In response to Laura Perrins: Shame on you two-man pitchfork mob, SimonToo wrote:
When I saw the headline to Hugo Rifkind’s piece, my thoughts were much the same as yours. But when I actually read the content, it seemed to me that he was making rather a different, and important, point.
He pointed out that, until recently, one’s distant youthful excesses were dismissed as just that when, in later life, one had grown out of them, grown up and engaged with the world in a serious way. Nowadays ‘we’ (as in not thee and not me, but the Twitterati and their fellow travellers who run away with modern opinion-forming) cannot distinguish the past from the present and have no conception of reform or redemption. What you did as a youth defines you for ever, unless you become even worse. Your past is becoming your present, and you cannot acquire any merit to mitigate your earlier sins. What he wrote actually came across as a regretful observation of what things have become, not an approval of them.
This leads to two conclusions: to the modern mind, sinners are irredeemable; and the sub-editors of The Times are sloppy. It reinforces the fear that those who enter public life will have to be ever weirder, ciphers in human form but devoid of human nature.
Addendum: I do accept that in order to demonstrate its essential flaws, he rather enthusiastically regurgitated the case for the prosecution.