certainly well beyond its “discard by” date.)

  7. Farris says

    The author omits a few details about Ralph Northam. Northam repeatedly referred to his opponent, Ed Gillespie, as a racist, even running an ad depicting whites in a pickup truck with a Gillespie sticker
    and confederate flag chasing children. Northam removed pictures of his black running mate in campaign literature mailed to white communities. Perhaps Ralph Northam’s chickens are coming home to roost.

  8. flyfishingnow says

    Excellent and succinct article. I completely agree that the piling on call-out behavior we’re seeing consume people like Northam and Al Franken resembles/is a moral panic, amplified by political campaign season. The “stain” of bigotry (if that’s what this was) cannot be washed out; the accused perpetrator is beyond the pale and can “no longer lead” even if decades of public service since the alleged transgrassion belie the label of racist or misogynist. The cry goes up- he must immediately commit political seppuku, even though he was elected by a majority of his constituents.

    When this story first broke I was shocked that a physician could be so boorish, stupid, and crude as to think that blackface or KKK costumes would be funny to anyone other than a few drunk frat boys in the 1980’s south. I may be naive. In that sense, this act, if in fact he committed it, really cannot be excused. He erred- big time. But no one really was harmed (unless symbols now are our new knives and guns). Your description of Northam’s backround and milieu perhaps goes far to explain his behavior 35 years ago. Regardless, although he may have committed a symbolic insult to the many black (and white) patients and constituents he would go on to serve and care for, he disavows that behavior now, and his record shows a very different man than that implied by those pictures. Doesn’t he have a responsibility to the people of Virginia to remain in office? If they don’t like him they can impeach him or vote him out.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      No, you always apologize when busted for blatantly racist behavior. Unless you’re a fucking idiot, that is. Or a Grand Dragon.

  9. I could care less about this clown. He is a gigantic hypocrite however. See all his GOP and Ed Gillespie are racist comments knowing full well he has engaged in behavior like this. He is a miserable human being. See also his bizarre comments about killing babies after they are born alive. This is a doctor saying stuff like that! The people of Virginia elected this clown so they are stuck with him.

    • Lightning Rose says

      When Leftists show you who they are, believe them . . .

  10. Grant says

    The left’s penchant for ad hominem attacks in lieu of reasoned argument leaves them no choice. They love to label anyone they hope to prevent from gaining power as racists, homophobes etc. so in order to preserve their high ground must condemn the very overt crimes of their own. The other sins, they’ll let slide if you march in step.

    • Erle S Bowman says

      It really is just this simple unless of course the tide is changing?

    • Vincent says


      “The left’s penchant for ad hominem attacks in lieu of reasoned argument leaves them no choice.”

      Yeah, that’s just a “leftist” thing. There’s no way upstanding conservative politicians would resort to ad hominem attacks and other fallacies, let alone overlook the sins of their politicians if they march in step. That’s clearly not a political problem, it’s a “left” problem.

      • augustine says

        Similar impulses on either side when conditions warrant, but the wild rebelliousness from the Left is what I’ve noticed consistently. Different political temperament, different methods of appeal.

        Different results.

  11. Circuses and Bread ?? says

    With all respect to the author, I don’t have much sympathy for Gov. Northam. Let’s take away the title and assume that this was just a generic public figure working in the private sector and had this revealed. He’d be shown the door in short order.

    Why is it that we think that political figures deserve any more deference and respect than anyone else? Do they have some special skill set that is so precious that we must accord them a different set of rules? Balderdash. There are over 8 million residents of Virginia and I suspect that at least 4 million of the could do at least as good a job as this guy.

  12. “I agree with that, and I consider myself in the same camp as Robert Sapolsky, a leading neurobiologist who has argued that our free will is limited if not nonexistent, and therefore we should not hate or loathe people who commit antisocial or immoral behaviour.”

    So, no agency, responsibility, or meaning. So, why bother writing or reading this article, or doing anything else? Why ‘should’ we do or not do anything if our decisions have already been made by ‘biology’?

    • Zarko Cabarkapa says

      You are working backwards in this comment. The fact that free will is incompatible with everything we know about physics and biology, and is logically incoherent, doesn’t make life meaningless. If you watch a movie, it doesn’t become meaningless just because you don’t control the outcome of the plot which is unfolding before your eyes.

      And if you disagree with the premise, argue it, don’t say that the perceived meaningless of life somehow renders the underlying argument faulty… How you feel about a world without classic libertarian free will has no bearing on whether or not it exists…

      • Doctor Locketopus says

        > The fact that free will is incompatible with everything we know about physics and biology

        Patent nonsense.

        > And if you disagree with the premise, argue it, don’t say that the perceived meaningless of life somehow renders the underlying argument faulty…

        Why are you advocating that he alter his behavior when (according to you) he has no free will? Just sit back and enjoy the movie, dude.

      • Craig WIllms says


        The free will argument will never be settled, therefore meaningless outside of some deep theoretical conversation.

        The fact is we (all) act, personally and socially as if free will exists. Our civil discourse and laws are crafted around the notion that we make choices and that we be held accountable for these choices whether or not biology ultimately dictated the action. In all practical reality it’s not really a valid argument, it’s tiresome.IMO

    • Aylwin says

      “Biology” here, encompasses everything: biology, physics, data processing. It’s just a fact – the universe, including your brain, is deterministic (perhaps with some randomness, which still leaves no room for free will).

      Your rhetorical question is just that; rhetoric. Others have written well on this subject (and I’m looking forward to reading Sapolsky’s Behave, which I think the author is alluding to here), but let me just say this. We are not our own makers. Any effort you can apply to improve yourself is predicated on being the kind of person who can make that effort, which is predicated on everything that has come before; genes, parents, shit that happened to you a moment ago, yesterday, and the day before that. If you had the same genes and experience of a murderer, you would be that murderer. This is the point of making a distinction between punishment as deterrent, and punishment as retribution. An understanding about the nature of being leads to the conclusion that there is no place for retribution. It really does matter that we take meaning from caring for the well-being of folk; it really does matter that we act with the best intentions. Throwing up your hands and saying nothing matters on hearing that there’s no free will, results in you caring less – for others and yourself. Acting as if there is free will is not a problem – it’s actually virtually impossible to act otherwise as it’s in our nature. Reading this article was interesting to me. It enriched my knowledge of the world and prompted more thinking on the the subjects raised. If I hadn’t read many such articles, and books on free will, moral philosophy, cognitive science and more, then maybe I would have a naïve response to the fact that there is no free will, throw up my hands and say nothing matters. Even if it were true, which it’s not, that nothing matters given that there is no free will, that doesn’t change the fact that there is no free will. You might find it bleak (I don’t – I find it comforting when I might be giving myself a hard time, and it’s a compassionate stance that defuses hatred, bitterness, vindictiveness and more) but you can’t just wish it away because you don’t like it.

      • Doctor Locketopus says

        > It’s just a fact – the universe, including your brain, is deterministic

        This has been known NOT to be a fact for close to a hundred years.

        • Aylwin says

          Can I assume you’re referring to quantum randomness … (and conveniently ignoring my reference to that in the very same sentence you’ve quoted)?

