Should Northam be gone?

Category:  Opinions
Thursday, February 14th, 2019 at 8:23 AM

At the end of January, the Virginia governor was found to have done something extremely racist in his past. A picture in Ralph Northam’s medical college yearbook featuring two individuals was found. One of them was wearing blackface, while the other was wearing a Klu Klux Klan outfit. At first, he apologized, saying he was one of them, but now is outright denying he is in the picture.

However, in a later press conference, Northam admitted to dressing up as Michael Jackson, including blackface, for a dance contest in 1984. “I had the shoes, I had a glove, and I used just a little bit of shoe polish to put under my ­­— or on my — cheeks,” he explained.

With all this, many have petitioned him to resign. He has no plans of doing so, sparking a huge racial controversy. Should he resign?

Let’s be honest, everyone above the age of 40 has done at least one thing they’re embarrassed of or regret. If that 40-year-old was in their younger body, they might have done everything completely different. That raises another question. Should a person be judged for something in the past? If so, how far back is acceptable? 

In my opinion, old wounds heal. People change through age. Stanisław Szukalski is a Polish sculptor who lived in Poland during the German invasion. Before the invasion, he was extremely nationalist. Poland once considered him to be the country’s greatest living artist. He carried some heavily racist ideas during this time. After World War II, he condemned that type of thinking. He changed his viewpoints completely. What if Ralph Northam is the same way?

If he still thinks in a racist manner, how can we push for resignation? Freedom of speech is a double-edged sword. It can be used to speak out against racism without being harmed. Unfortunately, racism also has that freedom. Unfortunately, it is illegal to impeach a racist elected official, as long as that individual has not caused any physical damage or threatened anyone. It would infringe on their freedom of speech.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Should freedom of speech be changed? Allowing racists to speak could harm our country. If we changed our laws to keep them from speaking, where would that stop? Who would be the one judging what’s going on?

I believe changing the laws to prosecute one offender would be a grave mistake. I also believe, even though he may have been one of those people in the picture, he still is lawfully allowed to be the governor of Virginia. That being said, racism should not go unpunished.

When does it become not alright? How far can racism ride the freedom of speech train before it can be stopped. I believe racism can be regulated a lot better than it is now. Racism can be very obvious, especially with Northam’s case. Why can we not stop this? 

Do you believe Ralph Northam should resign? If so, how would you go about doing it? Should freedom of speech be changed? Let me know how you feel.

Beau Bruneau | voices.spectator@gmail.com

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