Sunday, April 21, 2013


Many students and parents are rightly upset that school principals, administrators and counselors conspire and combine with police assigned to the schools (called “resource officers”) to make schools more like prisons.

Police are assigned to almost every school with one principal function being to criminalize what used to be student discipline, to stigmatize young students, to compromise their futures - what schools they may attend and what jobs they may aspire to have.

Nor is this some informal arrangement between the school and the police.  It’s the law.  Virginia Code Annotated Section 22.1-279.3:1 spells out how student discipline at the school transmogrifies into a crime.

This offensive pincer movement, by which the state combines a school disciplinary action with a criminal prosecution has prompted righteous fury among students and parents for the students have been denied the basic protections any adult would enjoy in his defense.

Principals, administrators and police, posing as “trusted” overseers, acting in the place of the student’s parents, deny students any right of privacy, conduct arbitrary searches, put every student at the risk of a frisk, force students to write confessions, and then tell the police (resource) officer down the school hallway that they know a crime has been committed, using what the student told them in “trust.”

The student is denied any right to have a parent or counsel present when he’s searched or coerced to give a statement that implicates him or her.  A Virginia House bill (H.B. 1548) was introduced requiring notice to the parents so they could be present if the student could be suspended or expelled; the House passed it; the Senate, however, killed the Bill; this “oughta” be the law in Virginia and across the nation.

The school imposes these suspensions and other punishments immediately, and doesn’t hold the punishment in abeyance while the student appeals.  As Alice learned from the Queen in “Wonderland,”  just as we do here in Loudoun, first we punish, then we consider the “evidence”  afterwards.  Worse, students and parents insist that what passes for “evidence” in these appellate administrative proceedings makes gossip look reliable.

In addition, while anyone accused of a crime has a right to remain silent – to put the government to the test of proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt without being a witness against oneself, our school system insists that the student give his side of the story to prove his discipline is unfounded; the rub is that statement to avoid the school discipline may then be used against him in the pending criminal prosecution.

To give you some idea how big a problem this is, in Loudoun, in the 2011-2012 school year, there were 2,676 discipline cases. 

700 of the suspensions and expulsions were for “disorderly conduct.”  In 45% of the “disorderly” cases, the student allegedly showed “disrespect” or “defiance.”   The Virginia Code defines “disorderly” as a student “unwilling … to submit to authority or [s/he] refus[es] to respond to a reasonable request.”  Who decides if the school administration’s request is “reasonable?”  Plainly, not the student!   We know who wins this argument.

Of the 43 suspensions or expulsions for a “weapon,” almost 58% of those were prompted by a “weapon look-alike” or “possible” weapon.  Students, be careful how you turn your thumb and index finger in the Loudoun County School system – so it doesn’t look like a gun!  You can be prosecuted for the fanciful imaginings of a school principal who mistakes chimera for cartridges.

98 of the suspensions and expulsions last years were for “drug violations” and 82.7% of those had to do with pot possession.  We handle these cases in the worst possible way, disciplining the students by removing them from school, pouring red slanderous ink into their student portfolio to compromise their prospective education and employment, prosecuting them criminally, insisting on drug counseling (whether they need it or not), and then parking them at Douglas, an Alternative School, for thirty days, where, one participant told me, you are subjected to “a terrible program where kids are stigmatized as potheads and druggies …demoralized and looked down on …” and the homework assignments from your regular school are forwarded without any instruction on how to complete it.

The system is also thoroughly discriminatory.  Hispanic students are 1 ½ times more likely to be suspended or expelled as compared to their percentage of the student population, Black Students are 3 times more likely, and IEP Students nearly 4 times as likely.

It’s too much trouble to be fair – so our schools aren’t.  It’s too hard to confirm the information is reliable – so we don’t. 

While we wait to no avail for reform, for fundamental fairness, every student must learn to defend himself or herself in two ways:

First, refuse to consent or participate in any search of his or her person or property unless and until a parent and/or counsel are present.

Second, remain silent, refuse to speak or write any statement unless and until a parent and/or counsel are present.

If the “system” is unfair and unjust, then let’s help make it fair.


Monday, April 15, 2013


Ready to go to Louie's to eat!
I’m Louie, originally from up around Pleasant Avenue in Manhattan, the “Big Apple,” where we have the Sullivan laws and guns are verboten.  We got a crazy Governor who is imposing even more stringent gun laws.  Who needs that?  It’s nature’s way to thin the herd – violence I mean.  Guns don’t kill people.  It’s the men with guns who kill people.  They’d do the same thing with a jack knife.

So I came to the hand gun capitol of the world, Virginia, where a man can wrap his hand around a gun and carry it almost anywhere.  I could feel the air fill my lungs with liberty when I crossed the Potomac.  This is a place that understands the Second Amendment.

I had a great sub pizza place in New York, called “Louie’s,” what else, but I didn’t feel free, not with the Mayor beefing that all these Virginia hand guns were coming into New York killing people.  Whine!  Whine! Mayor Boohooberger.

Now I’m opening a restaurant in Purcellville, and I’m calling it “Louie’s Lock and Load Eatery,” where a man can bring his gun and let those girly men and tense women take their appetites elsewhere – if they can’t understand the need to open carry.  Who needs ‘em?

I’m getting a liquor license and I hope to change the law in Virginia so that real men and women can drink and open carry their side arms.

