Tag Archives: James A. Bacon

Transgender Issues — Whose “Centerpiece,” Youngkin’s or the Post’s?

by James A. Bacon

The latest Washington Post spin on its recent public-opinion poll about transgender issues in Virginia schools is a window into the unconscious biases of WaPo reporters and editors.

Here’s the lead (my emphasis):

Education is an important factor for many Virginia voters this fall, but transgender issues, one of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s most controversial education cornerstones, is a low priority for voters, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll.”

A 70 percent majority of registered voters say that education is a “very important” factor in their vote for the Virginia legislature this year, whereas about half as many (34 percent) say transgender issues are very important to their vote.

“I’m not seeing in the data that the trans issue and how that is playing in public schools is a big driver right now in the electorate,” said Mark J. Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.

The message: Youngkin has made transgender policies a “cornerstone” of his education policy, but Virginians aren’t going along. Continue reading

The Incomplete Case for Higher Tuition at UVa

by James A. Bacon

As the Board of Visitors ponders how much to raise tuition & fees in the next two academic years, the University of Virginia is grappling with strong inflationary pressures and a long-term shortfall in state aid, senior university administrators said Wednesday.

Even so, administrators told the Board’s Finance Committee, UVa offers a great “value proposition” compared to other Top 50 universities. Its in-state tuition is lower than that of top private universities, and its four-year graduation rate is the highest of any public university in the country.

The Finance Committee meeting yesterday marked the beginning of a two-month decision-making process. The purpose of the initial meeting, said Committee Chair Robert M. Blue, was to provide “context” for the discussion. A November hearing will allow students and others to express their views about college costs. The Board is scheduled to adopt a new tuition structure in December. 

Although university officials did not say explicitly that a tuition increase is justified, the “context” presented was geared to supporting such a conclusion. Board members offered no pushback during the one-and-a-half-hour session, asking only a few questions for purposes of clarification. They did not drill into the data proffered by administrators, nor, despite assurances that UVa was working assiduously to achieve efficiencies and reduce redundancies, did they ask for specifics. No one addressed faculty productivity, administrative overhead, or other drivers of university costs. Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Ungovernable Virginia

It’s not just the big stuff we need to worry about — broken borders, riots, crime waves, school shootings — we need to pay attention to the little stuff, too: small things that betray the fraying of the social fabric. Some instances in today’s headlines:

From WAVY-TV: “Video shows man choking county attorney at Gloucester Co. meeting.” Cell phone video taken at a public meeting to discuss a bond referendum shows Gloucester County resident Lawrence Cohen with one hand holding a microphone and the other choking Gloucester County Attorney Edwin N. “Ted” Wilmot. I know nothing about the issues or personalities involved, but that’s just not acceptable. Choking people in public hearings is not the kind of thing that used to happen.

Meanwhile, Arlington County Public Schools is rolling out a new “electronic campus management platform” at several schools, reports ARL Now. The platform will allow schools to regulate the number of students in the halls and going in and out of buildings. Sounds like Orwellian overkill for a school disciplinary problem. What’s next? Artificial Intelligence to decide who gets a hall pass and who doesn’t? Continue reading

Quote of the Day: Abigail Spanberger

“For me there is no equivalence between armed, individual militants going into a home, shooting parents in front of their children, killing children, lighting babies on fire, burning down entire kibbutz and military action going after military targets, terrorist perpetrators of a horrible massacre. Those are different things.”

So said Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger in an exchange with a University of Virginia student yesterday. The Daily Progress has the story here. — JAB

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up…

Hmmm…. Gendered negotiation of urban spaces among transgender persons in Pakistan: dismantling the colonial binary. Sounds interesting.

Actually, I’d be more interested in gendered negotiation of rural spaces among transgender persons in Pakistan…. as in, rural spaces controlled by the Taliban. I’d also like to know more about dismantling the pre-colonial binary. You know, the binary in traditional Pashtun culture that cloaks women in burkas, denies them education, and sentences them to death when they commit adultery.

Even more fascinating would be discussing the Pashtun practice of bacha bazi, in which adult men have sex with boys. That would make a riveting lecture.

Does anyone in Women’s and Gender Studies programs anywhere in the country study that?

Bacon Meme of the Day

“Seeking a Better World” by Defending the Beheaders of Babies

by James A. Bacon

A week ago the Students for Justice in Palestine at UVA created a furor by publishing a statement defending Hamas’ attack on Israel. “Yesterday’s rebellion was not ‘unprovoked,’ as many have claimed, but is the consequence of years of mass killings, ethnic cleansing, and oppression from Israel,” the group wrote. “The events that took place yesterday [October 7] are a step towards a free Palestine…. We stand in solidarity with Palestinian resistance fighters and all oppressed people around the world seeking freedom and a better world.”

