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Continuing on Scotland’s upcoming election, I have been astonished by some of the articles and social media messages appearing north of the border.

Scottish women — and sensible Scotsmen — are increasingly concerned by the encroaching activism of a small minority of Scots with regard to certain aspects of gender recognition, including self-identification.

The SNP do not seem to care, and no one knows how the new Hate Crime legislation will work against anyone who is worried about a man wandering into a ladies’ room or a women’s changing room.

In a guest post for Wings Over Scotland on March 31, 2021, Margaret Lynch a long-time activist, first for Labour, then for the SNP and now for the Alba Party, wrote about the topic in ‘Why women want Alba’ (emphases mine):

The inability of the SNP leadership to accept the simple distinction between sex and gender has led them into very troubled waters and has done real harm. It has led to vulnerable women in prisons being subjected to sexual assault by men who “identify” as women, to a local authority adopting a “gender neutral” approach to domestic violence which saw funding removed from Women’s Aid groups because they refused to admit men to refuges or work with perpetrators.

Lastly and perhaps most ludicrously it’s seen a situation arise where crossdressers – but not real women – are protected by a Hate Crimes Bill which omits misogyny from the list of prejudices it seeks to prohibit.

The response of the SNP leadership to those women who did try and constructively engage within the SNP around these issues was genuinely shocking. They stood by and watched prominent female SNP elected representatives be hounded and abused, and said nothing. They colluded in attempts to prevent the selection of gender critical candidates using all manner of chicanery.

Alex Salmond of the new Alba Party has spent the past few years defending his reputation against SNP smears, so there is a certain irony that a man falsely accused of preying on women now appears to be their defender in Scotland, at least where pro-independence parties are concerned:

The irony of Alex Salmond presenting a solution to our problems has not escaped me. Some feminists think this is a bridge too far. But what I know is that Alex Salmond’s political survival now depends on him demonstrating at all times and to all people that he can be trusted in women’s company and to defend women’s rights.

Nicola [Sturgeon], who I have long admired and liked, has demonstrated over and over again that she CANNOT be trusted to defend women’s rights – and in fact would throw them under a bus in a heartbeat to gain the support of the fanatical youth wing of the party, and the Greens who appear to care less about the environment than they do about bedding down Queer Theory in Scotland’s political institutions.

What drew me to join Alba was the tactical opportunity it presented:

to ensure that there’s a party which will protect women’s rights in Scotland, and provide a safe harbour for those of us who want independence to cast our votes in the coming election without betraying our sex.

to act as a countermeasure to the malign forces which have propelled the SNP leadership towards an agenda which is dismantling women’s rights, to speak out on the matters which affect us, and to retain safe spaces and representation.

That same day, Wings Over Scotland featured another guest post by a former SNP member, Morag Kerr, who explains why she has cancelled her party membership. Her article is called ‘To the National Secretary’. Excerpts follow:

During the first 25 years of my membership I made many friends and had many wonderful experiences. I never imagined for a moment that I would leave the party before independence day.

However the past four years have been an entirely different experience and that time has now come. I cannot remain a member of the SNP for the following reasons.

1. Lack of any progress towards independence since 2015, including the lack of preparation of the infrastructure that will be needed by an independent country.

2. Failure to capitalise on the very real opportunities which arose between 2016 and 2019 in the run-up to Brexit.

3. The explicit ruling-out of viable routes to independence, and the imposition of conditions which would stand in the way of viable routes to independence.

4. The insulting dangling of “vote SNP for a new indyref” when an election was at hand, followed by the inevitable kick into the long grass soon afterwards.

5. The lack of rebuttal of unionist attacks and talking-points, combined with currying favour with the unionist mainstream media while attacking and indeed monstering pro-independence online media. The donation of a substantial sum of public money to prop up the Unionist print press was absolutely inexplicable.

6. The fitting-up of Alex Salmond on false allegations of sexual assault intended to prevent his returning to politics to do something about points 1 to 5

9. The appalling Hate Crime Bill which will criminalise simple disagreement if someone simply chooses to take offence at it, and the exclusion of women as a protected category while including men in drag on their way to a stag night.

(I can’t believe I’m even writing that, and [Justice Secretary] Humza Yusuf’s sneering jibe that a woman would be protected in the event she were mistaken for a transwoman was simply the last straw.) …

13. The rewriting of the rules with the obvious express purpose of preventing Joanna Cherry from being considered as a candidate in the Holyrood election

20. Promotion of highly unsuitable sex education material to young children.

On April 6, an Edinburgh blogger, Calton Jock — hardly a political conservative — wrote about the close alliance between certain gender/lifestyle identity organisations and the Scottish government:

LGBT Youth Scotland was formerly called the Stonewall Youth Project and is mainly funded by the state (in other words us), with over 75% its annual income coming from the Scottish Government, local councils and the National Health Service. (Scottish schools to get updated guidance on supporting transgender pupils).

