Tag Archives: Morgan Bettinger

Daily Mail Picks up Bettinger Story

Protesters harass Morgan Bettinger in her car after rumors circulated that she said they’d made good “speed bumps,” a supposed allusion to the Unite the Right rally three years previously in which a neo-Nazi ran his car into a crowd of protesters, killing one. Photo credit: WUVA News by way of The Daily Mail.

The Morgan Bettinger case is gaining national notoriety. After Reason magazine detailed the travesty of the University of Virginia student who was punished for using the words “speed bumps” in a way that militant leftist protesters construed as threatening, the Daily Mail has picked up the story. The Daily Mail does not add much new information, but it does crystallize the insanity of the episode, in which rumors spreading on social media panicked UVa officials into running Bettinger through a flawed student disciplinary system.

As the Daily Mail summarized the travesty: “Celebrated BLM activist ruthlessly destroyed white student’s life by accusing her of saying racial justice protesters would ‘make good speed bumps’ — only to later admit she may have MISHEARD.” The chief accuser was Zyahna Bryant, who had been awarded numerous honors in recognition of her student activism. She spread vitriol against Bettinger online, and then demanded that UVa discipline her.

Although UVa’s Office of Equity and Civil Rights (OECR) found no evidence to confirm the allegation that she had verbally threatened the protesters, the student-run judiciary committee compelled her to write an apology to Bryant and perform social justice-related community service if she wanted to graduate. Continue reading

How the Digital Rumor Mill Fed Incoherent Social-Justice Hysteria

Graphic credit: Reason Magazine

by James A. Bacon

When Emma Camp was a student at the University of Virginia in 2020, she heard the tale of Morgan Bettinger, another UVa student, who was said to have approached left-wing protesters in downtown Charlottesville and threatened to make “speed bumps” of them.

The story, says Camp, was repeatedly endlessly on social media — group chats, Instagram posts, and viral tweets — and then leaped to local television and print media. Bettinger was criticized, ostracized, made to fear for her safety, and ultimately punished by UVa’s student judiciary committee.

After graduating, Camp became an assistant editor of Reason magazine. In that capacity, she has written an in-depth article in the June 2023 issue demonstrating that the story she’d heard at UVa was a fabrication– the outgrowth of social-media rumor mongering run amok.

The article. “How an Ill-Informed Internet Mob Ruined a UVA Student’s Life,” does a brilliant job of tracing the trajectory of that lie from the actual events through the social-media postings by militant UVa activist Zyahna Bryan, to the amplification of the charges by other local activist groups, local journalists and even UVa faculty.

“This is the story of a rumor mill that rushed to collective judgment, a pervasive climate of anger and outrage, a weak campus administration, and a unique higher-ed justice system that faltered just when it was most needed,” Camp writes. “It’s the story of a woman who was informally ostracized and formally sanctioned for a story that seemingly everyone on campus had heard and believed, but which was never proven.” Continue reading

Apologies Run One Way at UVa

Credit: Bing Image Creator

by James A. Bacon

The woke witch trials of the 21st century don’t burn their victims at the stake, but they still do immense harm.

We previously told the story of how Morgan Bettinger, a 4th-year student who ran afoul of the University of Virginia’s social-justice warriors, was vilified on social media, investigated by university authorities, and required to perform social justice-related community service to atone for supposed threats she never uttered.

What we haven’t told before but can now thanks to a lawsuit asking for the expungement of disciplinary sanctions on Bettinger’s college record, is what it’s like for a student to endure the assaults of the Woke Mob.

The question every UVA alumnus, student, parent, professor and member of the UVa community must ask is this: How can freedom of speech and expression thrive in an environment where students are treated this way?

The lawsuit cites the following testimony Bettinger gave in a recorded interview with the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights. Continue reading

Compelled Speech: the Morgan Bettinger Case

Morgan Bettinger

Note: I published this article originally in April 2022 on the Bacon’s Rebellion blog. In an oversight, I neglected to cross-post to the Jefferson Council website. I am rectifying that oversight now to maintain a complete record of UVA free-speech controversies here. — JAB

by James A. Bacon

On July 17, 2020, Morgan Bettinger was driving home from her job along a street in Charlottesville that flanked the downtown pedestrian mall where an unlicensed protest was occurring. Demonstrators roamed the street, so Bettinger, a University of Virginia 4th-year student, got out and chatted with the driver of a city garbage truck, which was blocking the road. In a throwaway remark she said, “It’s a good thing you are here because, otherwise, these people would have been speed bumps.”

The quip evoked the death of Heather Heyer a few years previously during the Unite the Right rally when a White supremacist ran his car into a crowd of counter-demonstrators very nearby. Overhearing the comment, two bystanders interpreted her to be saying that protesters would make good speed bumps. Word quickly spread. Demonstrators aggressively followed her in her car as she slowly backed, asking, “Was that a threat?”

One thing led to another and Bettinger wound up in front of the student-run University Judicial Committee (UJC). In what she and her attorney Charles “Buddy” Weber view as a kangaroo court proceeding, she was found guilty of violating the University’s Standards of Conduct. The UJC expelled Bettinger from UVa but held the sanction in abeyance on the condition that she not violate the standards of conduct again. Her actions, wrote the UJC panel, were “shameful” and put members of the community at risk. Continue reading

Inaugural Annual Meeting — Buddy Weber

TJC board member Buddy Weber recounts the tortuous, Kafkaesque experience of his client Morgan Bettinger through the University of Virginia’s woke student justice system.

Another Free Speech Fiasco

Charlottesville attorney Charles L. Weber Jr., represented University of Virginia student Morgan Bettinger in legal proceedings involving the University Judiciary Committee, which condemned her for words that allegedly constituted a “risk” to other students. This incident is a case study in how leftist, “anti-racist” students at UVa wield processes and procedures, with the complicity of the administration, to repress free speech and chastise those who offend them. I republish here a letter from Weber to UVa President Jim Ryan asking for redress. We’ll soon find out how sincere Ryan is in his commitment to free speech and expression. — JAB

Dear President Ryan,

I am writing to urge you to correct a grave injustice perpetrated by
the University of Virginia (the University) against a student during this
past academic year.

Morgan Bettinger was unfairly punished by the University
Judiciary Committee (UJC) for speaking words protected by the
Constitution. However, because UJC appeals are limited to process, not
substance, the Judicial Review Board (JRB) concluded that the UJC
decision whether erroneous or not was unreviewable. Continue reading