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Should Gay Rights Advocating Tennessee Student Assaulted By Principal Sue?

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A Tennessee high school student was allegedly assaulted by his principal. Why? Because the kid, one Chris Sigler, had the temerity to continue pushing for the school to establish a gay-straight alliance.

If proven, the principal’s actions would be criminal. But there’s no reason Sigler has to wait and see whether the district attorney will pursue the case – a case which, in any event, won’t directly benefit Sigler. Instead, he might want to file a civil claim against Moser. He potentially has three distinct claims: battery; assault; and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. Here’s a blueprint for his claims, based only on what I’ve read:

In tort law, a defendant commits a battery where he intends to make an unprivileged contact against someone, and contact results. No damages are needed for this tort claim to be successful, because this ancient tort also protects our personal dignity. If Sigler was indeed grabbed, shoved, and chest-bumped, he has a claim.

He also could sue for assault – confusingly, assault means two quite different things under criminal and tort law, and we usually think of assault in the criminal law sense: a physical attack against another person. Under civil (tort) law, though, that’s a battery. Assault, for tort purposes, means that the defendant intends to cause, and causes, the victim to apprehend (not quite the same as fear) imminent contact. Sigler’s mom says she walked in to see Moser “leaning over [her son] and shouting in his face.” That’s an assault – another tort that doesn’t require proof of actual damages, because, again, the law wants to protect people’s dignity against this sort of affront. Allowing such actions is also a deterrent against similar behavior in the future – by this defendant, and by like-minded miscreants.

Finally, Sigler might have a claim for the intentional infliction of emotional distress. This tort requires conduct that is extreme and outrageous, that is at least reckless in causing emotional distress, and that actually does cause severe emotional distress.

Although courts aren’t crazy about this tort (because it’s difficult to draw its boundaries), under certain circumstances it’s entirely appropriate. Recall Albert Snyder’s claim against Fred Phelps’s wackos – a jury awarded him millions for the actions of Westboro Baptist “Church” in disrupting his son’s funeral. (He didn’t end up collecting, thanks to the Supreme Court’s ill-advised ruling that these cretins were protected by the First Amendment; there’s no such issue here.)

I think the emotional distress claim has some traction here. Isn’t a principal pushing and shoving a student, and screaming at him, extreme and outrageous? And why was he doing it, if not to cause fear and emotional distress? If Sigler can prove that severe distress resulted – because this tort does require harm – he can recover for this, as well. And this tort, unlike the others, would examine the whole course of conduct by Moser, not just the incident giving rise to the assault and battery claims.

There might also be a claim against the school district for its actions in allowing the kind of bullying that led students to push for a gay-straight alliance in the first place, and perhaps even for the actions of Moser if he was found to be acting within the scope of his employment.

What might Sigler get out of this, if his damages aren’t great?

Plenty. Courts and juries really disfavor defendants who commit intentional torts. Punitive damages are available to punish people like Moser and to send a message to others that this kind of crap will no longer be tolerated. The publicity that such a suit would generate would draw attention to the unconscionable way that an educator was treating a student, and might have the added benefit of forcing Moser out of his job. And he might end up having to pay Chris Sigler thousands of dollars in actual and (mostly) punitive damages. If the case were proved, such a result would be justice.

As I detailed in this on-line article, I don’t generally favor civil suits as a way of dealing with the problem of bullying. They’re an incomplete, hit-and-miss approach that doesn’t necessarily lead to systemic change. But where a high school principal is himself the bully? By all means: Sue him. And get him out of there.

 
Were he born 10,000 years ago, John Culhane would not have survived to adulthood; he has no useful, practical skills. He is a law professor who writes about various and sundry topics, including: disaster compensation; tort law; public health law; literature; science; sports; his own personal life (when he can bear the humanity); and, especially, LGBT rights and issues. He teaches at the Widener University School of Law and is a Senior Fellow at the Thomas Jefferson School of Population Health.

He is also a contributor to Slate Magazine, and writes his own eclectic blog. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter if you’re blessed with lots of time.

John Culhane lives in the Powelton Village area of Philadelphia with his partner David and their twin daughters, Courtnee and Alexa. Each month, he awaits the third Saturday evening for the neighborhood Wine Club gathering.
 

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‘Wake Up People’: Trump ‘Elevating Criminals’ as MAGA Wants to ‘Wreck America’ Says Expert

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Dr. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, the noted expert on authoritarianism, fascism, and propaganda is sounding the alarm on Donald Trump, MAGA, the 2024 presidential election, and events surrounding the Republican National Convention.

“Wake up people. Trump is the most skilled propagandist in history,” Ben-Ghiat, an NYU professor of history and an MSNBC opinion columnist, wrote, noting he “did not need a crisis or one-party state to get millions to believe he won the 2020 election & see Jan 6 & strongman rule as positive.”

“He built a personality cult & indoctrinated thru disinfo & mass marketing,” she added.