Bear in mind that the co-founder of Stonewall, Simon Fanshawe, broke away from the organisation and condemned its “extreme” position on transgender rights. Yet we have the Scottish Government determined to change the Gender Reform Act (GRA) and to continue to permit children to be given permanently damaging puberty blockers, despite a ruling in the English courts that this has to stop. (Letters to the Times) …

The Scottish Government and opposition parties have agreed to continue talks about freedom of expression elements of the hate crime bill.

It follows concern about the impact of some of the amendments proposed to the legislation on the transgender community.

The Justice Committee considered stage two amendments to the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill’.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf had originally proposed an amendment seeking to protect “discussion or criticism of matters relating to transgender identity”, provided the behaviour was not threatening or abusive …

People are questioning the influence of “Stonewall” on Scotland’s civil service after it emerged that controversial policies have been introduced in alignment with Stonewall’s political aims. These include a compulsory “Diversity Objective” for all staff to make the Scottish Government “a more diverse and inclusive place to work”, training on “intersectionality” and “unconscious bias”, and the use of gender-neutral language. The Civil Service is also included on Stonewall’s “Diversity Champions Index” …

The Deputy Director for Public Affairs at The Christian Institute said:

“The extent of Stonewall’s influence on the Civil Service is alarming, particularly given the controversial nature of some of its political aims. Stonewall’s stance on trans issues is strongly opposed by women’s organisations, medics and faith groups. Yet, the Civil Service appears to endorse it wholesale. How does this fit with the Service’s duty to remain politically impartial? Staff are encouraged to attend training sessions on “intersectionality” and “unconscious bias”. These controversial ideas are disputed in wider society. So it’s concerning that they are written into the training schedule for Civil Service employees. The compulsory “Diversity Objective” also raises questions. What happens to staff members who hold religious beliefs which differ from those championed by Stonewall? Are they marked down? This could constitute direct discrimination on the grounds of religious belief.”

Gender identity activism also affects the Liberal Democrats as Calton Jock explained in an April 6 post, ‘The Threat to Women is a Real and Present Danger’. He discovered that this goes back to 2019 when then-party leader Jo Swinson put gender identity into the party manifesto before the general election that December. To think that most of us saw her — and her party’s candidates — as being anti-Brexit. No, there was much more.

Calton Jock has an image of one of Swinson’s tweets before the election. It reads, in part:

Introduce an ‘X’ gender option on passports and extend equality law to cover gender identity and expression …

Thank goodness she lost her seat as an MP. So did many other Lib Dems. There are only 11 of them now in the House of Commons.

Calton Jock explains why the Lib Dems have these policies:

Assisting their efforts with donations exceeding £1.3million, is Ferring Pharmaceuticals a company that markets drugs used in gender-identity clinics to delay puberty.

The party has already upset feminists, who worry that the “extreme trans-ideological” policies in its manifesto will put vulnerable women at risk.

The company is owned by the Swedish billionaire Frederik Paulsen and markets the drug, which is used to block puberty among adolescents.

The Lib Dem manifesto pledges “complete reform of the Gender Recognition Act to remove the requirement for medical reports, scrapping fees and recognition of non-binary gender identities”

A Drugs company owned by a Swedish billionaire philanthopist and explorer, who is an honorary Russian consul and lives in Switzerland, has given nearly £500k to the Liberal Democrats.

Frederik Paulsen, who lives in Lausanne, is worth an estimated £3bn and owns Ferring Pharmaceuticals. The company is ultimately controlled from Curacao, a Caribbean tax haven.

Electoral Commission records show that the British arm of the company, based in West Drayton, west London, gave four donations to the Liberal Democrats between December 2013 and June 2014. Three of them exceeded £100,000.

The British arm of Ferring Pharmaceuticals was set up in 1975. Ferring said the company had made the donations because it supported Liberal Democrats policy on Europe. (Sunday Times)

Comment: And the Lib/Dems had the hard neck to criticise Alex Salmond for broadcasting his show on RT!!!

Paulsen was personally awarded an “Order of Friendship” medal by Putin himself. The Vlad acolyte who has poured huge amounts of cash into Russia, was given the gong by the Russian Foreign ministry, and is an honorary Russian citizen

On April 9, an Alba Party member, Denise Findlay, wrote about the lack of political will in standing up for protecting women: ‘Life begins on the other side of despair’, a guest post on Yours For Scotland.

