School Board Seeks to Prevent Web Posting of Materials It Released to Fulfill FOI Request

The Fairfax County School Board took legal action to cover up its own mistake.


The Goldwater Institute's Tim Sandefur reports on one of his organization's new cases:

When Debra Tisler and Callie Oettinger of Fairfax County, Virginia, suspected their local school district was wasting taxpayer money on excessive legal fees, they did what responsible and engaged citizens do in a democracy: They asked to see the receipts. They have that legal right under the state's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)—and the school board turned over 1,000 pages worth of information. Then it realized that something in there was embarrassing—and that's when things got ugly.

The school board demanded that Callie remove the documents from the website where she'd published some of them—after having redacted any confidential information. That's right: Callie blacked out any personal info before posting the documents, because the school board failed to do so. She had no legal obligation to do that—the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that you have a constitutional right to publish lawfully obtained information about the government—but she still chose to take that precaution.

But that wasn't enough for school bureaucrats. They filed a lawsuit against Callie and Debra, asking a state court to force Callie to take the documents off her website, and to order Debra to "return" them. (That last part is bizarre, since these aren't physical documents—just computer files—so it's not clear how you "return" them.) But in any event, the point was clear: School board officials were demanding censorship. The natural question to ask is: Why? What does the Fairfax County School Board not want the public to know?

On Thursday, the Board told reporters that Callie and Debra publicized "private information about other people's kids." That is a lie. Callie and Debra never published private information about kids or school employees. And it is an intentional lie, too. How do we know? Because the Board did not make that claim in the complaint it filed with the court. Instead, it only told the court that Callie and Debra have documents the Board doesn't want them to have. The Board knows it would get in a lot of trouble if it told the judge that Callie and Debra published any private information, since that isn't true. In other words, the Board is willing to lie to the press—but not to the court.

A state court apparently granted the school board's request and ordered the documents taken down. Tisler and Oettinger have complied with this order, pending a hearing later this month.  Oettinger's account of the school board's legal action is here.

As Sandefur explains, there is no basis for the court's order, as the First Amendment protects the distribution of lawfully obtained government documents. I would also note that it's exceedingly difficult to make documents disappear once they have been posted on the web.

Via the wayback machine, I found two additional posts on the documents that appear to have been taken down, perhaps in response to the court order.

The demand to take down the documents is not only unlawful. It also appears to have been ineffective. Perhaps the issue is not merely how much the Fairfax schools are paying their lawyers, but also whether they are getting their money's worth.

NEXT: On the Sacketts and S.B. 8

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  1. So, open and shut case of defamation, then?

    1. What do you see as the defamatory statement here?

      1. I’m guessing it’s the lie that these people published private student information when they in fact did not.

      2. Assuming Sandefur’s version of events is accurate, ‘the Board told reporters that Callie and Debra publicized “private information about other people’s kids.” That is a lie.’

        If the Board did in fact knowingly lie to reporters about what the plaintiffs published, how would that not be defamation?

        1. What are the parents’ damages?

          1. I guess there could be some sort of reputational harm because people think they leak private info? Don’t know how that’s assessed in VA, but I guess that’s what I’d argue.

          2. What are the damages in any personal defamation claim? Harm to reputation.

            1. Except in the case of defamation per se—which this clearly isn’t—actual damages are an element of a defamation claim.

              1. Right. But “ actual” isn’t synonymous with economic you can still try and prove noneconomic damages for noneconomic harms.

                1. Incorrect.

                  Special harm, as the words are used in this Chapter, is the loss of something having economic or pecuniary value. In its origin, this goes back to the ancient conflict of jurisdiction between the royal and the ecclesiastical courts, in which the former acquired jurisdiction over some kinds of defamation only because they could be found to have resulted in “temporal” rather than “spiritual” damage. The limitation has persisted in the requirement that special harm, to serve as the foundation of an action for slander that is not actionable per se, must be “temporal,” “material,” pecuniary or economic in character.

                  Restatement (Second) of Torts § 575, comment b.

