Cartoon: I am not a person who would ever do or say the things I said and did


Help me make more cartoons! A bunch of people pledging $1 or $2 on my Patreon makes these cartoons – and let’s face it, my life – possible.


For once, I know exactly where the idea for this cartoon came from. A story a couple of years ago about a model who took a mocking photo of a fat woman at LA Fitness:

Mathers, 30, was Playboy‘s 2015 Playmate of the Year. She was banned by the LA Fitness health club chain for surreptitiously taking a photo of a woman in a shower area and publishing it along with the caption, “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either.”

When it announced the ban, LA Fitness called Mathers’ behavior “appalling.” Saying it had revoked her membership, the company added, “It’s not just our rule, it’s common decency.”

In the fallout that ensued, the model lost her job at Los Angeles radio station KLOS, where she was a contributor. In November, the criminal charge was filed, leaving Mathers facing a potential six-month jail term.

As negative responses poured in at the time of the initial posting, Mathers sought to apologize.

“That was absolutely wrong and not what I meant to do. … I know that body-shaming is wrong,” she said, as member station KPCC reported. “That is not the type of person I am.

That last quote – “that is not the type of person I am” – has really stuck with me. (I even worked it into panel 2). Because, I mean… You’re exactly the type of person who secretly takes mocking photos of women changing in the locker room. We know you’re exactly the type of person who does that, because you did.

Ms. Mathers, of course, isn’t alone in expressing this sentiment. Every time a celebrity gets into one of these scandals, we hear them saying some variation on “that’s not the type of person I am.”

I think what they mean is, I did do that awful thing, but that’s not all I am. I am more than this one bad thing I did. 

And that’s absolutely true. Ms. Mathers is the type of person who’d do this thing – but, if she genuinely works at it, she can become the type of person who wouldn’t do that thing.

But to make the claim – “this isn’t who I am!” – without actually doing the work is evading responsibility.  We’ve seen this very recently, of course, with Kevin Hart, who told a series of worse-than-typical homophobic jokes, never once apologized for them, and then took an “I’ve apologized enough, it’s time for the haters to move on!” stance.

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg has written about the distinction between forgiveness and repetance in Judaism, and I happened to read that while working on this strip, which seemed very serendipitous. (It’s just a twitter thread; I recommend reading it, whether or not you’re Jewish.)

I had Mel Gibson in mind when I wrote the kicker panel – an antisemitic, racist, wife-beating movie star who not only made a huge comeback, but who has even claimed that he is the real victim.


Artwise, this cartoon (I thought) needed to be very simple to work – one figure, one camera angle, no background. As an artist, this makes things easy for me on one level, but difficult on another – because I don’t want every panel to be alike, and I do want to giver readers something to look at. So I concentrated on varying the expression and body language.

This is something that matters to no one in the world but me, but the biggest challenge of this cartoon, for me, was the last panel, because he’s tipped his head back so the underside of his jaw is facing the viewer. For me, that is the hardest angle of head to draw – but it was also perfect for the attitude I wanted to convey with is body language in that panel. I hope y’all think it came out well!


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels, plus an small extra “kicker” panel below the bottom of the strip. Each panel features a man in a suit, standing at a podium, speaking directly at the viewer.

PANEL 1

The man presses one hand against his chest, in a “this is me” sort of attitude.

MAN: When I got drunk and said all those things about Jews and gays… That’s not me. It goes against everything I believe.

PANEL 2

The man spreads his arms wide, indicating that this is a big sentiment.

MAN: And when I was recorded using the “n word” over and over… That is not the type of person I am. I don’t have a racist bone in my body.

PANEL 3

He raises one index finger, making a concluding point.

MAN: As for pleading guilty for battering my wife… That’s not me. That’s not what I stand for.

MAN: And regarding my many other scandals: Nothing I’ve said or done has anything to do with me, my beliefs, or my character.

PANEL 4

He folds his arms and tips his head back, looking a bit above-it-all and a bit strict. He’s putting his metaphorical foot down.

MAN: And now that I’ve taken full responsibility, it’s time to move on. Let us never mention this again.

“KICKER” PANEL BELOW THE BOTTOM OF THE STRIP

The same man, now smiling and holding up an Oscar.

MAN: And in conclusion, I’d like to thank the academy for this award…

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics. Bookmark the permalink. 

136 Responses to Cartoon: I am not a person who would ever do or say the things I said and did

  1. 1
    Gracchus says:

    “I think what they mean is, I did do that awful thing, but that’s not all I am. I am more than this one bad thing I did. ”

    I’ve always heard it slightly differently in my head. I think what they mean is “I did this bad thing, but it’s not an expression of my nature or personality, it’s just a random bad thing that happened that I was involved in, like dropping a coffee cup or farting in a lift, and it doesn’t tell you anything about me or my personality”.

    The person is trying to disassociate themselves from their actions and is basically asking not to be judged based on what they did – it would be ridiculous to ask not to be judged at all, so they instead concede they can be judged, but only in a shallow and transient way.

    So I’m even less sympathetic to people who say this than you are, Amp.

  2. 2
    Mandolin says:

    I have this “what? that’s not me” feeling sometimes — often from intrusive thoughts. e.g. there was a span of time when I was doing very badly with anxiety, where I had become anxious that I would think racial epithets, and as a consequence, my brain repeated a lot of racial epithets. Once I stabilized, it stopped. But although it was me, it was also part of me that was… well, disordered.

    That’s not what these people mean. But I have encountered circumstances that made me feel this way.

  3. 3
    Michael says:

    @Mandolin#2- That’s different, though. Psychiatrists agree that intrusive thoughts don’t mean anything and that trying to suppress them can lead to OCD. DO NOT under any circumstances try to suppress them.

  4. 4
    harlemjd says:

    Mandolin – Thank you for saying that. My brain does the same and I do believe it’s related to social anxiety. In my case, my (undiagnosed) social anxiety is fairly minor and there are professional reporting issues why I don’t care to seek treatment for what is otherwise a manageable issue, but that particular internal issue is upsetting to me.

  5. 5
    Evan Þ. says:

    “I think what they mean is, I did do that awful thing, but that’s not all I am. I am more than this one bad thing I did.”

    I’ve always heard this somewhat differently than either you or Gracchus. I tend to hear it as, “I’m not the sort of person who tends to typically do this horrible thing. I only did it that once because of specific circumstances that won’t recur.”

    I think that’s something that could conceivably be relevant. For instance, if someone shoves me once while he’s drunk, that’s different than if he goes around shoving people all the time. But, the same personality traits that led to that are probably still going to be there while he’s sober… and now that he knows he does that while drunk, he should probably avoid getting drunk and doing it in the future.

    (And plus, a whole lot of celebrities who say this probably aren’t telling the truth; these aren’t such unique circumstances as they claim.)

  6. 6
    Petar says:

    Heh. This is absolutely basic human psychology.

    When other people do something bad, it’s due to their nature. When we do something bad, it’s due to circumstances.

    Gypsies steal chicken because they are born thieves. My coworker steals my lunch because he has no respect for others’ property. I steal because I need to feed my daughter.

    As for “This is not the person I am”, that’s pretty much “This is not my normal program. A cosmic ray flipped a bit, and the wrong instruction got executed.”

    And there is something to it. We all know that when we are drunk, we do things we usually would not. Well, if you under stress, if you are angry, if you are afraid, if you are in pain, etc. you will do things that you wouldn’t if you had an hour to plan your actions in all comfort.

    When I had ulnar nerve surgery, I woke up and I had no idea when and where I was. According to my friend who was giving me a ride, I was ranting about having been shot by religious extremists who blew up the train car assigned to mothers with kids. I have been shot three times, but it was never by religious extremists, and it was never in the arm.

    It is not really an excuse, though. I certainly do not have any love for people who believe absurdities and commit atrocities. Thus, no matter what people say, those are things they feel strongly about. It’s just that usually, there are inhibitors in place.

  7. 7
    Mandolin says:

    Brains are weird. Sometimes they execute random programs. But I feel like that’s usually about a split-second walking into the kitchen and putting your glasses away in the refrigerator.

    I think a sustained set of choices isn’t something you can explain that way, at least unless you’re having a nervous breakdown, a psychotic break, or are under immediate life threat, or something like that. Taking and distributing mocking photos with reinforcing choices over time… those are choices you made, not just random brain fluctuations, or knee jerks.

    And it really, really doesn’t absolve you of consequences. Most people who leave their infants in cars do so because their brains have gone into a routine mode, and literally didn’t consult their consciousnesses before going into an automatic routine-following mode. I believe that for many of those parents, that’s not an action “they” took–the part of them that makes real choices. But the consequences are permanent and wrecking, whether they’re legal or just the horrible, soul-eating truth that you have caused the death of someone your purpose was to protect, and they will never have another chance at the seventy years that should have been theirs.

  8. 8
    Michael says:

    OK, this is a timely cartoon. Do you think this statement by Governor Northam qualifies as an example:
    https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/all-releases/2019/january/headline-838358-en.html

  9. 9
    Kate says:

    The statement Michael linked to:

    “Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive.

    “I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.

    “This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service. But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment.

    “I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor.”

    Is this an example? Probably not:
    1.) He acknowledges the decision he made, and the the hurt he caused.
    2.) This cartoon alludes to three separate incidents, indicating an ongoing pattern including current/recent actions. This appears to be a one-off incident, from many years ago, not a pattern of behavior over time.
    2.) He cites a 35 year record of behavior as evidence that he is no longer like that today (not that he was not like that at the time, as he obviously was). Now, if there is something in that record that he should also be ashamed of, that would be another issue. I don’t know his record. Maybe there is. But, that would be a different cartoon.
    3.) He acknowledge that he will need to work to make amends. He does not expect everyone to just pretend it never happened. Now, one might argue he deserves greater consequences than a good sincere apology and greater scrutiny moving forward. But, again, that would be a different cartoon.

  10. 10
    Mandolin says:

    It feels really disingenuous to imply this cartoon means “people do not change over time.”

  11. 11
    Michael says:

    Never mind, I think we all can agree now that Governor Northam is the world’s worst apologizer:
    https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/02/politics/northam-racist-yearbook-photo/index.html

  12. 13
    J. Squid says:

    Here’s what I wrote about Northam, elsewhere:

    I was impressed by Northam’s statement. I was not impressed by his “belief” that he is not one of the people in the photo. That’s not something you forget if it’s something you never do. Of course he also told us he’d done blackface on at least one other occasion. So either he’s lying or he did shit like that often enough that he can’t remember this one. “Believe” is a weasel word here. He’s not saying it’s not him. And if it turns out there’s proof it was, Ooops! he was mistaken.

    Also, fuck him for having his wife stand there behind him. Don’t involve her in your defense of this shit.

    The right thing for Northam to do is to resign. He’s got a perfectly good Democrat to take his place. The only reason to stay in office is if he cares more about his career and power than he does his state and his party.

    The rest of his statement might be perfectly true, but for the sake of his state and his party, go the fuck home, Ralph.

  13. 14
    desipis says:

    J. Squid:

    That’s not something you forget if it’s something you never do.

    That’s not something you forget if it’s something you never do.
    You remember every silly thing you did 35 years ago in detail? I wish I had your god-like memory.

    The right thing for Northam to do is to resign.

    Why? Do you actually think the nature of someone’s college hijinks 35 years ago provides any useful information about their ability to govern? Or do you expect some sort of life-long moral perfection from politicians?

  14. 15
    Ampersand says:

    I definitely don’t recall every stupid thing I’ve ever done. And yet, I’m positive that the list of stupid things I’ve done does not include blackface. Or dressing in KKK robes. It doesn’t require an extraordinary memory to know that.

    The fact is, Northam saw the photo and his first reaction was that it was him. Clearly he didn’t find it shocking or out of character for his younger self to have done that; indeed, he remembers clearly another that he did wear blackface. The only question is, on which particular occasions did young Northam wear blackface.

    Do you actually think the nature of someone’s college hijinks 35 years ago provides any useful information about their ability to govern?

    Very possibly, if this issue impedes his ability to both work with other people in government, or if his presence harms his party’s position, or if he’s lost the trust of his constituents. It may not be fair, but lots of things that have nothing to do with someone’s skill set can have a pragmatic effect on their ability to govern.

    In some cases, I might say “fuck it, there’s a principle at stake here, there’s precedent to set, so don’t give in.” Like, if a lot of people in the legislature are prejudiced against trans people, and a trans person is elected governor, I’d say don’t give in to that. But I’m not convinced “no one should lose their public position because as an adult they did blackface” is a hill we should be willing to die on.

    Honestly, if I were a Virginian, I’d be willing to say Northam shouldn’t resign – if Northam can convince the various Black organizations in Virginia that he can be a valuable ally to them going forward. But this is the sort of issue where I think it makes sense for a white boy like me to follow the Black community’s lead.