You know in Tombstone, Arizona, they didn’t allow guns into the saloons.  Pansies!  If Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the boys hadn’t defied Tombstone’s ordinance banning guns within the city limits in 1881, we would have never had the gunfight at the OK Corral wiping out the Clanton Brothers and the McLaurys – and, well, also wounding a few Earp brothers.  They did this with six-shooters.  Maybe a shotgun or two.  30 shots in 30 seconds.  Congress today wants to limit magazines.  Poppycock!

I’m gonna preserve the delicious meatballs we’ll be serving at Lock and Load with gunpowder.  Too few people don’t appreciate that the nitrites and nitrates in gun powder have been used to preserve meat going back to the middle ages.  I know salt peter has gotten a bad rap.  But this is a good idea.

Our menu is loaded with our specialties - kapow pizza, shootin’ subs, pistol pasta, ricochet rolls, and projectile pie.

We are not concerned that some gun nut will come into lock and load and go postal on us.  We’d cut him down in a New York minute. 

Our door is modeled on Clint Eastwood’s famous “Sudden Impact” line, with a lifelike shooting arm coming straight out of our front door, holding his long barreled .44 Magnum revolver, and a recording says, “Make my Day!”  Isn’t that just the greatest?

I’ve been surprised that some have said my concept is “creepy.”  Really?  Well, I expect to carry high and tight on my fleshy thigh, my big bad boy, my Smith and Wesson Model 500 Magnum.  It’s got a barrel almost 8 ½ inches long, has an extra-large exposed hammer, satin stainless finish, it’s a 5-shooter cylinder, 350 grain bullets, but you don’t need more than five shots.  It’s got a 2,600 foot/pound muzzle energy.  It’s for hunting, yeah, the most canny animal of them all, the two-legged animal.  It knocks down whatever it hits.

Like I said, Virginia’s the place to be if you love your guns.  And Louie’s Lock and Load Eatery is the place to eat while you open carry the gun you love.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Our Governor is not the worst homophobe in America but he is a contender.
Our Commonwealth is not the worst in its intolerance of gays but it’s got nothing to be proud of either.

In Loudoun County, we have a Board of Supervisors indifferent to the fact that one of its members, Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, is a gay bashing demagogue.

I wrote each member of the Board of Supervisors to ask them to disavow this bigotry.  Our Board has no shame in its silence. As that old 60s tune went, “Hello Darkness my old friend.”  Janet Clarke wrote she felt no obligation to respond at all.  And she didn’t.  By their silence, may we know them.
Virginia has had a discouraging history when it comes to individual rights and liberties.

Virginia had to be told by the Supreme Court in 1967 that a ban on mixed-race marriages was unconstitutional as it violated “one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

No doubt Virginia will have to be told its constitutional amendment against same sex marriage is unconstitutional as our General Assembly has presently decreed - VIRGINIA IS NOT FOR GAY LOVERS.

A Roman Senator once said that the fates lead you to your destiny, or they drag you to it.  Our Commonwealth has had to dragged before to its destiny and forced to end slavery, to grant women suffrage, to end segregation, to stop its massive resistance to integration.  Not too many years ago, our General Assembly defeated the equal rights amendment for women.

The Commonwealth is like a child that must be forced to do what’s right because it won’t do what’s right on its own.  It’s hard to support the Commonwealth’s insistence on its State’s rights when that means violating individual rights for its citizens.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said that “the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
The test is whether Justice Kennedy will follow his own teaching and provide the swing vote to affirm same sex marriage as a right.

If not, then what Kennedy said, is an example of “people talking without speaking,” afraid to disturb the “sound of silence” that embraces such bigotry.

I am reminded of that popular Simon and Garfunkel song from the sixties, the “Sounds of Silence,” because it reminds us how the more we think we’ve advanced in tolerance, the more we must confess that we’ve advanced hardly at all.

So many who discriminate against gays hide behind some religious text or other that finds no support in anything that Jesus ever said.  Apparently we are all made in the image of God – unless, by the twisted view of some Christians, your image is gay. 

Nor is there much validity to the notion marriage is only to procreate, especially given our nation’s over-populating copulation with so many children born orphans and unwanted who can’t find adopting families.

When the mind of man scours the Old Testament to find support in Leviticus for a biblical sound bite to justify discrimination, they defy the teachings of Jesus to love one another. 

Ask yourself if Leviticus is really where we should be getting guidance anyhow?  Leviticus insists women are unclean and sinful after child birth (Leviticus 15:19-30), that a man who has sex with a slave woman won’t be punished, but the slave will be (Leviticus 19:20-22), and priests may only marry virgins (Leviticus 21:13-14).  Perhaps the Old South found comfort in Leviticus (Leviticus 25:44), stating “you may buy male and female slaves” but only from the surrounding “heathen” nations, a passage obscured in some translations, and,  of course, you may keep the children of these slaves as well (Leviticus 24: 45).  Some casuists say their slavery (in the time of Leviticus) was not like our slavery.  Oh really?

But I digress.

Our government is not the Holy Roman Catholic Church, nor any other Theistic entity, by which we are constrained to measure the rights of an individual in our constitutional society.

It is time to end this foul form of discrimination against gays so easily embraced by our political leaders and by our friends and neighbors.

Our individual dignity is insulted and abused by this persistent permeating prejudice visited on others.  Our silence is acquiescence and does “like a cancer grow.”

Some travel on missions around the globe to inform other nations of the values of democracy and others travel to teach the word of God.  We have plenty of soul work to do here in America to dismantle the neon God we’ve built that allows many to say this discrimination against gays is what God wants.  We have plenty of work to perfect our union, and to find our voice again, rather than remaining silent in the face of such bigotry.