                  1. That doesn’t appear to be the rule in Virginia per their jury instructions on actual damages:

                    If you find your verdict for the plaintiff, then in determining the amount of damages to which he is entitled, you may take into consideration all of the circumstances surrounding the statement, the occasion on which it was made and the extent of its publication, the nature and character of the insult, the probable effect on those who heard the statement, and its probable and natural effect upon the plaintiff’s personal feelings and upon his standing in the community and in business.

                    “Your verdict should be for an amount that will fully and fairly compensate him for:

                    (1)any loss or injury to his business;
                    (2)any insult to him including any pain, embarrassment, humiliation, or mental suffering;
                    (3)any injury to his reputation; and
                    (4)any actual, out-of-pocket losses that were caused by the statement.”

                    1 Virginia Model Jury Instructions – Civil Instruction No. 37.100 (2021).

                    The instruction comments point to this explanation by the Virginia Supreme Court:

                    “Special damages”, which under the common-law rule must be shown as a prerequisite to recovery where the defamatory words are not actionable per se, are not to be limited to pecuniary loss. To the extent that language in Shupe may be construed to indicate that emotional upset and embarrassment cannot constitute “special damages”, it is hereby modified.

                    Fleming v. Moore, 221 Va. 884, 894, 275 S.E.2d 632 (1981)

                    1. Yeah, I visited several Virginia sites on defamation, and they all agreed on this point: You don’t need monetary damages to make defamation actionable in Virginia, you just need damage to somebody’s reputation due to a known lie.

                2. LTG (and N a s)…What about ‘future harm’ in defamation? Suppose the spouses of Debra Tisler and Callie Oettinger were consultants, and their business dried up because clients leave owing to the negative publicity. How would you go about arguing that?

                  I mean, how would you even begin to talk about valuation of lost future business?

                  1. Yes, that would be legally sufficient. See Illustration 1 of the Restatement section I cited:

                    A, a Catholic priest, says to others that B, a merchant, has been excommunicated. It is proved that in consequence of this statement B has lost Catholic customers. A is subject to liability to B.

                    I have trouble seeing anything to suggest the parents could plausibly make such an allegation here however—much less that it’s “open and shut”.

                    1. Yeah, truthfully I can’t help but feel there is more to this; that there is missing context. Is this really a dispute over legal fees spent by a very wealthy school district?

                    2. Is this really a dispute over legal fees spent by a very wealthy school district?

                      Even if the parents have some axe to grind I don’t see why that discredits the issue of the district wasting money. I presume they want the school board voted out, particularly after they’ve been (arguably) defamed and sued, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

                    3. I have trouble seeing anything to suggest the parents could plausibly make such an allegation here however…

                      It’s hard to take seriously anyone’s claim that the parents probably don’t have a cause of action when there is no reason to believe that you would if they did.

                      The claim is false and defamatory and you have no idea if and to what degree the reputational damages are monetary since you know nothing about the injured parties.

                      Nicholas Sandmann apparently seems to have received some sort of settlement from CNN and seems to have suits still in progress despite not having any current business to be affected, and other students in the Captal Steps “punchable face” hoax still have suits underway, I believe, so your constipated view of defamatory damages doesn’t seem to hold up in the real world.

                    4. Nicholas Sandmann apparently seems to have received some sort of settlement from CNN and seems to have suits still in progress despite not having any current business to be affected, and other students in the Captal Steps “punchable face” hoax still have suits underway, I believe, so your constipated view of defamatory damages doesn’t seem to hold up in the real world.

                      Sandmann alleged that the statements were per se defamatory, which (if true) would relieve him of needing to prove actual damages.

                    5. I’ve checked, and you are correct that Sandmann alleged per se defamation, though I’m not seeing that the statements made about him — still less the other students, in the cases being brought by Robert Barnes — obviously fit in any of the four categories usually listed as qualifying a defamation as per se. My conclusion is that the categories are not so rigidly applied as texts might indicate. No?

                      For the sake of argument, let us assume that Sandefur’s account…

                      …the Board told reporters that Callie and Debra publicized “private information about other people’s kids.” That is a lie. Callie and Debra never published private information about kids or school employees. And it is an intentional lie, too.

                      …is true. So we have publication of a false factual statement that can reasonably be assumed to cause reputational damage and emotional distress. Let’s also assume (though it is not in evidence) that there is no demonstrable economic impact.

