Category Archives: First Amendment

Everyone Loves Free Speech… In Theory

Governor Glenn Youngkin at the higher-ed summit at the University of Virginia. Photo credit: The Daily Progress

by James A. Bacon

Governor Glenn Youngkin outlined yesterday his vision for colleges and universities in Virginia as bastions of free speech and intellectual diversity where people come together to devise solutions to society’s most pressing problems.

“How do we ask serious questions and foster informed debate so we can get to answers?” he asked in a pragmatic defense of free speech in a keynote speech of a statewide higher-ed conclave held at the University of Virginia. The answer was implicit in the title of the event: the Higher Education Summit on Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity.

The summit was attended by representatives, including many presidents, of every public university in Virginia and more than half of the state’s private higher-ed institutions. The end goal of the event, said Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera in introductory remarks, was for every institution to create an “action plan” to advance the goals of free speech and intellectual diversity.

Youngkin began laying the groundwork a year ago when he addressed the Council of Presidents and pushed them toward the same goals. The Council, comprised of Virginia college and university presidents, adopted a statement endorsing free speech and intellectual diversity in the abstract. But as discussions at Wednesday’s summit made clear, there is considerable gray area in applying free speech principles in the real world. The next step is to move beyond the expression of abstract principles to putting those principles into action. Continue reading

Bari Weiss: “You are the Last Line of Defense”

by James C. Sherlock

Video courtesy of the Free Press.  See that link for a full transcript.  I recommend it to everyone.

Bari Weiss recently delivered a speech that will be long remembered.

She offered eloquence in the service of experience, sorrow and determination.  And defined the internal, and existential, threat to America.

I will share with you below short slices of the transcript.

She spoke to the Federalist Society about college radicalism turned antisemitism.  But not just antisemitism.

It is a radicalism that turns with threats, career assassinations and even violence on everything outside its very narrow, “intersectional” acceptance zone.  It is – proudly – a threat to America’s security and the western civilization it hates.

She would not have been welcome at some of Virginia’s most prestigious public IHEs.

And all of us know it. Continue reading

Meeting the Free Speech Challenge in Richmond

Journalist Andy Ngo

by Scott Dreyer

On the evening of Friday, Sept. 22 and on Saturday, Sept. 23, The Virginia Council and Common Sense Society were planning to host citizen-journalist Andy Ngo (pronounced no) at a forum in Richmond. The intention was to hear Ngo speak about his experiences exposing the violence and intimidation from leftwing Antifa and autograph copies of his book, “Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy.”

The original venue was to be at downtown Richmond’s Commonwealth Club. According to their website’s “Welcome” page, “Founded in 1890, the Commonwealth Club is proud of its history as a premier social club, outstanding event venue, dining destination, and Richmond institution.”

However, when word about the event got out, Antifa began an intimidation campaign, club management buckled, and withdrew their welcome. Scrambling, the event sponsors quickly found a second venue: the Westin Hotel, owned and operated by Marriott Corporation.

Seemingly encouraged by their success at intimidating the Commonwealth Club, the bullies next directed their attacks at the Westin by sending threatening phone calls.

As Ngo shared in his PowerPoint, one example of a threat was a tweet on X, formerly known as Twitter, that stated: “Example script: ‘Hey, the event this evening features a racist, misogynistic, homophobe intent on provocative neo nazi (sic) speech. His name is Andy Ngo and he’s a violent extremist. Many of his attendees are armed neo nazis.’”

The threats fly in the face of all reality. As for racism, Ngo is himself non-white, the first-generation son of parents who fled communism in their native Vietnam. As for homophobia, Ngo is himself an open homosexual.

Nevertheless, around 7:00 am on Sept. 22, a mere twelve hours before the event was to begin, Marriott too folded.

The Roanoke Star reached out to the managers of The Commonwealth Club and Westin, Eric Abuneel and Rodney Moubray respectively, asking what was the exact wording and nature of the threats received, and why they chose to cancel. Continue reading

Where Does Freedom of Speech End?

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

I have a question.

Under the recent Supreme Court case ruling that a wedding website designer could refuse to provide her services to a gay couple because to do so would require her to write something that she did not want to say, thereby violating her First Amendment right to free speech, if I were the owner of a sign shop could I refuse to make signs for Democratic candidates because I do not want Democrats to win elections and to require me to design a sign that says “Elect ______, Democrat for State Senate” would violate my freedom of speech?  What if I refused to make such signs for Black candidates because I don’t think Blacks should be elected to office?  Or women candidates?  Or Catholic candidates? Or Jewish Candidates?