  15. 16
    RonF says:

    The guy did something stupid 35 years ago when he was 25, so he should resign from office now? This is ridiculous. What has his personal and political record been since then? It wasn’t a criminal act. Was it offensive? Sure. So what? It’s not like he’s trying to defend it. I spent a day wandering around Salem this summer and I swear the new Puritans would fit right in with the old ones.

  16. 17
    desipis says:

    Ampersand:

    Clearly he didn’t find it shocking or out of character for his younger self to have done that; indeed, he remembers clearly another that he did wear blackface.

    Sure, I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. However, such a circumstance means his use of the word “belief” is honest and not some sort of weasel word as J. Squid claimed.

    It may not be fair, but lots of things that have nothing to do with someone’s skill set can have a pragmatic effect on their ability to govern.

    I’m not sure I find this argument persuasive. If someone’s race or gender or sexuality had a pragmatic effect on their ability to govern, would you think it acceptable to call for them to resign?

    I’d say don’t give in to that. But I’m not convinced “no one should lose their public position because as an adult they did blackface” is a hill we should be willing to die on.

    I think having politicians’ careers held hostage to the silly things they did when they young greatly undermines the extent to which politicians will focus on substantive policy issues. J. Squid’s comment about there being another “perfectly good Democrat” being available makes it clear just how pathetically shallow people are when judging who should represent them.

    Would there really be zero substantive differences in policies between Northam and his potential replacement? If his replacement’s polices were better why not already be calling for his replacement? If Northam’s policies are better, is it really an acceptable outcome to have a negative impact on people’s current lives over the costume someone wore 35 years ago?

    But this is the sort of issue where I think it makes sense for a white boy like me to follow the Black community’s lead.

    If the Black community decision rests significantly on the revelations them it’s not the sort of leadership I’d choose to follow. If they come up with a compelling argument that there’s an alternative who would do a better job, then that would be worth listening to.

  17. 18
    Ampersand says:

    It may not be fair, but lots of things that have nothing to do with someone’s skill set can have a pragmatic effect on their ability to govern.

    I’m not sure I find this argument persuasive. If someone’s race or gender or sexuality had a pragmatic effect on their ability to govern, would you think it acceptable to call for them to resign?

    I’d say don’t give in to that. But I’m not convinced “no one should lose their public position because as an adult they did blackface” is a hill we should be willing to die on.

    What happened here? Did you cut-and-paste my statement “pragmatic effect on their ability to govern” before reading the very next sentence, respond to it, then go back, read the next sentence, realized I’d already responded to your “race or gender or sexuality” argument in the very next sentence, yet didn’t go back and modify what you’d already written? It just seems odd.

    Anyhow, there was a unspoken “all else held equal” in my argument, which in hindsight I should have spelled out. Of course, it could make me think differently if I had reason to be strongly against Justin Fairfax. But both he and Northam are, from what I can tell (and I don’t live in Virginia and so don’t know much), pretty much mainstream Virginia Democrats, and I’d suspect we’d see similar policies under either man. After all, the legislation will be written by the same Virginia congress under either man. It’s not like the governor has a free hand to pass whatever policies he’d like – especially since the GOP controls the Virginia congress.

    Also, frankly, pretty much the entire Virginia Democratic party (with the exception, ironically but understandably, of Fairfax) is calling on Northup to resign. That makes me wonder if Northup perhaps isn’t a very effective party leader.

    I think having politicians’ careers held hostage to the silly things they did when they young greatly undermines the extent to which politicians will focus on substantive policy issues.

    I’m not persuaded. There are few things in American politics as harmful as being photographed in (or admitting to having been in) blackface. Probably only sexual harassment or assault would be as bad. (For Democrats, that is.) That’s exceptional. Most of the stupid things people do when they’re in their 20s just wouldn’t be that harmful. If it had come out that Northup had streaked a football game or sprayed shaving cream all over the Dean’s office, he’d have to be a good sport for a week while Stephen Colbert made jokes about him, and that would be the end of it.

    You’re conflating “doing something really fucking racist in his 20s” with “just did some random silly thing in his 20s, like everyone does.” But huge portions of the Democratic party don’t conflate those two things, and that’s the political reality that any competent (Democratic) politician has to deal with.

  18. 19
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, as I says, if he can persuade people that he sincerely apologizes and sees what he did at 25 (or was it 27?) as wrong, then I’m fine with him remaining in office. But I’m not the person he needs to persuade, and neither are you. The people he has to persuade are democrats in Virginia, and in particular Black democrats in Virginia.

    If he can’t persuade Democrats to support him, that will severely impede his ability to be an effective leader of the Dems in Virginia, and could impede his ability to govern effectively. If that’s the case, then it would be better if he resigned.

  19. 20
    desipis says:

    What happened here?

    Not sure. I think got distracted in the middle of commenting.

    You’re conflating “doing something really fucking racist in his 20s” with “just did some random silly thing in his 20s, like everyone does.”

    See from my side it looks like you’re doing the conflating. Which suggests that this is the crux of the issue. To me judging someone who did black-face as morally flawed seems as irrational as judging someone who is an atheist as morally flawed. It’s applying a bunch of preconceptions where they (likely) don’t apply.

  20. 21
    J. Squid says:

    Remember when Sam Adams refused to resign as mayor of Portland? Can anybody remember how from that point on (what was it? 4 months into his 4 year term? my mistake, it was more like 4 days.) how utterly ineffective he was? How Portland, in effect, went 4 years with the position of Mayor vacant? That is why Northrup should resign. Unless, of course, he cares more about the title and perks of the position than he does about his constituents and his party.

  21. 22
    Ampersand says:

    Desipis, I assume that there is LOTS more to Northup’s character than this one incident (and the associated cringeworthy press conference). I don’t assume he’s particularly a racist today based on what happened 35 years ago. (I think he probably has some internalized racism to deal with, but I think that about all white people, me included, and a significant number of non-white people).

    I’m not disagreeing with you about Northup’s character. I haven’t even said a word about Northup’s character, as far as I know. I’m disagreeing with you about the pragmatic effects you claim an event like this will have.

    You said “having politicians’ careers held hostage to the silly things they did when they young greatly undermines the extent to which politicians will focus on substantive policy issues.” My point is, there are actually very few “silly” youthful acts that could have this kind of effect on a major politician’s career. Therefore, very few politicians will find themselves in the position Northup is in based on something they did in their youth.

    If I were to make a list of “things that distract most politicians from focusing on policy,” fear of youthful blackface scandals coming out wouldn’t even make the top 100.

    (The number one would be the need for constant, constant, constant fundraising.)

  22. 23
    J. Squid says:

    Aargh! Northam, not Northrop.

  23. 24
    Ampersand says:

    Aargh! Northam, not Northup. :-p

  24. 25
    nobody.really says:

    You’re conflating “doing something really fucking racist in his 20s” with “just did some random silly thing in his 20s, like everyone does.”

    I read this quote to imply that “really fucking racist” and “silly” are mutually exclusive categories. Have I misread this?

    I sense defining terms might help my understanding. What definitions of “silly” and “really fucking racist” would clarify the mutually inconsistent nature of these ideas, at least as expressed here?

  25. 26
    J. Squid says:

    Try reading “really fucking racist” as a subset of “silly things”. Like how “harmlessly stupid” can also be a subset of “ silly things”. That’s why blackface stands out in the constellation of silly things we do when young.

    But it seems like I’m not the only one who sees Northam as an impediment to his constituents and party.

    I will note that my reaction came after I happened to be in the ugh place at the right time to watch his statement live. His repetition of the phrase “I don’t believe I’m one of the people in the photo” was a jarring contrast to the rest of an otherwise quite good statement of apology. It came across as a clear and obvious weasel in the moment.

  26. 27
    nobody.really says:

    Ampersand: You’re conflating “doing something really fucking racist in his 20s” with “just did some random silly thing in his 20s, like everyone does.”

    nobody.really: I read this quote to imply that “really fucking racist” and “silly” are mutually exclusive categories. Have I misread this?

    J. Squid: Try reading “really fucking racist” as a subset of “silly things”. Like how “harmlessly stupid” can also be a subset of “ silly things”.

    Ok.

    When Ted Danson was 45, he appeared in blackface (with Whoopi Goldberg) at the Friar’s Club. I might categorize this as silly–in the sense of “done in a light-hearted manner, without malicious intent.” Some people might also characterize it as “pretty fucking racist”–in the sense of “needlessly having the effect of evoking painful associations of racial oppression.” But my definitions–one focused on intent, one on consequence–are uncorrelated.

    I haven’t heard anyone suggest that Danson be expelled from The Good Place. Then again, he plays a devil, so perhaps his past is actually a bona fide occupational qualification….

  27. 28
    J. Squid says:

    But my definitions–one focused on intent, one on consequence–are uncorrelated.

    Ooooh! The intent vs consequence argument. We haven’t had that here in a long time. TBH, this debate bores me to tears these days and other people can communicate my position much better than I can, so I’m going to bow out of this one.

  28. 29
    Ampersand says:

    Nobody Really, Dansen already went through a controversy about that, back in 1993. It was a big news item, various celebrities (including the mayor of New York) publicly called him out, Montel Williams walked out of the event, op-eds, TV talking heads saying it was disgusting, etc. All of that, despite the fact that he’d done it with the approval of a major Black celeb who defended him.

    So it’s not like everyone shrugged and let it go. He got put through the metaphoric wringer. It’s just that people – quite properly, imo – are not going to hold it against him forever.

    Northam wore blackface a long time ago, but the controversy is still basically new, because it didn’t come out until several days ago. In terms of public reaction, there’s a huge difference between a controversy from 26 years ago, versus a controversy that’s brand new (even though it’s about events from 35 years ago).

  29. 30
    nobody.really says:

    In short, people criticized Danson’s conduct, but we have no evidence that he got fired from any jobs. And eventually people stopped holding it against him. Why would not not be the appropriate response for Northam (let alone Northrop)?

  30. 31
    Ampersand says:

    Did Danson even have a job at the time? It was months after Cheers had ended, and years before his next show. (And I have no idea if he lost any potential jobs due to the blackface controversy, but it certainly couldn’t have helped him.)

    The Northam controversy broke on February 1st. It is now February 3rd. So when you imply that “eventually” people should stop holding it against him, do you mean, in two days?

  31. 32
    Kate says:

    In addition to what Amp said, we should hold public officials to a much higher standard than entertainers.
    There is also the matter that in one case the person in black face was standing next to Whoopie Goldberg, and in the other he was standing next to a person in a Klan costume. That context matters.

  32. 33
    J. Squid says:

    And it looks like Northam is resigning. It’s the right decision, so good for him.

  33. 34
    nobody.really says:

    So when you imply that “eventually” people should stop holding it against him, do you mean, in two days?

    Oh, no. People would complain for quite a while–but not seek to get him fired. The current situation seems to be rather different.

    [W]e should hold public officials to a much higher standard than entertainers.

    Why?

    1. Specifically, who has the yearbook picture harmed, and how? And how is that different than the harm done by Danson’s appearance in blackface?

    2. I agree with holding politicians to a high standard. But we’re not talking about the behavior of any politicians here. We’re talking about the behavior of students–one of whom later became a politician. Why should we hold students to a higher standard than 45-year-0ld entertainers?

    [I]n one case the person in black face was standing next to Whoopie Goldberg, and in the other he was standing next to a person in a Klan costume. That context matters.

    Why? Whoopie Goldberg gets to speak for all black people in dispensing indulgences?

    I’m happy to argue that context matters–and thus we should be slow to pass judgment in the absence of context. But this does not seem to be a popular point of view.

  34. 35
    desipis says:

    Specifically, who has the yearbook picture harmed, and how?

    I don’t think this is about harm. This is about the fact that he blasphemed against the gods of social justice, and so a suitable sacrifice must be made in order to appease them, rationality be damned. Or at least that’s the cult-like psychology of the situation.

  35. 36
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    I think that ‘context collapse’ is relevant here. It means that things that have a certain meaning in one context pop up in a different context, where they are interpreted differently, because those who interpret the thing don’t have the contextual background in which the thing was created.

    This can happen across various boundaries, professional vs private, friends vs strangers, age, time, etc.

    Anyway, my question is: what is the moral justification for publishing this image?

    Assuming that Gotham hasn’t done anything racist recently, then no bad behavior has been stopped by harming Norton.

    Assuming North-Ham is not actually particularly racist, it seems like people’s beliefs about him will be different and worse than is justified, which is bad for him and those around him.

    Assuming that this hampers his career, it means that he can’t use his talents as he otherwise could. In the general case, where the career of people is hampered, this harms those who would benefit from the most able doing the job. Of course, whether this is specifically true for Northumbria is debatable, but I’m looking at the general case.

    Showing the picture has presumably upset a decent amount of people, which is a harm that would not have happened without publishing it.

