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A new North Carolina law makes it a crime for any student to, “with the intent to intimidate or torment a school employee,”

a. Build a fake profile or Web site.

b. Post or encourage others to post on the Internet private, personal, or sexual information pertaining to a school employee.

c. Post a real or doctored image of the school employee on the Internet.

Story time.

When I was in tenth grade, my school’s principal ordered the installation of several video cameras at the school’s entrances (and, if memory serves, in certain hallways). The year was 1984, and I was pretty bookish for a juvenile delinquent, so I ran off a handful of 8.5 by 11 posters bearing her photo and the message “BIG SISTER IS WATCHING YOU,” and taped them up around the school.

Did I intend to torment her with these posters? You bet I did.

Which means that if I’d done this today, in North Carolina, and I’d put a photo of one of the posters on Tumblr, I’d have been guilty of “cyber-bullying” under section 14-458.2(b)(1)c of the General Statutes of the state. My act would have been a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to one thousand dollars along with possible community service or house arrest.

Just for making fun of my principal on Tumblr.

Last weekend some forty Wesleyan students entered a closed meeting of the university’s Board of Trustees, looking to give input on a matter of university governance. The students were advocates of need-blind admissions, a policy under which students are accepted for admission without consideration of their ability to pay. (Admissions have traditionally been need-blind at Wesleyan, but at the start of the summer, after many students had left campus, the trustees voted to scrap that policy for the class of 2017.)

This wasn’t a long occupation — it lasted only about fifteen minutes before students left voluntarily. It wasn’t particularly aggressive — video of the incident shows a conspicuously quiet, and respectful, discussion. And it was far from unprecedented — on the video, one trustee is seen declaring that “students barging in [to trustee meetings] is a long and time-honored tradition at Wesleyan.”

But now at least five of the students who participated in the action are being brought up on campus judicial charges. As the campus online newspaper Wesleying notes, the five stand accused of “disruption” and “failure to comply.” According to the campus student handbook, it looks like punishment for these two violations could be anything from a warning to expulsion.

I watched the video, and I gotta say — that’s some seriously non-disruptive disruption, and some seriously compliant non-compliance. Shame on Wesleyan for making it into a judicial issue.

The University of California has agreed to make payments of tens of thousands of dollars each to the two dozen students hit with pepper spray at UC Davis last November, and to provide the students with individual written apologies from Davis chancellor Linda Katehi.

The settlement, filed in federal court this morning, provides for $30,000 payments to each of 21 named defendants, and a pool of $100,000 to be divided among other students who may come forward. Attorneys for the students will receive $250,000, and the ACLU will be given $20,000 to conduct a review of university policies on demonstrations.

The University of California had already spent more than $1 million to conduct its own investigations of the incident.

Although Lt. Commander John Pike, the primary sprayer, has been fired by UC Davis, and the campus police chief at the time of the incident later resigned, no officers or university administrators were charged with crimes as a result of the incident.

Chancellor Katehi survived a no-confidence vote by faculty early this year, and remains in office.

A startling number of the supposed terror plots broken up by US law enforcement officials since 2001 have been the result of goading by undercover cops, who’ve encouraged American Muslims — often young, often mentally unstable — to become involved in plans that had no chance of coming to fruition.

The latest example of this practice, and one of the most disturbing, comes out of Chicago, where FBI agents arresed 18-year-old Adel Daoud after he pressed the fake detonator on a fake car bomb they supplied him. According to court documents, and reporting from TPM, the FBI jihadists succeeded in getting Daoud to continue in the face of strong discouragement from his father, his former accomplice, and a local Muslim leader.

That’s right. The only “Muslims” encouraging Daoud in his ersatz plot were the phonies on the FBI payroll. Every actual Muslim in his life who got wind of the plan told him it was a lousy idea, and did their best to talk him out of it. And every time they did, the FBI was there to egg him on, rebut his concerns, and provide him with fake explosives.

And now an 18-year-old is facing decades in prison. For what?

Update: The crime the FBI talked Daoud into committing, and provided him with the means to commit, carries a life sentence. Daoud was seventeen years old when the FBI first contacted him.

The summer lull in this year’s Quebec student protests is coming to a close, and the next few weeks are likely to be crucial ones for the future of the movement.

To recap: Quebec’s ruling Liberal Party announced plans for multi-year tuition hikes last February, prompting students to walk out of classes throughout the provinces. Those walkouts quickly developed into ongoing student strikes, with many campuses closing entirely after student strike votes at general assemblies. College administrators generally respected the strikes, even — in some cases — refusing to comply with court orders that their campuses be reopened. Suddenly the red square, symbol of the movement, was everywhere.

In mid-May the government brought forward a proposal to end the strike, but it offered only minimal concessions and its plan was overwhelmingly rejected in a series of campus votes. After that debacle the Liberal Party put forward Bill 78, a law that criminalized much protest in the region and imposed stiff penalties on student organizations that supported campus closures. Bowing to the reality of widespread campus closures, Bill 78 suspended the spring semester at colleges shuttered by the strike, mandating that they resume meeting in mid-August. (The law passed on a party-line vote after a hectic marathon session.)

Defiance of Bill 78 was widespread, and its provisions have generally not yet been implemented. Hundreds of thousands of Quebecois took to the streets in the aftermath of its passage, and protests have continued throughout the summer on a somewhat smaller scale.

That’s what’s happened. Here’s what’s coming:

Rumors have been swirling for months that Quebec’s ruling Liberal Party will announce on August 1 that they will be holding provincial elections on September 4, and news reporting is increasingly treating a Wednesday announcement as a done deal. Polling has been sparse so far, but the most recent data show the LP and the Parti Quebecois virtually deadlocked, with one poll aggregator showing the LP likely to win some 60 seats in the new legislature — a six-seat loss from their current standing, and a decline large enough to rob them of their current majority in the 125-seat body.

But the situation could change dramatically between now and the election, particularly since Bill 78 mandates that the province’s striking colleges re-open their doors on August 17. A student lawsuit to block implementation of the Bill was rejected earlier this month, but another challenge is still pending — this one from professors who say the government does not have the right to unilaterally impose a new teaching schedule on them.

Mark your calendars: This year, campus activism for the new academic year starts in Quebec, and it’s starting early.

About This Blog

n7772graysmall is the work of Angus Johnston, a historian and advocate of American student organizing.

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