          • Doctor Locketopus says

            No, you can assume I’m referring to quantum randomness, Gödel undecidability, the Turing Halting Problem, the Lyapunov characteristic exponent, and any of the multiple other limits to determinism that were discovered over the course of the last century.

            None of which is particularly relevant with respect to free will itself, but when you begin with faulty premises you are guaranteed to achieve nonsense as a result. “Deterministic except with randomness” makes zero sense.

      • Alexander Allan says

        “Acting as if there is free will is not a problem – it’s actually virtually impossible to act otherwise as it’s in our nature.” – good to see you confirming that having free will is in our nature. Unfortunately this contradicts the rest of your argument that we are deterministic.

      • Snoggle says

        That’s freaking awesome. The left has finally burned itself back into the corner where there is no free will. They started with Jean Calvin, and the liberating frisson that they can’t be held responsible for their actions, and now they’ve swung all the way back to the same nonsense. Oh, and this time they’ve “proven” it. Gotta love the staying power of Puritanism.

  13. Leigh Smart says

    shockingly dishonest analysis. Effectively you are attempting to argue that because he is a Democrat he should be given the benefit of the doubt. If he were a Republican he would be given no such benefit irrespective of his past actions that could easily mirror those of Northam. This analysis attempts to perpetrate the common nonsense of paining with a broad brush. Please just stop.

    • Heike says

      It’s standard ingroup vs. outgroup dynamics. Tribalism. If he were a Republican (CNN screen crawl identified him as Republican instead of Democrat) there would be no forgiveness columns running in Quillette. For more on how today’s politics revolve around this please read: http://archive.is/QRJ6m

    • David says

      When you find a double standard for something, there are two ways to resolve it. One, the approach you seem to have chosen, is to argue that because your group is treated badly, everyone should be treated badly. The other, and the one I think makes a lot more sense, is to argue that because the other group is treated fairly that everyone should be treated fairly. This way may not give you the same satisfaction of revenge, but I think it’s clearly the approach that will end up improving the situation instead of making it worse.

      • Doctor Locketopus says

        Arguing that everyone should be treated fairly is laudable, but in a competition where the other side has no intention of treating anyone fairly, it is a recipe for losing.

        See the various analyses of the Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma, or from a more concrete perspective, Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.

        • David says

          The whole premise here is that the other side is treating their group fairly (it’s actually a false premise from the original commenter who made up that the author was arguing only for Democrats to be treated fairly, but that is the premise nontheless). If you try to stop that, instead of stopping them from treating your side badly, you are ensuring you lose.

          In more real-life terms, the right is not at the mercy of the left anyways – Trump got elected, Kavanaugh got confirmed to the Supreme Court, and Roy Moore finished his race and almost won.

    • Daniel says

      Everything about this brouhaha is a hypocritical mess. Just a mess. Ye gods, what a mess.

      If someone messed up, they need to apologize and demonstrate that they have learned from their mistake. If Northam has done that, the Ugly Left needs to let this drop.
      If we have a society in which people can never out-grow their mistakes, there is no incentive for honesty. There is no incentive to ever engage in soul-searching, or to reflect on how to change habits of wrong-doing.
      Imagine if Northam were to say, “Gosh, that’s embarrassing. I’m sure sorry. At that point in my life, I hadn’t even heard of anyone that would be offended by this. Can you believe it! That’s how bass-ackwards I was back then!” The Ugly Left should accept this apology. His “impeccable” progressive track record since then would seem to indicate that he doesn’t think this way any more. As it is, the Ugly Left is exposed for hypocrites, because they care more about the symbolic shock of a dumb high-school boy’s picture than they do about actual issues.

      If the Ugly Left had a shred of integrity, they would criticize the fact that Northam hasn’t done a single solitary thing to strengthen black families, to increase levels of black financial independence, or to decrease levels of black crime. They would point out the numbers of black children who were killed in abortions — enabled by policies Northam supports. But the Left doesn’t care about people as much as they enjoy comfortably wriggling in their soiled diapers of symbolic virtue-signaling.

        • E. Olson says

          Romney was tarred as a homophobe by the media during the 2012 campaign due to his participation in a harmless 1964 high school prank that targeted a possible gay student (it was never determined if he actually was gay). Of course Romney was also tarred as a ruthless capitalist for daring to make a profit in his private equity activities, which also happened to create/save thousands of private sector jobs. The media much preferred to have a community organizer as president who never worked in the private sector, much less created a single job.

  14. It’s fun when an article is titled in the form of a question.

    “Because he has a ‘no mercy’ clause for full term, viable, unborn children. And none of them have ever put on blackface or a klan hood.”.

    • Farris says

      Suggested headline: Democrats seek to abort Ralph Northam. (No longer viable)

  15. Steve Beck says

    I agree with Mr Jilani. The governor made a youthful mistake and has done good work since then. I think he should be forgiven.

  16. To answer the headline question – because he doesn’t appear to show much mercy to innocent children.

  17. Daniel says

    In a bizarre sort of way I agree with the Rev. William Barber, that the worst racism is structural.
    But we need to start identifying what actually constitutes structural racism. I submit that any policy that disproportionately subverts, alienates, or disenfranchises innocent (key word, that!) members of a demographic constitutes structural racism.

    Therefore, providing financial incentives to women to have babies out of wedlock, insuring that their children will have little-to-no interactions with the fathers, is structural racism. We can’t beat the drum enough that the rate of children born to single black mothers has increased 200-300% in the last 50 years. There is no community in the history of the world that can handle 70% of their children having absent or abusive fathers, and the black community in the US bears witness to that fact.
    Bribing single black mothers to have babies without getting married is the most insidious kind of racism — the kind that is done with a smile and some “help”. But like all other manifestations of hatred, it results in poverty, degradation, and loss of freedom.

    Preach it, brother William Barber! But don’t leave out the important stuff.

    • D.B. Cooper says


      any policy that disproportionately subverts, alienates, or disenfranchises innocent (key word, that!) members of a demographic constitutes structural racism.

      I have no idea what you mean by (key word, that!), I do know dictionary.com defines demographic as, “a specific segment of a population having shared characteristics” and if that’s the case then I know a fair amount of people (white males, particularly) who are regularly discriminated against as a result of structural racism. I think you’re on to something here.

  18. IainC of The Ponds says

    There are several ways to judge this issue from afar, given that none of us have any influence on the outcome and must discuss the issue from a philosophical standpoint.
    1. The “equal justice dispensed equally” punishment paradigm. There is no way a non-Democrat would survive this intact, so he should resign or be sacked so all are treated equally for the same offence.
    2. The “do the crime/do the time/move on” rehabilitation/forgiveness paradigm. An example was given of a murderer running for office after serving due punishment. This is fair enough in my book. Retribution/repentance/rehabilitation/rebirth, and all that. But Northam has NOT served due time, he has not faced any penalty for his transgression, so resignation and dishonor for a period is an appropriate outcome.
    3. The “so what?” historical distance paradigm. Probably where I sit on this specific issue pending further revelations. It wasn’t a crime, no one was even offended at the time, he was young and foolish, blackface was pretty mainstream even then (I grew up watching the Black and White Minstrel Show on mainstream TV in the seventies) KKK (and Hitler, Stalin, Mao) were all fair game for fancy dress parties. If it was reasonably uncontroversial at the time, it seems unfair to enforce retrospective infantile, hyper-sensitive justice, PARTICULARLY if there have been no corollary racial follow-ons in public adult life since. If there have, well…..
    4. The “pattern of behavior” paradigm. The contemporaneous interview comments about post-birth full term abortion is, to me personally, repulsive. I simply cannot see how someone can be so uncaring and brutal towards helpless infants, AND be oppositely caring and loving toward other far less vulnerable adults. It beggars belief, so there must be a monumental character flaw in him after all, so better that he goes.
    5. The “he’s not one of us – crush him!!!” paradigm. The easiest and shallowest philosophy. He’s on the other side politically, he’s suspected of wrongdoing, Destroy Him!. Let’s leave that one for the Twitter warriors, shall we?

