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Trump DOE Promotes School Prayer on National Religious Freedom Day


Written by Penny Starr | 

URL of the original posting site: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/01/16/trump-doe-promotes-school-prayer-on-national-religious-freedom-day/

Girl closed her eyes and folded her hand in prayer on a Holy Bible / Sasiistock/Getty Images

President Donald Trump is marking National Religious Freedom Day with a ceremony at the White House on Thursday and is also issuing a guidance letter to educational institutions and the public on students’ Constitutional right to prayer.

The guidance will be posted in the Federal Register on January 21, 2020 and it states, in part:

Section 8524(a) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act and codified at 20 U.S.C. 7904(a), requires the Secretary to issue guidance to State educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), and the public on constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary and secondary schools. In addition, section 8524(b) requires that, as a condition of receiving ESEA funds, an LEA must certify in writing to its SEA that it has no policy that prevents, or otherwise denies participation in, constitutionally protected prayer in public schools as detailed in this updated guidance.

Education Week’s report on the guidance noted precedent for the Trump administration’s move:

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, in its current and past versions, requires the U.S. Department of Education to provide guidance on prayer in schools every two years, but that guidance hasn’t been updated since 2003, a senior administration official said.

“President Trump is committed to making sure that people of faith, particularly children,” are not discouraged from constitutionally protected rights to pray, an administration official said in a conference call with reporters.

The new school prayer guidance, which will be published in the Federal Register Thursday Jan. 21, reiterates requirements under existing law that school districts must annually certify to their state departments of education that they have “no policy prohibiting participation in constitutionally protected prayer,” officials said. State education departments must have a process for fielding complaints the right to prayer has been violated, and they must report any complaints or lawsuits over school prayer to the federal Education Department, the guidance says.

The guidance also states that student religious groups should have the same access to school facilities as secular groups, which has been in place since 1998, Education Week reports.

The Trump administration will also issue a directive on Thursday that states religiously affiliated groups can get federal grants even if the group is located in a state that prohibits public funding of such groups.

“Those laws, known as Blaine amendments, are the subject of a case on tax-credit scholarships for private schools that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court next week,” Education Week notes in its report.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter

Top 10 Craziest Attacks on Campus Conservatives of 2019


Written by Alana Mastrangelo | 

URL of the original posting site: https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2020/01/01/top-10-craziest-attacks-on-campus-conservatives-of-2019/

UC Berkeley Assault TPUSA / screencap

Conservative students are relentlessly harassed and assaulted on college campuses around the country, as documented by Breitbart News in the last few years. 2019 saw an increase in assaults against conservative students carried out by leftists. Take a look at some of 2019’s wildest attacks perpetrated by leftists on college campuses.

10. “You’re going to end up fucking dead” shouts a Sacramento State leftist at a black conservative student after appearing to strike him on video.

An alleged leftist and LGBT activist at California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) appeared to assault a black conservative student on video in December, before shouting, “you’re going to end up fucking dead.”

9. UT Austin leftists threaten to dox students for joining conservative student groups on campus.

Leftists at the University of Texas at Austin — who have doxed conservative students in the past — threatened to dox incoming freshmen students in June, claiming that they would release the students’ personal information if they were caught joining conservative groups on campus — namely the Young Conservatives of Texas and Turning Point USA.

8. Mob of leftist students surrounded and harassed conservative students at Binghamton University. Leftist protesters then shut down an event hosted by the conservative students days later.

A mob of leftist students at Binghamton University surrounded and harassed conservative students in November. “Look at you shaking, you little bitch,” shouted one leftist. Days later, leftist protesters crashed the conservative students’ event featuring economist Arthur Laffer, causing the event to immediately be shut down. Two protesters were arrested. All incidents were caught in a series of disturbing videos. Binghamton University did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

7. Man arrested after attempting to chain the doors to a University of Washington conservative event.

A man was arrested in June after attempting to chain the doors to a College Republicans event in a classroom at the University of Washington. The move, which appeared to be an attempt to lock the conservatives inside the classroom, failed as the speaker’s personal security members and students forced the doors open. The man acted after an Antifa call to action to disrupt the event.

