Category Archives: Individual rights

More Clarity, Please, About Vaccinations for COVID Survivors

by James A. Bacon

Since late January, when COVID-19 vaccines became available to the general public in Virginia, 99.4% of the cases, 99% of hospitalizations, and 99.3% of deaths have occurred in people who have not been vaccinated, according to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA).

“The scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that the COVID-19 vaccines prevent people from becoming seriously ill, requiring hospitalization, or dying from the virus, as well as spreading it to others,” states the hospital lobby organization in a statement released this morning.

VHHA now supports hospitals and health systems amending their vaccine policies to require vaccinations for employees. Acknowledging that each hospital and health system is “unique,” VHHA leaves it up to each organization to determine the appropriate time to implement a requirement.

I have no doubts about the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States. For many segments of the population (including 68-year-olds such as myself), it makes eminent sense to get vaccinated. My big question is whether it makes sense for people who have already survived the virus — at least 685,000 confirmed cases in Virginia — and who can demonstrate that they are protected by antibodies. Continue reading

Another Free Speech Fiasco at UVa

Charlottesville attorney Charles L. Weber Jr., represented University of Virginia student Morgan Bettinger in legal proceedings involving the University Judiciary Committee, which condemned her for words that allegedly constituted a “risk” to other students. This incident is a case study in how leftist, “anti-racist” students at UVa wield processes and procedures, with the complicity of the administration, to repress free speech and chastise those who offend them. I republish here a letter from Weber to UVa President Jim Ryan asking for redress. We’ll soon find out how sincere Ryan is in his commitment to free speech and expression. — JAB

Dear President Ryan,

I am writing to urge you to correct a grave injustice perpetrated by
the University of Virginia (the University) against a student during this
past academic year.

Morgan Bettinger was unfairly punished by the University
Judiciary Committee (UJC) for speaking words protected by the
Constitution. However, because UJC appeals are limited to process, not
substance, the Judicial Review Board (JRB) concluded that the UJC
decision whether erroneous or not was unreviewable. Continue reading

Larry Sabato Is Not the Problem at UVa

Larry Sabato

by James A. Bacon

Rich Anderson, Virginia GOP chairman, is unhappy with the partisan bias of University of Virginia political-science icon Larry Sabato, whose tweets have turned bitingly anti-Trump. Anderson contends that eight of Sabato’s tweets from the past year appear to violate the university’s mission statement and faculty code of ethics.

“A reasonable taxpaying citizen can readily conclude that Dr. Sabato is demonstrating the rankest form of bitter partisanship,” Anderson wrote in a letter to University of Virginia President Jim Ryan. “In order to have faith in our institutions, it is essential that Virginians hold accountable those public employees and officials who violate institutional values, codes of conduct, and other guidelines of professional behavior.”

Rich Anderson

Anderson is entitled to his opinions, of course, as is Sabato. The question is whether the answer to Sabato’s bias is suppression of his viewpoint. Are Republicans now endorsing cancel culture tactics — if the Left does it, it’s OK for GOP to do it, too? Fight fire with fire?  I understand the temptation but I think it’s a big mistake. Republicans and conservatives should stand for protecting everyone’s right to free speech and expression.

Continue reading

Where Is a Parents’ Bill of Rights for Virginia?

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes, the simplest and certainly one of the best ways for a public official to serve the public is to inform them about things they care about.

The Attorney General of Indiana, perhaps the best governed state in America, has just published a roadmap for parents and caregivers to “exercise their legal right to have a voice in their children’s education.”

It is called the Parents Bill of Rights and is exactly the kind of initiative attorneys general should take to inform citizens of their rights on issues of public importance.

Good luck seeing such an assessment from Virginia’s AG. Continue reading

What’s Next? Vaccine Goon Squads?

by Kerry Dougherty

Well, it looks like America went from 15 days to slow the spread to vaccine goon squads fanning out across the country, going door to door to demand that everyone get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Who didn’t see this coming?

According to a story in The New York Post, President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that his administration would step up efforts to get Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 with a new program that would go ‘door to door, literally knocking on doors,’ urging people to get the shots…

The administration failed to reach its self-imposed goal of having 70% of the nation’s eligible people at least partially vaccinated by July 4th. In a briefing earlier in the day, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that by the end of this week nearly 160 million Americans would be fully vaccinated.

When asked about whether the administration would halt or slow initiatives to convince Americans to take the vaccine now that the remaining hold outs seem unwilling, Psaki insisted that efforts would continue, though she did rule out any federal mandates for now. Continue reading

Help Me Out. Let’s FOIA UVa about Trespass Warnings

Bacon passes around the tin cup

by James A. Bacon

Back in April 2018 Jason Kessler, the white nationalist organizer of the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, found himself the target of a series of lawsuits. He was spotted in the University of Virginia Law School library one day, minding his own business and reading up on the law. Someone recognized him, and word quickly spread. Traumatized by his presence, law school students chased him out of the room. The law school followed up by obtaining a Trespass Warning to bar him from setting foot in the library.

