Justin Caruso reports: CNN’s Brooke Baldwin ended a segment Friday after a panelist expressed his love for the “First Amendment and boobs.”
“I’m a first amendment absolutist and believe in two things completely — the First Amendment and boobs,” Fox Sports Radio’s Clay Travis said.
Baldwin asked the panelist what he meant, not sure if he said “boobs” or “booze.”
“You don’t love boobs, too?”
“I’m not talking about that on television because it’s irrelevant to the topic. It shouldn’t be brought up here,” former ESPN editor Keith Reed responded. Read the rest of this entry »
Jury finds Reporter, Rolling Stone Responsible for Defaming University of Virginia Dean with Fictionalized ‘Gang Rape’ storyPosted: November 4, 2016
Deliberations about ‘A Rape on Campus’ spanned three days.
T. Rees Shapiro reports: A federal court jury decided Friday that a Rolling Stone journalist defamed a former University of Virginia associate dean in a 2014 magazine article about sexual assault on campus that included a debunked account of a fraternity gang rape.
The 10-member jury concluded that the Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was responsible for defamation, with actual malice, in the case brought by Nicole Eramo, a U-Va. administrator who oversaw sexual violence cases at the time of the article’s publication. The jury also found the magazine and its parent company, Wenner Media, responsible for defaming Eramo, who has said her life’s work helping sexual assault victims was devastated as a result of Rolling Stone’s article and its aftermath.
The lawsuit centered on Erdely’s 9,000-word article titled “A Rape on Campus,” which appeared online in late November 2014 and on newsstands in the magazine’s December 2014 issue. Opening with a graphic depiction of a fraternity gang rape, the story caused an immediate sensation at a time of heightened awareness of campus sexual assault, going viral online and ripping through the U-Va. community.
But within days of the article’s publication, key elements of the account fell apart under scrutiny, including the narrative’s shocking allegation of a fraternity gang rape. The magazine eventually retracted the story in April 2015, and Eramo’s lawsuit came a month later, alleging that the magazine’s portrayal of her as callous and dismissive of rape reports on campus was untrue and unfair.
The jurors reached a verdict Friday after deliberating across three days. Eramo has asked for $7.5 million in damages but now, following the verdict, can argue for a different amount. The argument for damages is scheduled to begin Monday.
Regardless of potential damages, the verdict showed the jury’s willingness to slam a major media outlet for the impact of getting a story wrong. Originally hailed as a brave triumph of reporting for its raw accounts of rape and attempts at bringing accountability to a storied public university, the article led to protests of the U-Va. administration, vandalism of a campus fraternity and outrage among activists trying to prevent sexual assault. Once its flaws were exposed, the article’s deeper message of the effects of campus rape — a pervasive national problem — was lost amid the allegations of shoddy reporting. Read the rest of this entry »
George Mason University also becomes the third green light institution in the state of Virginia, joining the University of Virginia and The College of William & Mary
WASHINGTON, April 21, 2015—George Mason University (GMU) has eliminated all of its speech codes, earning the highest, “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). After working with FIRE to ensure its policies comply with the First Amendment, the Virginia university has joined a select group of colleges and universities nationwide to earn FIRE’s most favorable rating for free speech on campus.
“Freedom of speech and academic freedom are core values of a university’s mission. I’m delighted that George Mason has joined the ranks of universities that have committed themselves to the full protection of free speech. Thank you to our administration for their dedicated work in providing a context where students and faculty can express controversial ideas freely, and even inartfully, without fear of reprisal.”
“We commend George Mason University for improving its policies and fully upholding the First Amendment rights of its students and faculty members,” said Azhar Majeed, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program. “GMU is now a national leader in terms of respecting free speech in higher education, and the university’s actions should serve as a positive example for other institutions to follow.”
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education Awards Highest Free Speech Rating to George Mason University
FIRE has been advocating for speech code reform at GMU for nearly a decade. In May 2014, Majeed and GMU Director of Special Diversity Projects Dennis Webster began working together to revise seven university policies, including a flyer posting policy, a sexual harassment policy, two provisions from the student conduct code, and a policy on leafleting. GMU Foundation Professor of Law Todd Zywicki also assisted in the effort.
“We commend George Mason University for improving its policies and fully upholding the First Amendment rights of its students and faculty members. GMU is now a national leader in terms of respecting free speech in higher education, and the university’s actions should serve as a positive example for other institutions to follow.”
