Category Archives: Individual rights

Maskless in Mississippi

by Kerry Dougherty

There’s so much news we could discuss today. But it’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

I’m here to be a little ray of Monday morning sunshine. I want to assure you that a lifetime of living as a free American can’t be wiped out by 14 months of living under the thumb of power-drunk governors.

Yes, I visited one of the Free States over the weekend. And it was exhilarating. Best of all, re-adjusting to normal was easy.

No doubt you’ve been hearing about what it’s like in states such as Florida, Texas and Tennessee. Places where governors realize that lockdowns and mask mandates have little impact on the spread of the virus and where they trust their citizens to make their own decisions about how much risk they are willing to take with their health.

Imagine that.

Unfortunately, we live in Virginia where one man — Gov. Ralph Northam — decides how many people can watch a ballgame or come to your wedding and whether you can buy an adult beverage after midnight. Continue reading

UVa’s Crying Game

UVa law school library — trauma site

by Jock Yell0tt

“When Dean Goluboff took the stage to respond, she immediately started crying and was largely incoherent to the audience for much of the first part of her response … ”

Risa Gobuloff, Esq., is Dean of the University of Virginia Law School.

Dean Gobuloff’s crying spate occurred at a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, April 19, 2018, called by the school’s Minority Rights Coalition to discuss the previous day’s emergency.[1]

The emergency was: a man sat in the law library reading up on the law.

Why were law students not warned about this by e-mail alerts?

One “crying, mad, frustrated” student felt “alienated.”

“Today is my 25th birthday,” said another.  “Yesterday my heart was in my stomach, tears streaming.” Continue reading

Norfolk Sacks Police Officer for $25 Contribution to Rittenhouse Defense Fund

by Kerry Dougherty

Lemme get this straight: A high-ranking Norfolk police officer with 19 years of service was fired yesterday because he anonymously contributed 25 bucks to the defense fund of then-17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused of killing two people during riots in Kenosha, WI, last summer.

It appears Lt. William K. Kelly III sent the donation through his work email and was doxxed by a group called Distributed Denial of Secrets that operates on the dark web and fancies itself the heir to Wikileaks.

The anonymous $25 donation was accompanied by this message: God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong. Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership.

That email might be a violation of police department policy, but a fireable offense? Continue reading

More Free-Expression Suppression at Virginia Tech

Kiersten Hening on the soccer field. Photo credit: Virginia Tech athletics

by James A. Bacon

In five years, the United States has gone from a country in which football quarterback Colin Kaepernick fought for the right to kneel during the national anthem into a country where Virginia Tech soccer player Kiersten Hening is fighting for the right to stand.

During their opening match in 2020, women of the Tech women’s soccer team bent the knee during the pregame reading of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s unity pledge, a show of support for the social justice movement and Black Lives Matter. Hening, a 21-year-old native of the Richmond area, and one other player remained standing. Hening says she “supports social justice and believes black lives matter” but “does not support the BLM organization.”

Chugger Adair. Photo credit: Free Lance-Star

During halftime, Coach Chugger Adair berated her for her stance. “He singled her out and verbally attacked her, pointing a finger directly in her face,”  according to a lawsuit Hening subsequently filed. “He denounced Hening for ‘bitching and moaning,’ for being selfish and individualistic, and for ‘doing her own thing,”

Continue reading

Vaccine Passports: Let’s Pass

by Kerry Dougherty

Want a peek at what some of the more authoritarian types in the U.S. have planned for you?

Look no farther than St. Vincent, a lovely little archipelago in the Windward Islands.

At least it used to be a lovely little island. On April 9 the most dangerous volcano in the Caribbean exploded, leaving much of the island uninhabitable.

Water supplies have been cut, airspace is closed due to volcanic ash and there are reportedly rivers of lava and debris racing down the mountainsides.

The kind of place you’d want to leave – quickly – if you were one of the nation’s 110,589 inhabitants.

But get a load of this. On Saturday, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves made a startling announcement: Only those who could provide proof of a vaccination against Covid-19 could be evacuated to nearby islands. Cruise ships were standing by, ready to transport them. Continue reading

UVa Response to Medical Student First Amendment Lawsuit

Norman K. Moon Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

Jim Bacon reported April 8 on the claims of Kieran Ravi Bhattacharya, a former student at the University of Virginia Medical School, who alleges that he was retaliated against for exercising his First Amendment freedoms at a panel discussion by the University’s chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association (“AMWA”).

Senior Judge Norman K. Moon of the United States District Court Western District of Virginia in a memorandum opinion dated March 31, 2021, dismissed three of the four complaints but left in place the First Amendment allegation. 

Mr. Bacon offered the following cautions: 

“That ruling presents only one side of the story, Bhattacharya’s, and has to be considered in that light.”

