Category Archive: General Curmudgeonry

Another 1-8 victory for Thomas

Unfortunately, while he was right on the merits, the majority went the other way.

In MAHANOY AREA SCHOOL DIST. v. B. L., Justice Thomas wrote a remarkable dissent and flayed his colleagues on the bench for failure to apply past jurisprudence and tradition, regarding how much power schools have to restrict the speech of their students, both in and out of school.

Let’s look at the majority opinion for a summation of what went on to cause this travesty of justice, at least according to B.L., the plaintiff.

B. L. (who, together with her parents, is a respondent in this case) was a student at Mahanoy Area High School, a public school in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania. At the end of her freshman year, B. L. tried out for a position on the school’s varsity cheerleading squad and for right fielder on a private softball team. She did not make the varsity cheerleading team or get her preferred softball position, but she was offered a spot on the cheerleading squad’s junior varsity team. B. L. did not accept the coach’s decision with good grace, particularly because the squad coaches had placed an entering freshman on the varsity team

That weekend, B. L. and a friend visited the Cocoa Hut, a local convenience store. There, B. L. used her smartphone to post two photos on Snapchat, a social media application that allows users to post photos and videos that disappear after a set period of time. B. L. posted the images to her Snapchat “story,” a feature of the application that allows any person in the user’s “friend” group (B. L. had about 250 “friends”) to view the images for a 24 hour period.

The first image B. L. posted showed B. L. and a friend with middle fingers raised; it bore the caption: “Fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything.” App. 20. The second image was blank but for a caption, which read: “Love how me and [another student] get told we need a year of jv before we make varsity but tha[t] doesn’t matter to anyone else?” The caption also contained an upside-down smiley-face emoji. Id., at 21.

B. L.’s Snapchat “friends” included other Mahanoy Area High School students, some of whom also belonged to the cheerleading squad. At least one of them, using a separate cellphone, took pictures of B. L.’s posts and shared them with other members of the cheerleading squad. One of the students who received these photos showed them to her mother (who was a cheerleading squad coach), and the images spread. That week, several cheerleaders and other students approached the cheerleading coaches “visibly upset” about B. L.’s posts. Id., at 83–84. Questions about the posts persisted during an Algebra class taught by one of the two coaches. Id., at 83.

After discussing the matter with the school principal, the coaches decided that because the posts used profanity in connection with a school extracurricular activity, they violated team and school rules. As a result, the coaches suspended B. L. from the junior varsity cheerleading squad for the upcoming year. B. L.’s subsequent apologies did not move school officials. The school’s athletic director, principal, superintendent, and school board, all affirmed B. L.’s suspension from the team. In response, B. L., together with her parents, filed this lawsuit in Federal District Court.

Seems pretty straightforward, yes?  Well — nope.  The school district lost all the way up the line to the Supreme Court, on First Amendment grounds.

So you say, yay for the student, boo for the patriarchal authoritarian school district?

No.  Or at least, that’s not how Justice Thomas saw it:

JUSTICE THOMAS, dissenting.

B. L., a high school student, sent a profanity-laced mes-sage to hundreds of people, including classmates and team-mates. The message included a picture of B. L. raising her middle finger and captioned “F*** school” and “f*** cheer.”This message was juxtaposed with another, which explained that B. L. was frustrated that she failed to make the varsity cheerleading squad. The cheerleading coach responded by disciplining B. L.

The Court overrides that decision—without even mentioning the 150 years of history supporting the coach. Using broad brushstrokes, the majority outlines the scope of school authority. When students are on campus, the majority says, schools have authority in loco parentis—that is, as substitutes of parents—to discipline speech and conduct. Off campus, the authority of schools is somewhat less. At that level of generality, I agree. But the majority omits important detail. What authority does a school have when it operates in loco parentis? How much less authority do schools have over off-campus speech and conduct? And how does a court decide if speech is on or off campus?

Disregarding these important issues, the majority simply posits three vague considerations and reaches an outcome. A more searching review reveals that schools historically could discipline students in circumstances like those presented here. Because the majority does not attempt to explain why we should not apply this historical rule and does not attempt to tether its approach to anything stable, I respectfully dissent.