An excerpt follows:

It has been a hard few years for the women who support Scottish independence. The women have endured vicious bullying, name calling, doxing and rape threats simply for trying to stand up for their rights. All from those who are meant to on the same side in the independence debate. Women have now struggled for years against their own party and movement. Many honourable men have joined the debate giving women their support but still truckloads of abuse are heaped on the women’s heads every day.

Women’s concerns have not been heard. All parties in the Scottish Parliament are signed up in varying degrees to gender ideology.

The Greens and LibDems are irretrievably anti-women in hock to an ideology which is dangerous to the health and well being of women and girls. Andy Wightman resigned from the Greens due to their intolerance of any discussion of women’s rights claiming party leader Patrick Harvie is captured by Queer Theory.

Labour is unfortunately losing three MSPs who actually backed women; Johann Lamont, Jenny Marra and Elaine Smith and Anas Sarwar the new Labour leader is unwilling to take on the gender ideologues within his own party.

The Conservatives although they voted against the Hate Crimes Bill that was because of its general infringement of the right to freedom of expression and it is a sad day when it is the Conservatives who are our only slim hope.

The SNP leadership is fully signed up to the gender ideology and have a number of policies that are dangerous to women.

Just before recess the Scottish Parliament passed the Hate Crimes Bill (HCB). This bill does not give protection to women who as a sex have been ignored by this bill. A man dressed as a woman has more protection against hate than a woman. But it does pose significant danger and risk to women.

The bill introduces a new offence of ‘stirring up hatred’ which requires that behaviour must be judged “abusive or threatening” by a “reasonable” person.

Define ‘Reasonable’ when using the word ‘female’ can be judged transphobic. When our own justice secretary can’t say if there are two sexes and a judge in England ruled that belief in two sexes was ‘not worthy of respect in a democratic society’. When many women’s accounts have been suspended or banned from social media for stating biological fact.

During the passage of the bill amendments that would have given women a small measure of protection, were withdrawn due to an outcry by the trans lobby.

There is little doubt that women arguing on the basis of sex will be reported to the police, this coupled with doubts over the independence of the crown office will have a chilling effect of women’s freedom of expression.

One would have thought that, with all the equality legislation in the UK, including Scotland, these issues should not have arisen. But, no. Things have become worse:

In the new parliament the SNP intends to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) which would allow a man to legally change his sex to female purely on his own say-so. The GRA was introduced prior to same sex marriage, it was to allow people who suffer from gender dysphoria – which at that time was a mental illness – and have changed their bodies to legally become the opposite sex in order to marry.

At the time it was understood that it impacted women’s rights because women’s sex-based rights are necessarily exclusive as they exclude males. But the European Court of Human Rights decided that the numbers were so small women could just accommodate them.

Over time same sex marriage was made legal which negated the original need for a GRA. A further ruling of the European Court of Human Rights meant that people would not have to change their bodies to obtain a GRA and the World Health Organisation (WHO) determined that gender dysphoria was not a mental illness.

This greatly increased the number of men who could claim to be women and the trans umbrella is now large, it includes men with gender dysphoria who have changed their bodies but also cross-dressers, men who have a sexual fetish about being a woman or being accepted as a woman, exhibitionists and men who believe they have a lady brain. As well as the increase in the number of men now considered trans and who feel they are entitled to access women only spaces and services there is also an issue of abuse of the system.

With self-id there is no gate-keeping so this opens it up to the risk of predatory men taking advantage. Male sexual offenders are identifying as women and being housed in women’s prisons, this is already happening in Scottish prisons.

The ramifications of self-id for women’s sex-based rights are considerable, already mixed sex toilets in schools are causing teenage girls to miss school in particular when they have their period, there are mixed sex changing rooms, mixed sex hospital wards, women’s refuges and rape crisis centres. All places where women are vulnerable and predatory men or men indulging their sexual fetishes can take advantage.

Denise Findlay concludes:

The very real prospect of the complete loss of women’s rights in Scotland and the risk of a criminal prosecution if we complain.

Then into this hopeless situation strode hope.

Hope in the form of the Alba Party who just might save the rights of Scottish women and girls, while gaining us our independence.

This weekend it is the Alba Party Women’s Conference. Women will have a voice. All is not yet lost. We still have Hope.

The Alba Party Women’s Conference was held online. It was well attended and watched by hundreds of women in Scotland.

One of the more disturbing revelations from the Women’s Conference was news from a guest speaker that gender activists in Scotland want the age of consent lowered to the age of 10.

The Rev. Stuart Campbell of Wings Over Scotland has more on this development in ‘The Paedophile Charter’:

ILGA World –  the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association – is an organisation that we hadn’t heard of until today. Just over a year ago they released, as part of a 200-member caucus of other groups, something called “The Feminist Declaration”. It’s a mostly-innocuous document of demands about women’s rights, but buried in the middle of it is a very disturbing section.