6. Chico State protester takes sign from a conservative student and strikes him in the face with it.

In November, a student protester at California State University, Chico shouted expletives at the school’s College Republican’s chapter president, before taking his sign and striking him in the face with it. The incident was caught on video.

5. Students assault pro-life activists at both UNC-Chapel Hill and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in two separate incidents caught on video.

A student allegedly assaulted a pro-life activist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after seeing pro-life signage depicting aborted children. In a separate but similar incident at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a woman was caught on video assaulting a pro-life activist, and spray painting one of his signs.

4. North Carolina State University student sprays paint into the face of Rep. Dan Bishop’s son.

An alleged member of NC State’s Young Democratic Socialists of America club sprayed paint into the face of Jack Bishop — the son of Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) and a member of the school’s Turning Point USA club — while spray painting over a message promoting the conservative student group’s upcoming event in November.

3. Three students arrested at Tulane University after setting fire to Turning Point USA chapter president’s dorm room door.

Three individuals were arrested for aggravated arson after allegedly setting a dorm room door on fire in March at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. One of the students living in the targeted dorm room was the president of Tulane’s Turning Point USA chapter, and had recently been “doxed” by leftists seeking to “expose” members of the conservative student group, as well as Young American for Liberty.

2. Police investigate “bias incident” at South Seattle College after Turning Point USA chapter president was stalked by a man in an SUV.

Police investigated a hit and run accident that they considered a “bias incident” in April, after a man allegedly followed the president of the South Seattle College Turning Point USA student group with his vehicle as she walked to her car. The incident — which occurred following an argument between the two individuals over TPUSA signage — resulted in the conservative student calling 911 after the man struck another vehicle while circling her with his SUV.

1. Conservative activist Hayden Williams punched in the face at UC Berkeley.

Hayden Williams, a field representative from the Leadership Institute, was punched in the face at the University of California, Berkeley in February while recruiting conservative students. The incident — which was caught on video — is said to be the catalyst for prompting President Donald Trump to sign an executive order in March requiring colleges and universities to uphold the First Amendment on campus if they want to receive federal funding.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

Rap Sheet: 117 Acts of Violence and Harassment Against Conservatives on Campus


Written by Alana Mastrangelo | 

URL of the original posting site: https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2019/11/28/rap-sheet-117-acts-of-violence-and-harassment-against-conservatives-on-campus/

MAGA Make America Great Again hat burning at Berkeley (Elijah Nouvelage / Getty)

Since 2016, there have been over 100 acts of reported violence and harassment perpetrated against conservatives on college campuses. Within the last few months, scores of additional instances of violence and harassment have been reported bringing the current total to 117 incidents. Whether perpetrated by students or school faculty, instances of violence or threats against conservative students — and sometimes even conservative professors — are becoming commonplace on America’s college campuses. This trend is also expanding to the high school level.

Here is a list of incidents of violence and threats made against conservatives on campus, or made by leftists in academia, that have been reported within just the last few months.

November 22, 2019: Chico State protester takes sign from conservative student and strikes him in the face with it

November 19, 2019: Leftist protesters shut down Art Laffer speech at Binghamton University

November 18, 2019: Mob of leftist students surround and harass members of College Republicans and Turning Point USA at Binghamton University

November 13, 2019: North Carolina State University student sprays paint into the face of Rep. Dan Bishop’s son Jack Bishop while spray painting over a Turning Point USA display.

