Being a Self-Righteous Pain is Not a Crime

Michelle Renay Sutherland, a New Yorker who traveled to Richmond to demonstrate in support of Virginia’s passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, is an annoying individual. Frankly, I find her sanctimonious posturing to be a pain in the ass. Maybe she violated the law for baring her breast when posing as the goddess Virtue in a reenactment of the Virginia state seal, maybe not. But her actions are hardly grounds for holding her in jail without bail for a month.

A magistrate set a bail of $700 for Sutherland, a Brooklyn artist with no criminal record. But General District Court Judge Lawrence B. Cann III ordered her held without bond until her trial, scheduled for March 21.

An article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch does not quote Cann as providing any justification for refusing to release Sutherland.

Now the woman is becoming a martyr for the ERA cause. Said Kati Hornung with VAratifyERA: “The judge overstepped the boundaries of reasonableness, perhaps to make an example of Ms. Sutherland. This is part of the reason why we need the ERA because the system is so male centric and they don’t know what to do with women who challenge their authority by using their First Amendment protected rights. We hear Ms. Sutherland is in good spirits and talking with women in the mail about the Equal Rights Amendment.”

For God’s sake, let the woman out of jail. It’s a free country. Her “crime,” if it is determined to be one, is only a misdemeanor, and her posing as Virtue was a form of political expression. The Left in this country has a well-earned reputation for intolerance. The Right should not seek to emulate it.

Update: Sanity rules. After spending three nights in jail, Sutherland has been released.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


30 responses to “Being a Self-Righteous Pain is Not a Crime”

  1. Hear hear! Assume you meant “intolerance.”

    1. Yes, thank you. Correction made.

  2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    Meanwhile, the Governor of Virginia, a pediatric physician, can intentionally leave a baby to die in a hospital without care or concern after that baby’s birth, without so much as a yawn from Virginia’s judiciary. What a sick culture Virginians now endure.


    1. I agree that Northam’s comments about abortion/infanticide were worrisome. But was he mis-speaking? My wife, an ardent supporter of abortion rights (but not infanticide), is convinced that he did not mean what he said. And perhaps he didn’t. The follow-up question is whether the practice he described actually occurs in Virginia. If infanticide is practiced, it is truly scandalous. But I’ve seen no evidence other than Northam’s ill-chosen words to suggest that it is.

      1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        I disagree in spades, Jim. Worrisome is inappropriate at best. This guy is a sitting Governor and doctor.

        1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
          Reed Fawell 3rd

          The central evil behind Governor Northam’s statement trying to justify Infanticide was that he muddied up and greatly obscured the truth of what happens in real life with regard to very late term abortions, including the particular circumstance of allowing a born child to die. He compounded that evil because he purported to speak as a physician when in fact all evidence suggests that he was speaking as a politician trying to get a highly partisan bill through the Virginia legislature. In fact, these sorts of very late and post birth “abortions” rarely have to do with a mother’s health concerns that justify the killing a child born or unborn, or fixing abnormalities within that child. They are instead typically much more in the fashion of matters done for convenience. But you would never know all this from the statement of the doctor Governor.

          These issues have been discussed at great length for anyone to find who cares about the subject. For example, see this written by six physicians and published by Public Discourse, a Journal of the Witherspoon Institute. It is titled: It Is Never Necessary to Intentionally Kill a Fetal Human Being to Save a Women’s Life: In Support of the Born-Alive abortion Survivors Act.

          We need to forcefully challenge important misstatements by public officials. Otherwise we get policies and actions that do enormous harm to the public and our culture. This is surely such a case.

      2. Infanticide would be scandalous — if it were actually practiced in Virginia. I’d be the first to raise a hue and cry. But I think Northam bizarrely mis-spoke. As with many of the things Donald Trump says, I can’t believe that Northam meant literally what he said. I said his words were “worrisome” because they inspire worry that he actually did mean it. If he comes out and says, yes, I really do believe in infanticide in the circumstances I spoke about, then I would agree with you that the “baby killer” meme applies.

      3. djrippert Avatar

        I have no problem with the governor misspeaking. However, the guy needs to drop the weasel act and just say he misspoke.

        “I said what you heard but I didn’t say what I meant. Infanticide is always wrong and should be a crime that is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

        Northam needs to drop the Casper Milquetoast routine and start saying what he means.

        1. djrippert Avatar

          Ha! Here’s what the bill’s sponsor said ….