    Another major harm is that (very) retroactively judging people means that people are encouraged to behave as if reform (of themselves) is impossible. It’s similar to the more severe case of convicts being refused for so many jobs that they decide that a life of crime is the only possibility to earn a decent living. In politics specifically, it means that very many people may refuse to choose that career, resulting in a poor selection of candidates.

    The only semi-decent reason I can see to publish it is to strengthen the norm not to do these things, but that is a poor reason IMHO. Firstly, it seems unnecessary, as blackface is already a strong enough taboo. Secondly, going back in time sends the aforementioned message, that you shouldn’t have done things, rather than just the desired message: not to do such things in the future. Given that we can’t change the past, this is problematic, because it gives people no way out.

    So does anyone want to take a jab at making a case for these journalists doing the moral thing, because they seem to have acted very immorally to me?

    PS. Note that the picture was published on a Breitbart spin-off, which published it to harm Ted Northam for his pro-choice stance. So another more minor immoral aspect is that the media seems to have played into this attack.

    desipis,

    Well, I do think that it gives most people satisfaction to punish wrongdoers, where it is the more satisfying the more taboo something is. The less people actually defend the behavior, the easier and less risky it is to do so.

    The big kid can beat up the small kid who makes a faux pas in the school yard, but the big kid can get away with many transgressions. The more justified the beating seems, the less risk there is.

    We had Germany going after concentration camp guards fairly recently, despite having the chance and not doing so earlier. It’s easier, safer and more satisfying now than it was in the past. One guy who is being put on trial is being tried in juvenile court, despite being 94 (as he was underage when the alleged crimes happened).

    Anyway, my point is that it’s not cult-like, but just human psychology and not specific to a certain ideology.

  36. 37
    Kate says:

    Specifically, who has the yearbook picture harmed, and how?

    It has harmed the trust that many of his constituents had that he would have their best interests at heart.

    Why? Whoopie Goldberg gets to speak for all black people in dispensing indulgences?

    Stop putting words in my mouth. You do it badly. I actually think dressing up as a Klansman is far worse than blackface. My reasoning is that the Klan is a terrorist organization. That means that there was a menacing element to Northam’s duo, which was not there with Danson and Whoopie Goldberg.

    I agree with holding politicians to a high standard. But we’re not talking about the behavior of any politicians here. We’re talking about the behavior of students–one of whom later became a politician. Why should we hold students to a higher standard than 45-year-0ld entertainers?

    If the students are 25 year old medical students, actually, yes, I think they should be held to higher standards then entertainers as well. They will be making medical decisions that could have life or death consequences. Racism in medicine kills people.

  37. 38
    Chris says:

    desipis, do you think blackface is wrong? I ask because in describing the reactions of others to blackface, you’ve done so only in a dismissive manner, which leads me to believe the answer is “no.”

  38. 39
    nobody.really says:

    Specifically, who has the yearbook picture harmed, and how?

    It has harmed the trust that many of his constituents had that he would have their best interests at heart.

    Perhaps a plausible argument—for evaluating a total stranger. But what about for evaluating a person who has been an elected official for years and has his own Wikipedia page? For those who can’t be bothered to gather facts, consider these:

    Northan grew up attending segregated schools, something of a rarity in Virginia, and his graduating class was predominantly black.

    From 1984 to 1992 he served as an army medic, receiving a child neurology fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and Johns Hopkins Hospital. During Operation Desert Storm, he treated evacuated casualties at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. In 1992 he left the military and began serving as a pediatric neurologist at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia.

    Around 2000 he began his political career by choosing to run as a Democrat to defeat an incumbent Republican state senator. Virginia Republicans made repeated offers to get him to switch parties—which, given his district, he could easily have done—but he repeatedly declined. Instead, he took on Virginia’s powerful tobacco lobby to ban smoking in restaurants.

    He then won the post of Lt. Governor, and later, Governor.

    In his gubernatorial race, Trump and Gillespie, his Republican challenger, repeatedly attacked him for being in favor of sanctuary cities and immigration. In return, Northam attacked Gillespie for running ads that “promoted fearmongering, hatred, bigotry, racial divisiveness,” noting that the ads “upset a lot of communities, and they have the right to express their views….” When Trump pondered the reason for the Civil War, Northam tweeted back, “We had a Civil War because people owned other folks as slaves. Read a book.” Northam received the backing of Obama, Biden, and the Latino Victory Fund. His inauguration parade was called the largest and most diverse in state history.

    In sum, for years Northam has been the object of intense scrutiny by friend and foe alike, including by Gillespie’s $25 million gubernatorial campaign. If Northam had some lurking propensity to harm people of color, wouldn’t we expect to have, you know, evidence by now? Here’s what we’ve got so far:

    • Northam’s ancestors owned slaves—a fact true of half of white families in his home county—but the Northams began freeing their slaves by 1858, prior to the Civil War.
    • Northam twice voted for George W. Bush for president. Northam acknowledged these votes, conceding, “Politically, there was no question, I was underinformed.”
    • In winning the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor, he defeated a rival candidate of Indian descent.
    • During the gubernatorial race, a labor union endorsed candidates that supported a natural gas pipeline project; this included Northam, but not Justin Fairfax, a black candidate running for Lt. Governor. While Northam’s campaign distributed brochures showing him and Fairfax, Northam did not reject labor’s endorsement, and the union distributed a brochure showing only the candidates they had endorsed—that is, not Fairfax.
    • There was a photo in a yearbook of someone in blackface and someone in KKK costume, allegedly associated with him. He denies the association, but acknowledges that he once dressed up as Michael Jackson.

    The citizens of Virginia had all this information, except for the last bullet point, when they elected him Governor. What information does the yearbook photo reveal that is in any way more relevant than the years of information the public has gained about him since?

    I actually think dressing up as a Klansman is far worse than blackface. My reasoning is that the Klan is a terrorist organization.

    So if tomorrow someone publishes a photo of Obama at age 25 in a pirate costume, you’ll conclude that he was endorsing terrorism, and thus was unfit for office?

    [Medical students] should be held to higher standards then entertainers as well. They will be making medical decisions that could have life or death consequences. Racism in medicine kills people.

    Assume this to be true: How, exactly, does browbeating Northam today have any bearing on how his medical practice affected black people in the past? If anything, by driving Northam OUT of public office, you’re presumably enabling him to resume his medical practice—thereby THREATENING black lives.

    Or are we imagining that by browbeating Northam, we’re persuading TODAY’s med students to develop a concern for the welfare of black people that they didn’t previously have? This strikes me as beyond absurd. We MAY motivate students to stop wearing blackface and hoods, and THAT may have the salutary effect of avoiding needless triggers (and their consequences for hypertension, etc.). But even if we imagine that wearing blackface/hoods indicates racist attitudes, I see no reason to believe that discouraging people from offering EVIDENCE of their attitudes will somehow cure people of their attitudes. AT BEST, we’re treating symptoms, not causes.

  39. 40
    Ampersand says:

    So if tomorrow someone publishes a photo of Obama at age 25 in a pirate costume, you’ll conclude that he was endorsing terrorism, and thus was unfit for office?

    Without commenting on the rest of the post, this argument is so asinine that I can’t imagine it’s anything but disingenuous.

  40. 41
    J. Squid says:

    I once dressed as Frankenstein’s Monster. In answer to your question, yes, I was endorsing grave robbery and the desecration of corpses. So, no, you should not vote for me for Governor and, if, despite this, I somehow win, you should demand my resignation.

    I am nothing if not consistent and consistently silly wrt silly arguments.

  41. 42
    nobody.really says:

    I actually think dressing up as a Klansman is far worse than blackface. My reasoning is that the Klan is a terrorist organization.

    So if tomorrow someone publishes a photo of Obama at age 25 in a pirate costume, you’ll conclude that he was endorsing terrorism, and thus was unfit for office?

    Without commenting on the rest of the post, this argument is so asinine that I can’t imagine it’s anything but disingenuous.

    Let me try to speak genuinely: I surmise that many people have an adverse visceral reaction to the yearbook photo, want to lash out in response, and that this impulse overrides critical thinking. I think people often slide back and forth between judging based on (presumed) intent vs. judging based on consequences. In short, I surmise that many people advocate policies in this context that they would not advocate in parallel contexts. But the difficulty in addressing the argument is that so much goes unsaid. I would like people to actually STATE their rationales.

    Do you deny that pirates were organized terrorists? If so, you haven’t stated it.

    Or do you imagine that people might wear a pirate costume without intending malice? If so, you haven’t stated it–and haven’t stated why you would not extend the same assumption to a couple of 25-year-old Virginia students decades ago.

    It’s entirely possible that I’m missing something obvious, so please don’t feel that any argument is too obvious to state. But it’s also possible that in the process of stating something that seems obvious, you might find it more challenging that you initially thought.

  42. 43
    Ampersand says:

    Let me try to speak genuinely: I surmise that many people have an adverse visceral reaction to the yearbook photo, want to lash out in response, and that this impulse overrides critical thinking.

    Just because I think you made a awful argument doesn’t mean I’m not engaging in critical thinking, and it’s insulting and condescending of you to imply otherwise.

    In short, I surmise that many people advocate policies in this context that they would not advocate in parallel contexts.

    The “policy” I’m advocating, as I’ve said multiple times on this thread, is that Northan should continue as Governor if he’s able to get a significant number of Black organizations and leaders in his state to accept his apologies and say he should carry on as governor.

    If he can’t do this, then I question his pragmatic ability to govern effectively, or to lead the Virginia Democratic party effectively, going forward. This isn’t about his resume or his moral character; it’s about the necessity of coalition-building and having support for what a governor and a party-leader does.

    If you’ve said anything that actually addresses my argument, I’ve missed it.

    Regarding pirates, real-life pirates were (and are) desperate robbers at best, kidnappers and terrorists at worst.

    But in American culture, no one dresses up as real-life pirates. Instead, kids dress us as fantasy pirates, drawing the image from kids movies like Muppet Treasure Island, and action films like Pirates of the Caribbean – heroic pirates who kill only in self-defense (or not at all). Or they dress as Captain Hook, a pirate who, despite being a villain, seems basically harmless and certainly has no political agenda. In fact, he’s kind of cute, and his pirate minions are downright adorable.

    This has been the case for generations.

    Except in some marginal, very racist communities, the KKK doesn’t remotely occupy a similar place in our cultural imagination. Someone dressing as Captain Hook is in no way making a similar statement to someone dressing like a Klansman.

    And I’m finding it hard to believe that you don’t already know all this, because you’re very smart.

    BTW, this was true in the 80s, too – the idea that the KKK are violent racists that no decent person associates with isn’t a new invention. In the 1982 film The Toy, the plot involves trying to photograph a fictional governor with the KKK to blackmail the governor with releasing the photo. The 1988 film Mississippi Burning was about heroic FBI agents trying to catch KKK murderers. The 1983 film Twilight Zone: The Movie featured a scene with evil murdering KKK members trying to lynch a protagonist.

  43. 44
    desipis says:

    chris:

    desipis, do you think blackface is wrong?

    Has it been used as a tool to do wrong in the past? Sure. Is it inherently wrong? No. In any particular case the context, specifically intent, is critical to any judgement.

    It’s entirely possible that I’m missing something obvious

    You’re trying to use rational argument against a religious dogma. Not just any dogma, but dogma that is so significant that even trying to question it is seen as contemptuous (see e.g. Megyn Kelly).

  44. 45
    Ampersand says:

    NR:

    Let me try to speak genuinely: I surmise that many people have an adverse visceral reaction to the yearbook photo, want to lash out in response, and that this impulse overrides critical thinking.

    Desipis:

    You’re trying to use rational argument against a religious dogma.

    Both of you, please drop this specific line of argument. (E.g., the “my side only is rational, the people disagreeing with me are not thinking/are engaged in religious dogma” sneers).

    If you refuse to drop it, you will be asked to leave the thread.

  45. 46
    RonF says:

    So now we have being published uncorroborated accusations of sexual misconduct against Lt. Gov. Fairfax. I wonder how #MeToo and the Democratic party will handle this?

  46. 47
    Kate says:

    Stop gloating, Ron. It’s disgusting.

  47. 48
    RonF says:

    Here’s the Fairfax story. This is going to get interesting.

    I’m not gloating. I”m not in favor of destroying someone’s career – or life – over uncorroborated accusations regardless of what color they are, what party they are or what position they hold (or are being put forward for). Lt. Gov. Fairfax says that this is a baseless accusation and I do NOT support removing him from office based on this accusation as long as no other supporting evidence is forthcoming.

    What I am interested in seeing is how the people who have been so quick to attack political opponents over such things will do now that the shoe is on the other foot. Will they come out and pursue him as they have pursued others, or will they twist themselves up with pretzel logic? Or will they find some rational reason why he should be treated differently?

  48. 49
    Kate says:

    This is going to get interesting.

    Yes, Ron, please do go grab your popcorn.

    I’m not gloating.