  19. This event didn’t happen in 1984; it happened Friday. There’s no way to cite some statute of limitations or use the “stupidity of youth” or “we didn’t mean anything by it” excuses because the injury, the pain, and the trauma occurred, to repeat, on Friday. That’s when people were hurt by it, and it’s not until he resigns that the “healing” can begin. It’s not that this event “proves” that Northam is, or even was, a racist. That’s totally incidental, as is the question of whether he’s atoned in the meantime by calling other people racists and/or becoming an anti-racist. If you look at the language of therapy used by almost everyone calling for his resignation, you’ll see that time, motive, character, legality, and other factors that once informed our evaluation of such things have diminished in importance relative to the feelings such things have purportedly produced.

    • ga gamba says

      If you look at the language of therapy used by almost everyone calling for his resignation, you’ll see that time, motive, character, legality, and other factors that once informed our evaluation of such things have diminished in importance relative to the feelings such things have purportedly produced.

      It is fascinating that as a society the US has never been more exposed and receptive to psychological therapy, which I understand is to aid people coping with emotional upset and make them more resilient, yet they’ve become ever more emotionally frail, apparently incapable of dealing with any distress. At times even seeking these events out to experience the masochistic pleasure of pain once again.

      Or maybe many are simply larping, knowing that to claim distress is in of itself sufficient enough to demand immediate redress and a basket of goodies incommensurate to the act itself.

      I can only hope the entire state of Virginia shuts down for a day for everyone to participate in mandatory anti-bias training state-wide. Then the heeling may begin.

    • D.B. Cooper says


      That’s when people were hurt by it, and it’s not until he resigns that the “healing” can begin.

      I thought you were joking until I realized you weren’t. Let’s be serious about this for a moment, do you really believe a 1984 yearbook photo of a guy dressed in a sheet and black face actually caused someone ‘injury, pain, and trauma’? Come on, surely you don’t believe that, do you? Images (usually video) that are exponentially worse than this are shown everyday on TV or in movies.

      But for the sake of argument, let’s grant that you’re right and someone out there actually was injured. What do you think the chances are that for whoever this poor timid soul is, it’s more likely than not that he’s dealing with a lot bigger problems in life than seeing that photo. First off, I’d recommend him climbing out of that closet he’s likely buried himself. Maybe get a little sunlight. Who knows, it might make him feel better.

        • D.B. Cooper says


          God, I hope so. I would like to believe that. I’m hoping I’m wrong, anyway.

      • ga gamba says

        I pray Howard Schultz is elected president and shuts down the nation to conduct unconscious bias training. You file your taxes to the IRS annually. So too you ought to file your unconscious bias assessment with the Department of Slights and Offences to ensure the people of the people of are safe with you wandering the pavement.

        • Ga gamba, he can follow the China model — when people approach wrong thinkers, their devices will beep in warning. I think when the indoctrinated get near me, their devices might explode…

  20. Let’s remember that no Republican would EVER be allowed to continue in public service in similar circumstances. This was not a teenage foible – the man was 25 years old. (I’m not even talking about the infanticide, which really is even several degrees more despicable than this.)

    We know that your plea for forgiveness is based solely on account of this evil man’s tribal affiliation. You cannot convince us that you would offer the same forgiveness to one of the Deplorables.

    Shame on Quillette for giving you space.

  21. Carson Sims says

    Forget tribalism and social conditioning for a sec, and consider deeply held religious beliefs. In so doing, I assume Mr. Jilani, that you support the Colorado baker’s right to not produce products that he deems offensive without apology or fear of being “cast into the hellfire.”

  22. Carson Sims says

    PS- Pretty please let’s don’t shame Quillette. The well thought out and equally well written pieces and replies (even those that I don’t agree with) attest to what I believe is the fundamental point and pleasure of this space.

  23. Two people dressing up in blackface and as a Klinsman may be bad taste but clearly are not being racist. Dressing as a well known figure or character from history does not endorse that figures views and actions and if it did then dressing up blackface would be expressing support for black men oppressed by racism.

    Outrage about this sort of thing is the symptoms of a toxic victim culture which uses anything to claim victim hood even mutually contradictory interpretations of people’s motives as in this case.

    There is racism on show but it is a racism which interprets almost anything a white man does as malign.

  24. E. Olson says

    Robert Byrd was a high official in the KKK for many years, but since he reliably voted in the Senate to support giving taxpayer monies to support the poor, we should just name every bridge and public building in W. Virginia after him and give him pass. Ted Kennedy killed a woman, sexually assaulted many others, actually colluded with the Russians to influence the 1984 election, but since he regularly voted in the Senate to allocate taxpayer money to women’s issues and help the poor we should just call him the “lion of the Senate” and give him a break. Bill Clinton sexually assaulted many women, but since he regularly supported the allocation of taxpayer money to women’s issues we should just move on.

    And now the author of this article writes: “When you offend someone, it is worth apologizing, as Northam did. But Northam did not promote or pursue policy decisions to harm the lives of African Americans. In fact, he has done the opposite. Under his tenure, Virginia finally expanded the Medicaid program as promised under the Affordable Care Act, opening up health care to 400,000 low-income Virginians. Around a third of those who benefit from Medicaid expansion are African Americans.” Northam is also a big abortion rights supporter – right up until the fetus graduates from high school, and the author suggests we should forgive him for his youthful indiscretions.

    Notice any pattern here? It seems that as long as a politician is generous in supporting Leftist causes with other people’s (aka taxpayer) money they can do virtually any misdeed in their private life, commit any crime, be associated with any renegade organization, or assault as many women as they can grab, and all their sins should be forgotten (and not reported in the media) and they might in fact be celebrated and rewarded by feminists, race hustlers, open border proponents, etc.