Ben-Ghiat, who is also an advisor to the nonprofit, nonpartisan group Protect Democracy, was responding to professor of international relations Nicholas Grossman’s remarks:

“If the United States loses its democracy, it’ll be the dumbest slide into authoritarianism in history. Others cases had mass unemployment, a major war, something. None have done it with low unemployment, rising real wages, declining crime, and no troops fighting in foreign wars,” he wrote.

READ MORE: ‘What Caused Trump’s Injury?’: Campaign Silent as Attempted Assassination Questions Mount

Grossman was replying to international affairs columnist Doug Saunders of The Globe and Mail, who had observed, “For the first time in 23 years the USA isn’t at war. It’s experiencing full employment and rising living standards not seen in decades. Crime and violence are falling to record lows. It’s energy independent. Yet its leading candidate goes on about ‘civilizational collapse.’ ”

Ben-Ghiat also weighed in on remarks by economist Anders Åslund, who had written, “Elon Musk has promised Trump $45 million a month! An extraordinary amount. Why? Because Trump wants to prolong his tax breaks for billionaires – worth circa $4 trillion (!) over a decade. This will break US public finances, but Musk & other ruthless billionaires don’t care.”

“The point of MAGA,” she responded, “is to wreck America so autocrats –Trump’s allies–can prosper. Don’t believe me? Listen to Trump in VA on 6/29: ‘If you have a smart president, they’re not enemies. You’ll make them do great.’ He was speaking about Russia, China, and North Korea.”

She also responded to attorney and SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah’s post that former top Trump White House advisor Peter Navarro is being released from prison Wednesday and just hours later will speak at the Republican National Convention. Navarro is a conspiracy theorist and fringe economist who refused two lawful congressional subpoenas, was found guilty and sentenced to four months in jail.

“Trump’s agenda, as with all autocrats, is to replace rule of law with rule by the lawless,” Ben-Ghiat replied. “Elevating criminals to positions of prominence within the party is part of that.”

In an interview published Saturday in The Guardian on the threat of authoritarianism in America, Ben-Ghiat warned: “It is a democratic emergency.”

Ben-Ghiat is the author of several book including “Strongmen: How They Rise, Why They Succeed, How They Fall,” and “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present.”

READ MORE: ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’: RNC’s ‘Chilling’ MAGA Chant Echoes Trump – and ‘1930’s Germany’

 

 

 

 

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News

‘What Caused Trump’s Injury?’: Campaign Silent as Attempted Assassination Questions Mount

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Four days after a 20-year old registered Republican shot at Donald Trump at an outdoor campaign rally, killing one man and wounding three others including the ex-president, questions continue to grow as the Trump campaign stays silent.

Trump on Saturday appeared to touch his ear, which moments later was seen covered in blood. The Secret Service is now under investigation. Trump had enough time to mouth “fight!” and pump his fists at the crowd, giving photographers the opportunity to take what are being called “iconic” images of the shooting. Trump even repeatedly demanded agents wait for him to find his shoes before pulling him to safety.

A CNN transcript shows Trump saying four times, “Let me get my shoes.”

To date, not a single physician who treated Trump at the local hospital has addressed the press with any medical information on the 78-year old who this week officially became the Republican Party nominee for president.

The New York Times on Tuesday reported U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), the disgraced former Physician to the President, said he traveled from Texas to Bedminster, New Jersey to be with Trump at his private golf course, arriving at 4:30 AM Sunday. According to The Times, Jackson “replaced the dressing on the former president’s ear on a flight to Milwaukee for the Republican National Convention.”

Jackson told The Times, “The bullet took a little bit off the top of his ear in an area that, just by nature, bleeds like crazy.” That was the extent of his medical remarks.

RELATED: ‘Release Your Medical Records’: No Report on Trump’s Health 3 Days After Assassination Attempt

The Daily Beast adds Jackson spoke to far-right wing commentator Benny Johnson on Monday.

“Jackson was not at the rally in Pennsylvania, but previously said his nephew attended and was grazed by a stray bullet while sitting in the former president’s ‘friends and family’ section.”

“It was far enough away from his head that there was no concussive effect from the bullet, and it just took the top of his ear off,” Jackson said.

The Trump campaign has not released any medical reports, nor has it cited or directed reporters to Congressman Jackson’s remarks.

“So journalists who demanded detailed medical information about examinations of President Biden just… don’t care to hear from any actual medical personnel about the injury sustained by the former President Trump after an assassination attempt? This is insane,” declared civil rights lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill Wednesday morning. Ifill is a professor of law and the former president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund.

“I have many questions!” responded MSNBC anchor Joy Reid. “Like where are the medical reports? What caused Trump’s injury and what was the injury? Sheapnel? [sic] Glass? A bullet? Where were the three attendees who were shot seated or standing relative to Trump? Why was Trump allowed to stand and pose for photos, fist pumping for nearly ten seconds while asking about his shoe when there could easily havs [sic] been additional shooters? How did the gunman manage to get on the roof of the building WHERE THE LOCAL POLICE WERE LITERALLY INSIDE?”

Reid wasn’t done.