The same group organized a demonstration yesterday at the steps of the Rotunda in the shadow of the statue of Thomas Jefferson. I made a point of attending to hear what the protesters had to say and observe what transpired. I had one major question: who were these people? What kind of person living in a free society could defend the atrocities perpetrated upon Israeli civilians of all ages? What could they possibly be thinking?

As executive director of The Jefferson Council, which is dedicated among other things to free speech and free inquiry at UVa, I supported the right of the pro-Palestinians to hold their rally and make their case. But the Council also stands for viewpoint diversity, which is under threat from the steady leftward drift of the faculty and staff and the slow extinction of professors openly professing conservative, libertarian and independent views. While the far left is a distinct minority at UVa, it is a highly vocal and influential one. How representative, I wanted to know, were the Students for Justice in Palestine at UVA? Continue reading

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of UVa’s Transgender Movement

by James A. Bacon

I learned a lot about transgender activists and advocates at the Abigail Shrier event at the University of Virginia last night. Some are bitter, angry people who hurl non-stop invective. Some are close-minded but willing to engage in rational conversation. But at least one is courteous, friendly and willing to engage in a thoughtful, one-on-one exchange. I look forward to having lunch with her next week.

Shrier, the author of “”Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” was herself polite, charming and attentive. Even as more than 100 protesters were chanting and demonstrating outside Minor Hall, she remained unflappable inside the auditorium under questioning that ranged from skeptical to hostile.

Shrier is the object of venom in the transgender community because her book dared to ask questions that many do not want to be asked. While acknowledging the gender dysphoria is real and those who suffer from it deserve compassion, she argues that much of the transgender “craze” is a social contagion mainly affecting teenage girls, that “affirmative” treatment such as testosterone shots and top surgery are fraught with ill-understood risks and dangers, and that a legion of affirming educators, counselors, and even medical doctors have abandoned science in favor of ideology. She elaborated on those themes in a Q&A session hosted by the Jefferson Council in partnership with the Young Americans for Freedom and the Common Sense Society. Continue reading

Be Careful What You Ask For, You Just Might Get It

by James A. Bacon

Welcome to the new normal. In 2020 the General Assembly enacted a law giving local school districts the right to engage in collective bargaining. Our friends at the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy warned that much mischief would ensue, an assessment I shared.

On November 2022 the Prince William County Board of Supervisors adopted a collective bargaining ordinance, allowing county employees to negotiate contracts, though not to strike. “Prince William County workers are one step closer to bargaining a historic contract that will lift up all working families,” said David Broder, President of SEIU Virginia 512, reported the DCist at the time.

Now the Prince William Education Association is demanding a 17% pay raise for teachers, which, if enacted without budget cuts, would add $364 million to the county’s $1.5 billion school budget. According to the Potomac Local News, such a pay raise would require a 73% hike in homeowner tax bills. The working families paying real property taxes might beg to disagree with Broder’s assessment.

Among other demands, the teachers union is protesting a new regulation that requires teachers to teach classes remotely when bad weather disrupts in-school instruction. Continue reading

Transgender Man Sues LGBT Life Center

Bing image creator: “Call me by my pronouns”

by James A. Bacon

A transgender man has filed a lawsuit against the LGBT Life Center in Virginia Beach, which provides health, housing, and other social services to the LBGQT community, on the grounds that it maintained a toxic work environment.

Alexia Kaelber, reports The Virginian-Pilot, had “dreams of helping the marginalized community and uplifting LGBTQ+ Hampton Roads residents.” Among other issues, he told the newspaper, the financially ailing nonprofit was unable to pay rent and electric bills for his clients. But here’s the kicker:

Kaelber, who is a transgender man, said his managers misgendered him and would not stop after being corrected.

Jeez, if you can’t get properly gendered at an LGBTQ+ center, where can you get properly gendered?

Schisms are occurring in the LGQBT community that the mainstream media is not reporting. It seems that many gays — how’s that for a sign of where we are as a society when traditional gays are now the reactionaries? — have reservations about the whole transgender thing. Continue reading

University Boards’ Primary Duty is to the Commonwealth, AG Says

Jason Miyares

by James A. Bacon

The primary duty of board members of Virginia’s public colleges and universities is to the commonwealth, not to the individual institutions, Attorney General Jason Miyares wrote Monday in response to an advisory opinion requested by Governor Glenn Younkin.

According to Miyares’ missive, Youngkin asked whether Virginia law imposes upon boards of visitors “a duty to serve the interests of the university or college only, or the Commonwealth more broadly.”

“Although they extend services to non-residents, Virginia’s institutions of higher education exist to fulfill the commonwealth’s commitment to provide education to the students of Virginia,” the AG answered. “It is clear that the boards of visitors serving them, as public officers of the state, have a duty to the Commonwealth as a whole.”