The section, a screenshot of which is in his post, encourages a de-stigmatisation of adolescent sexuality.

Campbell continues (emphases his):

The World Health Organisation defines “adolescents” as people aged from 10 to 19.

So the only possible interpretation of “end the criminalization of adolescents’ sexuality” is a reduction in the age of consent to 10 years old. Indeed, a slightly earlier paragraph of the Declaration is more explicit about it:

”Eliminate all laws and policies that punish or criminalize same-sex intimacy, gender affirmation, abortion, HIV transmission non-disclosure and exposure, or that limit the exercise of bodily autonomy, including laws limiting legal capacity of adolescents, people with disabilities or other groups to provide consent to sex

While it doesn’t go into more detail, one would like to imagine that the intent would be to remove laws limiting capacity for consent only within that age group, ie to make it legal for all adolescents to have sex with each other, rather than to let older people have sex with them. But it doesn’t actually say that anywhere.

Even if it did, alert readers will note that that would still make it legal for 19-year-olds to have sex with 10-year-olds, and to put it very mildly that seems a somewhat controversial position.

So who are the organisations signing up to this “feminist” demand under the ILGA umbrella? On its list of member organisations, sure enough, appear the names of LGBT Youth Scotland and Stonewall Scotland.

Just 12 years ago LGBT Youth Scotland was at the centre of Scotland’s biggest ever paedophile scandal, with its chief executive James Rennie sentenced to life imprisonment for a string of offences …

It appears that it’s entirely true – the SNP are indeed paying lobby groups with your money to try to reduce the age of consent in Scotland to 10.

We wish we could be confident that the danger of that actually happening was only theoretical.

Stonewall Scotland disputed the Wings Over Scotland claims, but Rev. Stuart Campbell stood by his post and responded in ‘If it hit you in the eye’:

So the only possible thing about adolescent sexuality that could currently be decriminalized in Scotland, England or Wales is the requirement for both of the participants to be at least 16, or at a minimum over 12. Or put more simply, the reduction of the age of consent.

(It offers no alternative definition of the word to the widely-agreed ones already in existence saying it starts at 10.)

And as Stonewall Scotland are (through ILGA) signatories to that declaration, then there is simply no interpretation possible other than that they’re calling for a reduction in the age of consent. If they didn’t MEAN to do that, they need to withdraw their membership of ILGA, or get ILGA to withdraw its signature from the Declaration, or immediately have the document rewritten to remove that sentence. Because that is unambiguously and unequivocally what it demands.

But notably, they haven’t done that. They’ve just angrily asserted that it doesn’t say what it says. That isn’t a denial of the material facts, it’s a denial of language and a denial of the entire concept of reality.

He returned to the subject in ‘What you find under rocks’. He concluded as follows, issuing an important disclaimer (purple highlight mine):

Paedophiles have a long and well-documented history of trying to infiltrate and hijack LGBT groups, and Scotland is no exception. Indeed, it has very disturbing recent history. Observing that fact does not amount to an accusation and it absolutely certainly does NOT imply any intrinsic link between homosexuality and paedophilia. Wings is not aware of any statistical predilection of homosexual people towards paedophilia compared to heterosexual people.

But anyone who reacts with outrage and evasion and deflection to a basic minimum of scrutiny and vigilance about the safeguarding of 10-year-olds (and especially if, as with ILGA and LGBT Youth Scotland, they’ve had previous and very severe problems with paedophile infiltration) is probably someone over whom there should be rather MORE scrutiny and vigilance, not less.

The prospect of a lower age of consent was also a topic among some Unionists. George Galloway of Scotland’s fledgling All For Unity party is a married father of six. On April 11, he tweeted about the possibility of home schooling:

An article from 2020 in Scottish Review discusses Scotland’s education curriculum in this regard. Bruce Scott’s article, ‘The crisis of consent in Scottish schools’ is detailed and well worth reading. He made Freedom of Information requests of the Scottish government, which he said were not answered satisfactorily. With regard to faith groups and home schooling he says (emphases mine):

I also enquired what faith groups had been consulted as part of their working group/implementation group (e.g., Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, etc). So far, it seems that the wide variety of faith groups in Scotland have not been consulted on the Scottish Government’s LGBT Inclusive Education proposals.

One thing I have gleamed from my inquiries is that contrary to some reports, the LGBT Inclusive Education in Scotland is not mandatory; parents are within their rights to withdraw their children if they wish. Further, all schools have to implement the LGBT Inclusive Education curriculum in consultation with parents of children at the school and tailor it to their needs. This is not common knowledge. But, and it is a big but, as the LGBT focus is going to be disseminated throughout all aspects of the curriculum, the only option for parents who object to this curriculum would be withdraw their child from the school completely; a fait accompli on the part of the Scottish Government. I predict they will come for those who decide to home school next.