I’m not going to quote the whole thing, but here’s some of his citations indicating his colleagues did not do due diligence (blogger’s emphasis in bold):

Some courts made statements that, if read in isolation, could suggest that schools had no authority at all to regulate off-campus speech. E.g., Dritt v. Snodgrass, 66 Mo. 286, 297 (1877) (Norton, J., joined by a majority of the court, concurring) (“neither the teacher nor directors have the authority to follow [a student home], and govern his conduct while under the parental eye” because that would “supersede entirely parental authority”). But, these courts made it clear that the rule against regulating off-campus speech applied only when that speech was “nowise connected with the management or successful operation of the school.” King v. Jefferson City School Bd., 71 Mo. 628, 630 (1880) (distinguishing Dritt); accord, Lander, 32 Vt., at 120–121 (similar). In other words, they followed Lander: A school can regulate speech when it occurs off campus, so long as it has a proximate tendency to harm the school, its faculty or students, or its programs.

Also, immediately following (again, blogger’s emphasis in bold):

If there is a good constitutional reason to depart from this historical rule, the majority and the parties fail to identify it. I would thus apply the rule. Assuming that B. L.’s speech occurred off campus, the purpose and effect of B. L.’s speech was “to degrade the [program and cheerleading staff]” in front of “other pupils,” thus having “a direct and immediate tendency to . . . subvert the [cheerleading coach’s] authority.” Id., at 115, 120. As a result, the coach had authority to discipline B. L.

Our modern doctrine is not to the contrary. “[T]he penalties imposed in this case were unrelated to any political viewpoint” or religious viewpoint. Bethel School Dist. No. 403 v. Fraser, 478 U. S. 675, 685 (1986). And although the majority sugar coats this speech as “criticism,” ante, at 8, it is well settled that schools can punish “vulgar” speech—at least when it occurs on campus, e.g., Fraser, 478 U. S., at 683–684; ante, at 5.

The discipline here—a 1-year suspension from the team—may strike some as disproportionate. Tr. of Oral Arg. 31, 57. But that does not matter for our purposes. State courts have policed school disciplinary decisions for “reasonable[ness].” E.g., Burdick, 31 Iowa, at 565. And disproportionate discipline “can be challenged by parents in the political process.” Morse, 551 U. S., at 420 (THOMAS, J., concurring). But the majority and the parties provide no textual or historical evidence to suggest that federal courts generally can police the proportionality of school disciplinary decisions in the name of the First Amendment.

Finally:

The Court transparently takes a common-law approach to today’s decision. In effect, it states just one rule: Schools can regulate speech less often when that speech occurs off campus. It then identifies this case as an “example” and“leav[es] for future cases” the job of developing this new common-law doctrine. Ante, at 7–8. But the Court’s foundation is untethered from anything stable, and courts (and schools) will almost certainly be at a loss as to what exactly the Court’s opinion today means.

Perhaps there are good constitutional reasons to depart from the historical rule, and perhaps this Court and lower courts will identify and explain these reasons in the future. But because the Court does not do so today, and because it reaches the wrong result under the appropriate historical test, I respectfully dissent.

So do I, Justice Thomas.  So do I.  The majority, for all its passionate defense of the First Amendment, misses a number of crucial points and is therefore incorrect in its ruling.

I think Justice Scalia would have agreed with Justice Thomas.

Another stupid federal holiday

“Juneteenth”.

Yet another excuse for a three-day weekend, this time to celebrate the end of slavery in Texas.  Note carefully:  IN TEXAS.  Not in the entire old Confederacy; the Emancipation Proclamation started that ball rolling on January 1, 1863, in all Confederate territories then held by the Union, and then followed Union troops as they reclaimed the rest of the South.  Which to me means that if we’re going to celebrate the end of slavery, New Year’s Day is perfectly fine for that.  Or if you’re a purist, September 22, 1862, was the date Lincoln issued the Proclamation.

Wikipedia (which of course should never be anyone’s go-to resource, but I’m in a hurry this morning) says of Juneteenth,

Celebrations date to 1866, at first involving church-centered community gatherings in Texas. It spread across the South and became more commercialized in the 1920s and 1930s, often centering on a food festival.