November 8, 2019: University of Florida students demand impeachment of student body president over Donald Trump Jr. visit to campus

November 6, 2019: North Carolina State teaching assistant compares conservatism to “white supremacy”

November 1, 2019: Pacific Lutheran professor Troy Storfjell: “I have no problem” with Antifa violence

October 31, 2019: University of Michigan student dismantles entire Turning Point USA recruiting table and steals all of the group’s supplies — even the cookies and hot chocolate

October 30, 2019: University of California Riverside student destroys conservative group’s sign promoting Second Amendment

October 22, 2019: “I Hope You Die:” University of New Hampshire students destroy Turning Point USA display

October 21, 2019: University of Minnesota Duluth student admits to tearing down Turning Point USA posters

October 18, 2019: Leftist students steal Michigan State pro-life display

October 16, 2019: Man steals Turning Point USA signs at UNLV and punches them into a trash can

October 11, 2019: Student covers University of Wisconsin college GOP office with accusations of racism

October 4, 2019: Student arrested for attacking conservatives on University of Nevada, Reno campus

October 4, 2019: Georgia Tech students call for university president’s firing over Kavanaugh support

September 30, 2019: University of Minnesota College Republicans’ mural vandalized for a fourth straight year

September 24, 2019: Colorado State University president compares Turning Point USA to blackface and swastikas

September 23, 2019: University of Maryland students act as “Free Speech Zone” enforcers by stealing conservative signage and running away

September 23, 2019: Clown shuts down Georgetown College Republicans event

September 19, 2019: Man arrested for bomb threat at a pro-life event at Rochester Community and Technical College

September 19, 2019: Conservative students harassed at Irvine Valley College by students, as well as adults who appear to be professors

September 12, 2019: University of Maryland official accuses conservative activists of “trespassing”

September 10, 2019: Jones County Junior College faces lawsuit after threatening students with arrest for exercising their First Amendment rights on campus

September 9, 2019: University of Wisconsin official tells a conservative student to move or police will be called

September 4, 2019: College of Charleston professor celebrates the death of political opponents

August 22, 2019: University of Kentucky staffers mock and slow-walk application for conservative club on campus

August 19, 2019: University of Houston student leader apologizes after defending free speech amid calls for his removal

August 16, 2019: NC State Vice Chancellor Mike Mullen resigns after calling GOP “Neo-Nazis” and “KKK,” but remains a professor

August 15, 2019: University of Texas instructor Alex Wild says Trump and his supporters are Nazis

July 23, 2019: Ole Miss professor James Thomas compares pro-Trump teenagers to Hitler Youth

July 15, 2019: UC Santa Barbara teaching assistant under fire for saying men are not women

July 11, 2019: Woman assaults pro-life activist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

July 9, 2019: Conservative student assaulted at Bentley University while promoting Tomi Lahren event

July 9, 2019: Colorado State professor Oi Yan Poon: “I’m ready to punch” political opponents “in the neck”

July 4, 2019: University of Florida student says he was attacked for MAGA hat on the 4th of July

June 23, 2019: Leftists at the University of Texas at Austin threaten to dox students for joining conservative groups on campus

June 20, 2019: Whatcom Community College student destroys pro-life display, “because I disagree”

June 11, 2019: the University of Illinois faces a lawsuit for allegedly installing a campus “Speech Police” system

June 10, 2019: Students at Georgia Gwinnett College want legal immigrant professor fired for criticizing illegal immigration

June 7, 2019: Man arrested after attempting to chain the doors to University of Washington conservative event

June 5, 2019: Rap sheet: 76 additional acts of violence and harassment against conservatives on campus that have been reported since 2016

This list will be updated as needed. Back-filling it will be an ongoing project. Please contact Breitbart News with any updates or incidents you think deserve to be added to this list.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo and on Instagram.

After Years of Common Core, Betsy DeVos Announces ‘Devastating’ Results


Posted By Jared Harris | Published October 31, 2019 at 3:55pm

URL of the original posting site: https://www.westernjournal.com/years-common-core-betsy-devos-announces-devastating-results/

Years after Common Core made its debut in many state education systems, the disastrous long-term results of the program are finally being seen. The revelation came as part of the Department of Education’s 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress report.