A supporter of gay and lesbian rights also spoke out against a lower age of consent:

She is not wrong. This Twitter thread — which contains photos not to be shared with children or the vulnerable — explains how Scotland arrived where it is today. The gender issue started in 1974 in Edinburgh. Less than 20 years later, ILGA was an international NGO recognised by the United Nations and remains so today. Graham Linehan, creator of several hit sitcoms in the UK, wrote an article based on the Twitter thread: ‘If you say so’. Linehan is also deeply concerned about protecting women’s and children’s rights.

In closing, The Scotsman reported that the speaker at the Alba Party Women’s Conference came under fire for discussing the possibility of a lower age of consent (emphases mine):

Responding to a request for comment, an Alba spokesperson said the women’s conference was a “great success” and defended Ms Lynch’s statement.

They said: “The organisations referenced have both signed up to this demand, and both have received substantial amounts of Government funding. These are reputable organisations that make a positive impact on the lives of many in Scotland.

If the organisations do not support what they have signed up to it is for them to say or provide clarification, it is not for women that attended our women’s conference to defend concerns that women have raised based on fact.“

The Alba Party manifesto makes a clear commitment to protecting women’s rights (item 8):

One wonders if this situation will have an impact on Scottish voters next Thursday, May 6.

The weekend of January 20-21, 2019 saw many social media participants retract their criticism of the Covington Catholic students who awaited their bus at the Lincoln Memorial the Friday before and were confronted by protesters.

Of course, it did not look that way in the beginning, as only short film clips appeared which made the protesters look like victims. Those clips provoked intensely angry social media reactions.

Then, much longer videos appeared, showing the boys did the best they could. See my posts on the lack of chaperone supervision here and here.

Here is a short clip from one of the longer videos:

Many who had jumped to premature conclusions retracted them. There were plenty. Three follow.

This one is from a former Junior League chapter president. Junior League is a highly exclusive volunteer organisation of women. It’s very difficult getting nominated let alone approved for membership:

And here is Dilbert’s creator, Californian Scott Adams:

Finally, we have Benny Johnson from The Daily Caller:

MSN issued their retraction on Monday, January 21. Thankfully, their account was well written and detailed. You can read a play-by-play account at the link, but here is a top-level summary:

A new video that surfaced Sunday shows what happened before and after the encounter Friday in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

In the new video, another group taunts the students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky with disparaging and vulgar language. The group of black men, who identify as members of the Hebrew Israelites, also shout racist slurs at participants of the Indigenous Peoples Rally and other passersby.

This man had a tongue-in-cheek view of the media narrative to come:

Over the weekend, militant leftists doxxed some of the students and their families. ‘Doxxed’ means that personal information was revealed online.

Even worse, they maliciously targeted one boy who wasn’t even in DC that day. They also went after his family — on the weekend one of the sons was getting married.

The Gateway Pundit got the full story from his older brother, excerpted below (emphasis in the original):

“People then proceeded to spam my family with harassments and threats of physical violence. We then find out our parents[‘] address was posted online. If that wasn’t enough, our family operated business has been slandered and attacked,” he continued.

The radicals then found out where this boy — who wasn’t even there — had applied for college:

The cyberbullies began posting details about his dream of becoming a chef and found the college that he is hoping to attend. The mob then began urging the school to rescind his acceptance, calling him a racist.

Back now to the Covington students. CJ Pearson is a Trump supporting teenager. Judging by his tweets, he will go far in life. He has been closely following what’s been going on with the Covington boys:

Not surprisingly, those who supported the boys blamed the media for having fanned the flames that later prompted the doxxing. Breitbart has a good account of media pot-stirrers.

Someone tweeted:

As an encore to their utter lack of journalistic standards, the establishment media used a fake news story to smear children. God help these sick people.

The Hill‘s Buck Sexton realised some of his cohorts had gone too far:

And, fortunately, someone did get fired:

The tide had turned. Concerned Americans began tweeting their support:

OANN journalist (and fellow Catholic) Jack Posobiec had been in touch with Covington families that fateful weekend:

Attorney Robert Barnes volunteered to take on the boys’ case pro bono:

The Kenton County prosecutor warned that violent threats are felonies and would be taken seriously. He lives in Covington, Kentucky:

His statement won praise from a Hollywood actor, who is also a Trump supporter:

In closing, it is difficult to imagine just how frightening that weekend must have been for the boys, their siblings and their parents along with other family members.

Imagine the number of social commitments that they cancelled, how much harassment they had to endure and the psychological trauma that must have accompanied the whole wretched experience.

Again, this could have all been easily avoided on the day of the March for Life.