    That right there in the previous line was gloating.

  49. 50
    Kate says:

    What I am interested in seeing is how the people who have been so quick to attack political opponents over such things will do now that the shoe is on the other foot. Will they come out and pursue him as they have pursued others, or will they twist themselves up with pretzel logic? Or will they find some rational reason why he should be treated differently?

    What case, exactly, are you thinking of, in which people on the left have called for someone to step down in the absence of corroboration, multiple complaints or the accuser being willing to come forward and testify under oath?

  50. 51
    nobody.really says:

    I actually think dressing up as a Klansman is far worse than blackface. My reasoning is that the Klan is a terrorist organization.

    So if tomorrow someone publishes a photo of Obama at age 25 in a pirate costume, you’ll conclude that he was endorsing terrorism, and thus was unfit for office?

    Regarding pirates, real-life pirates were … terrorists at worst…. But in American culture, no one dresses up as real-life pirates.

    Fine. I picked pirates because, like Klansmen, they were members of organized crime. So if you like, imagine a picture of Obama dressed as someone from the Godfather movies, or Boyz in the Hood, or The Sopranos, or Breaking Bad, or any other more-or-less realistic depiction of a violent organized crime syndicate. How many of these photos would it take before you’d be willing to say, “Well, hell—notwithstanding my years of knowledge about Obama’s actual nature and conduct, I guess I’ll just have to conclude that he embraces organized crime”?

    My hypothesis: It would never happen. Your actual knowledge would swamp the effect of such photos.

    Now, in candor, my reaction to photos of blackface and Klan robes is doubtless influenced by my status as a WASP; the images don’t trigger threat responses in me. Likewise, I don’t expect that I’d have a powerful visceral reaction to images of organized crime figures, for the same reasons (and due to my failure to see most of the movies/TV shows listed). Whether my lack of visceral reaction means that I’m unbiased or uninformed–I expect different people would draw different conclusions.

    [P]lease drop … the “my side only is rational, the people disagreeing with me are not thinking/are engaged in religious dogma” sneers….

    My apologies; no sneer intended.

    Yet I most earnestly mean to provoke people to evaluate their reasoning. And I do not hold myself exempt: As I concede, I may well be missing points that other people find obvious. By the same token, I suspect that other people may be missing insights that they wouldn’t, but for a commitment to a conclusion rather than a principle. I’d hope we could candidly acknowledge this possibility without feeling attacked on a personal level.

    This isn’t about [Northam’s] resume or his moral character; it’s about the necessity of coalition-building and having support for what a governor and a party-leader does.

    If you’ve said anything that actually addresses my argument, I’ve missed it.

    I concede the point.

    I try not to pile on; thus, I mostly address arguments I disagree with. I haven’t address Amp’s argument because I largely agree with it (at least with the part quoted above).

    That is, I largely agree with the imperatives of pragmatism over justice. Recall Melville’s Billy Budd: While a ship is near mutiny, an innocent sailor, Billy Budd, is accused of a capital crime. Captain Vere believes Budd to be innocent, but must demonstrate his authority or the navy will devolve into chaos and many more lives will be lost. Thus, he orders Budd to be hanged—and Budd acknowledges the necessity, crying “God Bless Captain Vere!” as he dies.

    Reviewing my comments, I don’t see where I’ve disputed the idea that seeking Northam’s resignation is pragmatic. Instead, I’ve disputed the claim that flogging Northam is just. Because I understand Amp to ground his argument in pragmatism, not justice, I haven’t had occasion to disagree with him (on this). But where people offer argument grounded in justice, I have had occasion to disagree.

    That said….

    Let me offer this (parting?) thought about the pragmatism/justice trade-off. Society must make this trade-off all the time. And historically, the trade-off gets made in a manner that reflects power: The powerful can demand justice. The weak get dispatched as a matter of practicalities. For example, where do we route the roads? Where it’s practical to do so—unless this would impinge upon the interests of some powerful person, in which case, we engage in a quest for justice. The powerful don’t always get what they want—after all, they often conflict with OTHER powerful interests—but they generally get due process, which is more than the powerless get.

    It may be too burdensome for Democrats to insist that Northam get something like due process, with those making accusations of racism bearing some burden of proof. But the alternative, which may seem like pragmatism in the short run, has costs, too. Not to put too fine a point on it, but whites remain the majority of the voting population. As I’ve come to appreciate while chatting on other web sites, many white people live in terror of being accused of racism based on trivial grounds. The choice to throw Northam under the bus may echo throughout the nation, and motivate ever more white people to see their interest as not aligned with a pursuit of justice, but of tribalism.

    Now, I expect plenty of people will respond to this argument with derision: White people have it rough? That’s crazy! Everybody ELSE has it rougher than white people! This notation that we need to pander to white people—there’s no justice in that! And I’d agree: There is no justice in that. It’s as absurd as the idea that Democrats are coming to confiscate all the guns, or to open the borders, or to lead a throng of torch-wielding peasants to hang the rich.

    But all of this is absurd from the point of view of people who do NOT hold these views. I tend to think that rich people obsess about how threatened they are because they lack sufficient real problems to occupy their attention; give them five minutes of toothache, and suddenly the threat of a new marginal tax rate won’t seem so pressing. Now, reflect on the fact that many of us are rich by the standards of the rest of the world, and we get “First World Problems”….

    And that’s the point: We evaluate our circumstances from our own perspectives, not some hypothetical “right” or “true” perspective. More to the point, we vote from our own perspective—no matter how skewed or privileged. And, rightly or wrongly, the perspective of white people still matters a lot in national elections—and in most local elections, too.

    So I’m not talking about justice; I’m talking about pragmatism. We can argue all day about the wrongful nature and skewed perspectives of the tribalist Trump voter. But the stronger the argument—the more we persuade these voters that we see no merit in their perspectives—the more they will embrace tribalism as their sole defense.

    So Democrats face a tricky balance. As we saw with Hillary’s campaign, the Democrats need to motivate people of color to turn out for them. But they also need white voters to turn out for them. They can’t be seen as pandering any constituency to the exclusion of others. And arguably the best way to do that is by persuading voters that (1) their best interest lies in seeing justice done, and (2) Democrats are committed to the pursuit of justice, not tribalism.

  51. 52
    Kate says:

    With Fairfax compromised, I think the political calculation about Northam’s resignation has changed.

  52. 53
    Kate says:

    Actually, next in line after Fairfax is the AG, also a Democrat.

  53. 54
    RonF says:

    Kate @ 50:

    What case, exactly, are you thinking of, in which people on the left have called for someone to step down in the absence of corroboration, multiple complaints or the accuser being willing to come forward and testify under oath?

    Lots of added qualifiers there so as to fit the hearings for now-Justice Kavanaugh. Note that at least two of the people who accused Kavanaugh have recanted. And while Dr. Ford did testify under oath that does not change the fact that her accusations still remain uncorroborated, and people who supposedly were witnesses don’t back up her claim.

    The point is that the media and the left pounced on Ford’s claims as soon as they became public, and they have done so in other cases as well. I’m not looking to see Fairfax endure what Kavanaugh and others have endured; I hope he is treated as I would have seen Kavanaugh treated. What I’m looking to see is if #BelieveAllWomen is sloughed off when it comes to an elected official of the wrong party. If such a hypocrisy occurs it’ll be interesting to see how it is addressed and whether or not the media, the Democratic party and #MeToo are called to account. Of course, what I’d like to see is the various groups involved say something along the lines of “We are treating Fairfax differently because we’ve decided that Kavanaugh was treated indecently and we’ve learned something from that process”, but I rather doubt that’s going to happen.

    As a point of information, Fairfax’s accuser has hired Ford’s lawyers.

    Virginia’s Attorney General is one Mark Herring, a Democrat. I imagine that people are starting to dig into his background a bit more vigorously than previously – I hope he’s ready for that. Next in line after him is the Speaker of the House, Kirk Cox – a Republican. Should he be disqualified, the Virginia House, with obviously a Republican majority, votes and elects someone.

  54. 55
    Ampersand says:

    Given the threats and abuse Kavanaugh accusers are suffering – plus high GOP officials trying to get them prosecuted – recantation might mean they were lying. But it also might mean that they’ve been intimidated into recanting. (Plus, the best-known accusations – plural – have not been recanted.)

    What I’m looking to see is if #BelieveAllWomen is sloughed off when it comes to an elected official of the wrong party.

    Al Franken sort of settled that question.

    Regarding “believe women,” I have some problems with the way it’s used. Mandolin put it very well:

    I hate to say it, but I actually about 20% blame twitter. I think people say things that make sense if you have the full context, but shifting context makes a 144-character tweet very hard to endow with specificity and nuance. So, those get dumped, and over time, with repetition, “intent isn’t magic” or “believe women” become seen as goods in themselves, rather than a way to express part of an argument. (“Believe women” should mean “believe women in social contexts at the same rate you believe men,” not “women never lie.”) It’s not Twitter’s fault per se, or a flaw in the thinking of young people; it’s just a novel interaction which is good to track and maybe mitigate.

    I’ve never used “believe women” to mean “all women must be immediately believed by every person regardless of context.” I don’t think most liberals or feminists literally mean that. But some do, or at least say they do on occasion, and that’s unfortunate.

    The Unit of Caring also discusses the problem with “believe women” – although in the light of Mandolin’s comment, we could also call it the problem of slogans being mistaken for full arguments.

  55. 56
    Kate says:

    Lots of added qualifiers there so as to fit the hearings for now-Justice Kavanaugh.

    What you call “loaded qualifiers” I call “additional evidence”. When I stipulated corroboration and multiple complaints, I was referring to the evidence that the Post sought, but did not find:

    The Washington Post, in phone calls to people who knew Fairfax from college, law school and through political circles, found no similar complaints of sexual misconduct against him. Without that, or the ability to corroborate the woman’s account — in part because she had not told anyone what happened — The Washington Post did not run a story.

    So, the press “pounced on” the Fairfax accusation, the same way they did on the Kavanaugh one. They have just failed to find the additional evidence required for a reputable news organization to publish the accusation.

    I’m not looking to see Fairfax endure what Kavanaugh and others have endured…

    Kavanaugh’s nomination ought to have been pulled for his lies under oath alone. Barring that, there should have been a full FBI investigation into all the accusations against him, including the sexual assault allegations, and lies he told about what he worked on when in the Bush White House. In fact, I still think the House should investigate these questions.
    Christine Blasey Ford is a much more credible witness than Kavanaugh. I believe her testimony was the truth. I believe Kavanaugh and his friend assaulted her.
    I also believe that Fairfax is probably guilty. He acknowledges the sexual encounter, he just insists it was consensual. So, one of the two is lying about consent. His motive is obvious. But, what is her motive?

  56. 57
    RonF says:

    Another accuser of Kavanaugh apparently has lied about other things, such as listing a non-existent college degree on a job application. So her credibility is suspect.

    Al Franken sort of settled that question.

    Except that a lot of Democrats have been subsequently quoted as saying that they regretted having moved so fast on him and were sorry they removed such an effective Democratic politician from the Senate. They were certainly slow to act on Keith Ellison and Tony Cardenas.

    I’ve never used “believe women” to mean “all women must be immediately believed by every person regardless of context.” I don’t think most liberals or feminists literally mean that.

    I wasn’t talking about you in particular. And I’m afraid I lack your confidence in the applicability of the word “most” in your second sentence.

    Blame Twitter? I don’t blame your pen for what you write, nor do I blame the limitations of a communications media for how people who are or should be well aware of those limitations interpret it.

    Kate – IIRC did not Kavanaugh’s other accusers not come forward until after Ford’s accusations were publicized? And Ford’s accusations were never corroborated.

    But, what is her motive?

    Certainly a valid question. But the fact that we don’t know what it is doesn’t mean she doesn’t have one. Maybe she wanted a job from him and he didn’t give her one. In any case, when it comes to sex I don’t make the assumption that an accuser is necessarily acting rationally.

    Under the heading of “something I came across while looking for something else”, this analysis says that from a purely personal viewpoint Gov. Northam should not resign. Note that it takes a look not only at the effect on his ability to perform his current job but at what would happen to his personal and professional life after a resignation vs. staying for his full term.

  57. 58
    Kate says:

    Except that a lot of Democrats have been subsequently quoted as saying that they regretted having moved so fast on him and were sorry they removed such an effective Democratic politician from the Senate. They were certainly slow to act on Keith Ellison and Tony Cardenas.

    If you had asked if Democrats would be divided on how to deal with Fairfax, and people had objected, these would be good points. But, that wasn’t your question. You asked:

    What I’m looking to see is if #BelieveAllWomen is sloughed off when it comes to an elected official of the wrong party.

    In all the cases you cite, activists like #MeToo and #BelieveAllWomen are the ones putting pressure on Democrats to hold their members accountable.