    Now lets compare how politicians on the Right are treated. Robert Byrd was an actual member of the KKK, but when Trent Lott said some complimentary things about Senate colleague Strom Thurmond on his 100th birthday, the media and race hustlers were not in a forgiving mood and pressured him to resign from the Senate. Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton are celebrated even though they have numerous and well documented cases of sexual assault and even rape, but Donald Trump was strongly pressured to suspend his campaign and labelled a sexual predator because of a secretly recorded tape even though he has never had a credible woman accuse him of any sexual harassment. Ted Kennedy (and Hillary Clinton) actually colluded with Russia, but only Donald Trump has had to endure an actual investigation about Russian collusion, which after 3 years has yet to find any evidence. Does anyone think that NBC would have released the Trump tape or called for a Russia investigation if he had stayed a Democrat and been the 2016 nominee instead of Hillary? Northam dressed “inappropriately” in medical school and is facing some mild pressure to resign, but compare that pressure to what a real boy scout faced. Brett Kavanaugh, a man who has led such an exemplary life that the Left had to resort to fictional 35 year old stories from high school to get some “dirt” on him, and the Democrats and media did everything in their power to use these fictional accounts to trash his reputation and get him to withdraw including withholding evidence that the whole thing was sham. What could possibly explain such contrasts in the way people are treated – some politician commit real crimes and are forgiven, and some commit no misdeeds and are trashed and brutalized?

    I would normally say that Northam’s medical school yearbook contains nothing that can’t be forgiven or should even see the light of day, but shouldn’t the Left be forced to live up to their own standards? And when will the public and the media stop attributing generosity and kindness to politicians who simply use the coercive power of government to pick our pockets so that they can get credit for generously “giving” money and support to various “victim” groups?

  25. Doctor Locketopus says

    > I agree with that, and I consider myself in the same camp as Robert Sapolsky, a leading neurobiologist who has argued that our free will is limited if not nonexistent, and therefore we should not hate or loathe people who commit antisocial or immoral behaviour.

    If we don’t have free will, how, pray tell, are we expected to make the choice of “not hating or loathing people who commit antisocial or immoral behaviour”? If we’re all just meat puppets dancing on the strings of fate, we have no choice with respect to hating or loathing these people. Right?

    I have not read Sapolsky, but (assuming this is an accurate precis of his argument) it sounds like arrant nonsense to me.

    One can argue that free will does not exist, or that it does, but one cannot argue both at the same time.

    • Determinism seems to be a secular expression of classic calvinism’s notion of predestination.

      In a nutshell: of course you have free will to attempt to do whatever you want (as the Ranters said: all is pure to the saints) but it doesn’t make any difference; the dice have been cast and the outcome already decided. As in “Groundhog Day,” even if you could go back in time and make different decisions it would not change the outcome.

      It is said that moralistic therapeutic deism (MTD) is the religion of our current Progressives. If so, it differs from old time calvinism chiefly because the Progressives have substituted the the total goodness of mankind for the total depravity of mankind – a fatal mistake.

      • Doctor Locketopus says

        > Determinism seems to be a secular expression of classic calvinism’s notion of predestination.

        Indeed, and your point about substituting total depravity with total goodness is well-taken.

        There always seem to be those who are SURE they can immanentize the eschaton, despite the 20th Century being chock-full of examples where such an attempt went horribly wrong (and, of course, earlier ones as well… e.g., the Reign of Terror in France).

        Many eminent thinkers have taken a crack predestination v. free will over the centuries. While I am reluctant to make a blanket statement without reading the work for myself, judging from the summaries posted here, I suspect that Sapolsky isn’t tall enough for this ride.

        • The world turned up-side down and all things made new; again, classic revolutionary evangelical Calvinism.

  26. C Young says

    What explains the hypocrisy of the differential treatment of middle aged white men versus ex-prisoners, guilty of murder ?

    It’s the selective withdrawal of autonomy. The progressive left denies autonomy when it suits them.

    Claim to have been sexually assaulted by a move mogul, but entered a 5 years relationship with him afterwards? No problem. You didn’t have autonomy.

    Shot a rival while dealing drugs ? No problem, no autonomy.

    White man in a photo that’s dodgy, but decades old ? White student smiling at a native american? You are Emmanuel Goldstein.

    (BTW the author’s blanket denial of autonomy would only take the millennial snowflake ideology to new heights of absurdity)

  27. astro says

    Northam deserves no mercy whatsoever. Why? Because he is a Democrat and because the Democrats set up these crazy rules.If Northam had been a Republican, would we be seeing think pieces about how, come to think of it, maybe our poltics have gone too far? Of course not. But a Democrat gets a taste of the Left’s merciless, Scarlett Letter brand of politics, and suddenly we hear second thoughts, Where were these second thoughts before a Democrat was suddenly in political jeopardy? So that guy in Florida is forced to resign without a peep of protest just weeks ago but now suddenly we discover out conscience? Nope. The Left is not changing the rules it created only now when one of their own is in the crosshairs. Because in waiting for only now to have second thoughts, it is simply too late. It isn’t mercy, just rank hypocrisy. The Left must be forced to abide by its own rules. Because that is the only way the Left will ever learn, and a Democrat must be hoisted by the Democrat’s own petard. Especially Northam, who libelously accused his gubernatorial opponent of “white supremacy.” Northam must be tossed out with the trash. And once the Democrats finally feel the sting of their own destructive politics, then commence with your second thoughts.Then talk to us about change.

  28. D Hyde says

    Generally, I agree with the arguments of the writer and only caveat that what is fundamentally missing in this situation was a timely apology. Northam’s came very late (only after he was exposed), was muddled (he apologised for being in the photo, then said he was not in it and apologised for blacking up on a different occasion) and did not address his own hypocrisy (he tarred his Gubernatorial opponent as a racist). I would also suggest that pillorying him and calling for his resignation may very well end is political career (not an occupation by right, but by the will of other people) but does not prevent him working in the field in which he qualified (medicine) so arguably the punishment hardly outweighs the crime – indeed it may be entirely proportionate.
    I hope that people’s youthful bad behaviour does not stop them entering public life, but they need to acknowledge it before putting themselves forward as paragons of moral virtue and cast stones at others for not being.

  29. Rev. Wazoo! says

    Some interesting clauses of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives some interesting perspective here, on similar cases bridging political loyalties and the recent practice of retroactively applying today’s standards to long-past actions.

    “Article 7.
    All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

    Article 11.
    (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
    (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

    Article 12.
    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

    Those who claim Human Rights as excuse for their actions would do well to read what they are.

  30. Christina Arasmo Beymer says

    Correct the quote marks from this:

    “While it’s in very poor taste, I would think no one in the General Assembly would like their college conduct examined. I would hate to have to go back and examine my two years in the Army. Trust me. I was 18 years old and I was a handful, okay? His life since then has been anything but. It’s been a life of helping people, and many times for free.”

    To this:

    “While it’s in very poor taste, I would think no one in the General Assembly would like their college conduct examined. I would hate to have to go back and examine my two years in the Army. Trust me. I was 18 years old and I was a handful, okay?”

    His life since then has been anything but. It’s been a life of helping people, and many times for free.

  31. Morgan Foster says

    Ralph Northam is no more deserving of mercy – or pity – than Al Franken, and both may descend into bitterness and heavy drinking for the rest of their days as far as I’m concerned. They did all of this to themselves.

    And yet both may have something useful to say to us, later, when it becomes increasingly apparent that there are fewer places among the seats of power in the Democratic Party for straight white men.

    Certainly, the Party will always have something to offer the ordinary straight white man who stands to benefit financially at the street level from quasi-socialist policies. But for the ambitious – men who want to be senators, governors and presidents – I see a time when there will be a glass ceiling beyond which they do not rise. Assistant to a gay woman of color, for example.