We see how one moment of lack of adult intervention can snowball into far-reaching and potentially dangerous consequences.

Where were the chaperones?

More to come next week.

Last Friday, I wrote about the importance of responsible chaperoning, which included basic rules to ensure safety on school trips.

The article used what happened to students from Covington Catholic High School after the 2019 March for Life on Friday, January 18, 2019.

I quoted sensible advice from this young journalist who writes for the Libertarian publication Reason:

Soave’s message to faculty — and, indirectly, chaperones — is this (emphases mine below):

Unless other information emerges, the school’s best move would be to have a conversation with the boys about the incident, perhaps discuss some strategies for remaining on perfect behavior at highly charged political rallieswhere everybody is recording everything on a cell phone—and let that be the end of it.

My post also quoted student Nick Sandmann’s detailed statement and discussed the media furore which took place on Saturday, January 19.

The following day, some media pundits apologised for criticising the students based on the short video clips they had seen. They had voiced an opinion before the longer video clips began surfacing. The Washington Examiner has a good report which includes these two tweets:

Some Twitter account holders tweeted some highly unpleasant things that they would like to do to the boys. Twitter did not find that objectionable, as The Daily Caller reported on Monday, January 21:

Twitter said Monday that former CNN contributor Reza Aslan did not violate the platform’s policies when he posted a tweet Saturday suggesting one of the boys involved in a dust-up during the March for Life rally had a “punchable face.”

“We have investigated the reported content and could not identify any violations of the Twitter Rules or applicable law,” Twitter wrote in a letter Aslan included in a tweet. “Accordingly,” the letter adds, “we have not taken any action at this time.”

The article explained that Aslan lost his job at CNN in 2017 for referring to President Trump in a derogatory manner (see quote in the article, language alert).

The article also included retractions — not necessarily apologies — from two other nationally-known journalists, the New York Times‘s Maggie Haberman and National Review‘s Rich Lowry.

Fortunately, not everyone was verbally beating up the students.

The Federalist‘s Cheryl Magness put blame where it belonged — on the adults. Her boss tweeted her article:

In ‘All The Adults Involved Failed The Covington Catholic School Boys, And Should Be Ashamed’, she provides a summary of what happened, then points out the students’ bemusement:

A few of the boys can be heard asking, “What’s going on?” It seems they were a bit confused by it all. Wouldn’t you be? Maybe, without a playbook or previous experience dealing with a situation like this, you wouldn’t respond in the most elegant way either.

She adds:

I have not been more ashamed to be a grown-up in a long, long time. What I have observed in the last three days is not how grown-ups are supposed to act. The Covington Catholic boys may not have behaved with perfect decorum. But they’re teenagers. I’m not sure I would have known what to do had I found myself in the situation they did.

Actually, I do know what I would have done. I would have walked away. Unfortunately, these boys couldn’t do that. They were following instructions to wait for their bus in a designated location. They didn’t have the option of walking away. So they engaged in school cheers and general teenaged goofiness while they passed the time, never anticipating that they were going to be called on to provide the world a model of what to do when you find yourselves verbally attacked by protestors on a Washington D.C. street corner.

She rightly takes issue with the protestors — the Black Hebrew Israelites (BHI) and Nathan Phillips:

Free speech does not consist of hurling obscenities and insults at the perceived opponent, nor does it consist of wordlessly inserting oneself into an already charged situation, as Phillips did, then lying about it afterward.

What adult picks on a minor, anyway? That’s cowardice.

That said, Magness levelled the most pointed — and justified — criticism at the adults from Covington Catholic and the Catholic Diocese of Covington, Kentucky:

No sooner had the boys gotten on their bus than they were thrown under it by their school and the Covington diocese, who issued a joint statement condemning the students’ actions and saying the matter was under investigation that appropriate action would be taken. Um, if the matter is under investigation, doesn’t that suggest it might be good to wait before condemning the behavior? Could it be that there’s more to the story than a short, viral video?

The school and the diocese owed these boys a full hearing before coming to any conclusion. They now owe them an apology.

That apology took nearly another week to come in writing. I’ll have more on that in another post.

Magness was quite generous about the adults accompanying the boys:

Speaking of adults, some are starting to ask where the Covington boys’ chaperones were. My guess is that they were there, doing their best, along with the boys, in a challenging situation. I’ve been a chaperone on a youth trip. It’s hard. There are more kids than adults. You manage them as best you can. You try to keep them corralled while giving them a little space.

I am not sure what I would have done had I found myself in charge of a group under the circumstances that played out Friday. My guess is that the Covington Catholic chaperones, like the boys, perhaps didn’t manage the situation perfectly, but did the best they could.