The date is literally the date of the arrival of occupying Union troops in Galveston, Texas, and the immediate application of the Emancipation Proclamation there.  Wikipedia again:

On the morning of Monday, June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived on the island of Galveston, Texas, to take command of the more than 2,000 federal troops recently landed in the department of Texas to enforce the emancipation of its slaves and oversee a peaceful transition of power, additionally nullifying all laws passed within Texas during the war by Confederate lawmakers.

So there you have it.  The only reason for this holiday’s existence is that it marks the official emancipation of slaves in the last state the Union occupied after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.

Well, that, and as noted above, yet another excuse for a federal three-day weekend.  I read yesterday this brings the number of paid days off for the average Federal employee to 44, which is nearly nine weeks.  I wish I had nine weeks of paid days off.  I suppose the only good thing about this is it’s nine weeks they’re not screwing around in our beknighted country’s affairs.

Face it, folks, I live in Indiana.  We never had slaves, here.  My mother’s family didn’t arrive here until long after the Civil War ended, and my father’s family never held slaves, from their arrival in New York and Pennsylvania in the 1700s through their migrations to western Pennsylvania, northern Ohio, and Indiana, and I feel no obligation to hand over so-called “reparations” to my middle-class black neighbors who never were slaves.  I have trouble with this being enshrined as a national holiday.

And please note that I don’t have a problem with MLK Day, because Dr. King espoused a message of peace and harmony between the races.

Mark my words, Juneteenth will not be used for that — it will be used (and already has been, by the execrable Cori Bush, with Slow Joe’s signature fresh on the page) as yet another excuse to drive a wedge between Americans and to call for reparations for people who never were slaves from people who never held slaves.

The insanity will end when we finally decide we’ve had enough.  Have we had enough, yet?

The governor is wrong (as usual)

I don’t read Abdul’s blog very often, because he tends to post a teaser and then a video I don’t have the time or patience to watch, instead of actually doing journalism and posting a real article.

However, I clicked on his blog today and lo and behold, I find our very own Dog-Daddy Gov is suing the state Attorney General over whether or not he can prevent state legislators from convening a special session during a declared emergency, and whether or not he can sue lawmakers when they are in session. Holcomb, the RINO prick, naturally says yes to both; Rokita, the sometime RINO prick, says, nope to both.

My own feeling (and I was just thinking this yesterday) is the legislature needs to get on its horse and find a way to meet virtually. If that requires an amendment to the state constitution, all well and good. But the legislature (IMHO) cannot be prevented from convening at any time by the governor, because of separation of powers. And I think legislative immunity probably is good enough to cover whether or not the Gov can sue legislators while in session.

In this particular case, Abdul actually wrote more than his usual single-sentence blurb before urging one to watch the whole thing (which of course is paid for by his sponsor). It might or might not be edifying; I don’t care, because I think Holcomb is full of shit on his best days, and I think the judge should listen to Rokita on this one.

Exactly, citizens.

Fauci the Fraud

Unmasked at last.  Dumbass didn’t have the sense Hillary did to dump his emails when the FOIA request came through…

This is despicable.

Out-of-state dark money group kicks off effort to unseat Lauren Boebert; repeats several debunked claims

Full disclosure, as if I really need to say it:  I don’t live in Colorado.  I’m a Hoosier.  But…

South Carolinans trying to persuade Coloradans to do anything in an election should be 100% illegal.  Spending money to unseat a Congressman in a state where you don’t live should be 100% illegal.

How this is permitted is beyond me.  The American political system is cash-heavy with untraceable “dark money” like this.  I would be extremely angry if someone were pouring such money into my state in an attempt to unseat my congressman or one of my senators — even if I didn’t like the worthless fuckers and was planning to vote against them anyway.  (And I’m sure there’s a lot of dark money that funnels into Indiana elections through Chicago.)

The rule should be, if that congressman or senator doesn’t directly represent you, it should be a felony to make ANY contribution to their election or to their opponent(s).  Out-of-state money should be absolutely verboten.  We should be getting our backs up and shouting, “This is MY state, motherfuckers, keep your dirty money to yourselves.”

I believe, quite frankly, this should be the same rule for the congressional and senatorial PACs that are designed to spread the national party’s wealth to help candidates in underfunded races.