          When she was asked by a Republican lawmaker during the hearing whether the bill would allow an abortion to occur when a woman is in labor and about to give birth, Tran said yes.

          But on Thursday, Tran, a mother of four, corrected herself. “I should have said: ‘Clearly, no because infanticide is not allowed in Virginia, and what would have happened in that moment would be a live birth.’ ”

          WOW! What a shock! A misguided unethical Northern Virginia woman says something stupid and wrong. How does she deal with it? Honestly. She misspoke. She was wrong. The words she actually said would have constituted infanticide. She retracts her comments. Sometimes even a devout baby killer can have a moment of honesty.

          And what did the weaselly, privileged, racist white boy from RoVa do? You know … GOV Coonman …. Did he do what Del Tran did? Admit that what he said was just plain wrong? Of course not. That wouldn’t be the “Virginia Way”. Instead he mumbled, bumbled, jumbled and deflected. Tried the “comfortable baby” along with the “baby would have probably died anyway” arguments.


      4. Acommentator Avatar

        Northam is not the most politically astute person to run for governor. I think there were better Democrats. Democrats tend to run candidates for state-wide offices who will appeal to Southern Virginians. Sometimes the choices are not the best.

      5. Acommentator Avatar

        Northam is not the most politically astute person to run for governor. I think there were better Democrats. Democrats tend to run candidates for state-wide offices who will appeal to Southern Virginians. Sometimes the choices are not the best.

  3. Whatever the Governor meant, it was on a radio show called “ask the Governor” and he gave the comments off-the-cuff. I am less concerned about his impromptu views than about the proposed legislation he was addressing: the GA is the legislative body here. And while the GA is not under Democratic control it could become so later this year and legislation could move forward that none of us feel comfortable with.

    The underlying problem, as others have noted, is the necessity for the States to step up to this issue pre-emptively — on the assumption that the federal mandate imposed by the Supreme Court will be weakened or entirely withdrawn sometime in the next few years. And I think it’s also a fair assumption that if each State is allowed to go its own way on the availability of abortions, Virginia will be a battleground jurisdiction, as well as geographically the closest portion of the urban Northeast Corridor to much of the “red-state” Bible Belt and therefore a likely destination for out-of-state abortion seekers if they remain available in Virginia. So let’s get Virginia ready while there’s time for cooler heads to prevail.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      Here is a transcript of the actual words ….

      “There are — you know when we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of, obviously, the mother, with the consent of the physicians, more than one physician by the way. And it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother. So I think this was really blown out of proportion …”

      Northam lost any chance of claiming he was misunderstood by dint of the fact that he is a pediatrician and he started off by saying, “I can tell you exactly what would happen.”

      He wasn’t misunderstood. He may have not meant what he said but he wasn’t misunderstood.

      1. Here are the operative words: “And it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable.”

        Northam wasn’t talking about any old fetus — he was talking about a fetus with severe deformities that are non-viable. Next question: What does he mean by non-viable? I take it to mean that the fetus/infant cannot live long on its own without heroic measures, in which case the parents are called upon to make the same kind of judgment call they would with, say, an elderly parent in a coma. But I’m open to other interpretations.

        1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
          Dick Hall-Sizemore

          Thank you, Jim, for pointing out the context in which Northam was speaking. All the howling has overlooked that he was talking about very limited circumstances: when the fetus is nonviable, i.e. will not live, it will be kept comfortable (no pain) and resuscitated if the family desires.

        2. djrippert Avatar


          First of all, “may be” is a typical Quisling comment from Governor Coonman. He was talking about a law that dramatically liberalizes third trimester abortions. What the hell does “may be” mean? Jim, if I think that you “may be” suffering from inoperable cancer perhaps I should suffocate you with a pillow in order to save you the pain of an awful death. Trans’ bill reduced the number of physicians required to decide whether a third trimester abortion is justified.

          Secondly, there is little evidence that late abortions are based on “may be”deformities.

          Thirdly, Northam wasn’t talking about fetuses at all. What part of “the baby would be delivered” don’t you understand? A delivered child is not a fetus, it is a baby.

          Most importantly (and most sadly given your commentary) – what was the Tran bill (the subject of the question) trying to accomplish?

          Virginia allows third-trimester abortions in hospitals if three physicians certify that a continued pregnancy would “likely” kill the woman or “substantially and irremediably” impair her mental or physical health.

          Tran’s bill would have lowered the authorization from three physicians to one. That doctor would only have to certify that the pregnancy would damage a woman’s health. The “substantial and irremediable” threshold would have been repealed.