I went to the article at the link in the preceding quote, because Magness was much more gracious in her assessment than I have been. The Cincinnati Enquirer‘s Scott Wartman asked ‘Where were the chaperones? The question lingers amid outrage at Covington Catholic Students’. Excerpts follow:

The Enquirer has also tried to find and connect with chaperones.

The Diocese of Covington, the organizers of the trip and officials with Covington Catholic have not returned messages from The Enquirer asking that question …

Many noticed a lack of adults with the students.

“Cov Cath chaperones, where were you?” tweeted Amy Baskin.

Even an official with the Vatican is asking that question.

“Second, where were the chaperones?” wrote Father James Martin, consultant to the Vatican’s secretariat of communications. “The idea that a group of Catholic high school students were placed, either wittingly or unwittingly, in such an incendiary situation, seems to indicate a lack of oversight.”

I could not agree more with Father Martin.

However, the diocese did not view the matter in quite the same way:

The fallout from the controversy remains to be seen. The diocese in a statement said they were investigating and that they “will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”

For those who have not followed it, this story was far from over.

More tomorrow.

Nearly 50 years ago, my mother was a school chaperone on a few local trips with my classmates and me.

When newspaper stories appeared in the early 1970s about chaperoned trips that went wrong, she decided to stop supervising school outings. She said there were too many unknowns and that parents might sue her and the other chaperones if something went wrong.

My mother told me that chaperoning children was an onerous responsibility, even if it had its enjoyable moments. School chaperones have to consider their charges as their own offspring.

What was true 50 years ago is even truer today.

The following are what I would consider to be 21st chaperone guidelines:

1/ Schools should choose a Mr Buzzkill and a Ms Boring.

2/ One of them should be reasonably well acquainted with local and state laws.

3/ One of them should be proficient in self-defence, either physically or verbally.

4/ One of them needs to be streetwise and anticipate adverse situations.

5/ Occupations of potentially good 21st century chaperones, in addition to a street-smart teacher, include: retired lawyer, military veteran, retired law enforcement officer, PE teacher.

6/ Teachers should begin laying down the law to students going on a trip a few days beforehand. Main messages (from my own schooldays):

a/ No calling attention to — ‘making a spectacle of’ — oneself.

b/ Assume that what is acceptable behaviour at school or at home is unacceptable in other places.

c/ No arguments with anyone, especially strangers.

d/ No fights with anyone, especially strangers.

e/ If your chaperone tells you to do something, do it. It’s for your own safety.

7/ On the day, at the start of the trip, chaperones should repeat the points in item 6 to their charges.

8/ Chaperones should remember that they can never be too careful, especially these days.

9/ Have solid, well rehearsed plans in place for various adverse scenarios — including rapid reaction in order to protect students.

Last Friday, January 18, 2018, an unfortunate incident happened, involving a group of students from Kentucky who took part in the March for Life in Washington, DC.

The incident should serve as a warning to current and potential chaperones.

The best — and earliest — account of what happened to Covington Catholic High School students appeared in Reason on Sunday, March 20: ‘The Media Wildly Mischaracterized That Video of Covington Catholic Students Confronting a Native American Veteran – Hit and Run’ by Robby Soave.

Lesson for faculty and chaperones

Soave’s message to faculty — and, indirectly, chaperones — is this (emphases mine below):

Unless other information emerges, the school’s best move would be to have a conversation with the boys about the incident, perhaps discuss some strategies for remaining on perfect behavior at highly charged political rallieswhere everybody is recording everything on a cell phone—and let that be the end of it.

Absolutely.

What sentient adult American today is unaware of the political tension, including violence, taking place not only in the nation’s capital, but also in other cities, e.g. Portland?

It is the responsibility of faculty and chaperones to explain to students that going outside their comfort zones, especially to a big city, is fraught with unknown variables, even violence. Therefore: keep a low profile at all times.

What happened

Soave’s article reproduces Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann’s testimony in full. Excerpts follow:

I am providing this factual account of what happened on Friday afternoon at the Lincoln Memorial to correct misinformation and outright lies being spread about my family and me.

I am the student in the video who was confronted by the Native American protestor. I arrived at the Lincoln Memorial at 4:30 p.m. I was told to be there by 5:30 p.m., when our busses were due to leave Washington for the trip back to Kentucky. We had been attending the March for Life rally, and then had split up into small groups to do sightseeing.

When we arrived, we noticed four African American protestors who were also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I am not sure what they were protesting, and I did not interact with them. I did hear them direct derogatory insults at our school group.

The protestors said hateful things. They called us “racists,” “bigots,” “white crackers,” “faggots,” and “incest kids.” They also taunted an African American student from my school by telling him that we would “harvest his organs.” I have no idea what that insult means, but it was startling to hear.

