MSNBC WEEKEND HOST Joy-Ann Reid apologized last December for a series of homophobic blog posts she wrote from 2007 to 2009 about then-Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, whom she repeatedly mocked as "Miss Charlie" and ridiculed with ugly anti-gay stereotypes. Miss Charlie, wrote Reid, was someone who, if he ever got to the White House as John McCain's vice president, would be fixated not on policy, but on designing pretty napkin patterns at state funerals, and spend his honeymoon "ogling male waiters." In her apology, Reid insisted that she has some gay friends ("The LGBT community includes people whom I deeply love") and that her writings were "insensitive, tone deaf and dumb."
Most people, at least in the media, seemed quick to accept Reid's apology -- and they were right to do so. People have the right to change their beliefs as they and the society around them grow, learn, and evolve. That process should be encouraged, not stigmatized. Politics, at its core, should be about persuading people to repudiate misguided and destructive beliefs and adopt ones that are more reasoned, humane, and just. And when that happens, it should be celebrated, not scorned.
In 2012, the Democratic Party officially changed its position on LGBT equality when Barack Obama "evolved" and announced his support for gay marriage, which he had previously opposed. There's no reason to doubt that Reid (who once worked as a press aide for the Obama campaign) changed her views on LGBT people to align with the new party dogma.
Candidly acknowledging the erroneous nature of one's previously held views is a virtue, not a character flaw. As someone who has changed many of my own views about a wide range of both political and nonpolitical questions -- growth that I hope and expect will continue for as long as I live -- I regard it as vital that everyone have the space to reconsider old beliefs, and not have them held against one in perpetuity once they are renounced.