    I predict that when the current generation of straight white men at the top of the Party are dead and retired, the middle generation – straight white men in their 40s – will be increasingly frozen out.

    What, then, would there be for an ambitious 45-year-old straight white man with leftish ideals? Switch allegiance to the Republicans? No, absolutely not. A third party? Maybe.

    And what would a third party look like, that would both welcome leftish ideals and embrace ambitious straight white men? Would a third party dominated by leftish straight white men ever gather enough votes to win senate and governor races?

    If I had a plan for such a party, I would offer it now, but I don’t.

    Nevertheless, this seems certain to me: if ambitious straight white men don’t learn to caucus together – to learn the ABCs of social and political solidarity based upon principles of mutual support and protection of straight white men – straight white men will, for the most part, see themselves barred from political power at the higher levels.

    And then we’ll see a Quillete article written by Northam, lamenting what happened to him.

  32. BioEmeritus says

    Governor Northam’s “sin” is not that he is a racist. He doesn’t seem to be.

    It is that he is a STUPID politician. (Redundant?) As a mid-20s, supposedly mature (back then) medical student in1986, he had to have known that dressing in blackface and/or a KKK robe was not a smart thing to do. Even less smart was posing for a picture in such garb. Even less smart was allowing said picture to be published in your medical school (!!) yearbook. And, of course, the most unbelievably stupid thing to have done was to enter politics in the internet-crazed 21st century KNOWING this photo was out there to someday be used against you.

    “Stupid is as stupid does.”

  33. Why isn’t the author mentioning Northam’s reprehensible assertion just a few days earlier, that living babies, if desired by parents, could be left to die. This isn’ t a quote out of context. If you listen to the whole conversation, he says it quite clearly. For the author, the photo in high school is the only moral issue. For me it’s reversed. His stance on abortion is vile (and I’m not fully ‘pro life’), stated rationally, with consideration. Whereas the photo from high school is from when he was a child. I think the standards I held for Kavanaugh are equal to the standards I’d hold here, even though Kavanaugh’s accusers had to go to fiction and fantasy to make their own accusations. (Did the author think that too?)

    The stance many Dems has is morally indefensible. In addition to viewing an accusation of racism, true or false, minor or major, as a permanent sin and stain that can never be erased (as long as you’re a white man; otherwise racism it totally fine, even vile stuff as from Farrakhan), they also are totally cool with accusing children. We saw that with the poor catholic boys too. In this case, even if Northam did what he did, his school was fine with it. I mean, it made it through the school’s censors; the principal and superintendent approved it; having run yearbooks, and worked on a school yearbook back in the 1970s, I can tell you that they definitely did censor. In 1978, we wanted to say some kid had ‘spunk’ and the advisor nixed it because ‘spunk’ was apparently some dated (even back then) word for ‘sperm.’ So my point is, the adults let it go. So obviously this photo was part of the entire culture. People didn’t have wise upper class intellectuals telling them how to think and what was acceptable back then. I mean having a Dem be an actual KKK member is apparently fine, so you’d probably have to forgive them if they’re a bit confused on their rules.

    A side issue that no one seems to be talking about: Not to believe in conspiracies but I do have to wonder about the timing here. A few days after Northam’s statement on babies – which would follow the Dems around like a stain – and “somehow” the photo appears.

    I wonder how much dirt is waiting around, held by interested parties, for the right moment? And I wonder how much politicians know? Do they know that if they do x, y, or z, the photo will appear? And if they are good boys and girls – e.g. Obama, whose photo with Farrakhan was concealed during elections, and until he was out of office – the media and other interested parties will help them? And if they are bad boys – e.g. Trump – ‘suddenly’ 10 year old tapes are played?

    Politics is a dirty business. What’s mind-boggling is that the Left views it as an agency for morality, as a quasi-religious priesthood. Talk about an upside down world….

  34. Rupert Stubbs says

    Wow. Even on Quillette, there are certain subjects that trigger an immediate rush to judgement.

    I’m from the UK, and I have very little knowledge of Gov. Northam. However, it’s clear that there are people who are demanding that he resign because of his views on abortion.

    Yet again, this seems to hinge on one thing that he said. Has he been given a chance to clarify what he said? Was it taken out of context, or conflated with anything else? It doesn’t seem to matter much these days – if there is even just one part of a sentence that can be endlessly retweeted with a request for outrage, that outrage will be provided from the seemingly endless reserves that have been stockpiled.

    I find myself increasingly despising such moral certainty. People are complex, their musings and their choice of words not always precise and considered. Either we relearn how to tolerate this in our societies, and look to a more holistic way of evaluating a person, or we shut down any form of discourse.

    Because if any one of us can and will be judged by any possible interpretation of anything we say – with no possibility of clarification, nuance or reconsideration – then the danger of having original thought will be too great to consider.

    • Lydia says

      Rupert, His interview was very clear about about making the just born baby “comfortable” while discussing its possible murder with the mother. You should go give it a listen. In a day, the blackface was used against him by democrats, IMO, because Va is not NY,— yet. And, inconveniently, he IS a former pediatrician! Yikes.

      Besides, getting him to resign means an automatic black Gov and it won’t be PC to disagree.with him. Unless you prefer ruination.

      Some conservative pundits have had the picture for a while and did not use it.

      • Jack B. Nimble says


        What is ‘very clear’ is that Northam lacks the skill that some politicians–like Reagan and B. Clinton–have of making political points in terms that everyone can understand. He was referring to newborns delivered with anatomical and/or physiological abnormalities that prevent normal life. For example, a newborn that is not breathing might be resuscitated by being put on a ventilator, while the parents and medical staff determine if there is any possibility of the newborn starting to breathe on its own. If not, then removing the ventilator is an option and is NOT infanticide.

        Note: Va. law already allows third-term abortions in certain circumstances. The bill by Kathy Tran, now tabled, does not by itself extend the period during which abortions are allowed, in certain extreme and rare medical circumstances.

        Don’t believe me? Here’s a summary of his radio interview last month:

        “…..Northam said the controversy regarding made by Del. Kathy Tran on her late-term abortion bill was “overblown.”

        Tran acknowledged during a hearing that her bill would allow abortions up until moments before birth. But existing state law already provides for abortions throughout the third trimester, if three doctors certify a woman’s health would otherwise be substantially and irremediably impaired.

        Tran’s bill would reduce the number of doctors required to certify late-term abortions from three to one. It also would delete the words “substantially and irremediably” when referring to the threat that continuing a pregnancy poses for impairing a woman’s health.

        “I wasn’t there and I certainly can’t speak for Delegate Tran,” Northam said, but he added, “This is why decisions should be made by providers, physicians, mothers and fathers.”

        Northam, a doctor, said that such procedures happen “where there may be severe deformities [or] a fetus that’s nonviable.”

        He explained, “The infant would be delivered; the infant would be kept comfortable; the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desire, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

        Northam added, “This is why legislators, most of whom are men, by the way, shouldn’t be telling a woman what she should and shouldn’t be doing with her body. … We want the government not to be involved in these types of decisions.”

        He said that he would still support the notion of requiring certification from more than one doctor: “I think it’s always good to get a second opinion.”…..”