Because we were being loudly attacked and taunted in public, a student in our group asked one of our teacher chaperones for permission to begin our school spirit chants to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group. The chants are commonly used at sporting events. They are all positive in nature and sound like what you would hear at any high school. Our chaperone gave us permission to use our school chants. We would not have done that without obtaining permission from the adults in charge of our group.

Big mistake! The chaperone never should have given a group of teenagers permission to start acting as if they were at a school sporting event!

Then, a Native American activist, identified as Nathan Phillips, approached:

After a few minutes of chanting, the Native American protestors, who I hadn’t previously noticed, approached our group. The Native American protestors had drums and were accompanied by at least one person with a camera.

The protestor everyone has seen in the video began playing his drum as he waded into the crowd, which parted for him. I did not see anyone try to block his path. He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face.

I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.

I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.

During the period of the drumming, a member of the protestor’s entourage began yelling at a fellow student that we “stole our land” and that we should “go back to Europe.” I heard one of my fellow students begin to respond. I motioned to my classmate and tried to get him to stop engaging with the protestor, as I was still in the mindset that we needed to calm down tensions.

I never felt like I was blocking the Native American protestor. He did not make any attempt to go around me. It was clear to me that he had singled me out for a confrontation, although I am not sure why.

The engagement ended when one of our teachers told me the busses had arrived and it was time to go. I obeyed my teacher and simply walked to the busses. At that moment, I thought I had diffused the situation by remaining calm, and I was thankful nothing physical had occurred.

I never understood why either of the two groups of protestors were engaging with us, or exactly what they were protesting at the Lincoln Memorial. We were simply there to meet a bus, not become central players in a media spectacle. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever encountered any sort of public protest, let alone this kind of confrontation or demonstration.

Yes, which is why the faculty and chaperone(s) should have explained the atmosphere in Washington DC in school before the trip and on the day of the trip, as soon as everyone boarded the bus.

Granting permission to recite school chants unleashed the law of unintended consequences — the media and others on the Left as well as the Right drew their own conclusions the following day.

The students in the videos — as well as their families — have been living a nightmare since then that not even a scriptwriter for the old series The Twilight Zone could have imagined:

I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation. I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me – to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence.

I harbor no ill will for this person. I respect this person’s right to protest and engage in free speech activities, and I support his chanting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial any day of the week. I believe he should re-think his tactics of invading the personal space of others, but that is his choice to make …

I have read that Mr. Phillips is a veteran of the United States Marines. I thank him for his service and am grateful to anyone who puts on the uniform to defend our nation. If anyone has earned the right to speak freely, it is a U.S. Marine veteran.

I can only speak for myself and what I observed and felt at the time. But I would caution everyone passing judgement based on a few seconds of video to watch the longer video clips that are on the internet, as they show a much different story than is being portrayed by people with agendas.

I provided this account of events to the Diocese of Covington so they may know exactly what happened, and I stand ready and willing to cooperate with any investigation they are conducting.

Saturday’s nightmare

On Saturday, March 19, social media went wild over videos of the incident.

Clicking on this tweet will show an entire thread of various alarming reactions interspersed with messages of support. That day, the Gateway Pundit reported that Covington Catholic was doxxed (the tweet is still in my previous link in this paragraph), as was the student. Out of common decency, the article did not mention him by name.

Would you believe that a tweet that doxxed Nick Sandmann is still on Twitter? Here is an indirect link to it.

At least one Democrat legislator tweeted their outrage that day. Another chimed in on Sunday, referring to the group of Covington Catholic students in MAGA hats:

The AP reported that the Diocese of Covington quickly issued an apology to the Native American, Nathan Phillips, and launched an investigation into the students’ behaviour.

More Covington Catholic students — and their families — were harassed that day. Here is one student’s testimony.

The Gateway Pundit reported that one online news outlet doxxed the school and another outlet reported that the students would be expelled.

Another student felt compelled to give a detailed account of what happened at the Lincoln Memorial. His testimony mentioned more lengthy videos of the students during the incident.

Independent journalist Tim Pool watched a two-hour video:

The Gateway Pundit reported on the longer videos, which showed that the supposed narrative of the students harassing the veteran was clearly wrong.

Actor and comedian Terrence K. Williams rightly pointed out the toxic hypocrisy of those attacking Covington students online:

I will have more on this topic next week.

Conclusion

One week on, and Covington Catholic students and their families are experiencing the unimaginable which could have potential far-reaching effects for some of them personally, not only now, but also in the years to come.

Chaperones — wherever you are and whoever you are in the world — please take every precaution when taking minors on a school trip.

And please do not allow them to recite school chants or engage in any similar behaviour that could attract trouble or national, if not worldwide, attention.

The world is a dangerous place.

© Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist, 2009-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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