“More questions,” she continued, “does it make sense that a 17 year old who three year[s] later is a member of a far right gun group donated to any political organization, let alone @actblueorg??? Has the organization verified that? And where is this supposed ladder? Did he seriously bring a five foot ladder with him and his AR? Really? And why haven’t authorities released information about all three civilian victims, including a schematic of where they were standing or sitting?”

READ MORE: ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’: RNC’s ‘Chilling’ MAGA Chant Echoes Trump – and ‘1930’s Germany’

Questions have swirled about a report of a $15 donation to a progressive group on January 20, 2021 – the day Joe Biden was inaugurated President. According to Snopes, a report that that donation came from a different Thomas Crooks, a 69-year old, are false.

“Thomas Crooks, the 20-year-old man who attempted to assassinate former U.S. President Donald Trump, once donated money to a political action committee aligned with the Democratic Party,” Snopes reports the claim, deeming it true.

Political commentator Bob Cesca on Wednesday quoted from this NBC News report that reads: “A Trump adviser on Tuesday declined to answer specific questions about the former president’s injury, telling NBC News that any statements about Trump’s health, his condition and medical care related to his ear would come directly from the former president.”

Cesca asks, “What’s he concealing?”

“Exactly, replied attorney and legal analyst Jeffrey Evan Gold.

“5 days after the event
No medical briefing.
No medical reports.
No doctor has come forth to even be interviewed in any publication.
Never seen anything like it in any mass shooting.”

“It has been several days since Trump was injured,” observed national security attorney Brad Moss Wednesday morning. “No medical reports. No statements from doctors. Nothing. And the media is barely talking about it, instead discussing an imaginary ‘pivot’.”

Former Republican U.S. Congressman Joe Walsh said, “No medical reports. No doctor’s statements. No information at all on the Republican nominee for President who was shot & injured four days ago. That’s just wrong. Shitty job media. If it were the Democratic nominee who’d been shot, Hannity, et al, would be blowing a gasket.”

Dr. Nick Mark writes: “The media silence on this is deafening. Did he have a head CT? What did it show? Did he have stitches? Tetanus shot? The NYT ran nonstop stories about Biden’s health after the debate but can’t be bothered to report on the health of someone who was literally shot in the head?”

RELATED: Was Trump Hit by a Bullet or Not? Calls Mount for Campaign to Release Medical Records

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OPINION

‘Impose Gender Ideology’: DeSantis Continues Attacks on LGBTQ Equality at RNC

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Walking out beneath a banner that read “Make America Safe Once Again,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis continued the GOP’s attacks on LGBTQ Americans into Tuesday night at day two of the Republican National Convention, despite the party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, vow to unite the nation.

Parading his far-right social agenda, DeSantis, who ended his 2024 presidential bid in January, angrily attacked President Joe Biden and American principles of equality.

“Let’s be honest here. Biden is just a figurehead. He’s a tool for imposing a leftist agenda on the American people. They support open borders, allowing millions and millions of illegal aliens to pour into our country and divert in our communities. But just don’t send any to Martha’s Vineyard then they get really upset,” the two-term Florida GOP governor mockingly declared, reminding Republicans that he spent state tax dollars to pick up 48 Venezuelan asylum seekers, including children, in Texas, and transport them to the tiny island town in Massachusetts, where they discovered, one said, they had been “tricked.”

READ MORE: ‘Release Your Medical Records’: No Report on Trump’s Health 3 Days After Assassination Attempt

“They have unleashed progressive prosecutors across our nation who care more about coddling criminals than about protecting their own communities,” DeSantis continued at the convention where Donald Trump, a convicted felon, was officially chosen as the party’s presidential nominee just 24 hours earlier.

“They use the unelected bureaucracy to impose their will on us without our consent,” DeSantis added, although it was unclear if he was  referring to the nation’s justice system. “And they weaponize political power to target their political opponents like they’ve done to our own nominee.”

“They want to ban gas automobiles, eliminate Second Amendment rights and impose gender ideology on everyone from our infantry men to kindergarteners. They stand for DEI, which really means ‘division, exclusion and indoctrination’ and it is wrong.”

DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“They mandated that you show proof of a COVID vaccine to go to a restaurant, but they oppose requiring proof of citizenship to cast the vote,” he claimed before adding, “They can’t even define what a woman is.”

READ MORE: ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’: RNC’s ‘Chilling’ MAGA Chant Echoes Trump – and ‘1930’s Germany’

DeSantis originally had not been scheduled to speak at the convention, despite having endorsed Donald Trump when he ended his presidential campaign. On Tuesday it was announced both DeSantis, and Trump’s other top rival for the nomination, his former Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, would both speak to the delegates.

As DeSantis praised Trump, the nominee was in the audience, standing next to his son Eric, his new vice presidential running mate, U.S. Senator JD Vance, and U.S. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

CNBC reported Tuesday the second day of the Republican National Convention saw Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz “bend the knee.”

“The primary campaign is a distant memory now,” Florida Politics noted.

Watch DeSantis’ speech below or at this link.

READ MORE: Was Trump Hit by a Bullet or Not? Calls Mount for Campaign to Release Medical Records

 

 

 

 

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