          Tran’s bill wasn’t about non-viable babies. It was about babies that might damage a woman’s mental health.

          That bill was the actual context of Governor Coonman’s commentary. Not non-viable babies but babies that might temporarily damage a woman’s mental health.

          1. Don’t get heated, Don, I’m just asking questions and trying to surface the facts. The Washington Times article is pertinent to this conversation because it undercuts the argument of many Democrats that late-term abortions are all about the mother’s health or severely deformed babies. If a woman waits until the 9th month and decides, because she broke up with her boyfriend or she’s worried about dropping out of school, as far as I’m concerned, that’s not a valid reason for an abortion. At that point, if a woman doesn’t want a baby, she should give it up for adoption. There will be plenty of takers.

          2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
            Reed Fawell 3rd

            Don comment above hits the nail squarely on the head.

            I would only add that while true that “It was about babies that might damage a woman’s mental health,” it has also been revealed that in the real world those words have come to mean most anything the mother wants them to mean including matters of inconvenience such as I’m single, the dad don’t want it, I am real nervous about how to take care of it, it interferes with my schooling, or my life, including my boy friends, da da da, this is the practical effect of findings of the pro-abortion Guttmacher Report mentioned in earlier post, and the practical effect of the bill proposed for Virginia, despite the Governor’s false characterization.

            See also:

  4. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    I’m not sure whether protesting in public revealing body parts not normally exposed is protected speech. But I hardly think holding the protestor without bail seems at all reasonable absent special circumstances that make her a flight risk. I think a requirement to remain in Virginia till trial seems more reasonable.

    As to the merits of ratifying the ERA, it’s all symbolic. The time limit for ratifying the proposed amendment has long expired. And what better thing for the GA to do than debate passing a resolution that is null before the ink dries. Congress regularly imposes deadlines for constitutional amendments to be ratified. For good or for bad, this one missed the deadline by decades. Even a reporter should understand this simple principle of law.

    I don’t cut Northam any slack for his remarks on “Ask the Governor.” He’s an experienced physician and knows the details about which he spoke. He endorsed allowing a baby that was delivered by one means or another to be left alone unaided to die based on the mother’s wishes. That’s not abortion. It’s infanticide. Seig Heil Herr Doktor Mengele!

  5. djrippert Avatar

    There is something fishy about the “no bail” decision. We’re not getting the full story. Judges set examples at sentencing hearings not bail hearings. Maybe the sanctimonious pain in the ass made some comment about leaving Virginia, going back to New York and never coming back. That would make her a flight risk.

  6. The problem with this case is: her conduct, at least what I could see in the photo of her standing over the other woman on the Capitol grounds, does not constitute indecent exposure under 18.2 – 387 of the Virginia code, which is what she is charged with. Under that statute it must be an “obscene display” which means “has as its dominant theme or purpose an appeal to the prurient interest in sex”. Va Code 18.2 – 372. Based on the picture, I’ve never seen a less sexually oriented photo. Now, maybe if she was playing with them… Or making lewd remarks… there might be a case. Otherwise it’s completely bogus. I’ve seen general district judges deny bond, out of frustration, just to keep the person in lockup for another couple of hours while the defense attorney appeals the denial of bond to the Circuit Court and, in this case, more than likely wins. One of the factors in granting bond is whether or not the defendant actually committed the crime, or even if there was a crime. If I were the defense attorney, I’d be inclined to “try” it in front of the circuit judge in the bond appeal when I appealed from Gen. District Court. I think this is the Commonwealth trying to tell an out-of-stater, “Don’t f### with us, we will hassle you ” While I may have some sympathy for that when it comes to these jokers, it won’t legally fly.

    1. Thank you for your exposition of the law. I agree with you, the display of one bare boob was not “obscene” in the way you define it. The no-bail decision is overkill.

  7. LarrytheG Avatar

    wide ranging discussion from indecent exposure to ERA to abortion!

    I just want to point out that we DO let people die. We DO take them off of life support and stand there and watch them die. We do that. We do it with people of all ages. We do it when we think the person is brain dead and/or has no chance of recovering.