I consistently refuse to give $3 to the Presidential Election Fund on my tax return (and refused back when it was still $1, too) because fuck the entire notion of the government (which has its own motivations) dispensing money to the candidates for presidential electoral purposes.  I simply don’t buy that this reduces the amount of private money in presidential contests.  And of course it doesn’t, because a Jeff Bezos (boo!) or an Elon Musk (yay!) could easily refuse the federal money and spend all of their billions they wanted to on running for president.  (If I recall correctly, Trump almost did, but I think the businessman in him shied away from spending his own money when the fund was already there.)

There needs to be a reckoning.  All this “dark” money needs to be removed from political operations.  Donors should have the courage of their convictions to be identified as supporting a given candidate, or they should not donate (and they should abstain from voting, too).

We cannot maintain our freedoms when inimical movements are spending tons of dark money to remove freedom-loving individuals like Lauren Boebert from office.

Inflation is not solved by green bullshit.

Yet that’s what the WSJ reports central banks seem to be saying.  But we all know how to prevent inflation, right, guys?  Right?  Guys?

Biden on Empty

The Jackson Browne song was, frankly, better.

H/T, Instapundit.

Nobody ever gets it till it’s gone.

Before you go off half-cocked at the conspiracy theory that the Biden Maladministration “ordered” the Colonial Pipeline shut down (and yes, I’ve read this elsewhere), I’d recommend the application of Occam’s Razor to the problem.

The fact is, far too many public infrastructure installations are vulnerable to exactly the sort of hack reported, because they are designed to be accessed from the public Internet by their operators. Why? Because it’s easy to do it that way, that’s why. And it means they can hire fewer operators because they don’t have to be on site.

You can firewall to a fare-thee-well, you can use all sorts of fancy gadgets and hardware dongles and suchlike to secure logins, but in the end, all of these systems are exactly as impenetrable as their weakest link. Which is usually a bug in security code that someone manages to find and exploit.

Don’t be surprised when this happens again, and again, and again — and it may not happen to a pipeline next time. It might happen to the regional power grid. Or your local water company.

And it’s all because they’re all too goddamn cheap to hire people to run things in person, the way things used to be done before the Internet.

NONE of these installations should be hooked up to the public Internet. Period. End of subject.

 

Go and read.

Now is the time at the Castle… when we dance

I was 15 and not-quite-a-half on April 30, 1975.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was pretty politically aware even at that age (I’d be a “Reagan ’76” partisan the next year, even though I wasn’t old enough to vote), and I knew quite a lot about the Vietnam War.  Learned even more reading about it when I was in college.

Generals and politicians (though I may be repeating myself) should have been whipped through the streets over this.  I thought so then and I think so now.  There was no reason we couldn’t have won that conflict; we had them on the ropes after Tet, in 1968, but the media then as now lied to the American public.  After the initial surprise, we’d regrouped along with the ARVN and beat the living shit out of the commies, nearly causing them to surrender.  They did sue for peace and a cease-fire.  But did the media report it that way?  Of course not.  And the commies sat at the Paris Peace Talks for years after that, shoveling bullshit, until Nixon fucked up so badly he had to resign, and Ford had little or not stomach to keep fighting.

And that’s how we got Carter and the four wasted years until Reagan soundly thumped his ass back to his peanut farm in Georgia.

Now we have Resident Bidet, good ol’ #rapistpedojoefauxpres, and friends, things are going to get worse before they get better.  Inflation is already here and will do nothing but get worse until we get a handle on all that free faux fiat cash that’s been infused into our banking system.  The Chinese are ugly (well, some of their women aren’t hard to look at, but their minds are ugly) and they’re not going to get any better until their population of young’uns crashes, which some folks say is already happening and that’s why Winnie the Xi is being such a bitch and trying to ruin the world — or the part of it that works, anyway — so completely and so fast.

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese still aren’t free, still nominally Commie (or, more accurately, an autocratic dictatorship, same difference) but at least they are halfway capitalist, these days, and inclined to be friendly with the US the Viet Cong used to hate.  And they hate the Chinese more than we do.

I think there’s a lesson in that.

Older posts «

» Newer posts