Trigger warning: Rape, domestic violence and child abuse denialism, victim-blaming.
Critics of Stephen Baskerville’s astonishing Faith and Reason lecture at Patrick Henry College last Friday have no shortage of material to cite. The lecture was such a departure from even the pretense of academic standards that it’s easy for critics to frame it as a mistake that no one should take seriously; surely the cause of this catastrophe is that the administration failed to vet it properly, and surely the students have the necessary skills to reject it. PHC alum David Sessions reaches out to those students in an open letter:
To say it was beneath the standards of charity, evidence, and logical rigor students at PHC should expect from their professors would be an understatement. But beyond its weaknesses as a piece of argumentation, it had darker moral undertones that should be emphasized and rebutted. Anyone committed to the Christian virtues of love, charity, forgiveness, and justice should be deeply suspicious of such a hostile condemnation of the voices of people who have been subjected to violence and discrimination in our society, and of those who have worked courageously and democratically to protect them.
In an article published Wednesday, Times-Mirror reporter Trevor Baratko explores the “wild, wild west” of campaigning in a still emerging online social media environment. Baratko approached my husband and me for this article because we had both been removed multiple times after “liking” Dave LaRock’s campaign page on Facebook. It’s common practice on Facebook to “like” a page for the purpose of monitoring the page’s activity and engaging in dialogue, and as I note in comments at the Times-Mirror, we have at no time been enabled to participate in discussion on that page although LaRock is campaigning to be our representative in the House of Delegates.
It’s an open question how exactly candidates for public office should navigate the new environment in which they find themselves. Many public figures and businesses have discovered that blocking critical comments from their Facebook pages only makes them appear imperious and as if they have something to hide. For an example of a different way to handle criticism (or in this case, open hostility and threats) see how the group Queer at Patrick Henry College dealt with PHC Chancellor Mike Farris’ comments on their Facebook page.
Facebook management isn’t the only area in which Dave LaRock has exhibited an inability to tolerate disagreement or criticism, however. A need for control coupled with entitlement, the sense that he has a special right to operate above the law, seems to be the character trait that most animates him. His 2012 arrest (final disposition still pending) for trespassing and destruction of property has become somewhat well known, prompting a falsehood-riddled “damage control” post (authored under an unaccountable pseudonym on a Republican blog) that LaRock is now distributing as his official statement on the matter. Continue reading →