    • @Rupert Stubbs, sorry but you are the one who is rushing to judgment. You haven’t read up on the situation. Which is understandable since you’re not from the US. But don’t accuse others of something falsely before you do your homework. Yes, the governor has been given a chance to clarify what he said. It’s really appalling. I say this as someone who is in favor of abortions in some circumstances.

      No one has moral certainty. But if someone says it’s ok to murder a baby if the parents want to, we have a right to respond to that. It’s morally outrageous. Disagree if you want, but don’t accuse people who respond to his statement of something they’re not. And don’t inadvertently be the thing you are criticizing (rushing to judgment).

  35. ChrisH says

    This is NOT a criminal case, and criminal standards are irrelevant (as they should have been for Brett Kavanaugh). He represents:
    1) the people of North Carolina, AND
    2) the Democratic Party, nationwide (indirectly).
    Each of these constituencies has every right to call for his resignation if they believe he is problematic. The Dems in particular seem to be trying to establish much higher standards (witness Al Franken) for themselves, at least sometimes.
    This has nothing to do with ruining Northam’s life; it has everything to do with how the Democratic Party is perceived.

  36. GregWA says

    The article says “But Northam did not promote or pursue policy decisions to harm the lives of African Americans.”

    Are you kidding me? He’s a Democrat! There is no other institution in America more responsible for the negative conditions afflicting African Americans.

    • augustine says

      That’s why blacks deserve compassion for their (unnecessarily) difficult lot, and Democrats deserve our ire. Don’t allow the latter continue to conflate these demographics for their political gain.

  37. “… our free will is limited if not nonexistent, and therefore we should not hate or loathe people who commit antisocial or immoral behaviour. Instead, we should try to understand the natural processes that lead to that behaviour.”

    Hey, love your local psychopath as he cuts your throat. Accept him for what he is and celebrate difference. This guy is nuts.

    • Lydia says

      Exactly. I was thinking of pedophiles. But they aren’t responsible because they have limited free will, I suppose. Like animals?

  38. Shane Mage says

    Of course people should be pardoned for ancient “sins”
    (unless they happen to be elderly priests or world-famous musicians). But Northam’s offense was a *continuing* one. He apologizes *now*. What about those thirty+ years when he quite happily refused to apologize for it, on the oh-so-honest grounds that he thought nobody would dig up the evidence?

      • Peter Kriens says

        @Northern I am glad I am not the only one that did not understand what @Shane said 🙂

  39. Quote for the day. In 1848, Congressman Lincoln stated “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. …Any portion of such people that can may revolutionize, and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit.”

    President Lincoln, in 1861, when confronted with his words, which could be construed to support the Confederates, said: “You would hardly think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” (Gore Vidal, United States, 1993, p. 667)

  40. “More and more, elite liberalism is embracing modes of thought that I once associated with the political Right: joy in punishment and us-versus-them thinking.”

    I was enjoying the read until I hit this sentence. “joy in punishment”? That’s pretty harsh. You can disagree with the conservative view that those, especially repeat offenders of violent crimes, need to be dealt with in a more harsh manner than a first time offense or an offense that does not involve violence.

    To say that the right enjoys punishment is beyond stupid. Few enjoy punishing their fellow man, but we can disagree on how much someone should be punished if they are violent and a clear threat to society and they keep repeating that violence. “Enjoy”? I think not.

  41. I think I have the answer. Since the left is has become more intolerant and repressive of those who do not toe the leftist line why don’t they create indoctrination camps for those who stray within their own party. As the left approach the realm of Mao’ism, well at least they sound more and more like Mao followers each day, indoctrination camps would be appropriate.

    Sending this governor to such a camp for a few years of “relearning” and hard work would certainly allow him to fully appreciate the errors of his ways and allow a Democrat foot soldier to reenter the party as a true Social Justice Warrior.

    I mean if they keep eating their own without the opportunity to “relearn” who will carry the leftist banner?

  42. Lightning Rose says

    Perhaps the deep-dive of oppo research, all the way back to high school and beyond as per Kavanaugh, is the spear that finally kills the popularity of social media. If the “new normal” is that one’s every utterance, picture, and act from toddlerhood to employment application can now be taken as disqualifying, NO public speech or activity is safe. Even in your own home, thanks to Google and Alexa. Think we’ve got people afraid to come out of Mommy’s basement NOW? Wait around!

    With a TV camera and the ability to edit video in everyone’s hand, virtually anyone can be slandered into oblivion just for the fun of it, much like the 6-second “blackface” of 3 TWELVE year old girls at an NYC prep school is being made into a “hate crime” incident. They didn’t even know what “blackface” historically was! I also think there’s just a ridiculous overreaction to a minor cultural footnote from a hundred years go. Why is everyone freaking out NOW?

    No one will be able to let their hair down with their friends, express an opinion, crack a joke, discuss current events, compliment anyone on their appearance, turn down any individual of any “identity” for a date, wear a costume, “appropriate” an ethnic meal, or even listen to a song about seduction written 70 years ago. We’ll all be prisoners in our homes, and won’t even dare to post a single word on the Internet lest it be purposely taken out of context to shitcan our job.

    Or . . . we can start pushing back against SJW static electricity looking for a lightning rod.

    It’s our choice.

  43. So, here’s the thing (not that most of the demented howling hypocrites who seem to run the world these days will care or even think about it). What’s the context of this image? Was Northam dressed up to MAKE FUN of the KKK? If so, he’s hardly supporting them.

  44. Lydia says

    “I consider myself in the same camp as Robert Sapolsky, a leading neurobiologist who has argued that our free will is limited if not nonexistent, and therefore we should not hate or loathe people who commit antisocial or immoral behaviour. Instead, we should try to understand the natural processes that lead to that behaviour.”

    I am getting a kick out of the fact you sound like a Calvinist preacher here. They just use “total depravity” to explain our limited or non existent, free will.

  45. Winston Smith says

    Northam is finished. It doesn’t matter whether or not he is racist or whether his actions in office have benefited African-Americans. The optics of the yearbook photo are bad for the Democratic brand.

    If there is a desire on the left to reform and rehabilitate black convicted criminals, that same spirit of clemency will never manifest in a second chance for Northam or anyone else white. It’s not about the principal of forgiveness or rehabilitation, it’s about the idea that blacks are always victims of racism —even when they commit crime— and hence we must always give to and help the blacks lest we too become “part of the problem.” In the case of a white male, lifting a finger to help or opening a heart to forgive would only contribute to “white privilege.” Indeed, in Northam’s case it would be even worse than that; it would be sanctioning racism. I’m

  46. R Henry says

    “Our free will is limited if not nonexistent”

    I have no idea how anybody can hold such a ludicrous position.

  47. Excuse me, but am I missing something here? It was his yearbook page, right? He chose what went in, right? More, he was in medical school. I mean it is a professional school and he must have thought of himself as an adult professional, right?

    Give me a break. The sooner this adult owns up enough to resign, the better.

  48. Drunk Eejit says

    “…our free will is limited if not nonexistent,…
    But elite progressives apply this logic only on a selective basis.”

    err…according to your own logic the elite progressives have no choice in this matter so you should leave them alone. …but…you have no choice in the matter of criticizing them…and I have no choice in the matter of the content of my comment here… and all reading this have no choice in how they then respond…..(head implodes).