                      My guess, and I agree that it’s a guess, is that this will not precude damages, despite the textbook you quote.

                      But I agree that it’s not “open and shut”.

                      Since I have it open…

                    6. “Is this really a dispute over legal fees spent by a very wealthy school district?”

                      In a sense; The allegation, among others, is that the school board is farming out, at over six hundred dollars an hour, work they’re supposed to be doing themselves. Which could either be incredibly spendthrift, or, potentially, a money laundering scheme. Either way you could see parents being concerned, but the latter could explain why the school board is so obsessed with shutting down the FOIA requests’ distribution.

              2. I don’t think it’s so clear that an allegation of mass doxing wouldn’t be defamation per se.

                But, let’s suppose it didn’t qualify. The allegation is still defamatory, as almost anybody would consider it to reflect on their character if true. And Virginia does not, I believe, require you to demonstrate that the damage to your reputation cost you money.

                1. To be fair, the School Board’s statement doesnt allege “mass doxng”, merely disclosure of private information about plural third parties.

                  1. I’m going to assume that was sarcasm.

  2. Was Tim Sandefur the Volokh Conspiracy guest-blogger whose originalism-related posts were burned to cinders years ago — not only by commenters but also by at least one of the Conspirators — for poor reasoning, misleading references and quotations, and misstatement of history?

    I do not recall reliably whether that guy was Tim Sandefur but the name evokes a vague memory of what became a comical, then brutal, roast. I hope someone has a better recollection.

    1. It looks.Ike Mr. Sandefur had a couple of guest blogging gigs at the old VC:

      I didn’t spot the roasting on a quick scan, but I didn’t look very hard either.

      1. That does not establish that Mr. Sandefur was the ‘worst guest-blogger ever.’ It also does not dismiss that prospect.

        1. On the basis of your record anything you assert is evidence of the opposite.

          1. I am aware that right-wing bigots don’t like to see anything I write.

            Just as they hate most of modern America.

            (That keyboardist seems out of touch, too)

        1. “Perhaps” the article you link to “establish[s] that Mr. Sandefur was the ‘worst guest-blogger ever”?

          It doesn’t.

          I could answer Orn Kerr’s question, but it seems a rather dim one. To the extent that a Constitutional amendment might adopt the “wolf’s view” it seems clear that Sandefur would reject its normative claims on the citizenry, so worrying about how it ought to be interpreted after that change cannot be a question of much interest.

          Anyway, why you would think Kerr’s inquiry might reflect badly on Sandefur I cannot imagine.

          Interesting to see that Volokh once used Disqus, which despite a recent loss of functionality, is far superior to Reason’s comment software. (It at least notifies you of responses, both while on the page and by email, though the functionality of the latter has recently been disimproved and the notifications anyway are remarkably slow in coming. And it has tag-by-button functionality. Unfortunately, it also too easily enables retconning, which is the opposite problem from here. And Disqus has a history of deplatforming sites that have used it at the behest of the $PLC, and THAT is not good.)

    2. I don’t know.

      But those of use are familiar with the use of reason know that the answer has nothing to do with the school boards shabby treatment of parents in this case.

      1. Is inductive logic not part of reason?

        Remember the scene in the Simpsons when Lisa tracks down the locales the monorail scamster mentions in his song as having helped and they are all terribly off as a result of their connection with the salesman’s product? That was strangely seen as determinant of something important for the audience, who, I guess, didn’t have the reasoning acumen of Lt. Commander 12″. Only a thorough inspection of the monorail in Springfield could matter!

        1. Yes, but it is still an ad hominem to dismiss his argument out of hand just because he MAYBE made bad arguments in the past. Sure, if it is true, it means you may want to be more skeptical than you might normally be, but you can’t dismiss it BECAUSE he had been wrong on other arguments in the past.

          1. You’re confusing deductive reasoning (fallacies) from first semester community college with a deeper understanding of logic. This isn’t a deductive argument, it’s an inductive one.

            1. “This isn’t a deductive argument, it’s an inductive one.”

              It’s a smear designed to deflect from the underlying issue of the poor behavior by the school board.

