Wednesday, May 04, 2016


As bloody images roll in from Costa Mesa, Calif. where hard left protesters attacked supporters exiting a Donald Trump rally, the question that presents itself is, “How did things deteriorate to this point?”

The respect for free speech was once sacrosanct, to the point that liberals of a bygone era would repeat the bromide, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” But as seen in Costa Mesa, one can easily conclude that the sentiment is no longer widely held on the left. If a person who supports a political viewpoint or candidate can no longer safely express their belief in public, then it is clear that the ability to speak freely is under siege, and no longer safe from the intellectual descendants of the Visigoths.

In fairness, some on the left actually believed the above quote and used it in sincerity. Some holdouts exist, like Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, exist as some of the last vestiges of the old “Freedom Left” faction, otherwise vanquished by the “Force Left”, bent on imposing their worldview on others with impunity.  This animosity toward freedom of speech and assembly did not effervesce from the grounds of a Trump rally, but from their educators and thought leaders that shelter in academia.

The war on free speech has been a cold war with hot spots that flare up from time to time. What is clear is that the hard left have been combatants, looking for their opportunity to use speech as a weapon, and as such, disarm opponents when possible.  Their lesser tactics include shaming and using arbitrary means such as Title IX to silence their opponents. When that fails or is not applicable, they escalate, using more forceful means as we see in California; they are all facets of the same thinking that enforce cultural conformity at the expense of individual liberty.

Shaming is so pervasive, that it is exercised by lowly academic administrators and Presidential Candidates alike. Lukianoff reported that at the University of California-San Diego, a satirical student newspaper published an article with obscenities and pejoratives mocking the notion of safe spaces; university administrators responded with a press release denouncing them, leading up to the student council defunding all print publications. Sounds severe?

According to Lukianoff, the Department of Justice reportedly is threatening to deny federal funding to universities that refuse to abide by the administrative guidance that derive from Title IX. This is done under the guise of protecting students from sexual harassment via instituting de facto speech codes, but without a mechanism to adjudicate the claim, the accusation is a conviction in the eyes of the government. This means  that universities are being coerced into violating the First Amendment, lest they forfeit federal funding, and taxpayers are being compelled to fund the erosion of their own rights

Elsewhere, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Organization of the Islamic Conference in 2011 that she would “to use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming” against those who would speak strongly against radical Islam, which she has characterized as “religious intolerance.” The inability to properly categorize radical Islam as a threat is nothing short of deadly, and the demonization of those who would do so is suicidal.

But the issue is by no means a partisan one. Numerous Republicans have quietly acquiesced as the anti-speech forces have used their politically correct cudgels to attain cultural hegemony. The Obama administration has engaged in scandalous behavior that would make Richard Nixon blush, from the IRS targeting tea party and other conservative groups to the Benghazi scandal, all things that might bring down mortal administrations. Any talk of impeachment led to unbearable levels of shaming from the President’s praetorian guard in Congress and the media, and the issues quietly faded away.

Those who believe in inalienable rights have two options: they can allow the freedom of speech to continue degrading, until a Costa Mesa like scene becomes so pervasive it takes full power that we are waiting for the Maoist struggle sessions to begin; or, we can mobilize with the remnants of the Freedom Left, and beat back the retrograde, anti-Enlightenment forces that left unchecked, would commence with their rehashed Cultural Revolution.  This cannot occur without reinvigorating Congress’ Article I capabilities, reining in the judiciary and the executive branch’s administrative state by systemically dismantling the taxpayer-funded infrastructure they use to assail our freedoms.

We currently have the option to choose our battle. As we wait, we hazard that the battle will instead be chosen for us, on ground that is less advantageous. If the country comes to look like Costa Mesa did last week and Chicago before it, our choices will not be so appealing.


Nationally Ranked School Counters Complaint of Transgender Discrimination

A nationally recognized charter school in Minnesota is fighting a complaint filed by the parents of a transgender kindergartner who allege the school enabled discrimination against their child.