Later that same year, med school student Kieran Bhattacharya attended a panel discussion on the topic of microaggressions. In a question-and-answer exchange, he shocked many attendees by challenging the presenter’s premises. There unfolded a series of events, now the subject of litigation, that culminated with the issuance of a Trespass Warning forbidding him from entering the grounds.

As Ian Fleming’s character Auric Goldfinger memorably told James Bond in “The Man with the Golden Gun,” “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action.”

I have identified two instances in which enemies of the campus Left — one, the detestable Kessler and the other, Bhattacharya, a skeptic of social-justice pieties — have been banned from the university grounds. Could this be, in Goldfinger’s rendering, a coincidence? Or could it signify something running deeper in the UVa culture? Has the issuance of Trespass Warnings become a new tool — unappreciated by the public — for expelling undesirables and enforcing Leftist orthodoxy?

I do not know the answer, but I want to find out. I have submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for copies of all Trespass Warnings issued by the University of Virginia police department since, and including, calendar year 2017. UVa estimates that it will charge me $880 to locate the records and redact them as necessary. Continue reading

Challenging UVa.’s Culture of Left-Wing Intolerance

Note: This column is republished from The Washington Times.

by James A. Bacon

A committee appointed by University of Virginia President Jim Ryan issued a statement this May outlining the university‘s policy on free speech. As befitting the university founded by Thomas Jefferson, a champion of individual liberties, the committee stated its unequivocal “commitment to free expression and free inquiry.”

The statement of abstract ideals was reassuring. The trick, as Mr. Ryan himself acknowledged, will be applying those principles in real-world situations. And that likely will be easier said than done. Mr. Ryan will have to challenge the university‘s culture of left-wing intolerance and expand the range of permissible viewpoints on such ideologically charged issues relating to social justice.

Faculty members addressing the committee recounted undergoing mandatory “training” sessions in which they were pressured to regurgitate officially sanctioned platitudes. Others spoke of reining in words that might be construed as micro-aggressions. Kenneth Elzinga, a popular economics professor who has taught more students than any other in the history of UVa, described students “who tell us they are afraid to express their views in the classroom.” Continue reading

Fight the Machine, File for an Exemption!

by James A. Bacon

The Young Americans for Liberty chapter at Virginia Tech delivered a petition with about 500 signatures urging the university to end a policy requiring students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to take classes in the fall, reports The Center Square.

“This arbitrary order is a blatant violation of the students’ rights to medical freedom,” said Ian Escalante, a YAL regional director. “It is time for us to set the government school system straight, and let them know that they will not be controlling our students.”

Virginia Tech had no response to the petition other than to refer to a previous statement by President Timothy Sands: “During the past two semesters, we weathered significant surges in COVID-19 cases in Blacksburg. We did this through robust testing, self-quarantine, masking, and physical distancing. We must do everything possible to avoid repeating the challenges of the last 14 months. … It is essential that every student who can be vaccinated, is vaccinated.”

No, it is not essential that every student be vaccinated. COVID-19 survivors don’t need to be vaccinated. That suggests to me that there might be a more effective way to fight the bureaucratic machinery at Virginia Tech (and other universities) than petitioning to abolish the vaccination requirement altogether. Continue reading

School Board Fails on First Amendment

Tanner Cross   Photo credit: ABC11

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The Loudoun County School Board has gone too far by disciplining a teacher for speaking in opposition to a proposed Board policy.

Tanner Cross, a physical education teacher, appeared before the Board at a meeting in May in opposition to a proposed policy regarding LGBTQ students. One of the provisions of the draft policy would require students to use the name and pronoun “that corresponds to [the student’s] consistently asserted gender identity.” According to the Washington Post, Cross said that he could not do that; he would never “affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa.” Continue reading

A Free Exchange of Left Wing Ideas


by James A. Bacon

There was an old joke back during the Cold War. An American diplomat was talking to a Russian diplomat. The American diplomat praised the superiority of the American way of life: “In our country, we are free to criticize President Reagan.” To which the Russian diplomat replied, “In our country, we are also free to criticize President Reagan.”

That old saw came to mind when I read The College Fix‘s re-cap of a controversy over a University of Virginia webinar in which the panelists expressed boundless contempt for white evangelical Christians. Here’s what one panelist had to say: “Because they are being selfish and because they don’t care, their racism, their sexism, their homophobia, their lack of belief in science, lack of belief and common sense may end up killing us all.”

Jim Sherlock wrote about the panelists’ hate speech in Bacon’s Rebellion, and then posted UVa President Jim Ryan’s written response, in which he said, “I assure you we’re taking this matter seriously and looking into it.”

Now The College Fix has followed up to see what came of Sherlock’s inquiry. After “looking into it,” the administration has decided the issue no longer needs review. Said UVa spokesman Brian Coy: “Our Provost and the Dean of the College looked into this and concluded that while the panel raised ideas that could certainly be deemed controversial, it was an entirely appropriate academic endeavor and did not violate any university policy.” Continue reading

Herd Immunity Versus Herd Insanity

by James A. Bacon

Like 450 other higher-ed institutions across the United States, the University of Virginia will require all students to be fully vaccinated for the COVID-19 vaccine if they want to return to classes this fall. The mandate extends to the 2,800 students who got the virus and now enjoy acquired immunities. Oddly, the mandate does not include university employees, even though they are older on average and more likely to catch and spread the virus.

