Category Archives: Freedom of speech and expression

UVa Affirms Commitment to Free Speech… at Least in Theory

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia Board of Trustees has voted to approve a statement affirming the university’s commitment to free expression and free inquiry.

“All views, beliefs and perspective deserve to be articulated and heard free from interference,” states the Statement of the Committee on Free Expression and Free Inquiry. “Free and open inquiry … is at the heart of the principles of academic freedom. … Likewise, the educational endeavor for students requires the freedom to speak, write, inquire, listen, challenge and learn.”

President James Ryan appointed the committee and asked it to craft a set of principles to guide the university. The committee heard testimony from students and faculty attesting to the widespread sentiment that certain views should not be expressed in or out of the classroom for fear of triggering intense social media backlash or punitive measures by administrators (many incidents of which have been documented in Bacon’s Rebellion and The Jefferson Council website).

It remains to be seen how the Ryan administration will interpret and apply these principles. The committee’s Statement genuflected to the fact that the university has not always fulfilled its aspirations — “exploiting enslaved laborers and excluding Black Americans, women, and groups and viewpoints disfavored by the majority.” It made no explicit mention of the suppression of conservative views antithetical to a core of radical students or the failure of the Ryan administration to stand up for them — things that are happening now, not a hundred years ago. Continue reading

When Did UVa Law School Profs Stop Caring about Civil Liberties?

Robert Mueller

by Walter Smith

For some time I have been beyond disappointed by the deafening silence from the University of Virginia Law School over its apparent lack of concern with basic abuses of civil liberties. Once upon a time, lawyers zealously defended American civil liberties such as free speech and the right to counsel. Once upon a time, they abhorred government abuses in the defense and intelligence arenas. Once upon a time, they defended concepts like equal justice under the law, speedy prosecutions, fair trial forums, and the right to participate in all civic and economic aspects of our country.

Members of my father’s UVa Law School class of 1948 fought real Nazis. They not only understood law, they understood the evil of a society without it. In between his graduation in 1948 and mine in 1984, lawyers still defended these glorious abstractions – free speech, free assembly, fair trial, checking governmental abuse. I never had one professor who advocated stifling speech. I don’t believe any professor would have turned a blind eye to governmental agencies abusing citizens. I was too young for the McCarthy hearings, but I remember the Church Committee, Watergate, Viet Nam hearings, and Iran Contra.

Seeing UVa law professor Danielle Citron advocate the banning President Trump from Twitter bordered on unthinkable. Continue reading

We Are Losing the Soul of Our University

TO: All UVA Alumni and Friends Who Care About Our University

FROM: The Jefferson Council

RE: We Are Losing the Soul of Our University

DATE: May 20, 2021

On the eve of Final Exercises at our University, we, the founding members and Board of the Jefferson Council, feel the need to send out this letter regarding very troubling developments at our beloved University. Every aspect of the legacy of UVA is under threat from our President and his hand-picked administration. They have a social justice agenda that is in many cases contrary to the values at UVA that made our institution so unique and so beloved.

We cannot solve everything in one fell swoop. Like the adage about how to eat an elephant, the answer is one bite at a time. Therefore, we have narrowed our focus and set our goals to address four core issues at UVA that we know to have wide-spread alumni support. These four core issues of The Jefferson Council are as follows:

  1. Open Dialogue: We will fight for the University to adopt and enforce a set of principles providing for open dialogue from all parties within the University. No one should be vilified or physically abused or have their grades docked for expressing a contrary opinion on any issue, political or social.
  2. Mr. Jefferson: We will fight to protect the legacy of Mr. Jefferson as our Founder and as a Founding Father of America.
  3. The Lawn: We will fight to remove all signage from the Lawn doors and preserve the sanctity of the Academic Village.
  4. The Honor System: We will fight to resuscitate and preserve the Honor System at UVA. It has been severely weakened and will only survive with a concerted effort by the Board of Visitors, the Administration, the alumni, and the students.

Continue reading

Free Expression Committee Holds Listening Session

Free speech wall in downtown Charlottesville pedestrian mall

The Committee on Free Expression and Inquiry heard more than 20 students, professors, alumni and parents during an hour-and-a-half “listening session” May 4, but did not respond to questions or concerns.

University of Virginia President Jim Ryan created the Committee on Free  Expression and inquiry in February after bitter complains from alumni, students, and a faculty members that conservative voices on the grounds were being stifled by social-media harassment and an administration that vacillates between indifference and hostility. He tasked the committee to craft a long-term set of values to which the University should adhere.

