And so Mr. Forman—and by extension The New York Times—would wish that no obstacles be placed in the way of Ms. Jones were she to wish to adopt a child nor a paroled cannibal applying for a job as a short-order cook. For if “no crime justifies permanent civic death,” then even the most heinous offenses should be able to be permanently washed away, with any person attaching a stigma justifiably branded an intolerant bigot.
Predictably, the Times’ front-page article about Michelle Jones ignited a small brush fire of rage in some web venues, with The New Yorker attacking Harvard’s “dishonorable treatment” of Jones and excusing her crime as the result of a harsh and abusive upbringing: “Jones is a woman who, by all accounts, emerged from a nightmare past to embrace a productive life of the mind.” Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo was enthralled by “a fascinating and powerful story on many levels” about “that rare but classic case of prison redemption” and incensed by the idea that Harvard would base its decision on a fear of “bullying” by “conservative news outlets.” Time magazine was quite straightforward in its support for Jones with an article titled “We Need to Forgive the College-Bound Mother Who Killed Her Child.”
And so, such are the depths to which the race-relations debate has descended. Reforming our criminal justice system to reduce the number of nonviolent drug offenders will not be sufficient. Judging by the opinions on offer in the liberal press, welcoming murderers, rapists, and armed robbers with open arms back into society may become a new litmus test for racial tolerance.