"Theoretical" Racism is STILL Racism

So, I get why the case is interesting. (Though, as the Pepperdine professor also points out, probably a loser.) And lest I be accused of saying otherwise, the owner of the farm is clearly a racist POS and I have absolutely no visceral dissatisfaction with his asinine public statements coming home to roost.

But it just feels a bit… off for a public school district – and thus a government agency – to be the one imposing [EDIT; said penalties] effective consequences [end EDIT] for 1st-amendment-protected speech.

Imagine the roles were reversed here. Let’s say that this wasn’t happening now, but instead in 1983, and the owner of the farm where schoolchildren often come for class trips, civil war re-enactments, and whatnot, was instead strongly advocating for LGBT issues: equality under the law, a cultural shift to scrub away anti-LGBT prejudices, etc… He’d made public statements to that effect in local newspapers or 'zines or whatever.

The America (or California) of 1983 was a lot more virulently homophobic then. (Not that things are perfect now, by any means, but they’re a good sight better most places.) The local school districts could see this and decide that these statements are so far beyond the pale for them that they no longer want to give the farm owner any business.

Is the BB commentariat cool with that hypothetical? I know I’m not.

What also comes to mind: Drumpf making statements about NFL players who opted to take a knee during the national anthem being “sons of bitches” who the team owners should blackball and run out of the league. As the head of a third of the government, this is clearly, to me, government interference with the exercise of the first amendment, and failure on Drumpf’s part to uphold his oath to protect and defend the constitution. (And something that I’d include in his articles of impeachment, if I were authoring them.)

Not saying it’s to the same degree; or something that doesn’t collide in interesting ways with how things are done in the real world. But nonetheless, a school district deciding to pull business based on a business owner’s expression of odious personal opinions feels like it’s somewhere on a common spectrum.

I don’t know what the right dodge would be to square this.

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It’s not a “penalty.” It’s about the welfare of the students. I wouldn’t want my child to learn about American history from a White Supremacist, nor would I want my tax dollars used for such a purpose.

You’re throwing out hypotheticals, we’re judging the situation that actually exists. A racist who thinks “black supremacy” and “feminism” are real problems facing America clearly isn’t suited for teaching anything about America. Period.


Why should anyone bother?

In what way are racist rants and obvious prejudice against certain classes of people the equivalent of upholding civil liberties for all people?

First Amendment rights do not insulate one’s self from the reactions of people to your speech or the consequences of speaking in public from the public.

A raging bigot for a teacher is one who is likely not to treat all students in a fair and equitable manner. Also someone whose behavior is likely to bring down a lawsuit for acting in such a fashion. They are a liability.


I absolutely agree. I’m just trying to work out the problem of “what if the community’s standards of decency are not correct? How do we avoid tyrannies of the majority in those cases?”

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“I can’t fault the school district based on the facts as they exist, so instead I choose to fault them for their actions in a wholly imaginary scenario.”


Government is not obliged to purchase goods or services from any company however. This is not about making a law or fining him. This is procurement and they have – for certain reasons – decided to go with a different service provider.

It’s no different than them changing who they buy office supplies from, or a local government office switching from Ford to GM for their fleet. Especially since there is no long-term contract, and it was on an as-needed basis.


Neither the CUSD nor any other government agency is imposing a penalty or otherwise curtailing Mr. Riley’s speech. Mr. Riley is free to speak and act as he chooses, and he is doing exactly that.

Neither the CUSD nor any other government agency is obligated to patronize Mr. Riley’s business endeavors.

Hope that helps.


Not even a particularly honest or sane imaginary scenario.

Upholding civil liberties and denouncing prejudice are not in any way the equivalent of frothing at the mouth bigots in any setting.

The hypothetical says more about the speaker than anything else of importance.


But you could make the exact same argument about my 1983 hypothetical. And that situation feels badly, badly wrong.