“If Bhattacharya displayed a pattern of being loud, belligerent, and threatening, the actions taken against him conceivably might be justified.”

The defense Answer to the plaintiff’s First Amendment retaliation allegation was filed yesterday.   Continue reading

Hate, Hostility and Harassment at UVa

Nick Cabrera tweeted this photo of himself posing maskless with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green at the Conservative Political Action Conference. COVID scolds wanted to impeach him from student council.

by James A. Bacon

Last fall Nickolaus “Nick” Cabrera ran for election as a first-year representative to student council at the University of Virginia. His platform was anodyne — showing unity in confronting COVID-19, getting Class of 2024 t-shirts delivered, that sort of thing. He didn’t run on an ideological or partisan political platform, but he didn’t hide anything either. It wasn’t until he was actually elected to a spot on Student Council that people took notice. Horrors! He supported Donald Trump for president! The word went out on the social media tom-toms. Before long, he was a campus villain.

It wouldn’t be long before Cabrera received his baptism under fire as the sole conservative representative in a student council populated entirely by representatives on the blue end of the political spectrum.

UVa erupted in a furor when minority and woke-white students took umbrage at the use of language by a Commerce School professor. Student Council passed a resolution demanding implementation of a “strike” system — three strikes and you’re out — to hold professors accountable for the use of words deemed offensive. Cabrera was the only student to speak against a measure he saw as a threat to free speech and due process. His stand on principle earned him the animosity of other council members, who said in essence he had no standing as a white person to speak on the matter. (I have described that encounter in detail here.) Continue reading

When “Words Are Violence,” Only One Side Gets to Speak

If you’re not woke, you’re a fascist.

by James A. Bacon

Victoria Spiotto was brought up in a conservative, religious family of Italian descent in Loudoun County.  It was at the University of Virginia where she found her political identity as a conservative. One day in her third year, she was walking the grounds when she came across a Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) table displaying a 9/11 memorial. She found the club appealing, and started learning about thinkers to whom she’d never been exposed to before — the philosophers and thought leaders of conservatism. By her fourth year, she was leader of the club, determined to grow the organization.

Conservatives are mostly invisible at UVa, and they have few means of connecting. Spiotto wanted to let people know the group was out there, that YAF was a club where students of a conservative/libertarian stripe could find like-minded people and make friends. So, she began organizing a series of initiatives to get noticed. “It wasn’t a call to fight.” The idea, she says, was to “stand your ground. Don’t compromise on the truth you believe in.”

YAF now may be the most vilified student organization at UVa. The hostility is unrelenting. Spiotto and her buddies don’t worry for their physical safety. But left-wing students take down their signs and rain down vitriol on social media. Student Council leaders stifle dissent. Continue reading

Et Tu, Tech?

by James A. Bacon

I have long thought of Virginia Tech as the most tolerant of free speech and expression among Virginia’s larger universities. There have been minor eruptions of cancel culture, but nothing as debilitating as the examples we’ve documented elsewhere. Looks like I was wrong.

Speech First, a nonprofit group working to combat free speech restrictions in higher-ed, has filed a lawsuit in the Roanoke federal district court, charging that the administration has created a series of “content-restricting policies and processes that allow the university to police and censor speech they deem ‘biased’ or ‘unwanted.'”

According to the Speech First press release, the lawsuit challenges four specific policies that chill student speech: the University’s discriminatory-harassment policy, its bias-related incidents, its computer policy, and a requirement that students obtain administrative approval to distribute flyers. Continue reading

The Bureaucratic Banality of Academic Oppression

by James A. Bacon

Two-and-a-half years ago, Kieran Ravi Bhattacharya, a medical school student at the University of Virginia, attended a session on “microaggressions” in which psychology professor Beverly Colwell Adams gave a presentation about her research. In what he thought to be a collegial manner, Bhattacharya challenged her analysis.

The challenge was not well received. Indeed, other participants in the session deemed his questions disrespectful. There followed a sequence of events in which Bhattacharya was investigated by the Academic Standards and Achievement Committee for unprofessional behavior, was told to submit to psychological evaluation, was suspended, was branded as a threat to the university community, was banned from the university grounds, and ultimately was expelled.

Bhattacharya has detailed his side of the story in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Charlottesville against the University of Virginia and various university officials. The defendants filed for a motion to dismiss, but Judge Norman K. Moon ruled that the case should proceed. I base the account that follows upon the details contained in Moon’s ruling.