Nova Classical Academy administrators said they will deny the allegations, filed last month with the city of St. Paul, while continuing their push to improve school policies to protect and respect all students.

“At Nova, we are committed to providing a school environment free of gender-bias and discrimination of any kind, where every student feels safe, welcomed, accepted, and valued,” the school said in a formal statement. “We plan to respond to the complaint by denying the allegations. We will present evidence that the school has taken all due measures to protect the student’s rights.”

In attempting to accommodate one kindergartner’s rights, however, two parents told The Daily Signal last week, the school is trampling on their own.

While working to build a more inclusive environment, they say, the school is excluding the rights of parents who object to the idea of introducing the topic of gender identity to their children at such a young age.

“The other side basically didn’t want us to have a voice, calling everything we say hateful or discriminatory or both,” one parent involved in recent events told The Daily Signal.

David and Hannah Edwards, the parents of the kindergartner, filed the complaint March 24 with the St. Paul Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity Department. It alleges that Nova Classical Academy failed to adequately protect their child from bullying and other forms of discrimination.

Their child was born male, the Edwardses say, but now presents as a transgender girl.

Nova Classical Academy is a K-12 public charter school with 920 students. Based on the 2013-14 school year, U.S. News and World Report ranked its upper school as the No. 1 high school in Minnesota and the No.16 high school in the nation.

Gender Justice, the legal group representing the Edwardses in their complaint, said the school:

(a) failed to protect their child and other gender nonconforming and transgender students at Nova from persistent gender-based bullying and hostility, and

(b) denied their child the ability to undergo a gender transition at Nova in a safe and timely way, as she had in all other areas of her life.

Instead of alleging the school violated Title IX provisions that ban discrimination in federally funded education programs—which lawyers for several other cases of this nature have alleged—David and Hannah Edwards argue that Nova Classical Academy’s treatment of their child violated St. Paul’s human rights ordinance.

Specifically, the complaint alleges the school failed to protect the Edwardses’ child from “gender-based bullying and hostility” because school leadership “stopped staff” from adding the book “My Princess Boy” to its anti-bullying curriculum.

The Edwardses’ complaint goes on to say the school denied their child’s right to undergo a gender transition “in a safe and timely way.” It reads:

In a meeting that evening, we were told that the school was not willing to use effective materials like ‘I Am Jazz’ would not ever conduct gender education, whether proactive or corrective, without first introducing delay and inviting or encouraging families to ‘opt out;’ and would not even—as a bare minimum—simply inform our child’s classmates of her preferred name and pronouns, without first delaying for days and inviting or encouraging families to ‘opt out’ of this information.

“As a result of these violations,” the Edwardses wrote, “we were forced to withdraw her from Nova.”

“I Am Jazz” is a children’s book based on the experiences of  a transgender girl named Jazz Jennings, 15, who was born male and went public as identifying as female at age 6. A reality TV show of the same name on TLC follows her life today.

A spokesman for the city’s Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity said he could not comment because the couple’s complaint is part of an active investigation.

The Edwardses aren’t alone in leaving the school over their child’s case. In February, The Daily Signal reported that at least 10 parents transferred their children to different schools because of “nonconformity issues,” saying the school’s plan to adopt a gender inclusion policy for elementary-age students was too far-reaching.

Since then, The Daily Signal has learned that more parents have taken their children out of Nova Classical Academy, and more plan to by year’s end.

“It’s too bad the family didn’t stay,” one mother who removed all her children from the school said of the Edwardses. “The school has proceeded in changing school policy just as the family requested and has lost and continues to lose many of the original families that actually came to the school for classical education.”

“My personal feeling is that the school has given the other side everything that they want,” another parent involved in the events at Nova Classical Academy told The Daily Signal, adding:

"Furthermore, if we had not fought back, I think they would have implemented all of this already. I feel like the school wanted to make sure they followed all of their bylaws so that they didn’t get sued.  Also they know a lot of parents are unhappy so they have taken their time and are going through the processes. But in the end they were going to implement all of the asked-for policies. To me, the other side is getting everything they wanted, just not when they wanted it, which is right away".