              You know this, but you continue to pull this “inductive reasoning” crap.

              1. It was mostly a stroll down memory lane triggered by a vague recollection.

                1. Whenever you write anything we can be confident that it is mostly lying and delusion.

                2. Your memory is correct, Arthur. I want to say it was Orin who roasted him, but I’m not sure. He took a beating from the commentariat as well as one of the Conspirators, though. It wasn’t as bad as the woman who was writing in opposition to same-sex marriage, though. Whatever one’s view of the merits legally or morally, that was a disastrous train-wreck of a guest week.

                  1. I vaguely recall that Prof. Kerr was the Conspirator (or one of the Conspirators) who ripped the guest-blogger (with plenty of help from civilians). I am not yet sure that hapless loser was Mr. Sandefur, though.

                    The recent guest-blogger from FIRE was a comprehensive disaster, too, perhaps even at the level of the earlier catastrophe.

            2. Oh I understand inductive reasoning (I do it for a living), but this isn’t a good example of that. There is no specific data that Kirkland posted that allows one to actually to make any claims generally about Tim Sandefur’s arguments, just vague recollections of some bad arguments. And the best you could do even if it were true is make a general claim that his arguments generally are “poor[ly] reason[ed], [with] misleading references and quotations, and misstatement[s] of history.” But the way this is presented seems, at least to me, to be implying that because he made bad arguments in the past, this is a bad argument here, and that is deductive, not inductive, and therefore, it still stands that this is ad hominem.

              1. The specific information to which I referred is that one guest-blogger collapsed in a flaming shitstorm a number of years ago. When I read this fellow’s name it rang a vague bell — especially the “Tim” — and I wondered whether this might be the same guy. I have not said this man is the relevant former guest-blogger. I have not claimed it is probable, because I do not know.

                I have not criticized Mr. Sandefur’s statements or arguments in the current context. So far, I see no reason to. Preliminarily, the school district’s conduct seems bad, even after application of the customary skepticism generated by the record of Volokh Conspiracy guest-bloggers.

                Some regulars must be familiar with the comically bad guest-blogger. It seems odd that no one has identified that person, although I reckon the dwindling group of movement conservatives in modern America need to stick together no matter the circumstance.

                1. It seems increasingly odd that no Conspirator has (at least not so far as I am aware) defended Mr. Sandefur in this context.

                  Or that Mr. Sandefur has defended himself.

                  That is not a reliable verdict, though.

        2. Moreover, your Simpsons analogy isn’t exactly perfect. Man has made bad arguments in the past, therefore this argument of his is bad is not the same as scammer scams other towns with monorail, therefore scammer is trying to scam this town with monorail.

          1. It’s about reliability of witness/expert, doesn’t have to be about the same exact subject, of course.

            1. In other words you want us to take Kookland’s smear seriously despite having no reason to believe he’s suddenly changed into someone one ought not deride.

              We’re supposed to make that ludicrous jump inductively or deductively?

        3. I presume then that you would of course not trust Maddow after her breathless harangues about the false “Russia Trump Collusion” either. That would be a principled stance.

        4. Is inductive logic not part of reason?

          If only you were able to do either of those things effectively.

      2. ” the answer has nothing to do with the school boards shabby treatment of parents in this case ”

        I agree.

    3. Kirkland:

      “Remember that time years ago when Sandefur…”

      What are you, his wife?

      1. That is not nearly what I said.

        Getting stomped into submission by your betters in the culture war has made you disaffected and cranky.

        1. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
          Waste of brain cells warning
          Lest you imagine that Kookland is supporting his claimed memory of Sandefur performing badly at Volokh with actual evidence, be informed that he hss instead engaged in his weird trick of “footnoting” his assertions with a video, presumably (on past evidence, a music video). No need to click through.

          Following the link above to Sandefer’s guest contributions to The Volokh Conspiracy, I see some approximately 23 articles over four years, so the “brutal roast” seems to have been somewhat delayed in its arrival. More likely it’s simply one of Kook’s standard lies.

          1. One wonders if “Kirkland” also went by the username “Strange Luck” at the now defunct Discussionist.

            The prose is curiously similar.