Maybe the answer is just that we have to accept a certain amount of decisions will be driven by whatever conventional perceptions are at that time. And to the extent that conventional perceptions at a certain moment may be unjust, we have to trust that culture is moving in a positive direction and any such injustices will not be durable in the long-term.

Its really easy to the honest. There is a false equivalence here in your premise. There is no subjective community standard of decency here. Just a single objective one.

If you are attacking classes of people based on your prejudices, you are always going to be in the wrong. Upholding the rights of others and attacking bigotry/prejudice is going to be in the right.

Nobody has to pay for their own discrimination. No employer has to take knowing risks of lawsuits for your poor behavior towards others.


It’s the school district’s responsibility to both protect their students and ensure inclusion of all students in their official programs. If even a small proportion of the student population (say, African Americans) have a reasonable reason to fear going to a farm owned by a guy who’s made publicly racist statements, where warfare re-enactments are going on, then they have a responsibility to cancel the trip.

I’m not African American and I’d hesitate to go there with the things this jerkface has written on Twitter. If I were African American, I’d be playing out scenes from Get Out in my head on the bus ride over. Nopenopenope!


No, you cannot, because the two scenarios are not equivalent. One scenario involves advocating for the rights of a protected class and promoting equality under the law. The other does not.


School boards already choose not to take field trips to Las Vegas casinos, the bottoms of coal mines, or other wonderfully seedy and inappropriate places.

That’s not a constitutional problem for any of those places.

People should get an education and some samples of exposure to the world, but you couldn’t drag kids to every situation that exists, to provide a platform for anyone that wanted to help educate them.

Deciding which places are good samples should be based on good curricular standards, not on which source would lose money if they failed to show up.


I’m really trying to discuss this in good faith. I’m finding this line of commentary more than a bit hurtful. :frowning:

I’m a child of the 80s. I can absolutely imagine no longer going to a particular nature center on a school trip back then because a whole bunch of parents decided that the director of the center was gay and was trying to “infect all of us children with his gayness” or such balderdash.

OBVIOUSLY I do not think that there is any ambiguity about whether the community is trying to hold up the right standards in the actual case at hand. It absolutely is.

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That’s just a reformulation of the general question “What should we teach kids?”

The answer to that is complicated, and hasn’t been answered perfectly, and is argued about by generally well-meaning people every day. Schools get it wrong or right. Teachers are good or harmful. You’re not going to get a pat answer to such a broad question on a comment board.

It’s the same answer as “What are the best practices for deciding what we put in a textbook.” and the answer varies in quality by how good the people are who are doing the work.

All of which has nothing to do with this misguided guy’s beliefs that his noxious opinions shouldn’t have an effect on whether he should be allowed to teach kids his version of history. In his specific case it’s a clear no.


We are not discissing all possible cases or past hypotheticals. We are discussing this case at this time.


Why do you keep comparing racists to oppressed minorities?


No, you really aren’t here.

Your argument implies a normalization of bigoted speech and delegitimizing of those upholding the rights of others.

And that was considered reasonable and sane behavior even back then? Nope.

How about this anecdote. During the same time period, The Boy Scouts banned gay scout leaders. The parents and fellow scout leaders of my local troop ignored the policy with impunity and essentially told the national leadership to go phuq themselves on the issue. 30+ years later, they are still going strong.

Not everyone accepted raging bigotry, even back then.

There is no subjective standard here. You seek to harm others, it will always be wrong.


Yeah, the standards are chosen subjectively.

A racist teacher will actively choose racist field trip locations. A good teacher won’t, or at least not more than once.

The problem isn’t the fact that teachers can choose where to take kids. So it’s not a question of eliminating field trips, or making them mandatory; it’s more important to have less jerkish adults.


Your 1983 example wasn’t hypothetical. That’s really how it was. And so activists worked hard at all levels to move us forward as a country/civilization.

This situation isn’t hypothetical either; it’s really happening now. And so activists are working hard at all levels to move us forward as a country/civilization, because we might have thought we’d already gone down this path, but apparently not yet.