That ruling presents only one side of the story, Bhattacharya’s, and has to be considered in that light. But Bhattacharya version is well documented with emails and audio recordings. If substantially correct, the implications for freedom of thought and expression at the University of Virginia are extremely troubling. The lawsuit opens a window into the internal workings of Virginia’s flagship university. Free thought and expression are stifled not only by the widely recognized phenomena of doctrinaire faculty and Twitter Outrage Mobs, but by administrators acting through the university’s clunky bureaucratic machinery. Continue reading

Virginia Democrats Govern in the Service of Dogma and Power

by James C. Sherlock

Karl Marx

Socialism and communism are so 19th and 20th centuries.  

Under socialism, individuals would still own property. But industrial production, which was the chief means of generating wealth, was to be communally owned and managed by a democratically elected government.

Socialists sought change and reform, but sought to make those changes through democratic processes within the existing social and political structure, not to overthrow that structure.  Socialism was to be based on the consent of the governed. Communism sought the elimination of personal property and the violent overthrow of existing social and political structures.

So what has changed for today’s progressives who have taken over the Democratic party, especially in Virginia? 

A lot. Continue reading

Priorities: Pupils or Pot?

by Kerry Dougherty

You can tell a lot about a politician by his or her priorities.

Take Gov. Ralph Northam, for instance.

On February 25th the General Assembly passed a bill requiring Virginia public schools to offer in-person instruction to all students. The original bill, proposed by Sen. Shiobhan Dunnavant, was quite simple and to the point.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. § 1. That each local school division in the Commonwealth shall make in-person learning available to all students by choice of the student’s parent or guardian.

2. That an emergency exists and this act is in force from its passage.

After much foolish debate the second part of the bill was struck. The politicians on the left decided there wasn’t an emergency. No need to force schools to fully reopen before July.

As if we needed more proof of the power of teachers’ unions in Virginia. Continue reading

Northam School Policy: The Gendered Majority Must Accommodate the Tiny Transgender Minority

by James A. Bacon

When Virginians voted for mild-mannered, middle-of-the-road Ralph Northam for governor in 2017, they had no clue that he would preside over the most sweeping transformation of public education since the end of Massive Resistance. Even while students were suffering from a catastrophic loss of learning due to the COVID-19-driven shift to online instruction, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) preoccupied itself with implementing Critical Race Theory. Now, we learn, the Northam administration also has been busy figuring out how to restructure public schools around the needs of transgender students.

The VDOE has issued a document describing “model policies” for the treatment of transgender students in Virginia’s public schools. Two conservative groups have filed suit to halt implementation of the guidelines. Not surprisingly, The Washington Post has disparaged these organizations, noting that the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified one as a “hate group” and that the other, the Family Foundation of Virginia, among other crimes against humanity was originally founded to oppose sex education.

Karl Frisch, an LGBTQ member of the Fairfax School Board, described the lawsuits as “a mean-spirited attempt to turn the clock back on equality in Virginia. “Our students deserve better than bigotry and hate.”

The litigation, said Northam spokesperson Alena Yarmosky, “is beyond the pale.”

So… Anyone who defends social norms that have prevailed for 2,000 years and objects to faddish constructs that have popped into the popular culture in just the last few years is a bigot, a hater, and engaged in behavior outside the bounds of acceptable discourse. Continue reading

Big Brother Has Been Curtailed

Photo credit: New Castle News

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

A recent TV series, Person of Interest, centered on the ability to use large databases of personal information coupled with extensive audio and video surveillance to identify any individual and pull up extensive data on that individual. A small team of good guys used this capability to identify threats to individuals and help the threatened individual escape harm. An extensive network of bad guys seized upon the technology to dominate the world. The good guys, of course, tried to stop the bad guys.

That may sound a little futuristic, but it exists today. The Chinese government has built an extensive facial recognition system which it uses to persecute minority populations and intimidate its general population.

The United States has not gotten to the level of the Chinese, but law-enforcement agencies have made extensive use of face recognition technology. For example, police departments in the state of Florida have been using it for a couple of decades. Continue reading

Virginia to Teach Critical Race Theory to Newborns

by James C. Sherlock

George Orwell

George Orwell, call your office. A copy of “Virginia’s (New) Birth-to-Five Early Learning and Development Standards” is on your desk.

For our readers, go here and click the March 19 VDOE press release to download.

The Commonwealth has publishedVirginia’s Foundation Blocks for Early Learning” since at least 2013. They were excellent but voluntary. 

Progressives cannot abide voluntary.

They have always considered parents the biggest obstacle to turning kids into little “social justice” warriors. Virginia’s General Assembly progressives have fixed that problem. The new program is mandatory unless you keep your kids at home until they must by law attend K-12.

Where your kids will get a “late” start on that journey.

Parents have no voice, much less rights in the matter. That is a progressive definition of heaven. (If that word has not been cancelled — hard to keep up.) Continue reading