Virginia may be reaching herd immunity as the number of confirmed cases rapidly approaches zero, but UVa can be fairly said to have reached herd insanity — the phenomenon of following other colleges and universities issuing vaccine mandates because everyone is issuing them.

A couple of days ago I wrote a post asking the university to reveal UVa President Jim Ryan’s justification for asking the Board of Visitors to approve the mandate. No explanation is forthcoming. The university says that the president’s “working papers” are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Judging by the comments on that post (150 at this point), readers were more fixated on the scientific and moral dimensions of the policy than UVa’s lack of transparency, so I turn to that issue today.

While pro- and anti-mandate advocates were contending on Bacon’s Rebellion, Aaron Kheriaty and Gerard F. Bradley published a column in the Wall Street Journal that clarified several aspects of the debate. Continue reading

A Volatile Mix: Sex, Obsession, Microaggressions and Mental Health at UVa

by James A. Bacon

Kieran Bhattacharya, a University of Virginia School of Medicine student who claims he was expelled for challenging left-wing political orthodoxy at the school, has filed new papers expanding upon his allegations. Among the more explosive charges, he asserts that he was twice committed against his will to psychiatric facilities, given antipsychotic medication, and once woke up from his tranquilized state to find himself in a car bound for a private psychiatric hospital in Petersburg.

UVa’s response to Bhattacharya’s “dissident speech” is “reminiscent of the infamous ‘treatment’ of dissidents in psychiatric hospitals in the former Soviet Union,” says the pleading, which was filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court in Charlottesville in support of a request for a jury trial.

Adding another new dimension to the lawsuit, Bhattacharya contended that his ex-girlfriend collaborated with med school officials to drum him out of school after he had broken up with her. He describes her as a controlling, manipulative and vindictive woman who boasted how she had gained revenge against two former boyfriends at Emory University by charging them with rape.

After reading the filing, one is inclined to believe that one of two things must be true. Either the UVa med school is sitting on the biggest scandal in its history or Kieran Bhattacharya is a young man in serious need of help. Continue reading

UVa Affirms Commitment to Free Speech… at Least in Theory

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia Board of Trustees has voted to approve a statement affirming the university’s commitment to free expression and free inquiry.

“All views, beliefs and perspective deserve to be articulated and heard free from interference,” states the Statement of the Committee on Free Expression and Free Inquiry. “Free and open inquiry … is at the heart of the principles of academic freedom. … Likewise, the educational endeavor for students requires the freedom to speak, write, inquire, listen, challenge and learn.”

President James Ryan appointed the committee and asked it to craft a set of principles to guide the university. The committee heard testimony from students and faculty attesting to the widespread sentiment that certain views should not be expressed in or out of the classroom for fear of triggering intense social media backlash or punitive measures by administrators (many incidents of which have been documented in Bacon’s Rebellion and The Jefferson Council website).

It remains to be seen how the Ryan administration will interpret and apply these principles. The committee’s Statement genuflected to the fact that the university has not always fulfilled its aspirations — “exploiting enslaved laborers and excluding Black Americans, women, and groups and viewpoints disfavored by the majority.” It made no explicit mention of the suppression of conservative views antithetical to a core of radical students or the failure of the Ryan administration to stand up for them — things that are happening now, not a hundred years ago. Continue reading

Yeah, That Apology Was Called For

Sam Rasoul. Photo Credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

by James A. Bacon

I have zero respect for people who grovel with apologies to perpetually offended snowflakes. But every once in a while, a statement of regret for words poorly chosen is fully warranted.

During a recent debate of Democratic Party candidates for lieutenant governor, anchor Dave Lucas with Washington-area TV station ABC7-WJLA addressed a question to Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, whose fundraising has called upon out-of-state donors with ties to Muslim advocacy groups.

Asked Lucas: “Can you assure Virginians, if you’re elected, you’ll represent all of them regardless of faith or beliefs?” Continue reading

Masks on Kids: State-Sponsored Child Abuse

by Kerry Dougherty

If you came here expecting to find fountains of gratitude to Virginia’s governor for restoring liberties he should not have removed in the first place, you’ll be disappointed.

Ralph Northam was prepared to keep the commonwealth’s face mask mandate in place for months, until he was blindsided by the CDC on Thursday night.

THEY forced his hand.

The sudden about-face from the CDC — the same clowns who just a few weeks ago were weeping about “impending doom” and who as recently as last week insisted that vaccinated people should continue to mask up in indoor settings — is a sign that they’ve been lying to us all along.

They’ve been blowing smoke about masks. About the risk of outdoor infection. And about the fatality rate of COVID-19.

And they’re still lying. Now they’re lying about the need for children to wear masks while the people most at risk of serious illness from the virus are vaccinated and mask-free.

Insane. Continue reading