            1. I am unfamiliar with Strange Luck and will Discussionist.

              Was that person an accomplished clinger-killer, too?

        2. Sure, Kirkland. Thanks to you guys, little boys can put on a skirt, go into the girls room, and rape little girls. You must be so happy.

  3. That’s pretty bad. Maybe the school board can just sic the DOJ/FBI on their critics and call them domestic terrorists if the criticisms become too strong?

    That’s what this school board may need to do:

    Loudoun County Schools Tried To Conceal Sexual Assault Against Daughter In Bathroom, Father Says

    Father in viral video of school board arrest says his daughter was raped in school bathroom.

    On June 22, Scott Smith was arrested at a Loudoun County, Virginia, school board meeting, a meeting that was ultimately deemed an “unlawful assembly” after many attendees vocally opposed a policy on transgender students.

    What people did not know is that weeks prior on May 28, Smith says, a boy allegedly wearing a skirt entered a girls’ bathroom at nearby Stone Bridge High School, where he sexually assaulted Smith’s ninth-grade daughter.

    Juvenile records are sealed, but Smith’s attorney Elizabeth Lancaster told The Daily Wire that a boy was charged with two counts of forcible sodomy, one count of anal sodomy, and one count of forcible fellatio, related to an incident that day at that school.

    As a result of the viral video showing his arrest, Smith became the poster child for what the National School Boards Association has since suggested could be a form of “domestic terrorism”: a white blue-collar male who showed up to harangue obscure public servants on his local school board.

    “If someone would have sat and listened for thirty seconds to what Scott had to say, they would have been mortified and heartbroken,” Lancaster said.

    Minutes before Smith’s arrest at the school board meeting, the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) superintendent lectured the public that concerns about the transgender policy were misplaced because the school system had no record of any assault occurring in any school bathroom.

    Then a woman wearing a rainbow heart shirt – a left-wing community activist – told Smith she did not believe his daughter, he says. His rage reached a boil and he had a heated exchange of words with the woman. A police officer, there to keep the peace in the meeting, pulled on his arm. Smith yanked it away. Before he knew it, Smith says, he was hit in the face, handcuffed and dragged across the floor, with his pants pulled down. Images of the incident were splashed on televisions and newspapers across the world.

    Buta Biberaj, the county’s progressive, top elected prosecutor, who has close ties to the school board’s most liberal members, appeared in court to personally prosecute Smith for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Biberaj ran on a platform of ending “mass incarceration,” but she wanted to put Smith in jail for the misdemeanors.

    As prosecutor, Biberaj would have known about the case involving Smith’s daughter. The suspect, juvenile court prosecutors assured Smith, was being held responsible: He was on house arrest, confined to his mother’s townhouse. According to Lancaster, a conviction was expected on October 14, likely in the form of a guilty plea to a lesser sexual assault charge.
    But on October 6, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, a 15-year-old was charged with sexual battery and abduction after police said he forced a girl into an empty classroom, held her against her will, and touched her inappropriately.

    Lancaster says the suspect is the same boy that allegedly attacked Smith’s daughter.

    What follows, based on extensive, exclusive reporting from Loudoun County, is part of the developing story involving the Smiths and the school system.

    1. Biberaj, the prosecutor, was elected by a 1% margin after George Soros paid $845,000 to support her bid. Her opponent, the Republican incumbent, spent $113,000 altogether, a more typical sum for a local race.

      1. According to the county website the vote totals in 2019 were 57715 for Biberaj and 54945 for Wittmann. That’s a 5% margin, not 1%.

        1. Hmm, let me try again. Biberaj’s vote total was 105% of Wittmann’s.
          But it’s also correct that Bibjeraj got 51.2% of the votes, and Wittmann 48.8%. Even through that lens though the difference is 2.4%, not 1%.

          1. Interesting. Wonder how they got that wrong.

    2. You’ve peddled a lot of conspiracy nonsense here before, got a better citation for this?

      1. I don’t peddle conspiracy nonsense, I do debunk it occasionally.

        1. Peddle? You soak in it!


      2. The story was originally published in the Daily Wire (behind a paywall); they claim it’s an exclusive, so I don’t think you’re going to see it anywhere else for a while.