— Azhar Majeed, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program
“Freedom of speech and academic freedom are core values of a university’s mission,” said Zywicki. “I’m delighted that George Mason has joined the ranks of universities that have committed themselves to the full protection of free speech. Thank you to our administration for their dedicated work in providing a context where students and faculty can express controversial ideas freely, and even inartfully, without fear of reprisal.” Read the rest of this entry »
Ignoring the most basic rules of journalism
Jonah Goldberg writes: Rolling Stone screwed up.
In most media scandals, it’s unfair to paint with such a broad brush. When Stephen Glass concocted his fables at The New Republic, he went to antiheroic lengths to conceal his deceptions from his colleagues. Janet Cooke, who famously won a Pulitzer for her Washington Post series about an eight-year-old heroin addict, “Jimmy’s World,” lied to her editors.
“The field of journalistic ethics can get ridiculously Talmudic. But it’s all based on a very simple rule: Tell the truth.”
That’s not the case with Rolling Stone’s publication of “A Rape on Campus,” the story of the brutal gang rape of a student named “Jackie” at the University of Virginia that turned out to be false. Its failure was a group effort, from editor-in-chief Jann Wenner on down.
The best thing you can say about this fiasco is that there was little deliberate lying involved. According to an exhaustive report by the Columbia Journalism School, the article’s author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and her editors didn’t purposefully publish falsehoods.
Of course, this is faint praise. The field of journalistic ethics can get ridiculously Talmudic. But it’s all based on a very simple rule: Tell the truth. If the truth is unclear, tell what you know and give both sides (or as many credible sides to a story as might exist) an opportunity to make their case. (For opinion journalists, like yours truly, the rule is even easier: Don’t say anything you don’t believe.)
“At every stage, editors and reporters knew what they should do: Talk to the accused rapists, confirm the identities and testimony of alleged witnesses, give the University of Virginia and the leadership of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, where the rape allegedly occurred, a fair opportunity to rebut the charges, nail down corroborating details…”
Rolling Stone ignored this basic rule. At every stage, editors and reporters knew what they should do: Talk to the accused rapists, confirm the identities and testimony of alleged witnesses, give the University of Virginia and the leadership of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, where the rape allegedly occurred, a fair opportunity to rebut the charges, nail down corroborating details, etc.
“And, at almost every turn, they collectively went another way, caving to Jackie’s refusal to help confirm her story.”
And, at almost every turn, they collectively went another way, caving to Jackie’s refusal to help confirm her story.
The Columbia report, requested by Rolling Stone and written pro bono by the journalism school’s dean, Steve Coll, and colleagues, has a single major failing. It’s dispositive on the who, what, when, where, and how the system broke down, but it’s remarkably weak on the question of “why?” Read the rest of this entry »
FREEDOM OF THOUGHT: Religious Freedom More Important Founding Achievement than Being President of the United StatesPosted: April 3, 2015
“Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishment or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness…”
Before his death, Thomas Jefferson left explicit instructions regarding the monument to be erected over his grave. In this document (undated), Jefferson supplied a sketch of the shape of the marker, and the epitaph with which he wanted it to be inscribed:
“…on the faces of the Obelisk the following inscription, & not a word more:
Here was buried
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
& Father of the University of Virginia
What’s missing here? Jefferson declined to include, among his most treasured achievements, his own ascent to the highest office in the land. Thomas Jefferson was elected twice, served two terms as president of the United States. Why did Jefferson consider his own presidency to be unimportant, or not important enough to include in his list of achievements? Much as been written about this, including by Jefferson himself, but my own summary is this: A free people govern themselves. A self-governing society doesn’t celebrate its leaders, or rulers, it celebrates its own freedom.
The most important of these freedoms being freedom of thought. Freedom to think, or not think, whatever the hell you want. To worship, or not worship, whatever deity you want, it’s your business. The freedom to subscribe to–or reject–whatever philosophy you want. The freedom to participate, or refrain from participating in, whatever way of life you chose. An individual is free to worship as he pleases with no discrimination. And has the inherent (not state-given) freedom to not be compelled by another to do otherwise.
Without this, the “habits of hypocrisy and meanness” undermine pluralism, and threaten the foundations of the civil society that his generation fought so hard to build.
Do Jefferson’s successors understand this?
Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) was prevented by illness from attending the Virginia Convention of 1774 that met to discuss what to do in the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party and the closing of the port of Boston by the British. But Jefferson sent a paper to the convention, later published as A Summary View of the Rights of British America. The force of its arguments and its literary quality led the Convention to elect Jefferson to serve in the Continental Congress.