The letter does not elucidate the particular circumstances that led to the request for clarification, but the issue of board members’ primary duty did arise during the September 2023 meeting of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors meeting. Rector Robert Hardie had invited Clayton Rose, former president of Bowdoin College and currently a Harvard University professor, to lead a discussion of “best practices in board governance.” (See our coverage here.) Continue reading

Things Fall Apart: Virginia Homeownership Rate

From an email from search-intelligence.co.uk attributed to RubyHome Luxury Real Estate:

Virginia experienced the largest decline in homeownership of any state during the new millennium. In 2000, the homeownership rate sat at 73.9%; it declined to 67.4% in 2022. This makes for a percentage-point change of 8.8% since 2000 in 2020 — the most of any state. “With the average state decline sitting at 1.3%, Virginia’s dwindling rate of homeownership is the most drastic nationwide,” states the email.

Virginia has a home-ownership problem, which is intimately connected to the home affordability problem. What’s next — tent cities? Continue reading

The Transgender Contagion

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Abigail Shrier

by James A. Bacon

Abigail Shrier deserves a Pulitzer Prize for her 2019 work of journalism, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.” She’ll never get the recognition she deserves from the literary establishment, though, because her conclusions transgress some of the holiest orthodoxies in the progressive canon. Despite the outcry that greeted her book, it became a best seller and transformed the way many people think about transgenderism. I am one of them.

Anyone reading the book, as opposed to imbibing the mischaracterizations of her critics, will readily see that Shrier is no “transphobe.” She is highly empathetic to the struggles that transgender people undergo, and she respectfully refers to them by their transgendered names and pronouns. She also acknowledges that gender dysphoria is a real (but exceedingly rare) phenomenon that occurs mainly among boys as young as three or four who believe that their minds and bodies are mismatched.

Shrier is reviled because she regards the unprecedented surge of transgender identity among adolescent girls as a cultural contagion, and she sees “affirmative” practices of hormonal treatment and breast removal as one step removed from medical malpractice. She criticizes teachers, psychiatrists and medical professionals who automatically “affirm” transgender identity rather than inquire about other potential explanations of emotional distress.

One critic described her work as “a fear-filled screed, full of misinformation, biological and medical inaccuracies, logical fallacies, and propaganda.” Perhaps. I’m no expert. But I found her credible.

Virginians can hear Shrier speak for herself when she appears at the University of Virginia October 11, Room 125 of Minor Hall, at 7:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by The Jefferson Council and the Common Sense Society. Register here. Continue reading

Universities as Incubators of Nervous Breakdowns

by James A. Bacon

I’ve been arguing for some time that the United States — and Virginia is no exception — is experiencing a collective nervous breakdown. Mental illness is surging. Disorder is spreading. Rhetoric is becoming increasingly histrionic. Bizarre behavior once limited to the fringe is going mainstream. You can’t measure the accelerating social breakdown just by the number of murders and violent crimes. The big picture includes suicides, drug overdoses, learning loss in schools, anonymous death threats, the collapse of decorum, and the spread of aberrant behavior, from Colorado congresswomen groping their lovers in public to Virginia candidates for office livestreaming sex acts for tips.

What’s going on? Writing in The City Journal, Christopher F. Rufo argues that psychological dysfunction is going mainstream. He sees the emergence of a new national American character based on what he calls the Cluster B personality types: the narcissist, the borderline, the histrionic, and the antisocial. Continue reading

Antifa Failed to Make Conservative Conference a Ngo Go

Andy Ngo

by James A. Bacon

A conservative media summit featuring journalist Andy Ngo was disrupted by threats of violence by left-wing militants, but the show did go on Saturday. The conference of roughly 50 attendees was scheduled originally to be held at the Commonwealth Club in downtown Richmond. Organizers lined up an alternate venue, but that was scuttled too. Fortunately, organizers found a third venue at the last minute, kept the location secret and got out the word to the roughly 50 attendees. At least one person traveling from out of town headed to the second venue only to find it had been canceled. (He managed to make it to the revised location.)

The main feature, of course, was Ngo, who has carved out a niche reporting about the activities, tactics and social composition of the decentralized, left-wing anarchist movement often labeled Antifa.

Ngo has angered the so-called anti-fascists by highlighting their proclivity for violence. Ironically, local militants proved his point by intimidating the club and hotel where the event was to be held. Fox News has part of the story here.

I was privileged to participate in the event as a panelist discussing the evolution of Bacon’s Rebellion and the economics of the blogosphere in Virginia. My understanding of what transpired comes from the organizers: The Virginia Council and the Common Sense Society. People objecting to Ngo’s appearance made phone calls to the club and hotel proprietors, implying that violence would occur. The most vivid quote I recall is that “there will be dead people” if the event went on. Continue reading