        1. So it’s on the Daily Wire track record alone. Fair enough!

          1. If you can’t believe a Ben Shapiro exclusive, what’s next — doubting Alex Jones, Gateway Pundit, and Instapundit?

            1. Shapiro is gospel, Kirkie. So is Instapundit.

              1. Gospel is make-believe.

        2. There is also an article at on this incident. It references the dailywire article but is not behind a paywall.

        1. Completely apart from the lefty-blinders-busting exercise, thanks for this — love LMGTFY but wasn’t wasn’t aware of the DDG variant.

          1. I remmber seeing a page where you could select a variety of search engines and get the LMGTFY functionality. A quick look turns up indications that you can choose between at least Bing, baidu, yahoo, duckduckgo and yandex.

    3. “Smith was dragged out of the room before he could share his point – he says his daughter was sexually assaulted on May 28 by a boy in the girls’ bathroom. . . He wanted to use what happened to her to illustrate why he thinks kids shouldn’t be able to pick which gender bathrooms they use . . . But he was dragged out before he could and has since been vilified for his views . . . The school told Smith his daughter had been assaulted but didn’t call police . . . In the end he did, and the boy was charged with multiple counts of sodomy

      On June 22 [at the public meeting], Loudoun County school staff said they’d never had a report of of a sexual assault in a trans bathroom . . . Smith says they were lying, and that he ‘exploded with rage’ ”

      1. A British tabloid? Lol.

        1. You are a big fan of the ad hominem aren’t you?

          1. Her comments suggest she has nothing else to argue from.

            1. Michael about inductive logic is like the line ‘there’s a 5 am in the *morning* now?’ Lol.

              1. Bravo. Your long-term false flag operation has succeeded brilliantly. You have made leftists look thoroughly like intemperate, incoherent loons.

                1. I regard that as “Truth in Advertising”.

          2. I’m a big fan of inductive logic. Granted, it’s not covered in community college 101 Critical Thinking gen ed classes often, but it’s pretty important in life.

            1. Fan you might be. Practitioner you very much are not.

        2. How dare you sweep aside this young girl’s sexual assault! This is a NINTH GRADE GIRL who was attacked. Where is your solidarity with women? Where is your compassion for sexual assault victims? Why are you not leaping to the defense of the defenseless?

          Yes, these are rhetorical questions but I am asking them sincerely. WHERE IS THE LEFT when bad actors commit crimes under cover of woke politics?

          1. Why are you still naïvely asking questions of obvious slime?

          2. Come on.

            Young girls being raped in government schools, school officials covering it up for transgender perpetrators and woke bathroom policy, police muzzling and humiliating the victim’s father before he has a chance to speak, while Soros DAs lock him up in jail, and the FBI/DOJ use the incident to brand parents who disagree as “domestic terrorists” and chill speech and civic participation.

            Where is the left? They’re dancing in the end zone.

        3. It’s all over the fucking news but all you have to do is not believe any of the stories and voila! It didn’t happen.

          1. This is the “Wikipedia” defense. If it isn’t covered in “reliable sources” (they have a list) it didn’t happen.

            A month or so before the Afghanistan w/d fiasco I saw an article in Breitbart about the US giving some helicopters or airplanes to the Afghan Air Force, and I looked on Wikipedia to find out what they were. The table on the page didn’t include the info on the latest gift so I tried to leave a note on the talk page to point the editors to the new info… and I got a popup prohibiting me from linking to Breitbart. On the talk page.

            These Progs are all the same.

    4. Buta Biberaj, the county’s progressive, top elected prosecutor, who has close ties to the school board’s most liberal members, appeared in court to personally prosecute Smith for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Biberaj ran on a platform of ending “mass incarceration,” but she wanted to put Smith in jail for the misdemeanors.

      John Derbyshire calls this “who-whom-ism.”

      1. “Two girls, allegedly sexually assaulted in school, four months apart, by the same person. And so far, the only person to be convicted of a crime is the victim’s father.”

        1. Ashli Babbitt didn’t pose any semblance of an imminent threat and was murdered in plain sight of everyone in this country.

          The former SCOTUS nominee and current AG hack is siccing the FBI on this guy?

          This country is very sick.