He was too anti-British to be made use of until a total break with Great Britain had become inevitable. Then he was entrusted with drafting the Declaration of Independence. This assignment, and what he made of it, ensured Jefferson’s place as an apostle of liberty. In the Declaration, and in his other writings, Jefferson was perhaps the best spokesman we have had for the American ideals of liberty, equality, faith in education, and in the wisdom of the common man. But what Jefferson wanted to be remembered for, besides writing the Declaration of Independence, was writing the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and founding the University of Virginia.
Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom
The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom is a statement about both freedom of conscience and the principle of separation of church and state. Written by Thomas Jefferson and passed by the Virginia General Assembly on January 16, 1786, it is the forerunner of the first amendment protections for religious freedom. Divided into three paragraphs, the statute is rooted in Jefferson’s philosophy. It could be passed in Virginia because Dissenting sects there (particularly Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists) had petitioned strongly during the preceding decade for religious liberty, including the separation of church and state.
Jefferson had argued in the Declaration of Independence that “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle [man]….” The first paragraph of the religious statute proclaims one of those entitlements, freedom of thought. To Jefferson, “Nature’s God,” who is undeniably visible in the workings of the universe, gives man the freedom to choose his religious beliefs. This is the divinity whom deists of the time accepted—a God who created the world and is the final judge of man, but who does not intervene in the affairs of man. This God who gives man the freedom to believe or not to believe is also the God of the Christian sects.
I. Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishment or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was his Almighty power to do . . .
The second paragraph is the act itself, which states that no person can be compelled to attend any church or support it with his taxes. It says that an individual is free to worship as he pleases with no discrimination. Read the rest of this entry »
U.S. colleges foster and encourage lynch mobs and thought police in place of actual education. It’s time for serious reform.
Daniel Payne writes: For anyone still keeping up with the University of Virginia’s fraternity gang-rape fiasco, this month brought a bit of good news: the Charlottesville Police Department announced it could find no proof that the alleged gang rape had occurred at Phi Kappa Psi. UVA subsequently reinstated the fraternity after having shut it down a few months before.
“Unsurprisingly, much of this bankrupt ideology centers on feminism, which has filled the role that eugenics once filled in American universities: a crystalline instance of peak Progressive thought animated by bigotry and pseudoscience.”
This is small comfort to a debacle that has been both shameful and injudicious from start to finish. If there is anything good to be had from the entire mess, it is that a slapdash and irresponsible publication has been justly humiliated, and that an incompetent and malicious journalist has been perhaps permanently outcast from the good graces of the Fourth Estate. So far as I can tell, Sabrina Rubin Erdely has not been heard from publicly since last tweeting at the end of November. That is fine by me; indeed, if she finishes out her career as an obscure copy editor at a small-town bi-weekly, I do not think journalism as a whole will be worse off, even if the small-town bi-weekly suffers.
“Modern feminism drove much of the witch hunt on UVA’s campus, for instance, and it can be seen at plenty of other colleges, as well.”
Yet the Rolling Stone fiasco is on the main depressing and discouraging, if for no other reason than it has starkly highlighted the fundamental hollowness of our institutions of higher learning, saturated as they have become by the often-toxic influence of academic leftism.
A Microcosm of U.S. Colleges’ Sick Culture
Indeed, UVA provided a perfect example of the moral bankruptcy one often finds at the average American college. In the wake of the Rolling Stone article, the university suspended Greek life on campus with no due process whatsoever; a University of Virginia law school student demanded that Phi Kappa Psi be treated as a “criminal street gang” subject to asset seizure by the government; the fraternity house was vandalized; and effectively the entire university lined up against a group of young men who had been viciously slandered in a national media outlet based on the strength of one uncorroborated and unexamined accusation. “The whole [fraternity] culture,” claimed UVA English professor Alison Booth, with no irony whatsoever, “is sick.”
“From coast to coast, the vanities of progressivism are having a profoundly negative effect on our institutions of higher learning.”
The University of Virginia, in other words, behaved shamefully and with no civic decorum: from its administration to its faculty to its studentry, the entire institution displayed the aplomb of a sulky teenager unwilling to think critically about even the most basic of ethical considerations. UVA’s president, Teresa Sullivan, should be apologizing profusely to the members of Phi Kappa Psi along with the whole fraternity community. Instead, she’s forcing fraternities to adopt pointless new rules on the basis of a single allegation that even the police now dispute.