Several faculty members said that the administration no longer tolerates criticism of University policies, reports the Cavalier Daily. Continue reading

UVa’s Crying Game

UVa law school library — trauma site

by Jock Yell0tt

“When Dean Goluboff took the stage to respond, she immediately started crying and was largely incoherent to the audience for much of the first part of her response … ”

Risa Gobuloff, Esq., is Dean of the University of Virginia Law School.

Dean Gobuloff’s crying spate occurred at a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, April 19, 2018, called by the school’s Minority Rights Coalition to discuss the previous day’s emergency.[1]

The emergency was: a man sat in the law library reading up on the law. Continue reading

UVa Response to Medical Student First Amendment Lawsuit

Norman K. Moon Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

Jim Bacon reported April 8 on the claims of Kieran Ravi Bhattacharya, a former student at the University of Virginia Medical School, who alleges that he was retaliated against for exercising his First Amendment freedoms at a panel discussion by the University’s chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association (“AMWA”).

Senior Judge Norman K. Moon of the United States District Court Western District of Virginia in a memorandum opinion dated March 31, 2021, dismissed three of the four complaints but left in place the First Amendment allegation. 

Mr. Bacon offered the following cautions: 

“That ruling presents only one side of the story, Bhattacharya’s, and has to be considered in that light.”

Continue reading

Hate, Hostility and Harassment at UVa

Nick Cabrera tweeted this photo of himself posing maskless with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green at the Conservative Political Action Conference. COVID scolds wanted to impeach him from student council.

by James A. Bacon

Last fall Nickolaus “Nick” Cabrera ran for election as a first-year representative to student council at the University of Virginia. His platform was anodyne — showing unity in confronting COVID-19, getting Class of 2024 t-shirts delivered, that sort of thing. He didn’t run on an ideological or partisan political platform, but he didn’t hide anything either. It wasn’t until he was actually elected to a spot on Student Council that people took notice. Horrors! He supported Donald Trump for president! The word went out on the social media tom-toms. Before long, he was a campus villain.

It wouldn’t be long before Cabrera received his baptism under fire as the sole conservative representative in a student council populated entirely by representatives on the blue end of the political spectrum.

Continue reading

Students Launch Conservative Publication


A dozen University of Virginia students have launched an online newspaper, The Jefferson Independent, to provide news and commentary from a conservative perspective on issues of interest to the UVa community.

“In providing an outlet for intellectual diversity, objective truth, and the marketplace of ideas and debate, our goal is to mainstream conservatism amid an increasingly anti-UVA cultural hegemony,” states the publication’s mission. “Our ideas and values will be unapologetically shared and challenged without fear of being ‘canceled’. Never will we allow intimidation to silence us from upholding truth at Mr. Jefferson’s University.” Continue reading

When “Words Are Violence,” Only One Side Gets to Speak

If you’re not woke, you’re a fascist.

by James A. Bacon

Victoria Spiotto was brought up in a conservative, religious family of Italian descent in Loudoun County.  It was at the University of Virginia where she found her political identity as a conservative. One day in her third year, she was walking the grounds when she came across a Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) table displaying a 9/11 memorial. She found the club appealing, and started learning about thinkers to whom she’d never been exposed to before — the philosophers and thought leaders of conservatism. By her fourth year, she was leader of the club, determined to grow the organization.

Conservatives are mostly invisible at UVa, and they have few means of connecting. Spiotto wanted to let people know the group was out there, that YAF was a club where students of a conservative/libertarian stripe could find like-minded people and make friends. So, she began organizing a series of initiatives to get noticed. “It wasn’t a call to fight.” The idea, she says, was to “stand your ground. Don’t compromise on the truth you believe in.”

YAF now may be the most vilified student organization at UVa. The hostility is unrelenting. Spiotto and her buddies don’t worry for their physical safety. But left-wing students take down their signs and rain down vitriol on social media. Student Council leaders stifle dissent. Continue reading

The Bureaucratic Banality of Academic Oppression

by James A. Bacon

Two-and-a-half years ago, Kieran Ravi Bhattacharya, a medical school student at the University of Virginia, attended a session on “microaggressions” in which psychology professor Beverly Colwell Adams gave a presentation about her research. In what he considered to be a collegial manner, Bhattacharya challenged her analysis.

The challenge was not well received. Indeed, other participants in the session deemed his questions disrespectful. There followed a sequence of events in which Bhattacharya was investigated by the Academic Standards and Achievement Committee for unprofessional behavior, was told to submit to psychological evaluation, was suspended, was branded as a threat to the university community, was banned from the university grounds, and ultimately was expelled. Continue reading