“Every American family needs to open The Nation’s Report Card this year and think about what it means for their child and for our country’s future,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a media release. “The results are, frankly, devastating.”

“This country is in a student achievement crisis, and over the past decade it has continued to worsen, especially for our most vulnerable students,” she added.

The NAEP is a test administered in alternating years to students in the fourth and eighth grades. The government-mandated assessment covers both math and reading proficiency. The students’ reading assessment paints a grim picture of educational readiness, with tested fourth and eighth graders failing to best the previous test’s results. This year’s results were only marginally better than those from 1992.

The mathematics scores show the most damning results — an upward trend until the year 2015, when the momentum seemed to grind to a halt. Although there were double-digit gains since the ’90s, fourth graders only managed to score a single point above their previous tests. Eighth graders failed to meet that low standard, sinking below their predecessors from two years before.

“This must be America’s wake-up call,” DeVos said. “We cannot abide these poor results any longer. We can neither excuse them away nor simply throw more money at the problem.”

The dip doesn’t seem to be without cause, either. By 2015, most states had implemented some form of Common Core standards, according to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum DevelopmentStudies have linked Common Core to declining test scores and generally poor student performance.

This failure in U.S. schools comes at a time when Chinese students appear to be blowing American children out of the water. Results from the Program for International Student Assessment, which tests students internationally on their proficiency in math, science and reading, show that China ranks a full 21 spots ahead of the United States.

The 21st century needs to remain an American century. Letting the Chinese take the global lead would have disastrous results across the world. If we expect our future engineers, scientists, and mathematicians to compete in an increasingly globalized world, it’s clear that Common Core needs to be abandoned.

LGBT-Activist Official: Drag Queen Story Hour Protesters Hold ‘White Supremacist Beliefs’


Reported by Dr. Susan Berry | 

URL of the original posting site: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/09/03/lgbt-activist-official-drag-queen-story-hour-protesters-hold-white-supremacist-beliefs/

Drag queen Scalene Onixxx (R) gestures seated beside Athena Kills while reading during Drag Queen Story Hour at Cellar Door Books in Riverside, California on June 22, 2019. – Athena and Scalene, their long blonde hair flowing down to their sequined leotards and rainbow dresses, are reading to around 15 …FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

A battle over a Drag Queen Story Hour event in Chula Vista, California, has intensified as an LGBT-activist member of the city council accused pro-family protesters of the events of holding “white supremacist beliefs.”

As CBS8 reported, Steve Padilla, an openly gay, LGBT-activist Chula Vista councilmember, posted to Facebook that Drag Queen Story Hour protesters, such as pro-family group MassResistance, hold “white supremacist beliefs.”

Padilla voiced his support for the events, one of which has been scheduled by the Chula Vista Public Library later in the month, with a statement on his Facebook page:

I am disappointed that some voices both from inside and outside our community have chosen to use the upcoming Drag Queen Storytime as an opportunity to perpetuate long discredited false and discriminatory narratives targeting the LGBTQ+ community in the name of protecting children. This is wrong and must be called out for what it is – the spreading of ignorance, fear, and hate. Much of this fearmongering is being organized by the local chapter of a nationally known hate-group which promotes not just anti-LGBTQ beliefs, but also anti-immigrant and white supremacist beliefs. These ideas and tactics do not reflect the community I love and serve.

Pro-family protesters rallied Thursday in front of the main branch of the public library in Chula Vista to condemn the Drag Queen Story Hour scheduled on September 10. The library advertised the event as one that would encourage “reading, learning & inclusivity” among young children and “celebrate our wonderfully diverse community with stories, crafts and dancing.”

“Drag Queen Story Hour is not innocent fun to celebrate play while teaching diversity and tolerance,” said Arthur Schaper of pro-family group MassResistance, reported CBS8. “If adult entertainers engage in those behaviors, they can do so freely in their nightclubs and cabarets but not around children.”