    • augustine says

      Spot on, Drunk. Freedom from will = freedom from responsibility. Who is left to make all these lofty moral determinations I wonder?

    • Doctor Locketopus says

      Until you really piss us off, yes. Then it’s not so funny.

  49. augustine says

    “The Left claims to believe in compassion and rehabilitation”

    But only for people of color. Identity politics, remember?

  50. Cody Bailey says

    Why does he deserve no forgiveness?
    A) He supports the murder of babies
    B) His campaign ran this: https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2019/02/flashback-northam-campaign-ad-shows-racists-in-a-pickup-truck-with-confederate-flags-running-over-screaming-minority-children/
    C) He is a straight-up, no-shit racist doing what the left always does; project.

    You get more of what you reward, less of what you punish. Fuck that shitweasel. Cook his ass. He can seek forgiveness at his church after he changes professions and goes and gets an actual job doing something productive.

  51. Kristof says

    Forgiving doesn’t require understanding the ostensible impotence of free will. We forgive if and when a trespass has been acknowledged and expiated to our satisfaction, which cannot occur without the assumption of guilt on the part of the accused. That assumption in turn is meaningless without the notion of a capacity to choose. If we were destined to offend neither punishment nor forgiveness would have a function.

    The only requirement for the acceptance of free will (the ability to affect outcomes by making decisions) is that we might have acted differently. The fact that it is possible to resist temptation, impulse, and need, even to the point of starving oneself to death, supports the existence of resolving oneself to a course of action qua intentional-teleological state. Our entire moral/legal system, not to mention our individual respect-worthiness, is based on our accountability, that is to say, our capacity to choose how we act.

    The ability to monitor and map the neurological correlates of decision making (foresight, deferral of gratification, the binding of impulse, etc.) can’t supplant our accountability or our moral status as good or evil based on how we conduct ourselves.The explanatory language of neurobiology is not meant to displace the courts of law and public opinion. It is misguided to imagine understanding causes could trump the enforcement of mores and laws. Enforcement establishes the authority of the state through its judicial manifestation. And while ‘loathing” offenders is not the same as punishing them, our collective disgust for the offender expresses itself in his ostracizing (incarceration).

    Rehabilitation may be the humane end of the penal system, but no mere ability to explain behavior is going to make retributive justice obsolete so long as decision-making represents the fulcrum of individual accountability, dignity, and respectability.

    The whole zero-tolerance policy being collectively adopted usurps our responsibility to judge when a trespass lies beyond the pale. As such it represents a totalitarian constraint on individual conscience. (The totalitarian state, like the invasive parent and the puritanical community, respects no limits to its meddling.)

    Removing a man from office for a youthful folly publicly rued elevates his offense to the status of an unforgivable trespass and confirms those offended in their belief that nothing short of professional self-nullification can off-set their suffering (“hurt” or resentment). This in turn aids and abets the belief that being offended is so debilitating an injury that it cries out to be criminalized, therewith promoting the avoidance of hurt over the freedom of self-expression. In the process we enshrine the fragility of the victim as one incapable of coping with his resentment, further infantilizing the space of public opinion.

    • augustine says

      So are you saying that our free will is something beyond the reach of any explanation for behavior that could be offered by some future synthesis in biochemistry or neurobiology? Don’t you find the theoretical possibilities tempting? Maybe not ultimate satisfaction or explanation, though.

      I can’t help wonder if Kristof is Kristor sometimes?

  52. James says

    I am disgusted by Dr. Northam’s policies, but couldn’t care in the least what sorts of pranks he played in medical school. We had a particularly obnoxious guy in our med school class, and one of the other med students cut off his cadaver’s crank and hung it on the fellow’s doorknob. Horrible to contemplate now, but stress can make you do odd things.

    There is a larger issue here: our nation is being attacked on all fronts by leftists acting-out the Frankfort School’s Critical Theory technique of criticizing all aspects and social mores of Western Civilization in an attempt to bring it down. Attacks of radical feminism, the PC culture, college campus’ attacks on free speech – not to mention the same by our own Congresscritters and Senators – the Brett Kavanaugh hearing case-in-point. Attacks on Christianity, the nuclear family, “toxic masculinity” – anything that might involve a white man.

    There is nothing more pitiable than a fight where only one of the combatants is aware of it. Many now understand what’s really behind these innumerable constant attacks on everything the West holds dear, and this fight – an existential one – is where we need to be focusing our attention – not some med school prank of thirty years ago. It’s called, “having bigger fish to fry.”

  53. Peter Olszewski says

    Spell error, par 3: opppsed should be opposed

  54. Iain Logan says

    The pleas for forgiveness are legion, but are only ever entered in one direction. While nicely parsed that the forgiveness should arise from the liberal camp, no such plea has ever or will ever be offered were a conservative to have transgressed in such a manner.
    Hence Robert Byrd can be both forgiven and eulogised, but a smiling teenager in a MAGA hat will continue to be hated even when the accusations against him are proven false.
    Northam ran his election on a campaign of hate, toward his opponent and his opponents supporters. Perhaps if he and his fellow liberals apologised for that, the right might take pleas for forgiveness as honest, rather that mere posturing.

  55. jolly swag, man says

    live by Alinsky’s Rules, die by Alinsky’s Rules.

  56. what a load of crap.
    This has nothing to do with political correctness. It has to do with holding Republicans, Democrats and even Aliens from outer space accountable.
    That kind of behavior wasn’t acceptable by decent people 35 years ago or even 100 years ago and it surely isn’t now.
    Say bye, bye Gov.

  57. Dingodog says

    I find it interesting that most comparisons of the Left focus on Protestantism, which is apt, but very few make a comparison to Catholic indulgences, which seems to me to be closest to the direction of “Woke Capitalism”. We have a focus on those that suffer for our sins (The Oppressed), a monastic class (diversity and sensitivity consultants) that will convert money into a form of absolution, social capital gained when a family can devote a child to the Order (SJW or LGBTQA identification which may allow entry to the monastic class), and excommunication of the insufficiently Woke.
    Kindly enlighten me, fellow readers.

  58. ga gamba says

    To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is barbarity. Robespierre, Report upon the Principles of Political Morality Which Are to Form the Basis of the Administration of the Interior Concerns of the Republic

    If the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country’s most urgent needs. Robespierre, On the Moral and Political Principles of Domestic Policy

  59. Jon Galt says

    How many non-males – who have been outed as committers of 30-year-old transgressions – have the deploring left summarily sentenced to excommunication – regardless of political affiliation?


    The target is not republican or democrat, not straight or gay, not old or young, not Christian or Muslim or Druid.

    The target is males. White males are the higher value targets, but any male will do.

    How many black females are pulled over for “driving while Black?

    As a percentage of the Black population, how many males vs females are convicted, imprisoned?

    Young males are now de-prioritized in school by, almost entirely female, ‘teachers.’ Young males are “taught” to curb their “toxic masculinity.” When was the last time a female suffered an accusation of poison femininity?

    And now old males are held to the present-day SJW standard d’jour of acceptable omega male, head down, apologetic (for breathing), disempowered, and “deplorable” male-ness. NewSpeak is upon us. Big Brother is GoogAzonBook.