    Another accuser of Kavanaugh apparently has lied about other things, such as listing a non-existent college degree on a job application. So her credibility is suspect.

    Dr. Ford is not suspect. As far as I can tell, Ramirez is not suspect either. The fact that other accusers are less credible is irrelevant.

    And Ford’s accusations were never corroborated.

    Yes, they were. The conservative press repeatedly used a dishonestly narrow definition of “corroborate” in this case.

    Certainly a valid question. But the fact that we don’t know what it is doesn’t mean she doesn’t have one. Maybe she wanted a job from him and he didn’t give her one. In any case, when it comes to sex I don’t make the assumption that an accuser is necessarily acting rationally.

    So, when it comes to women and sex, you’re going to assume that they’re being irrational in the absence proof to the contrary? Do you assume that male witnesses are being irrational? No, you don’t. Do you accuse men of making up random crimes in revenge for being passed over for jobs? No, you don’t. As Amp said above, believe women, for most of us, means give women’s testimony the same weight that you’d give to a man’s testimony. You don’t do that.

  58. 59
    Michael says:

    @Ampersand#55- I think both of those are probably false. In one case, someone sent in an anonymous letter claiming Kavanaugh raped her, a woman sent an email claiming to be the woman in the letter and it turned out she didn’t write it. That often happens in public cases. In the second case, a guy basically said he knew two rapists working together named Mark and Brett. There’s probably thousands of rapists named Mark and Brett in the United States. He probably never met Kavanaugh.

  59. 60
    nobody.really says:

    [Democrats] were certainly slow to act on Keith Ellison….

    What should Democrats have done?

    I’ve heard the allegation that when Ellison broke up with his live-in girlfriend, she wouldn’t move out, so he yelled at her, dragged her off his bed, and evicted her. If true, I expect it wan’t pretty. But even if true, what exactly should Democrats have done about it?

  60. 61
    Gracchus says:

    ” (“Believe women” should mean “believe women in social contexts at the same rate you believe men,” not “women never lie.”) ”

    (Excuse the double quote, it felt wrong typing it)

    The central problem with this idea is that, for the kinds of people who indulge in the behaviour “believe women” exists to critique, following these instructions would change nothing.

    When a man accuses another man of rape, he is routinely disbelieved also. So, really, “believe women when you’d believe men saying the same thing”, taken literally, doesn’t require rape deniers to change anything about their behaviour, because they would indeed refuse to believe a man saying the same thing.

    This may be shoddy analysis from a gender privilege p.o.v, so, apologies in advance, but I sometimes think that in addition to the bias against women and feminine-presenting people (which defo exists, please don’t get me wrong on this point), there is an additional, overlapping-in-practice-but-separate-inside-people’s-heads, bias against rape survivors. Most people are biased against both groups, and the mechanism of the bias is very similar (e.g. male rape survivors are seen as feminised even if that’s not how they see themselves), but nonetheless the urge not to believe people who say they’ve been raped is an independent urge that comes from a different place.

  61. 62
    VK1892 says:

    I tend to take a Bayesian approach to accusations of rape. We know false accusations are rare, so without any other data, I start with a belief that the chance of it being true is 95%. If there is corroborating data, that moves to 100% really quickly. If there is evidence that the person accusing is lying or untrustworthy in some way that moves it down.
    I’d want about 98% to convict someone, 75% to remove from events I run or no longer want to associate personally with them (especially alone).

    I take “believe women” to mean: act as though you believe the woman especially at the start because disclosing abuse is really hard and they need support, not an interrogation. Don’t question their version of events unless there is a need for you to do so (e.g. you are police doing your job).

  62. 63
    RonF says:

    OFFS:

    Virginia AG says he wore blackface at college party

    Another top Virginia Democrat — Attorney General Mark Herring — admitted Wednesday to putting on blackface in the 1980s, when he was a college student.

    Herring issued a statement saying he wore brown makeup and a wig in 1980 to look like a black rapper during a party as a 19-year-old undergraduate at the University of Virginia.

    From tweets by Johnathan Martin, a correspondent for the New York Times (@jmartNYT – I don’t know how to link tweets):

    NEWS: AG Mark Herring had a private meeting this morning with the legislative black caucus, Del. Lamont Bagby confirms. Asked if Herring discussed a photo of his own, Bagby said “He’ll talk about it.” Before he could say more, the House min ldr pulled him into a private room.

    Black legislators are walking in the capitol w downcast looks. declining comment on the Herring meeting, being rushed into private Caucus room by staff. Lots of “I have no comment”

    As I noted above, next in line is the Speaker of the (Virginia) House – a Republican, and if HE wore blackface to a party then the members of the House get to elect someone. I wonder if that someone has to be a member of the House?

  63. 64
    nobody.really says:

    To review:

    Northam has demonstrated himself to be insufficiently pure, and so must be shunned, condemned, and demonized.

    Fairfax has demonstrated himself to be insufficiently pure, and so must be shunned, condemned, and demonized.

    Herring has demonstrated himself to be insufficiently pure, and so must be shunned, condemned, and demonized.

    Ted Danson has demonstrated himself to be insufficiently pure, and so must be shunned, condemned, and, in the case of The Good Place, literally demonized. And this is especially topical, given that over on The Good Place we’ve learned …. [SPOILER SPOILER]….

    …that since the dawn of capitalism, 100% of humanity have demonstrated themselves to be insufficiently pure, and so must be shunned, condemned, and demonized.

    Even the demons are starting to see the problem with this system.

  64. 65
    TedK says:

    Fairfax has demonstrated himself to be insufficiently pure, and so must be shunned, condemned, and demonized.

    Fairfax has been accused of sexual assault. To suggest that people’s concern is that he’s “insufficiently pure” is incredibly dismissive. There may be a legitimate discussion to be had about burdens and standards of proof, but is your honest position that if a politician committed sexual assault, people who want him to resign can be reasonably described as “insufficiently pure”?

    I feel the same way about describing concerns about Northam and Herring that way, though to a lesser degree. And the comparison to the Good Place is a bit silly, given that the point in the Good Place is that actions that look positive or neutral can have distant negative consequences, such as the purchase of roses supporting child labor or pesticide use; what we’re discussing here is the actions themselves, not some distant consequences that the people involved didn’t know about or intend.

    Overall, this seems to me like an attempt to suggest some level of disingenuousness or prurience on the part of people concerned about Northam/Fairfax/Herring that I really think is unreasonable and unfair. It’s certainly your right to disagree about how we should view those people in light of the news about them, but to suggest people who have experienced racism in their lives and have thoughts and feelings based on the history of blackface, or people with real concerns about sexual assault, are simply worried about “purity” is just insulting.

  65. 66
    Ampersand says:

    And another point:

    If all three Democrats resign — which looks unlikely at this point, but isn’t out of the realm of possibility — the governorship would be passed to Republican Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox, whose district, a court determined, was drawn in a way that discriminated against African-American voters.

    “Elected due to racist gerrymandering” is, in my view, worse than “dressed up in blackface years ago.”

    Also, wtf is wrong with Virginia politicians?

    At this point, both the pragmatic and the progressive in me think Northam should tough it out and remain in office.

  66. 67
    RonF says:

    given that the point in the Good Place is that actions that look positive or neutral can have distant negative consequences, such as the purchase of roses supporting child labor or pesticide use;

    I had that hit me once. For 5 years I ran the local Boy Scout district’s winter camporee. We had kids literally running all over camp all day in winter weather. I knew from experience that they used to have a lot of kids in the afternoon with cold hands and feet having to come in from the activities. So when I was put in charge I had a 5 gallon container of hot cocoa put at each activity station and had one guy whose job it was to make sure they stayed full and had plenty of cups all day. The incidence of kids getting too cold dropped to almost zero (the dehydration is as bad as the lack of heat). Then I found out that supposedly about 50% of cocoa is harvested by child/slave labor. But I really couldn’t come up with a substitute that was a) accepted by the kids and b) morally superior. So I just kept up with the cocoa all 5 years.

  67. 68
    RonF says:

    Looks to me like one very possible scenario is that Northam and Herring stay in office but Fairfax is out. Especially since if they all resign the governor will be a Republican, which is sure to encourage people to bend their principles (and which I’m sure the GOP will attempt to make partisan hay of). I wonder if they replace him, and if so, how? And how in the end this will affect Northam’s and Herring’s jobs?

    Also, wtf is wrong with Virginia politicians?

    When did appearing in blackface in public – or even private parties – really become a socially unacceptable thing? Don’t forget that this all happened 35 and 36 years ago. The Ted Danson/Whoopi Goldberg thing was more recent than that.

    I hit a paywall when I tried to access that Washington Post story.

  68. 69
    Michael says:

    @VK1892- The problem with that approach to statistics is that when dealing with sufficiently large numbers, if everyone eliminates the rare possibility, then people will get hurt. For example, suppose a jurisdiction has 2,000 rape cases a year and only 1 in 20 defendants is innocent. If each jury decides to vote guilty because there’s only a 1 in 20 chance that the defendant is innocent, then 100 innocent men will go to jail. Or supposed a school has 800 students and 1 in 200 people have a certain disease. If all the doctors decide not to consider the possibility of that disease because only 1 in 200 people have it, then 4 students will go untreated.

  69. 70
    Michael says:

    Now Fairfax is claiming we should believe accusers and treat Tyson with respect but that he’s innocent:
    http://www.nbc12.com/2019/02/05/lt-gov-fairfaxs-accuser-consults-law-firm/

    That makes no sense. Fairfax isn’t claiming she confused him with some other dude, he’s claiming the rape never happened.

  70. 71
    Chris says:

    desipis:

    Has it been used as a tool to do wrong in the past? Sure. Is it inherently wrong? No. In any particular case the context, specifically intent, is critical to any judgement.

    Thanks for answering.

    The context we are discussing is of someone going to a party dressed in blackface and posing next to someone in a KKK outfit.

    I’m curious as to why you see that action in that context as not wrong.

    nobody.really:

    Fine. I picked pirates because, like Klansmen, they were members of organized crime. So if you like, imagine a picture of Obama dressed as someone from the Godfather movies, or Boyz in the Hood, or The Sopranos, or Breaking Bad, or any other more-or-less realistic depiction of a violent organized crime syndicate. How many of these photos would it take before you’d be willing to say, “Well, hell—notwithstanding my years of knowledge about Obama’s actual nature and conduct, I guess I’ll just have to conclude that he embraces organized crime”?

    My hypothesis: It would never happen. Your actual knowledge would swamp the effect of such photos.

    This might be a compelling rebuttal if anyone was arguing that Northam dressing in a KKK outfit (or posing in blackface next to someone in said outfit) meant that he “embraced the KKK.” But no one here has made that argument, and it’s not the common objection to Northam’s actions. Someone dressing like the KKK isn’t offensive only if they truly believe in the values of the KKK. It’s offensive because it makes light of a truly horrific chapter of American history that still resonates and threatens the well-being of black people today.

  71. 72
    Ampersand says:

    National Organization for Women Calls on Justin Fairfax to Resign | National Review

    I’m with NOW on this. There isn’t enough evidence for a guilty verdict in a courtroom, but his accuser’s account seems very credible.

    The world is full of injustices. In this case, we either have the injustice of a rapist being attorney general (and very possibly governor), or we have the injustice of a falsely accused man losing his position as a public servant. I think, in this case, the odds are that he’s guilty and justice is best served by his resignation.

  72. 73
    Kate says:

    For example, suppose a jurisdiction has 2,000 rape cases a year and only 1 in 20 defendants is innocent. If each jury decides to vote guilty because there’s only a 1 in 20 chance that the defendant is innocent, then 100 innocent men will go to jail.

    Michael, and others…will you please, please, try actually reading complete posts before issuing knee-jerk responses to tangentally related strawmen!!!

    The very post you were responding to closed with the following:

    I take “believe women” to mean: act as though you believe the woman especially at the start because disclosing abuse is really hard and they need support, not an interrogation. Don’t question their version of events unless there is a need for you to do so (e.g. you are police doing your job).

    This strongly suggests to me, that VK1892 was referring to judgements in one’s personal life, not conviction and prison time. As far as I can see, you are the first one to raise the issue of prison time in this thread. The topic here has been denying people or asking people to resign from offices which carry a lot of status, prestige and power.
    I think the drawbacks of having two probable sexual predators on the Supreme Court outweigh the harm that Thomas and Kavanaugh would have had to endure in staying in their very prestigious seats on the DC Circuit court. I am fine with some innocent men facing such consequences. No one is entitled to a Supreme Court seat. There are literally dozens of qualified people for every opening who are passed over for far lesser reasons.

  73. 74
    RonF says:

    When did appearing in blackface in public – or even private parties – really become a socially unacceptable thing?

    Point of clarification. I’m not arguing that it shouldn’t be unacceptable. I’m asking what the timing of the progression from acceptable to unacceptable was. In the places I have lived – Massachusetts in and near Boston and Illinois in and near Chicago – it’s never been acceptable since about the early ’60’s, but based on what we’re seeing here the transition occurred later in other areas of the country.