          1. “This country is very sick.”

            Reminds me of something else I recently came across:

            The Rape of the Afghan Boys


            Ainuddin Khudairaham held down the trigger of his Kalashnikov and kept firing on unarmed U.S. Marines until the rifle’s magazine was empty, murdering three and wounding one. The Americans had been working out at a gym on Forward Operating Base Delhi in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province when the teenaged boy attacked on Aug. 10, 2012. “I just did a jihad,” Khudairaham bragged to Afghan police afterward.

            Among those cut down was Lance Cpl. Gregory T. Buckley, Jr. In 2015, The New York Times relayed the contents of his final phone call home, in which he told his father that Afghan police officers—those venerable allies of the United States—had been raping little boys on the base. “At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine told his father. Buckley, Sr., encouraged his son to report the incidents, but his son demurred. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture,” he told the Times.

            This Afghan cultural institution—the rape of young boys by adult men—is known as bacha bazi, or “boy play.”

            The U.S. government’s role in enabling Afghan pedophilia quickly lost it even the pretense of moral legitimacy in its delusional nation-building project. It should disabuse Americans of any idea to the contrary, though their government continues to claim it was on the side of good. Good and evil, it turns out, are hard to see clearly in the endless moral midnight that is the Graveyard of Empires.

            Due partly to the American military’s doctrine of cultural sensitivity that Buckley mentioned, the U.S. deliberately downplayed, ignored, and effectively subsidized the practice of child sexual abuse with taxpayer dollars. This is all the more ironic since this practice had previously been stamped out by the Taliban. The victims of bacha bazi are plucked from the ranks of Afghan society’s most vulnerable people: destitute, starving children without relatives, or sons of poor families willing or desperate enough to sell or “rent” their children. Usually forced to dress as women and dance for the entertainment of grown men, they often perform for male-only parties where they are sexually exploited, gang-raped, and sometimes killed.

            These “tea boys” or “chai boys” are generally considered a perverse luxury of the wealthy and powerful, but the practice is widespread. As many as 50 percent of men in the Pashtun tribal areas of southern Afghanistan engage in the bacha bazi custom. Observers claim that no less than one out of every five Afghan weddings includes “boy play,” according to an article by John Marshall Law School professor Samuel Jones.

            During the 1980s, U.S.-backed mujahideen commanders fighting in the Soviet-Afghan war regularly engaged in acts of pedophilia. Indeed, the part that got left out of the 2007 movie Charlie Wilson’s War about the U.S. support for the Afghan insurgents is that our government was arming and training pedophiles—and continued to do so through the present. As Chris Mondloch noted in his 2013 article “Bacha Bazi: An Afghan Tragedy” in the magazine Foreign Policy, mujahideen warlords “fought communism in the name of jihad and mobilized thousands of men by promoting Islam, while sexually abusing boys and remaining relatively secular themselves.”

            Enter the Taliban. The story goes that after the Taliban founder, Mullah Omar, intervened to save a young boy who was going to be sodomized by two militia commanders, appeals from locals for the Taliban’s help began to pour in. The Taliban took it upon themselves to protect teenage boys from sexual predators. From there it began arbitrating other disputes among locals, and its political power continued to grow.

            In other words, popular outrage at the pedophilia fueled by U.S. government allies dating back to the Soviet-Afghan War contributed to the Taliban’s rise. The Taliban eschewed sodomy, homosexuality, and promiscuity. Before their religious strictures were applied, Kandahar’s Pashtuns were so notorious for their sexual depravity that the locals would say birds flew over the city using only one wing—they needed the other to cover their posterior.

            Some Afghans contend that bacha bazi is perfectly consistent with Sharia law. Others concede that obscene social customs tend to supersede religious values in the region. “We know it is immoral and unIslamic, but how can we quit?,” one Afghan man told Jones. “We do not like women, we just want boys.” The Taliban settled this debate when they took power in the mid-1990s and made the practice punishable by death, which was in force until the 2001 U.S. invasion. After the Taliban’s ouster, writes Mondloch, former mujahideen commanders regained power and “brought with them a rekindled culture of bacha bazi.” They would serve as U.S.-backed governors, line ministers, military commanders, and police chiefs.

