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racial policy in Loudoun schools has originated with this group, including most recently the proposed wording, since withdrawn, of an employee handbook that would have allowed the school system to punish employees who publicly disagreed outside school with its controversial policies on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.