  74. 75
    Michael says:

    Kate and others… please read the posts carefully yourselves!
    It was VK1892 that wrote “I’d want about 98% to convict someone”-so VK1892 was the first person to mention convictions. Yes, VK1892 made it clear that an accusation starts at 95%, so they made it clear an accusation in and of itself isn’t enough for a conviction but the point I was trying to make was that the logic they were using is flawed… and dangerous. I can’t stand it when people use statistics that way. I never said that Thomas and Kavanaugh should be on the Supreme Court- I think the evidence justified their being passed over.
    I’m not sure yet whether or not Fairfax should be removed- his statement made no sense and points me in the direction of removal.
    My point was that we should consider each case individually. Should Steven Pagones have resigned in 1988? If your response is no, because Brawley’s story was inconsistent with how rapists in positions of authority usually operate- rapists only have corrupt cops kidnap teenage girls and bring them to them in bad movies- but that’s why we should look at each case individually.

  75. 76
    nobody.really says:

    I picked pirates because, like Klansmen, they were members of organized crime. So if you like, imagine a picture of Obama dressed as someone from the Godfather movies, or Boyz in the Hood, or The Sopranos, or Breaking Bad, or any other more-or-less realistic depiction of a violent organized crime syndicate. How many of these photos would it take before you’d be willing to say, “Well, hell—notwithstanding my years of knowledge about Obama’s actual nature and conduct, I guess I’ll just have to conclude that he embraces organized crime”?

    My hypothesis: It would never happen. Your actual knowledge would swamp the effect of such photos.

    This might be a compelling rebuttal if anyone was arguing that Northam dressing in a KKK outfit (or posing in blackface next to someone in said outfit) meant that he “embraced the KKK.” But no one here has made that argument, and it’s not the common objection to Northam’s actions. Someone dressing like the KKK isn’t offensive only if they truly believe in the values of the KKK. It’s offensive because it makes light of a truly horrific chapter of American history that still resonates and threatens the well-being of black people today.

    You recognize the threat that the KKK poses to the well-being of black people today–but not the threat posed by organized crime?

    Last year, which killed more black people: Hooded Klansmen, or members of criminal gangs?

    How ’bout the prior year? The year before that? How ’bout throughout your entire lifetime?

    Yet if I were to show you data demonstrating that over the past half-century, vastly more black people were killed by organized gangs than by hooded KKK members, would you then agree that seeing Obama dressed as a member of a gang would demonstrate that he was unfit for office…? (He asked, expecting the answer ‘no’….)

    Enough already. This pearl-clutching over a photograph would be silly, if the consequences weren’t so pernicious. Look, nobody values symbolism more than I do. Except perhaps my wife. And some of her friends. Oh yes, and Captain Johnson. Come to think of it, most people value symbolism more than I do. And I humbly offer the idea that the REAL welfare of REAL black Virginians will be much more imperiled by ceding the governorship to the Virginia GOP than by leaving it in the hands of a self-confessed Michael Jackson impersonator. Virtue signaling is fine, but it comes at a cost—and I think the cost has gotten too high.

    One (WASPy, vaguely British) guy’s opinion, anyway.

  76. 77
    Vk1892 says:

    Michael – my logic isn’t flawed or dangerous, thank you very much.
    98% isn’t 100% but the law doesn’t require 100% certainity for a jury conviction, it requires beyond a reasonable doubt (which is often cited between 95-99%) in a criminal case and balance of probabilities (51%) in a civil case. If I were on a jury, I would be presented with a whole bunch of information, such that my initial assessment would become almost irrelevant. Bayesian does not mean you use only your prior, but also update – exactly what responsible people should do in the face of evidence.
    I don’t see how the current system of people bending over backwards to protect rapists from consequences is less illogical or dangerous. I don’t know about the US, but in the UK conviction rates for rapes reported to police are around the 7% mark – that’s a lot of rapists free and unpunished.

    But I’d rather not talk about conviction. Frankly it is a rare outcome of a rape being disclosed, and off topic for the cases here. I only mentioned it in my initial post as I was sure otherwise someone would say but gasp if everyone does that won’t everyone accused of rape go to jail.

    The main point was to start at a place where belief in the victim was proportional to the likelihood women and other rape victims on average tell the truth about rape. Where is the downside in that? Both ways being wrong is unpleasant for someone, and leaves someone unsupported. Both ways there is a risk of hurting someones job, social life, mental health by being incorrect. Given the severe consequences for accusing a public figure of rape and the low rate of false accusations in general, starting from a place of believe victim 95% and probable rapist 5% seems pretty balanced to me.

  77. 78
    Ampersand says:

    I’m not sure how many ways people can say “they don’t hold a similar place in our cultural imagination” to you, Nobody.

    You’re like someone who doesn’t understand why burning a cross on some Jewish dude’s lawn is more offensive than, I dunno, dropping rusty nails on the lawn. “What if I showed you statistics showing that rusty nails killed more people per year than lawn fires? By quite a lot?” Well, then, you would have shown me that you’ve completely missed the point.

    “Why do you find that raised middle finger offensive? Did you know that many more people are injured each year by pointer fingers, and still more by closed fists? Yet you wouldn’t take it as an insult if someone raised a closed fist, and you would take it as an insult if they raised a middle finger. You’re just virtue signaling!”

    Look: Many Americans, especially many Black Americans, correctly perceive images of the KKK and blackface as being intrinsically connected, in our culture, to larger racist ideologies, including but not limited to the specific history of blackface and the specific crimes committed by KKK members. (Not unlike Jews and the swastika). Someone who is comfortable with blackface and KKK costumes is displaying either a comfort with racism, or an indifference to racism, or an ignorance of racism, that many Americans – again, especially Black Americans – find disturbing at best. And do not want in an elected official, if there’s a better alternative.

    (Which, in this case, as it turns out, there may not be).

    The large cultural salience of KKK outfits and blackface, and the comparatively minor cultural salience of someone dressed as Tony Soprano, is a fact. That you seemingly think people are being ridiculous to be aware of and react to this large cultural salience, does not change that fact. That you think it’s illogical for people to have a bigger reaction to KKK and blackface than to people dressed like Tony Soprano, does not change that fact.

    And, frankly, you’re the one who is being illogical here. Let’s look again at the passage from Chris you quoted and responded to:

    Someone dressing like the KKK isn’t offensive only if they truly believe in the values of the KKK. It’s offensive because it makes light of a truly horrific chapter of American history thatstill resonates and threatens the well-being of black people today.

    The bolded part is the part of Chris’ argument that you entirely ignored. Like, the main part of his argument. You instead spent paragraph after paragraph incredulously nit-picking what wasn’t Chris’ main point. And I’m fine with a good nit-pick (and I’ll be interested to see Chris clarify what he meant there), but it shouldn’t be a substitute for substance, or a method for ignoring what the person you’re disagreeing with actually wrote.

    (I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this particular error more than once, to be fair).

    And I humbly offer the idea that the REAL welfare of REAL black Virginians will be much more imperiled by ceding the governorship to the Virginia GOP than by leaving it in the hands of a self-confessed Michael Jackson impersonator.

    Has anyone here said otherwise? This seems like a strawman.

    Virtue signaling is fine, but it comes at a cost—and I think the cost has gotten too high.

    “Virtue signalling” is smug right-wing boilerplate. It’s also a stupid ad hom argument.

    Do you actually believe (for example) that no one sincerely thinks that being a rapist should be disqualifying for a prospective governor? That the only reason people are objecting to Fairfax very probably (but not definitely) being a rapist is because we want to convince the other leftists listening that we are virtuous? That the only reason many “REAL Black Virginians” have publicly said that they’re dismayed by the blackface revelations is that they want to signal virtue to other liberals? That the only reason anyone you’re arguing with here on “Alas” takes that seriously, is that we want to single “hi! I’m virtuous!” to the others?

  78. 79
    desipis says:

    Chris:

    The context we are discussing is of someone going to a party dressed in blackface and posing next to someone in a KKK outfit.

    I’m curious as to why you see that action in that context as not wrong.

    1. No one was harmed.
    2. Given the context of a fancy dress party, there was no intent to harm.
    3. Given the context of a fancy dress party, there was no display of values contrary to believing in racial equality (or other core value of a liberal democratic society).

    It’s offensive because it makes light of a truly horrific chapter of American history that still resonates and threatens the well-being of black people today.

    4. Generally speaking, I think people are free to make light of anything and everything. I don’t think any topic should be universally taboo when it comes to humour. People should be free to make light of the KKK, Nazis and child raping priests if they so desire. Humour is a part of how people deal with dark aspects of life and can play a role in both psychological and social healing processes.

    I would agree that there are certain context where such humour should be avoided. People shouldn’t be malicious or negligent if they know of specific people in their intended audience who would likely be emotionally harmed by the humour given the context. However, such cases are the exception, not the rule.

  79. 80
    desipis says:

    Ampersand:

    Except in some marginal, very racist communities, the KKK doesn’t remotely occupy a similar place in our cultural imagination.

    The large cultural salience of KKK outfits and blackface, and the comparatively minor cultural salience of someone dressed as Tony Soprano, is a fact.

    This to me seems to be a very conservative argument. The point you make is that it is morally wrong because society broadly decides its morally wrong. There are many things that society once deemed morally wrong that they no longer do: homosexual sex, women working outside the home, divorce, on so on. Society progressed on from these moral views through consequentialist arguments: consenting adults not hurting anyone, economic benefits, freedom from misery, and so on.

    Yet when it comes to some topics, progressives do an about face and adopt the sorts of deontological arguments that conservatives use. Arguments like “it’s just obviously wrong” and “everyone agrees its wrong” seem to become common. That’s why I use the term “dogma” when talking about such arguments.

  80. 81
    Grace Annam says:

    I think that some people have more experience, in this life, and in this modern day, in the 21st Century, with constant reminders that they are considered lesser, that they will be presumed to be less intelligent, less intelligent, that they will not received protection under the law, that they will be denied medical care, that they will be rejected for employment which less qualified people will be offered, that they lost family members (blood & chosen) to violence directed against people like them.

    For instance, during the time I was working through my denial and figuring out who and what I was, one of the big news stories about trans people was the death of Angie Zapata, whose head was beaten in with a fire extinguisher by a man who figured out that Angie was trans after they had a sexual encounter.

    For instance, Angie Zapata was a trans woman of color, just like the vast majority of the trans and gender nonconforming people who show up on the list of the dead some of us read on November 20 every year.

    For instance, Chris Rock tells the story of how, in 1980, his mother’s family in South Carolina had to go to a veterinarian for dental work, and enter through the back door, because the vet would lose business if white people thought he might use the same dental tools on their pets as he had used on Black people.

    For instance, repeated studies have shown that résumés with names which seem characteristically Black to an American ear, otherwise identical to other test résumés, get significantly fewer calls from employers.

    Those are off the top of my head. I could go on and on.

    People who have experiences like those are more likely to have the experience of having a lousy week, or month, or year, and then turning the corner to see yet another reminder of the all the times in their lives they have experienced the things I mentioned above. And when you’re already on the edge, that thing can be the straw which breaks your back that day, and pushes you over the edge into depression, or into despair, or into helpless rage. And then you work yourself back from that. (Until the next time; at base, you’re still having a lousy week, or month, or year.)

    I care about that impact, on Black people, or on Native people, or on other people of color, or gay people, or trans people, or any other such group who were born what they are and have been kicked in the teeth because of it.

    If dressing up as pirates had that impact on pirates, well, I really don’t care about that impact on pirates. I really don’t care about that impact on members of any organized crime syndicate or terrorists.

    But, also, dressing up as pirates doesn’t have that impact on pirates, first because people are dressing up as fantasy pirates, not real pirates, and second because people who are dressing up as pirates think pirates are cool, in the “pirates versus ninjas” fantasy sense. The same goes for dressing up as mobsters. Even if I cared about the oppression of mobsters, it seems to me that actual mobsters are more likely to regard that kind of dress-up as pitiably ignorant homage to their coolness.

    That is clearly not how Black people feel about blackface (because it has a history of use as a tool of stereotyping, ignorance, and oppression), and it’s not how Native people feel about headdresses out of their appropriate context (because they have a history (and currency) of use as a tool of stereotyping, ignorance, and oppression), and it’s not how trans people feel about “sexy tranny hooker” costumes (because that has a history (and currency) of use as a tool of stereotyping, ignorance, and oppression).

    If you can’t see the difference between pirate costumes and blackface, in this context, then, to be blunt, you’re less fit for elected office; you don’t know enough about an important minority of your constituents, and you don’t appear to have developed the degree of perceptive nuance which is likely to make you an effective legislator, a coalition-builder, a person who can communicate without offense in order to get done the actual job you were elected to do.

