Bacon Bits: Fear, Loathing, and Excess

Rise of the surveillance state. The Virginia Supreme Court has declared that Fairfax County’s mass collection of license plates does not violate legal privacy protections. Automated cameras can collect and store data even if a driver is not suspected of committing a crime, and police can access the data for 364 days after its entry in the system, reports The Virginia Star. Good to see that the American Civil Liberties Union, which is on the wrong side of so many issues these days, litigated the case on the behalf of Harrison Neal, a Fairfax County resident whose license plate data was collected. Also good to see that The Virginia Star has gotten its sea legs as a news-gathering publication and is starting to run stories I don’t see anywhere else.

Who is driving Critical Race Theory in Loudoun County? Kudos again to The Virginia Star for publishing a short profile of the power behind the throne in Loudoun, an obscure unelected group called the Minority Achievement Advisory Committee (MSAAC). Much of the left-wing racial policy in Loudoun schools has originated with this group, including most recently the proposed wording, since withdrawn, of an employee handbook that would have allowed the school system to punish employees who publicly disagreed outside school with its controversial policies on race. The story does not dig deep, but it’s a start. The public knows more about the so-called “anti-racism” movement in Loudoun now than it did before.

Millions more for educating the elites. The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business has announced the launch of the Sands Institute for Lifelong Learning, including the establishment of an endowment for 12 new faculty positions at the business school, thanks to a $68 million gift made last year. The Institute is named after donor Frank M. Sands Sr., founder of the Sands Investment Group Inc., and his wife Marjorie, reports Virginia Business. The gift will develop more online courses, build a 199-room hotel and conference center, and offer new degrees for “working professionals.” Question: What is the educational value added and the social value added of this gift? Not to second-guess the Sands’ generosity, but could they have made a more positive impact by directing their gift to help people who are not members of the nation’s business elite?

Washington & Lee community divided on name change. A survey of W&L students, faculty, alumni and parents regarding a proposal to drop Robert E. Lee’s name from the school has collected more than 14,000 responses, a 44% response rate. The data is divided, according to an email update sent Thursday from Rector Mike McAlevey, reports the Roanoke Times. All constituencies were represented in the responses. “It is evident that these issues evoke strong emotions, particularly in this historical moment,” he wrote, “and that our community is deeply divided about the university’s name.” McAlevey did not indicate, however, whether the survey responses supported or rejected the name change. The Board of Visitors plans to hold a series of “listening sessions” before making a decision.

Mass prison releases coming. State prison officials estimate that more than 14,000 Virginia inmates could see their release dates moved up under legislation awaiting Governor Ralph Northam’s signature, reports The Virginia Mercury. The final version of the bill gives inmates 15 days off for every 30 days served, but is contingent upon them following prison rules and participating in counseling and education programs. Foes managed to exclude several categories based on the type of criminal acts such as animal fighting, mob violence, burglary, and possession of child pornography. The restrictions narrowed the number of qualifying prisoners from 32,000 to about 14,700, of which 1,380 would be eligible for immediate release. The ability to show mercy is a great virtue. However, showing mercy to those who have wronged others and, when released from prison, will likely live in someone else’s neighborhood, is virtue signaling.

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8 responses to “Bacon Bits: Fear, Loathing, and Excess

  1. To be fair, I have found that the ACLU has always been on the right side of privacy and anti-surveillance. The Virginia Constitution needs a Fourth Amendment equivalent including digital rights and surveillance protection instead of relying on Mapp v. Ohio.

  2. There are no mass prison releases looming. The Virginia Mercury article is misleading. Those 14,000 inmates (out of about 30,000) would be eligible for additional sentence credits, but not necessarily receive them. To get that extra good time, they would have to meet additional criteria related to behavior and progress on programs.

    The article states that those eligible inmates would get a “flat” 15 days for each 30 days served, thereby reducing a 10-year sentence to 6.5 years. That is totally misleading. Only inmates in Level 1 would get that additional time and then only if they have no more than one minor infraction. The bill does not state the time frame in which that one infraction could have been incurred. If that is the total time an inmate has been in prison, there are very few who have committed no more than one minor infraction. Second, not all those 14,000 would be in Level 1. Perhaps a fourth would be. Level 2 is the largest level in terms of number of inmates. Finally, someone with a 10-year sentence would very likely not be classified as Level 1, at least not until a significant amount of his sentence had been served.

    This legislation is much more complicated that the media has explained it.

  3. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    In years prior to Loudoun’s MSAAC, Wendell Fisher filled the void as a voice for minorities in the school district. An appointed school board member and leader of the local YMCA. Mr. Fisher used to conduct school wide student forums in the middle and high schools. The forums would not pass the modern sniff test but Mr. Fisher lead some great common sense based discussions on topics of importance to not only minorities, but all students. He was a capable leader who could unite people. Too bad MSAAC can’t follow this simple script.

  4. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    I wonder why W and L won’t release the data on the survey? Are listening sessions needed until school leaders hear what they want to hear?

  5. “Foes managed to exclude several categories based on the type of criminal acts such as animal fighting, mob violence, burglary, and possession of child pornography. The restrictions narrowed the number of qualifying prisoners from 32,000 to about 14,700, of which 1,380 would be eligible for immediate release.”

    They seem to have found a reasonable middle ground on this issue.

  6. We display our license plates. I’m not sure how taking and retaining a photo of something displayed for the public to see violates an expected privacy interest. I understand that many people won’t like it, but not liking something doesn’t generate a protectable privacy interest.

    • We are required to display our license plates. It’s not for the public to see, but for those who ensure we are licensed to observe.

      The government has no right to track where anyone has been in a licensed vehicle at a time without a warrant or probable cause. For example, the government does have the right to use an ALPR to record all of the license plates with time/date stamp leaving a political rally – which has been done before in NoVa (I’ll have to search files for the event if questioned).

      • What do you mean “display of plates” is not for the public to see? License plates are a source of identification. I’ve used license plates many times to identify big trucks using narrow residential streets and WAZE that creates safety problems. With the plate number and company name, it’s easy to complain to the company and, sometimes, the police – two dump trucks driving at least 50 mph on a 30-wide street with parking on both sides.

        See United States v Yang and the cases cited therein.

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