Eric Williams, executive director of Nova Classical Academy, confirmed to The Daily Signal that the school is in the process of developing a “specific policy to assure our school is welcoming to students, regardless of gender identity or gender expression.”  “The board is moving deliberately to assure that we get it right,” Williams said in an email. “We expect to adopt a policy next month [in May].”

That policy won’t come easy. Parents concerned over coming changes say the policy—and the process the school has used to get there—tramples on their First Amendment rights to free speech, religion, and association.

“The policy itself is everything and more that the Edwards family was asking for,” the second parent said, adding:

"As regards explicit mention of the First Amendment, it has been decided for the purposes of this policy that they will not include anything about that, as all relevant First Amendment protections are listed in other parts of law and policy. It is the perception of many that they are doing this to err on the side of transgender students when it comes to what may be unsettled law regarding addressing people by their preferred names and pronouns in schools".

Williams, the head of Nova Classical Academy, told The Daily Signal that the school not only won’t tolerate but has a legal obligation to “prohibit” speech by parents, students, or others “that causes another person to be belittled.”

It is because of this attitude that some parents say they have left.

“On the news, [the school will] say, ‘We want to listen to them, parents have sent endless letters, they have come to the board meetings and gave endless comments,’ but there has not been an olive branch offered to parents on this topic,” said the mother who removed her children from Nova Classical Academy over the events.

“So when we saw that there’s not a negotiation process—this is what’s going to happen—I was worried about my kids and I got tired of worrying about my kids.”

The second parent said: “The other side basically didn’t want us to have a voice, calling everything we say hateful or discriminatory or both.”

Williams suggested that a challenge Nova Classical Academy faces is being a public charter school. As such, the school must adhere to its charter, which includes a “long-held commitment to transparent governance.”

Because of this, debate over the school’s proposed gender inclusion policy has been uncomfortably public.

“Transparency allows divergent views to be made public,” Williams said. “We need to protect freedom of expression and we need to protect our students from bullying in school by other students and by anyone else. When it comes to things people say, we don’t always succeed in striking this balance.”


This Is the Top Predictor of Whether You'll Want to Go to College

Next time your parents get after you for not studying enough, offer to accompany them to a museum instead — they’ll relish the quality time, and you can tell them it’ll make you more likely to go to college, too.

According to a new study published in the Journal of Youth Studies, teens who partake in cultural activities with their parents are more likely to want to continue their studies after age 16 than those who don’t — and that includes teens who participate in extracurricular activities or homework clubs. The data was taken from the annual United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study, and included responses from almost 11,000 teenagers who answered questions about family closeness, friendships, homework, and extracurricular activities, as well as things like visiting art galleries, discussing books at home, and how many evenings they spend doing homework.

According to the research, led by Dr. Dimitra Hartas, an associate professor in the Centre for Education Studies at the University of Warwick, adolescents who were exposed to cultural activities, like going to concerts, museums, or art galleries, were 23% less likely to want to forgo college for job training or employment; while those with less “cultural capital,” as the researchers called it, were 14% less likely to consider college important, and 20% less likely to consider the GCSEs, the exams many U.K. high school students must take before moving on to university, important. And though the study found that emotional closeness to parents isn’t a significant predictor of the desire to attend college, it is an indicator of how important students consider the GCSEs.

“These findings have significant implications for family and educational policy, especially with regard to ‘raising aspirations’ and reducing early school leaving,” Dr. Hartas said. “They also raise the issue of reconsidering the role of the home environment as a web of emotionally and intellectually charged relationships between parents and children rather than an extension of the school day.” So, while it’s certainly important to focus on your homework and studies — and understandable that your parents may encourage you to do so — it may be just as important to build up your own cultural capital with your folks.

When you get home from school today, try engaging them in a conversation about something other than your classes or homework. Step away from your computer and study guides in favor of experiencing something new and different with your parents, and it could spark something in you that motivates you to keep learning, exploring, and achieving your greatest potential.


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