            By at least 2009, the Department of Defense was aware of the resurgence of child sexual abuse in Afghanistan and that it was occurring on military bases. A 2018 government watchdog report lists 5,753 cases of abuse, many by Afghan commanders engaged in pedophilia. The U.S. spent more than $2 trillion during the Afghan war, but as senior analyst Emily Prey notes in an article for Newlines Institute, did virtually nothing about the sexual abuse by our “allies” on bases. . .

          2. What are you talking about?

            1. I’m talking about how sick this country is.

              Which detail are you unaware of?

    5. Even if that’s true, the idea that sex-based bathrooms would have prevented something like that is preposterous. This boy would have been deterred from a violent rape if only he didn’t believe wearing a skirt meant he could go into the girls bathroom? He’s going to forcibly rape a girl in every orifice, but would have been deterred if the sign on the door actually meant biological sex?

      That’s the kind of inane arguments anti-trans people rely on? Embarrassing.

      1. This is a very ugly line to take on this. Tone deaf beyond belief, insensitive, misogynist, and insulting to parents. I hate to be a scold, but really, this just goes right over the top.

      2. “anti trans”..really? Why did the boy put a dress on? If it was a just a sexual preditor..why dress like a girl?

      3. He’s going to forcibly rape a girl in every orifice, but would have been deterred if the sign on the door actually meant biological sex?

        Deterrence isn’t the only reason to not mix boys and girls in bathrooms.

        If the sign on the door actually meant biological sex and he would be sanctioned just for going in there maybe his impulse control wouldn’t have been overstressed on the occasion of the rape.

        And then there’s the fact that he was AGAIN loosed on the school population. That’s another consequence of sick.

    6. Shocking how quickly the left went from #metoo to “If you object to your daughter being raped in a public school, you’re a domestic terrorist.”

      1. Bingo…
        Just like the boy scouts..didn’t they just declare chapter 11 because of male scout leaders raping boys? somehow this fact was discussed in a vacuum of changes to gay scoutmasters. Sometimes facts get in the way of narratives but today “facts” are subordinated by the narrative.

  4. I think it’s dumb to refer to people on the school board as ‘school bureaucrats.’ Iirc from when I lived there these are part time elected officials who (again iirc) don’t work for schools. But, I realize that kind of wording helps raise money among a certain set.

    1. Disaffected, grievance-consumed, anti-social, separatist, increasing irrelevant Republicans are perhaps my favorite culture war casualties.

      1. Seriously if true rape of a 14 year old? sorry but morality and traditional views are often rooted in protecting our children and families. I realize when facts “hurt” the narrative facts must be disputed (“disinformation”)..but again I ask you..if true a 14 year old girl? And if this was a run of the mill sexual predator why the skirt?

  5. Out of curiosity, how does this end up being a first amendment issue in the first place? Surely there’s no need to bring out the big guns unless the plantiff was able to find some kind of statute or other legal basis for their claim?

    1. Everybody claiming a right wants it treated as a first amendment case; It’s the only amendment in the Bill of Rights that the courts really take seriously, after all.

    2. The plaintiff is the school board, and did not admit that the First Amendment was involved at all.

      The school board released information that they claim is proprietary, and the defendants naturally asserted a First Amendment right to publish the information that the school board released to them.

      1. Wondering how the school board can claim information paid for by the taxpayers is not the property, ultimately, of the taxpayers.

        1. The school board claims it is “confidential”, but does not specify why. However, even assuming they are correct that laws exempt some of the information from FOIA, they are not entitled to shut up citizens because they (the school board) screwed up and improperly released that information.

  6. My question: Who is the VA state judge who ordered Debra Tisler and Callie Oettinger to take down their FOIA documents?

    Doesn’t it all start there?

    1. The judge simply doesn’t have the authority. this idea that judges can decide what govt can and cannot do is ridiculous. Its public data..the public pays for the schools..JC..this is fing marxism..

  7. Thanks for the comfort news, Prof. Adler.

    I love comfort food and comfort news. This news made me feel mirthful.

    1. If that was intended as sarcasm it’s a fail b/c it’s indistinguishable from the emissions of too many sickos

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