    When you see that a candidate, or an elected official, doesn’t get it, or didn’t get it, that’s not dispositive, but it is a piece of evidence that the candidate is less likely to be able to see an issue from your perspective, or to consider the needs or wants of people like you. (And this is routine across all people; it’s why members of a given group almost always get a higher percentage of votes from voters in the same groups.)

    If all you’ve got is candidates like that, then, well, it’s not an issue which prompts your choice (though it may prompt the choice not to go to the polls at all, out of the sense that, after all, you have things to do, and there’s literally no one to vote for who might understand your needs).

    I’ve seen the argument made that Northam made this mistake decades ago, and so it’s basically irrelevant. But if you’re comparing Northam to someone who didn’t make that mistake decades ago (or, at least, for whom there is no evidence that they did), then that’s a point against Northam. Sure, blackface and Klan costumes were more common back then than they are now, but at the same time, there were lots and lots of capable people alive back then who thought twice about wearing blackface, or to whom it simply didn’t occur as an option, or who rejected it outright because they knew how it would make a lot of Black people feel.

    Far more important than the fact that he did it is how he addresses it today. Northam missed a key part of a well-done apology: the part where he demonstrates that he understands the hurt he has caused. In his apology he says that he is “deeply sorry”, and he alludes to “the hurt that decision caused then and now”. But he does not demonstrate that he knows what the hurt was. He does not say something like, “I know now what I did not know then. In the intervening years, I have had conversations with Black patients and Black constituents. I have seen their gut reactions to images like those, and I have come to understand how images like those are part of the relentless pile-on of discrimination which shapes the lives of Black people and other minorities in Virginia. I am ashamed that I did not know then, but I have worked to learn, and as a result, I have changed and grown.”

    He doesn’t say something like that. On the other hand, at a press conference where he talks about a time when he did wear blackface, when he is asked by a reporter if he can still moonwalk, he does reflexively cast his gaze about to see if he has enough room to show off his dance chops, and is pulled back from that precipice by his wife. I watched that video and came away with the very strong impression that he still doesn’t get it. Today.

    Should he resign? Well, what’s best for his constituents? What will show up in his place? You can make a strong argument that if his replacement will be a modern Republican, it’s in the best interest of his constituents for him to stick it out, even as damaged as he now is, because we have seen the policies modern Republicans are intent on enacting.

    This is not about when blackface became unacceptable. I wasn’t in grad school in 1984, but I was in high school, so I’m old enough to have seen this stuff happening around me, if it was, and I never saw it. I grew up in Northern California, not Virginia, but the adults around me had apparently managed to figure it out somehow. And this is not about virtue signalling, and it’s not about pearl-clutching. And it’s not about offense; it’s about why it’s offensive.

    It’s about whether he gets it enough that he understands the concerns and experiences of Black Virginians when he is considering the pros and cons of decisions he has to make about legislative priorities and the legislation presented to him to sign.

    Grace

  81. 82
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    RonF,

    There is a chocolate-brand that was set up to fight slave labor in the industry and even they cannot prove that their ingredients are slave-free.

    VK1892,

    The main point was to start at a place where belief in the victim was proportional to the likelihood women and other rape victims on average tell the truth about rape. Where is the downside in that?

    One downside is that people have a tendency to fall victim to tunnel vision when they strongly assume guilt from the start. It’s not uncommon for the police to only search for evidence of guilt and not for innocence, which biases the investigation against the accused.

    Some argue against extensive questioning that may uncover inconsistencies in the story of the accuser, based on the idea that the chance of innocence is so low that the costs to the accuser of being questioned are unreasonable. There are even those who argue that incorrect accusations are a logical consequence of trauma and should not be taken as exculpatory or should even be taken as evidence against the accused.

    Another downside and one that you have fallen victim to, is to be very wrong about the statistics and/or to apply them incorrectly. Your claim that any mere accusation should be taken as 95% certain to be correct is already unjustified because there is plenty of evidence that people are horrible witnesses in general.

    A correct conviction doesn’t merely require that something sexual happened that the accuser later disagrees with, but what happened actually has to violate the law. I’ve seen women talk about what they called rape, despite their narrative not matching the legal definition of rape.

    The studies into false accusations are all over the place, ranging from 2% to 80%. The ones that give lower figures (like the 5% that you use) only look at provably wrong accusations, ignoring (or separately categorizing) the very many accusations that are dismissed, for example because of lacking evidence. SJ advocates typically treat all of those as being rapes that were committed by the accused, even though that is an absurd (and extremely biased) assumption.

    This is actually something I see a lot, where statistics that show that X is true for a certain percentage of cases are then flipped around to argue that X is not true for the remaining percentage of cases. This is not valid, as there are actually three relevant categories (true, false and unknown), rather than two.

    This is a common reason for mistakes when people try to implement bayesian thinking: most people are actually really bad at statistics, so they are highly confident when they shouldn’t be (and often in line with their biases).

    Given the severe consequences for accusing a public figure of rape and the low rate of false accusations in general, starting from a place of believe victim 95% and probable rapist 5% seems pretty balanced to me.

    There are also severe consequences for being accused and even more so for being falsely convicted. That you don’t point these out, but merely look at the consequences to the accused suggests bias on your part.

  82. 83
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Grace,

    For instance, repeated studies have shown that résumés with names which seem characteristically Black to an American ear, otherwise identical to other test résumés, get significantly fewer calls from employers.

    Yet those outcomes could not be replicated with different lists of black and white names. A followup study into the differences between the names used for the studies that did show the effect and those which didn’t, made a very strong case that the discrimination was actually because people were judged on their SES, not race (although race does of course correlate with low SES).

    But, also, dressing up as pirates doesn’t have that impact on pirates, first because people are dressing up as fantasy pirates, not real pirates, and second because people who are dressing up as pirates think pirates are cool, in the “pirates versus ninjas” fantasy sense.

    Ironically, blackface make one look more like a real pirate (given that most are Somali). :)

    Seriously though, your objection seem a bit strange since I don’t get the impression that a white person who admires and dresses up as Michael Jackson for Halloween would find favor with those who strongly object to blackface.

    In fact, those who disfavor ‘cultural appropriation’ seem to consider it wrong when people of one race enthusiastically adopt things commonly associated with other races.

    You seem to have that same opinion when you say:

    On the other hand, at a press conference where he talks about a time when he did wear blackface, when he is asked by a reporter if he can still moonwalk, he does reflexively cast his gaze about to see if he has enough room to show off his dance chops, and is pulled back from that precipice by his wife. I watched that video and came away with the very strong impression that he still doesn’t get it. Today.

    Because I don’t get why it would be wrong for him to do the moonwalk.

  83. 84
    Chris says:

    Nobody.really:

    I hope it isn’t out of line for me to point out that you’re being willfully obtuse. As Amp points out, the cultural symbolism of blackface is nothing like the cultural symbolism of dressing like a pirate or a mobster. Blackface inherently demeans and makes fun of a marginalized racial minority. Pirate costumes and mobster costumes do not do that. You know this.

    Desipis:

    I would agree that there are certain context where such humour should be avoided. People shouldn’t be malicious or negligent if they know of specific people in their intended audience who would likely be emotionally harmed by the humour given the context. However, such cases are the exception, not the rule.

    This seems to assume one or two things:
    1) There were no black people at that party.
    2) There were no black people at that medical school would have seen the photo or heard about it.

    OR:

    3) Black people shouldn’t be hurt emotionally by white people dressing up in blackface as long as there is no harm intended.

    For the reasons articulated by myself and others above, I have no respect for any of these underlying assumptions. Whether someone knows it or not, blackface inherently mocks black people as a group. If one does not know this, one has the responsibility to find this out before engaging in it. (But then, if one does not know this, one questions why one would find it funny to dress in blackface in the first place. What is the joke, if not “black people are ridiculous?”) And Northam could have easily found this out before he chose to dress in blackface, even in the 1980s. That you somehow have not bothered to learn this by 2019 is, frankly, stunning to me.

    LoL:

    Because I don’t get why it would be wrong for him to do the moonwalk.

    I feel like I’ve entered a land where context doesn’t exist. Northam’s wife got why it would be wrong for him to do the moonwalk in that moment, and said so, and it had nothing to do with any theory of cultural appropriation. He was in the middle of a press conference in which he was alternately apologizing for, denying, and defending appearing in blackface. It wasn’t the right time. Read the room.

  84. 85
    Ampersand says:

    Yet those outcomes could not be replicated with different lists of black and white names.

    Another way of putting this is that the original study has been replicated three times, and the study you’re relying on has not been replicated.

    Furthermore, I looked at two of the replications. One did not say which specific names were used; another used what appeared to be a different list of names (the name “Jamal” wasn’t on their list, for example, and some completely fictitious names were also included). I’m in a rush, so I haven’t checked in detail, but it seems even your statement as written might not be accurate.

  85. 86
    Harlequin says:

    Desipis:

    4. Generally speaking, I think people are free to make light of anything and everything. I don’t think any topic should be universally taboo when it comes to humour. People should be free to make light of the KKK, Nazis and child raping priests if they so desire. Humour is a part of how people deal with dark aspects of life and can play a role in both psychological and social healing processes

    Okay. So tell me: What joke, what piece of humor was Northam making? I’m actually a fan of some quite offensive humor, and I could use a laugh today.

    That humor can be a defense in some situations doesn’t mean that all such situations are humor. Also, intent and effect are different, and it is reasonable to judge someone for being wrong about how their humor would be received, although the judgment would be a different kind of negative than if they had intended the harm deliberately. Also, a generalization of Scalzi. Also, what injury is Northam supposed to be working through by dressing in blackface, exactly??

    Anyway, I think we’ve had versions of this conversation before. To be clear, I don’t think anyone here thinks Northam dressed in blackface and/or as a member of the KKK because he sincerely and consciously hated black people. We’re not unaware of the existence of humor. Of course he thought he was doing something mildly amusing! I, at least, am judging his judgment in finding it amusing.

  86. 87
    Celeste says:

    I think in the most basic terms, abandoning all claims of “this is objectively wrong” vs. “this is objectively not wrong” what this comes down to is that blackface is something African American people and groups object to in extremely strong terms.

    People on the left (broadly speaking) care about that and want to take it seriously.

    People on the right (broadly speaking) don’t particularly care about that and don’t particularly want to take it seriously.

    Ninety percent of the African American vote went to the left in the last election cycle.

    The arguments of the right around this seem to be of the, “maybe I can argue African American people and groups out of taking offense,” character, which is sure to work any day now. After all, the right has earned so much goodwill from the AA community, surely they’ll be given the benefit of the doubt.

    PS. I’m abandoning the ‘objectively right vs wrong’ argument because I don’t think it’s likely to go anywhere, not because I think this is purely a matter of partisan politics. My comment is about why, “arguing that this thing that black people find super racist isn’t really racist and besides you guys use the N-word all the time,” is a super boneheaded move for the right that they seem bound and determined to repeat over and over and over.

  87. 88
    Ampersand says:

    I’ve looked into it more, and it appears that two of the successful replications do, in fact, use “different lists of black and white names” than the 2004 study did. The third successful replication may or may not have used the same names; I’ve only read the abstract to that one.

    The 2004 study (pdf) spent quite a bit of effort trying to determine if the results were because race was acting as a proxy for social class.

    While the names we have used in this experiment strongly signal racial origin, they may also signal some other personal trait. More specifically, one might be concerned that employers are inferring social background from the personal name. When employers read a name like “Tyrone” or “Latoya,” they may assume that the person comes from a disadvantaged background.44 In the extreme form of this social background interpretation, employers do not care at all about race but are discriminating only against the social background conveyed by the names we have chosen.45

    While plausible, we feel that some of our earlier results are hard to reconcile with this interpretation. For example, in Table 6, we found that while employers value “better” addresses, African-Americans are not helped more than Whites by living in Whiter or more educated neighborhoods. If the African-American names we have chosen mainly signal negative social background, one might have expected the estimated name gap to be lower for better addresses. Also, if the names mainly signal social background, one might have expected the name gap to be higher for jobs that rely more on soft skills or require more interpersonal interactions. We found no such evidence in Table 7.

    […]

    But, more interestingly to us, there is substantial between-name heterogeneity in social background. African-American babies named Kenya or Jamal are affiliated with much higher mothers’ education than African-American babies named Latonya or Leroy. Conversely, White babies named Carrie or Neil have lower social background than those named Emily or Geoffrey. This allows for a direct test of the social background hypothesis within our sample: are names associated with a worse social background discriminated against more? In the last row in each gender-race group, we report the rank-order correlation between callback rates and mother’s education. The social background hypothesis predicts a positive correlation. Yet, for all four categories, we find the exact opposite. The p-values indicate that we cannot reject independence at standard significance levels except in the case of African American males where we can almost reject it at the 10-percent level (p 0.120). In summary, this test suggests little evidence that social background drives the measured race gap.