    There is a marriage, and therefore legitimate family unit, and therefore childhood crisis in its infancy here. The state has and continues to replace the male / masculine role in a large percentage of childed households. It’s already legion what that does to both male and female development in children. And this will only provide strong motivation for the male side of that equation to abstain from the negotiation of that deal in the next generation, and the next. To dangerous, with little or no assurances that, 30 years later, they won’t be hobbled.

    It’s not about politicians or celebrities. Theirs are just the stories that get published.

  60. Kristof says

    Kamala Harris urges Northam to remove himself from office, and presumably public life altogether, so that the community can “heal.” The implication being that the offense he’s given so many decades after the fact of his youthful folly is so egregious that only his complete obliteration can make up for it. The “wound” is not treatable in any other manner. No acceptance of his apology, no credence given his expiation, no homeostatic adjustment or forgiveness on our part is possible. “Being held to a higher standard” means to enjoy less leniency, to be subject to a more stringent and unforgiving judgment. The only policy allowed to govern the moral arbitration of public figures, the only acceptable form of justice, is that of zero-tolerance. Thus once again we see that the putative permissiveness and tolerance of the progressive democratic order is in fact a “seminary of intolerance.”

  61. m.sam says

    What, mercy?! Mercy is what Northam should ask for from God; whether he keeps his job as Governor has nothing to do with mercy, but solely whether he is qualified to represent, as executive, the entire state of Virginia. And the man behind that mask is not. All of this talk of ‘mercy’ is meaningless rhetoric that does nothing to serve the citizens of the state.

  62. Constantin says

    We should all beware of this trap and deny the left the joy of seeing Conservatives joining the chorus of those demanding a pound of flesh for pictures taken 35 years ago. If we sanction the destruction of careers and lives based on the application of puritan post-modern value norms to events when those norms did not exist, we allow them the ultimate weapon to destroy our heroes and our roots by condemning our entire history. For Americans – this would mean that you will sanction their attack on your Founding Fathers and ultimately on your Constitution and Republic. The answer must be morally clear and strong, even if the target happens to be an imbecile arguing for legal infanticide. It does not matter who the target it, if you sanction the method. Say no and lough in the their faces for their obvious hypocrisy in believing in rehabilitation for any sins but their pet intersectionality targets of hatred.

    • Num num says

      Constantin, will said! Yet I’ve noticed some big voices on the right jumped on this SJW bandwagon only because the target has a ‘D’ next to his name.

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  75. Dingodog says

    There is one option that would’ve cleansed this sin in the view of the Left:

    If Ralph became Reneé
    Or was Gay
    In a born again way
    Their life would start anew today
    And all sins of the past swept away

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  77. Mary Delgado says

    Please proofread articles before publishing. Thank you.

    • joseph says


  78. connie frist says

    I am far more concerned about Northam’s support of killing live babies after birth.
    But the DemoRat party has bigger fish to fry than the deaths of a few hundred (thousand…? million…?) babies….Don’t they now?

    • same joseph as above says

      Any possibility DNC Inc. knew about this photo a long time ago but are using this now to distract from the infanticide?

  79. davido says

    Passing unnoticed is that for the first time in American history a Governor-level Office has explicitly authorized infanticide. 3,000 years ago heathen peoples did the same thing worshiping Moloch or Baal and sending children through fire in the high places. Infanticide, and it’s kissing cousin abortion, have always been associated with heathen/barbarian cultures throughout history. It was common in the culture in which Christianity was born.
    Let’s do a little thought experiment. Assume Christianity is true. What would be God’s judgment on an empire that has reached this point? Clue: He has done it before.

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  81. Num num says

    I’m surprised to see the author and comments agreeing that white people donning costume of other races is racist per se. So race-based dress code. So it seems the young woman who famously scolded the professor at Yale was in the right, taking a righteous stand against racism, ie, Halloween without racial dress codes.

  82. “Northam himself grew up on a family farm along the Eastern Shore, later shuffling through a series of working-class jobs, including as a deckhand on fishing boats. The cultural biases and norms typical of such an environment likely weighed heavily on him,”

    I grew up in this same area of Virginia, Accomack County, and never once did I entertain the idea of putting on blackface or a Hooded moron outfit. How dare you imply this area is racist based on the actions of one racist Democrat who didn’t even win his home county. This ignorant redneck has
    embarrassed his entire family and now his own state. You can twist things all you want but I can never think of a time when it would be acceptable to wear those outfits. Northam at that period of his life had no problem presenting himself to his peers with those pictures so why should he be sorry for it now? We know why.

    • Num num says

      James, at odds with your claims is the fact that there are three other men in the same yearbook in blackface. They dressed up as The Supremes for Halloween. On top of that, another Virginia politician just said he committed blackface, confessing apparentlyy to forestall it blowing up in his face someday.

      • My claim had to do with Accomack County where Northam is from. When I wrote that earlier comment the other nut who put on blackface hadn’t been brought to my attention. I only heard about Herring this morning and tonight Tommy Norment has been found to have worn blackface too. Neither of which are from Accomack County. Are the other men in blackface in the yearbook from Accomack County? The author implied the area where Northam is from is racist. That’s what I’m disputing. I’m sure he knows nothing of this area. Can I make the claim that Indiana is racist because in the 1920’s the state had 250,000 hooded morons?

  83. As a Leftist, I’m not sure I agree with the writer’s characterization of Northam’s record. He seems like a relatively conventional establishment Democrat to me and not the progressive stalwart Jilani makes him out to be.

    But I do agree with the dissonance between wanting to rehabilitate people who commit murder and showing no mercy to an incredibly embarrassing and offensive moments from someone’s past. I believe that both situations deserve mercy and forgiveness.

    Why is there so little mercy and forgiveness for offensive things said and done that were clearly a part of acting out? Do we really want to set a precedent in which people can lose their jobs for something offensive said or done in the past? Wouldn’t a lot of people lose their jobs on that basis? Isn’t part of life learning from one’s mistakes? Should we have to pay for the same mistake repeatedly?

    Of course, blackface is racist and offensive, but a lot of things are offensive. In a perfect world, people would be perfectly mindful of everything they say and do and its impact on others. Maybe my dad wouldn’t have said homophobic nonsense and told me homosexuality was a “perversion” if he had known how much it hurt me. Unfortunately, people are not perfect. They disappoint and fall short…repeatedly.

    Northam should have stuck to his original apology – “I’m sincerely apologize for the deeply racist images. They were hurtful, and I deeply regret them. They are not representative of the person I am today.” His subsequent equivocations made the apology look insincere.

    People make mistakes. I don’t understand this puritanical bent within US culture and politics that seeks to punish, to humiliate, to shame. It’s as if the culture at large has extricated the worst of hardline evangelical Christianity and adapted it for a political framework.

    We need to bring back an ethic of mercy and forgiveness. As Desmond Tutu said, “There is no future without forgiveness.”

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  85. Arundo Donax says

    He deserves no mercy because those are the new rules. People can be condemned for any action or statement in their past that would be politically incorrect today, or for being white males. Democrats set these rules, most prominently in the Kavanaugh hearings, and all of a sudden they are being asked to live by them. Saul Alinsky is turning over in his grave.

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