    We don’t all agree on it but to call folks who support it “killers” is an example of we CHOOSE to not try to come together on the issue but instead divide us …

    It’s terrible and heartbreaking to let a loved-one go – whether you’ve known them for a lifetime or a few hours and there is no “good” to it but I have a hard time calling that act of letting them go a “killing” or the folks who have to make that decision – “killers”.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Huge difference between withdrawing life support and not providing it. When the EMTs come to any life-threatening emergency, when someone comes to a hospital with a similar situation or when an existing patient goes into cardiac shock or stops breathing, life support is always provided. You are correct in that many times the next of kin decide to withdraw life support based on medical advice. But that’s very different from not providing it at all.

      Our Governor thinks it’s OK not to provide life support to an infant who has just been born unless the mother wants it. That’s not a situation where the doctor has tried to save the infant, deployed life support as needed and then advises the mother that the situation is hopeless, such that she decides to withdraw that life support. Infanticide is OK with the Governor and, presumably, a huge number of Democratic voters.

      I’m pretty darn pro-choice on the abortion issue but infanticide is not abortion.

      1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        This comment earlier put in wrong place, here is right place.

        Yeah, and we do it to perfectly healthy human beings, born and unborn children, because they are an inconvenient to someone, and then we lie about it, and disguise what we do to these innocence babies who lives we snuff out. Doctors get paid good money and make a good living by doing this in this barbaric and Godless country and culture. We will all reap what we sow.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          Make no mistake – abortion for convenience is wrong but so are policies that make it hard to do birth control.

          In places where birth control is available for free – pregnancy rates plummet and that means abortions plummet.

          We will never find complete agreement but we can do a lot better on the issue if we got rid of our hate towards each other.

          1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

            Prescription birth control has no co-pay under the ACA. That means it’s free.

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        It’s a bit of a subtle point – if a newborn has no brain or is do badly deformed that it cannot survive or will survive as a vegetable – do you provide life support then subsequently remove it?

        I don’t pretend to know all the answers on this but I refuse to demonize the people in these circumstances and there are very, very few such actual circumstances in the 3rd trimester.

        This is politics TMT – and you know it and in my view, it’s shameful to politicize it – there are folks who “use” this to divide us and we should not be doing this – we should be trying to find some level of agreement on it – just as we do on what happens to us at the end of life.

        If we actually were aborting fully developed and totally viable newborns at birth – I would agree but we are not. It’s pure politics.

        1. djrippert Avatar

          Compare Northam and Tran’s comments. Both talked about abortions during and after delivery. Tran realized her mistake, declared that she misspoke and was very clear as to why her comments would have constituted infanticide. Northam had his office issue a statement that tried to tip toe around the actual comments that he made.

          I’m no fan of Kathy Tran but I’ll give her credit for honesty. I can’t do the same for Northam. He’ll say anything about anything, tell any tale. Then, when he gets caught in his misstatements (lies?) he dissembles further attempting to claim that the words he actually said had mysterious and hidden meanings.

          “If we actually were aborting fully developed and totally viable newborns at birth – I would agree but we are not. It’s pure politics.”

          Nobody is doing that because Tran’s bill was defeated. But before the defeat Tran clearly claimed that her bill would allow abortions during delivery. Northam took up the issue on that radio show before Tran walked back her comments. Northam agreed with Tran’s initial assessment of her bill. After a huge backlash, Tran decided that what she said wasn’t what she meant. Northam issued a mealy mouthed statement from his office. Of course, the blackface incident soon followed and Northam found he had more urgent lies to tell.

          At the time of the Northam radio interview, Kathy Tran’s bill (by Kathy Tran’s own account) was meant to allow abortions during delivery. The context of that radio interview was the Tran bill. There is nothing in the Tran bill that stipulates third trimester abortions should only be allowed in the case of non-viable fetuses or when there are extreme deformities. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Tran’s bill lowered the standard to include the temporary mental anguish of the mother.

          If Northam didn’t understand the Tran bill then he’s a buffoon for discussing it on a radio interview. If Northam did understand the Tran bill then he supported infanticide and not just in the case of non-viable or severely deformed babies. Kathy Tran walked back her comments (subsequent to the Northam radio interview) admitting that what she said she supported would constitute infanticide. Ralph Northam never issued a clear retraction.

          Where does Ralph Northam stand on the issue of third trimester abortions and the possibility of aborting a healthy fetus during delivery? We don’t know.

  8. djrippert Avatar

    I thought there was something fishy about this. She was released two days ago.

    Some claim about there being a “mistake made”.

    I really didn’t think any judge would have the gall to consciously try to keep her in jail for a month on a bail hearing.

    I would like to hear more about this so-called mistake.

Leave a Reply