NBC7 reported many parents have been alerting others online, urging them to call upon the library to put an end to the event.

Amado Huizar, a father of four and pastor in Chula Vista, said he is concerned about how the drag queen reading event influences children, especially regarding “the sexual innuendo.”

NBC7 interviewed drag queen performer “Strawberry Corn Cakes” about whether the reading event is about sexuality.

“Not at all. Not all,” the drag queen replied. “Especially not with kids. Come on now.”

“It’s unfortunate that people aren’t agreeing with it in when it’s all about fun,” Strawberry Corn Cakes said.

However, last fall one drag queen admitted the story hours for young children are not just about fun. Dylan Pontiff, a gay man who uses the name Santana Pilar Andrews when dressed in drag, helped organize a story hour for Louisiana preschoolers. He said the event’s purpose is “the grooming of the next generation.”

“I’m here to let you know that this event is something that’s going to be very beautiful and for the children and the people that supported are going to realize that this is going to be the grooming of the next generation,” Pontiff told the Lafayette City-Parish Council. “We are trying to groom the next generation to not see the way that they just did.”

LGBTQ activists countered the protesters at the rally, with several officers from the Chula Vista Police Department on hand to keep the crowd in check.

“The Drag Queen Story Hour helps teach them about the acceptance of all,” said Dennis Nicely of LGBT-activist group PFLAG.

Other activists said the event promotes tolerance and diversity.

“We are here to represent community values, which are inclusiveness and acceptance, love and diversity,” said Irina Sagade. “These are values of a public space.”

An announcement by the library posted to Facebook said the scheduled Drag Queen Story Hour event was “in celebration of the city of Chula Vista’s proclamation of September 14, 2019 as LGBTQ Day.”

“We strongly believe that libraries are a clear reflection of the community they serve,” the public library continued. “We aim to foster an environment that encourages reading, learning & inclusivity, celebrate our wonderfully diverse community with stories, crafts and dancing on 09/10/2019.”

On Sunday, the library announced the location of the Drag Queen Story Hour would be changed from the Otay Ranch Library to the Chula Vista Civic Center:

“More space needed to accommodate expected attendance,” read a news release.

“The Chula Vista Public Library welcomes everyone, and programming at the City’s three libraries includes and reflects the diverse communities the libraries serve,” the release continued. “Hosting drag queens to read and relate with children promotes reading and literacy and sends a positive message of acceptance and tolerance.”

The library stated the drag queen event was “sponsored in partnership with San Diego Pride and South Bay Alliance.”

Caroline (Cara) Dessert, Esq., CEO of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, said in a statement the Drag Queen Story Hour promotes “literacy,” among other things:

Drag Queen Story Hour provides a fun and engaging way to promote literacy and to help young people understand the value of diversity and acceptance. These types of events also offer us a chance to appreciate individuality and combat harmful gender stereotypes. With that in mind, it [sic] easy to understand the reasons that American Library Association is supporting Drag Queen Story Hours as an effective way to add inclusive, diverse, and more equitable programming at public libraries.

The left-wing American Library Association (ALA) encourages Drag Queen Story Hour events and is supporting those libraries experiencing “pushback” from their communities.

“ALA, through its actions and those of its members, is instrumental in creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive society,” the organization states. “This includes a commitment to combating marginalization and underrepresentation within the communities served by libraries through increased understanding of the effects of historical exclusion.”

Concerns about safety at the Drag Queen Story Hour events made headlines recently when Houston MassResistance discovered drag queen Alberto Garza, who uses the name Tatiana Mala-Nina when reading to young children, had been convicted in 2008 of sexually assaulting an eight-year-old boy. The Houston library system had failed to perform a background check on Garza or any of the other drag queens appearing in its programs.

Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon, also faced backlash when it was found the library system had quietly removed from social media photos of the Drag Queen Story Hour that took place at one of its libraries during which young children were lying on top of the drag queens and fondling their false breasts.

According to the Drag Queen Story Hour website, the aim of the event is to present gender fluidity as a positive quality children should accept and even emulate:

Drag Queen Story Hour captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity in childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, and where dress-up is real.

However, a special education teacher protesting the Chula Vista drag queen event carried a sign that read, “Stop perversion of children.”

“It’s horrible what’s happening to America,” she lamented, CBS8 reported. “It’s horrible what’s happening to San Diego.”

“Wake up, America, wake up!” she added tearfully.

Transgender Rights: Judge Warns Girls Have No Right to ‘Visual Bodily Privacy’


Reported by DR. SUSAN BERRY |

In Lebanon, Russia uses softer touch to win influence / AFP JOSEPH EID
 

A federal judge is allowing a lawsuit against transgender facilities in a school district to proceed, but warned the student-plaintiffs that, if the government allows boys who claim to be female to use the girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms, then the girls have no right to “visual bodily privacy.”

Judge Jorge Alonso of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division is allowing a lawsuit to proceed against the school district that adopted the Obama-era transgender policy permitting boys claiming to be female to use the girls’ bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms.

However, the judge informed the girls, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), that, “[s]o far, the right not to be seen unclothed by the opposite sex is not on the Supreme Court’s list.”

The judge wrote:

The crux of this suit is that defendants seek to affirm the claimed genders of students by allowing male students who claim female gender to use privacy facilities (i.e., bathrooms and locker rooms) designated for use by the female sex and female students who claim male gender to use privacy facilities designated for the male sex … District 211 adopted the policy solely to affirm the claimed genders of those students claiming a gender different from their sex at birth.

Alonso continued, saying the school district has adopted the policy of allowing all transgender students to use the restrooms, locker rooms, and showers of their choice, while it insists all other students “must use the restrooms and locker rooms designated for their sex.”

“Before adopting the policy, District 211 did not investigate the reliability of the science underlying gender-affirmation treatments,” the judge wrote. “Nor did it make any effort to understand the impacts such a policy would have on students exposed to opposite-sex, same-gendered students in locker rooms and restrooms.”

The judge acknowledged the school district’s enforcement of the transgender policy has caused the students “embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety, fear, apprehension, stress, degradation and loss of dignity.”

The students “are at continual risk of encountering (and sometimes do encounter), without their consent, members of the opposite sex while disrobing, showering, urinating, defecating and while changing tampons and feminine napkins,” he added.

Christiana Holcomb, ADF legal counsel, said, “a compassionate approach to protecting students’ privacy” is needed.

“We welcome the court’s decision to allow key claims to move forward,” she added in a statement. “The district officially authorizes opposite-sex use of school privacy facilities, and that violates Title IX. Letting boys into girls’ showers, restrooms, and locker rooms is sexual harassment. Students should be confident that their school will protect their privacy and dignity. So far, this school district has failed to do so.”

Alonso did not allow all the claims of the plaintiffs to move forward. He threw out the students’ argument made in the case that they have the right to “bodily privacy,” saying that right refers to physically being touched by others, “not visual bodily privacy.”

Additionally, the judge dismissed the students’ claim that parents’ right to direct their children’s education applies in this case. Alonso said that right refers only to parents’ choice of type of education or schooling.

As Breitbart News reported in 2016, the district opened its schools’ bathrooms to boys claiming to be female without informing parents. Later, it allowed a boy claiming to be transgender into the girls’ locker room after the Obama administration’s Department of Education threatened the district’s federal funding in the amount of $6 million. Initially, the school district arranged for a private dressing area in the girls’ locker room for the boy, but federal officials complained the arrangement stigmatized the student. Consequently, the district allowed the boy to use the girls’ locker room openly as if he were a biological girl.