UVa President Ryan Has “No Idea.” Golly Gee.

by James C. Sherlock

As a follow-up to yesterday’s story on the slide show for the UVa Board of Visitors on DEI at the University, I think it only fair to offer President Ryan’s preamble to that presentation.

To summarize:

  • He cannot imagine what all the fuss is about; but
  • He assures that DEI efforts at UVa are misconstrued by critics, who he divides into two camps:
    1. those who support the goals of DEI “but are concerned about overreach threatening academic freedoms or seem designed to enforce ideological conformity”; and
    2. “one that asserts that the programs are being used to promote a stringently liberal, if not radical agenda – one that stands in opposition to merit and excellence and unfairly privileges certain groups over others.”
  • He asserts that any fair criticisms will be taken seriously; and
  • He is trying to create a level playing field.

He asserts that:

We ought to define the terms that comprise DEI; assess and resolve instances where DEI efforts are in potential conflict with other core values; and continually examine what is working and what is not and adjust accordingly.

He then proceeds to define the terms diversity, equity and inclusion in a clear attempt to push critics of his DEI program, expanded enormously in a progressive attempt to “never let a crisis go to waste” in 2020, to the edges of reasoned debate.

He professes he has “no idea where this notion” (that equity means equal outcomes) came from. This from a man whose own DEI bureaucracy publishes only statistical outcomes.

“No idea.”

I call this the “golly gee” approach. “Golly gee” indicates surprise, excitement or both from an innocent in the ways of the world.

Seriously?  Spare us. Continue reading

Which of These Persons at UVa Oversees the Educational Development of the Rest?

by James C. Sherlock

In order to illustrate the truly insulting nature of the DEI program at the University of Virginia, I offer the following quiz.

See if you can pick out the person pictured who:

directs a range of educational programming focused on educational development for staff, faculty and students.

Nana Last, Professor of Architecture

Ira C. Harris, Professor, McIntyre School of Commerce

Sankaran Venkataraman, Professor, Darden School of Business

Sandhya Dwarkadas, Professor and Chair Department of Computer Science

Tisha Hayes, Professor of Education

Trinh Thuan, Professor Emeritus, Department of Astronomy

Kelsey Johnson Professor of Astronomy

Haibo Dong Professor Aerospace Engineering

Sly Mata, Director of Diversity Education, Division for DEI

Nicole Thorne Jenkins, Dean, McIntyre School of Commerce

Devin K. Harris, Professor of Engineering

Mool C. Gupta, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Tomonari Furukawa, Professor of Engineering

Allan Tsung M.D., Professor and Chair Department of Surgery, Medical School

Sallie Keller, Professor of Data Science

Harsha Chelliah, Professor School of Engineering






Bottom line.  
Good guess.

There is every evidence that Mr. Mata is a fine man. His biography is inspiring.

But the people pictured above who are not Mr. Mata excelled and earned their plaudits and appointments before there was a UVa Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).  Even before James Ryan was President. Continue reading

The VMI Alumni Association’s Competitive Authoritarianism Regime Subjugates its Members

by Bob Morris, Gene Rice, and Mike Staso

On April 25, 2023, a group of Virginia Military Institute (VMI) alumni filed suit against the VMI Alumni Association, Inc. The complaint alleges that the Association refused members’ requests for records that will permit them to communicate with 20,000+ fellow members by email — the same vehicle the Association uses, and permits others to use.

The right of Alumni Association Members to obtain such a list, and other corporate records, is guaranteed to all members of Virginia non-stock corporations under state law. Virginia Code §§933 and 845 requires any non-stock corporation to produce such records when requested by members if they have a proper purpose.

The Association’s response was swift and accusatory. It stated that the members list is denied to protect the privacy of its members, and implies the lawsuit is an attempt by out-of-control alumni to usurp the protected means of communications between the Association and alumni.
Continue reading

Washington Post Editorial Board is Pushing Back on Censorious Students. Finally

Courtesy Washington Post

by James C. Sherlock

After years of silence, The Washington Post editorialized yesterday that censorship of speech on America’s college campuses had gone too far.

Better late than never.

We welcome them to the fight.

The Post does not note that too many students are arriving on college campuses as already-radicalized warriors of the left, trained, not educated, as such from kindergarten.

It will be a long slog to correct that trend. Perhaps the Post editorial board will one day join that fight as well. But not yet. It does not even acknowledge it is happening.

As for the colleges, the contest for free speech is in the early innings.

They will continually have to fight a battle that cannot be fully won while the left provides fresh troops to every freshman class.