By James Bacon, published originally on Bacon’s Rebellion and republished here by agreement.
It caused a brouhaha last year when U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland assigned the FBI to look into threats of violence against local school officials by parents protesting woke school policies. The announcement struck many as paranoid and detached from reality, but it apparently reflected a widespread concern by local officials that the peasants with torches and pitchforks demonstrating at school board meetings genuinely represented a threat to their personal safety.
A case in point: Fairfax County Public School system has published a request for proposal to pay up to $200,000 for “social media management services” to “monitor social media threats, harassment, hate speech and bullying.”
According to Parents Defending Education, which has published a copy of the proposal, the RFP encompasses “active listening,” “deep and dark web sources not visible through traditional search engines” and “Open Source Intelligence.” It further seeks to “classify aliases, usernames, emails, websites, etc.” and “visually identify relationships and connections between persons.”
School officials spending tax dollars to gather intelligence about their political enemies? This is beyond extraordinary. It is increasingly apparent that (a) the “progressive” wing of Virginia’s political class is increasingly afraid of the people it rules, and (b) is increasingly willing to wield the power of the state to repress them.
In moving, in effect, to criminalize their ideological foes, Fairfax school officials who prattle about racial “oppressors” and “victims” show themselves to be the oppressors.
There is likely a slender justification for monitoring the Web. It has become all too common for yahoos (of all political stripes) to issue threats of physical harm from the anonymous safety of the Internet. I have no doubt that Fairfax school officials have received “threats” of some kind. Whether they are credible is another issue. One wonders what role the Fairfax County police might play in investigating them.
I suspect, however, that the Fairfax police would consider it outside of their purview to monitor online “hate speech,” “bullying,” and “harassment,” much less to compile dossiers on the political opposition. I certainly hope that to be the case. If law-enforcement authorities did actively collaborate with Fairfax school officials in this matter, Virginia would be well on its way to becoming a police state.
Update: And then there’s this… Parents Defending Education has discovered that Fairfax schools paid a PR firm, Yes& Agency, $99,000 in 2020 for “strategic communications” to gain control over the narrative about admissions policy to the Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology. Once more case of elected officials using taxpayer money to vanquish their political foes.