The Trump administration has rescinded the Obama administration’s policy and restored Title IX to the understanding that “sex” means biological sex – male or female – rather than perceptions or beliefs about one’s gender.

Since Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, former President Barack Obama admitted his unpopular transgender policy helped to defeat Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton.

As the College Fix reported, Tom Petersen, director of community relations for the school district, said, “The District will continue to defend our practices that affirm and support the identity of all our students.”

In a “backgrounder” on the case, ADF wrote, “If our government is powerful enough to command innocent school children to disrobe in the presence of opposite-sex classmates, then there will be little it will not be powerful enough to do.”

“The restroom policy and locker room agreement thus threaten our very liberty to live our lives in accordance with the most basic expectations of common decency, dignity, and privacy in our bodies,” the law firm added.

The case is Students and Parents for Privacy v. School Directors of Township High School District 211, No. 16 C 4945, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division.

Thought Police: Public University’s Rules Now Prohibit Offensive Facial Expressions


Reported By Benjamin Arie | December 12, 2018 at 5:53pm

When George Orwell famously wrote about a dystopian future where your every thought is monitored, he shouldn’t have set it in Great Britain. It would have been much more accurate had he instead written about American college campuses. We’ve known about the alarming trend of coddling and control at colleges for a while, but it may be getting worse. At the publicly-funded University of Montana Western, college administrators seem to be doing their best Big Brother impressions.

That university recently published a policy which threatens punitive action against students for making — wait for it — “mean facial expressions.”

Image result for What did you say gif

“While discussions may become heated and passionate, they should never become mean, nasty or vindictive in spoken or printed or emailed words, facial expressions, or gestures,” the official Civility Standards at Montana Western declare.

Who decides what a mean facial expression looks like? Nobody seems to know.

“The policy says students must promote an atmosphere of civility and that their discussions should never become ‘mean, nasty, or vindictive,’ but those are all entirely subjective terms that could be applied to punish constitutionally protected speech,” Laura Beltz of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education explained to Campus Reform.

She’s right: People use a variety of facial expressions when upset, flustered or merely just excited. If you roll your eyes or raise your eyebrows, is your academic career over?

“If it is the responsibility for students to uphold these standards, it follows that they may be punished for perceived violations of these standards, in this case, for failing to promote civility or for having a discussion that is deemed mean, nasty, or vindictive,” Beltz pointed out.

Image result for you cannot be serious gif

Being punished for making a face seems like something that belongs in kindergarten, not a major university attended by serious young adults. But that certainly seems to be how the policy is written.

“According to the policy, violations of the Student Code of Conduct can result in suspension of a student’s technology account, suspension, or in extreme cases, expulsion,” explained Campus Reform.

“Even if the policy isn’t actually applied that way, students who read the policy and see how vague it is are likely to self-censor instead of taking the risk that something they say will be seen as mean, nasty, vindictive, or not civil,” Beltz added. “This sort of chilling effect on protected speech is unacceptable at a public university like Montana Western.”

If someone doesn’t think these kinds of policies could be used to infringe on free speech and inspire proverbial witch hunts, they probably haven’t been paying attention.

We’ve already seen hysterical reactions to imagined “hate crimes,” which more often than not turn out to be wildly exaggerated or blatant hoaxes. And as everyone from the Duke lacrosse team to Rolling Stone magazine found out, due process can be quickly tossed aside when there’s a social justice crusade.

There have also been countless cases of free speech infringement throughout American campuses, and students with conservative views are often the ones being silenced.

Everyone agrees that civility is important. But by trying to monitor and enforce every element of human interaction and speech, down to which facial expressions somebody uses during a debate, campus busy-bodies have lost the plot.

The real world is not a safe space free of triggering facial expressions and terrifying eye rolls, and it’s ridiculous to pretend that this is what increasingly irrelevant universities need. Let’s try more freedom of speech, not less.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan, before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico. Follow Benjamin on Facebook

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