Let me just start by saying that I really used to like Virginia State Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax). But after years of his bizarre comments and stances on issues, I basically lost it with him. For instance, see:
- Sen. Chap Petersen Calls Atif Qarni’s Charges of Islamophobia “complete crap;” Qarni Responds
- Sports-Related CTE Is a Serious Problem; Unfortunately, Sen. Chap Petersen Gives Us a Completely Non-Serious Response (also, on this topic, see Chap’s bizarre rant, in which he writes: “We live in a strange age. Putting a ‘Resist’ sticker on a Prius is considered an act of courage. Playing a physical sport which requires actual courage, well, not so much.”)
- Democratic Va. Senator Chap Petersen: Redskins Logo a ‘Symbol of Unity’
- Va. state Sen. Chap Petersen defends ‘Redskins Pride Caucus,’ Redskin name
- Chap’s bizarre rant against a two-term governor (Chap claimed, ridiculously, that back in the 1600s, it led to “complete anarchy and dysfunction…[and] disaster,” and also said that our 1-term-governor system in Virginia has worked great, because our history’s been so amazing…or something)
- Possibly my “favorite” Chap rant, from his former blog Ox Road South, in which he went off on the media for its coverage of anti-Muslim preacher Terry Jones’ “Burn a Koran Day” lunacy: “If you’re going to descecrate [sic] a religious symbol in this day and age, make sure you choose a religion which is safe to insult. And make sure you’re wearing a black turtleneck. That way you’re being ‘courageous.’ As opposed to being a nut.” and “the media (a) pays attention to and thus promotes this crap, (b) decrying this act while ignoring those who burn the American flag or desecrate Christian symbols” and “In other words, don’t stereotype this group (Muslims). But do stereotype that one (evangelical Christians).” Wuuuuut?
So with that background, check out the following audio of Sen. Petersen’s appearance this morning on Trumpster Virginia Radio, aka “The John Fredericks Show,” in which he started off by having praise heaped on him by the Trumpster host for advertising on his show – seriously! Petersen than went off about outside money in the recent northern Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorneys races (“what brought it into really stark relief this spring was when a PAC controlled by George Soros, who’s not a Virginian and has no connection to this state, dumped over $1 million into two prosecutor races…”) and made an argument for limiting said outside money. Petersen did say that the upcoming Special Session on gun violence prevention is “valuable,” and that “for us not to do anything…is not acceptable.”
But things really got interesting when the topic turned to Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax. Here’s what Petersen had to say on *that* subject:
“We’re not designed to be a court of law…I don’t know where this is all going. To me, Justin was, the way our system is built, innocent until proven guilty. I understand these allegations were made. I understand that some people think that they should be believed for whatever reason. I respect that. To me, personally, I don’t know what happened, so I’m just not going to draw any conclusions. But the General Assembly, we need to be about representing the people of Virginia, not trying to figure out what happened in some bar in 2004.”
OK, first of all, I agree that one is innocent until proven guilty in America. But as Justin Fairfax’s former Policy Director Adele McClure eloquently and courageously stated back in late April:
“Demanding someone step down from public office for serious accusations of high crimes is not a violation of their due process rights; it is a rational, just operation of our democratic society. Due process is a standard set to protect citizens from the loss of their life, their liberty and their property. It is not a standard set to protect someone’s wish to remain in a position of political power. It is not a standard set to ensure that someone can purchase a table at a political gala. And is not a standard set to shield a public figure accused of heinous crimes from all forms of criticism and discomfort. And it is not a narrative that one should use to buy more time in public office and retain power. Holding public office is a privilege, not a right.”
Adele McClure is exactly right, of course. Brilliantly stated.
Second, I find it appalling that Sen. Petersen trivializes the *very* serious allegations of rape/sexual assault – by Meredith Watson and Vanessa Tyson against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax – as being just about “what happened in some bar in 2004.” In fact, Watson’s allegations are that “Fairfax invited her to hang out in his room but then locked the door and turned off the light before advancing on her while she was on a couch…I tried several times to get up and leave and was pushed back down…He forcibly sexually assaulted and raped me.” That’s not just something that “happened in some bar in 2004.”
As for Vanessa Tyson, she alleges that Fairfax “invited her back to his hotel room so he could pick up paperwork,” that “their encounter inside the room began as consensual kissing but that he then forced her to perform oral sex,” and that “The next thing I know my head is, like, literally in his crotch, and I’m choking and gagging, and I couldn’t say anything because I’m choking and gagging.” Again, that is faaaar more serious than “what happened in some bar in 2004.”
Bottom line: As a female Virginia Democratic activist said to me a few minutes ago, “Even if you 100% believe Justin and think they’re imagining it wrong. This is a traumatic memory. They’ve put themselves totally out there exposed. And to call it ‘something that happened at some bar’ is grotesque.” I couldn’t agree more, and am really appalled that a Democrat and Virginia State Senator, as well as someone I used to like – Chap Petersen – is talking like this. He really needs to apologize, and more importantly, change his absurd/flippant/wrong-headed attitude BIG TIME.