  88. 89
    desipis says:

    Chris,

    1) There were no black people at that party.
    2) There were no black people at that medical school would have seen the photo or heard about it.

    You’re assuming that blackface is emotionally harmful to all black people. There are some (e.g. Whoopi Goldberg, Winnie Harlow) who defend or have defended the practice. Clearly the harm is not universal. The presence of black people does not automatically equate to harm.

    Whether someone knows it or not, blackface inherently mocks black people as a group. If one does not know this, one has the responsibility to find this out before engaging in it. … That you somehow have not bothered to learn this by 2019 is, frankly, stunning to me.

    This isn’t a matter of knowledge or ignorance, it’s a matter of reasoned disagreement.

    ETA:

    What is the joke, if not “black people are ridiculous?”

    The joke could have been “the KKK are ridiculous” or “the KKK’s outfits are ridiculous” or “black stereotypes are ridiculous” or “historical attitudes to race are ridiculous” or simply “it’s fun to play pretend and explore what it’d be like to be someone completely different in a light-hearted way” or any of many other ways of seeing the issue.

  89. 90
    J. Squid says:

    “It’s not racist because of intent that I surmise he could possibly have had” is as terrible a defense of the act as, “Not every single black person who ever lived is offended by the n word. “

  90. 91
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Chris,

    You are arguing for more empathy with others, but I think that you lack sufficient empathy with Northam. He is a person too and doesn’t deserved to be othered and objectified anymore than other people.

    It seems most likely to me that back when the picture was made and published, the local culture allowed that (and perhaps people at the time had way more information, for example, the dressing up might have been obvious satire in how the two people acted, which is not evident from the pictures). Note that Ted Danson gets much more of a pass, because that content is clearer.

    So it is quite likely that Northam never felt he hurt anyone at the time. As I argued earlier, republishing and signal boosting the picture can very well be argued to be immoral on the part of the media. It certainly wasn’t done by Northam himself. So Northam may honestly (and IMO fairly) feel only a tiny bit sorry about what he did in the past and feel that he is being held to account way more than is warranted (and that he is punished for pain caused by the media, not what he himself did).

    Ultimately, I think that Northam is being used as a scapegoat for racism and slavery much more than he is being accused of himself causing actual harm. The very same ugliness that allowed humans to be very unfair to groups (like Jews) or individual scapegoats, is present in all of us. It plays a role in any attempt to hold someone accountable, especially if we ‘want to send a message.’

    In many persecutions, the demand is that the victim play a role to mollify the irrational anger of the crowd. That is very ugly.

    Imagine yourself in Northam shoes. He is being held accountable for actions he did as a stupid teenager, yet judged based on who he is now. He is being held accountable for sins of others. He probably forgot all about this, yet is judged with bad faith, as if his jumbled statements were some sinister scheme, rather than a sign that he just forgot.

    He probably, like millions of teenagers, practiced the moonwalk as a kid and has huge nostalgic feelings about it. At the press conference, he accidentally was almost himself for a moment, rather than play that ugly role of scapegoat.

    The irony is that I see people argue that trans people, gay people, women, etc should be allowed to be themselves and not forced into a very painful and dishonest role for the benefit of others, yet then turn around to demand that Northam play a painful and dishonest role for the benefit of others.

    Harlequin,

    We weren’t there. We only know how these two people dressed up, not how they behaved, even though this seems very important to me to how they intended it and how people at the time perceived it. I can merely give an example of how one might do these things ironically:

    A common way to do irony is role reversal. The earliest known festival to incorporate this is Saturnalia, an festival in ancient rome where slaves got to feast like their masters normally would and got to disrespect their masters. A somewhat similar role reversal is part of the European Carnival tradition (where a commoner becomes the ruler of the festival and the rulers behave like commoners) and is still being practiced.

    Patrick Stewart was part of a role reversal play when he played white Othello in a race-flipped rendering of the play (where all other actors were black).

    Northam and his friend could have done something similar by having the Klan-member be subservient and/or act like a stereotypical slave (‘yes, massa’).

    PS. Fun fact of the day: Virginia Woolf once wore blackface and pretended to be a man as part of an elaborate prank, where she and her friends pretended to be the emperor of Abyssinia and his retinue & got feted on a battleship.

  91. 92
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    Another way of putting this is that the original study has been replicated three times, and the study you’re relying on has not been replicated.

    Inconsistent results were found in studies that used different name lists, all of which had distinctly black and white names. So at that point there was already inconsistency that casts strong doubt on the conclusions of the papers that attribute different callback rates to discrimination.

    The paper I linked to merely provides a possible and quite plausible explanation. If it had not existed, we would still have to explain the disparities.

    Note that I agree that the paper I linked should also have replication attempts.

    Ultimately, science is really, really, really hard to do well, because mistakes can be made in very many ways. Even very many scientists are not properly educated on this and severely overestimate the reliability of scientific evidence, don’t understand the limitations of their scientific methods, etc.

    Replication merely finds errors in the execution of the study, but it doesn’t prove that the experiment actually studies what the scientist thinks it studies. Let me give an example to demonstrate:

    Imagine that Bob wants to study whether freezing liquids makes it expand. Bob creates an experiment where he freezes water. He finds that it expands. This replicates when others do the exact same experiment, so Bob writes in his paper that his experiment shows that freezing liquids expand. Now someone else does a study where they freeze mercury. This won’t expand when frozen. How is this possible when Bob’s experiment replicated? The answer is that Bob made a mistake by assuming that water is representative of all liquids, even though it actually isn’t. He should actually only have concluded that his experimental setup proves what happens when freezing water, not liquids in general.

    Bob did his experiment well and the outcome of the experiment tells us something meaningful. It just doesn’t tell us what Bob thought it did.

    The argument of study 3 is that a somewhat similar mistake may very well have been made in study 1, where it was assumed that the black name list and white name list differed only by their perceived race and that the people who judged the resumes thus had to have judged the resumes differently by race. However, this is a very risky assumption, because names can actually signal a lot more than just race, including, but not limited to socio-economic status (SES).

    So it is important that a study replicates when the experiment is done again, but this is insufficient for the conclusions of a study to be correct.

    I’ve looked into it more, and it appears that two of the successful replications do, in fact, use “different lists of black and white names” than the 2004 study did.

    Sure, but there can be a fairly structural issue in how (some) scientists construct these lists that result in a bias. For example, one of the replication studies that found discrimination of the black names on their list selected their names based on popularity. However, the median black person has lower SES than the median white person. So I would expect that the most popular black names correlate with lower (parental) SES than the most popular white names.

    The 2004 study (pdf) spent quite a bit of effort trying to determine if the results were because race was acting as a proxy for social class.

    They do use indirect means of trying to determine this, but that is risky, because indirect measurements are fairly easily confounded. For example, it can seem like people are not actually using discriminating in a certain way when one looks at the actual traits of the people, when the stereotypes that people have are wrong.

    The nice thing about the study I linked is that they simply asked people to guess the SES of the names, which is a direct measurement that seems most appropriate. After all, it is a very similar kind of guess about a person that the individual who looks at the reviews is presumed to engage in when looking at the name of the candidate.

  92. 93
    Ampersand says:

    Inconsistent results were found in studies that used different name lists, all of which had distinctly black and white names. So at that point there was already inconsistency that casts strong doubt on the conclusions of the papers that attribute different callback rates to discrimination.

    The paper I linked to merely provides a possible and quite plausible explanation. If it had not existed, we would still have to explain the disparities.

    Please be specific. What inconsistent results, and what disparities, are you referring to?

  93. 94
    Chris says:

    desipis:

    Chris,

    1) There were no black people at that party.
    2) There were no black people at that medical school would have seen the photo or heard about it.

    You’re assuming that blackface is emotionally harmful to all black people.

    No, not all. But certainly most.

    Whether someone knows it or not, blackface inherently mocks black people as a group. If one does not know this, one has the responsibility to find this out before engaging in it. … That you somehow have not bothered to learn this by 2019 is, frankly, stunning to me.

    This isn’t a matter of knowledge or ignorance, it’s a matter of reasoned disagreement.

    It really isn’t.

    The joke could have been “the KKK are ridiculous” or “the KKK’s outfits are ridiculous” or “black stereotypes are ridiculous” or “historical attitudes to race are ridiculous” or simply “it’s fun to play pretend and explore what it’d be like to be someone completely different in a light-hearted way” or any of many other ways of seeing the issue.

    None of which outweigh the harm caused by blackface, which has been clearly articulated by black thinkers for generations.

    LoL:

    You don’t even have your facts right. You say:

    He is being held accountable for actions he did as a stupid teenager, yet judged based on who he is now.

    Northam was not Doogie Howser. The picture was taken when he was an adult in medical school, not when he was a “teenager.”

    And your portrayal of Northam as being a victim here, or that the media reporting that he did blackface is worse than him actually doing blackface, is an incredible act of blame-shifting. Northam is being judged for lacking the empathy necessary to know why he shouldn’t cover his face in shoe polish to dress as a black man for a costume party. He still seems to lack the empathy necessary to understand this (as, unfortunately, do you and others in this thread.) It is not a failure of empathy to judge him (or you) for that. This is reaching “You’re being intolerant of my intolerance” levels of circular reasoning.

  94. 95
    RonF says:

    Celeste @ 87:

    People on the right (broadly speaking) don’t particularly care about that and don’t particularly want to take it seriously.

    I’d be interested in how you reached this conclusion; how many people on the right you’ve talked to or what you’ve read on various conservative opinion outlets. The general impression I’ve gotten from those two sources is that a) blackface is legitimately deemed offensive but b) it was 35 years ago, not last week, which should be taken into account a lot more than it seems to be. Most of the commentary on the opinion/news sites has been more about speculation on who if anyone will resign and what the resultant makeup of Virginian government will be and what the damage might be that this will do to the Virginia Democratic party’s election chances in 2020.

    If either the Gov. or the Lt. Gov. resign the Gov. will be D and the Lt. Gov. will be R; if both resign the Gov. will be D and the Lt. Gov. and A.G. will be R; if all 3 resign the replacements for all 3 will be R.

  95. 96
    RonF says:

    Question – and this seems especially appropriate after hearing about Joy Behar:

    On Halloween night 2008 Joe Blow, white guy, shows up to the party as Pres. Bush, complete with appropriate wig and some makeup (to give him wrinkles, etc.) and mimics his mannerisms and manner of speaking. Joe’s good at this and hilarity ensues. On Halloween night 2009 Joe shows up to the party as Pres. Obama, complete with appropriate wig and some makeup (to match his complexion, etc.) and mimics his mannerisms and manner of speaking. Clearly the intent is not to degrade black people by mocking them and attributing negative characteristics to them but to mimic a public figure. Should hilarity ensue?

  96. 97
    RonF says:

    Another question with regards to objections to blackface:

    Do you think this person’s objection is legitimate or absurd? Or something in-between?

    At the downtown Phoenix restaurant, my concern that the photograph of men in blackface was a threat to me and my face and voice were ignored.

    Amp @ 66:

    Also, wtf is wrong with Virginia politicians?

    Virginia politicians? Hell, Ted Kennedy killed Mary Jo Kopechne and not only did the Democratic party not abandon him, they helped him get re-elected 5 times.

    At this point, both the pragmatic and the progressive in me think Northam should tough it out and remain in office.

    Should I interpret that to mean that if the political parties were reversed you’d be insisting he resign?

  97. 98
    Chris says:

    Ron,

    I think a white person putting on blackface to play a specific black person is bad, but not as bad as a white person putting on blackface to play a generic, stereotypical “black man,” which is what Northam seems to have done.

    I find Rashaad Thomas’s objection completely ridiculous. That isn’t blackface, and the fact that it might look like blackface until you realize they’re coal miners–a mental process that should take no longer than two seconds for a normal individual–is irrelevant.

  98. 99
    Celeste says:

    I’d be interested in how you reached this conclusion

    Because the condemnation and calls for resignation have been near-universal within the Democratic party, but similarly racist actions by Republican officials and candidates muster little more than a shrug from Republicans.

    I judge how seriously someone takes this shit by how they act when it’s their party.

    And again, you can, “b-b-but” this all you like, but unless you are seriously grappling with the reasons that the Republican party loses 90% of the black vote, it’s pointless.

    I mean, in this thread there are folks on the right arguing that blackface is no big deal.

  99. 100
    Celeste says:

    Also, recognize what I’m saying.

    When I say “People on the right (broadly speaking) don’t particularly care about that and don’t particularly want to take it seriously.”

    The “that” and “it” I used there do not refer to blackface.

    It refers to, “blackface is something African American people and groups object to in extremely strong terms.” In other words, the left takes the extremely strong objections of African American people and groups seriously.

    Why do I think the right does not? Because of the many, many, many policies and projects of the right that African American people and groups object to strongly that the right doesn’t seem to care about.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *