During a live performance, Harry Styles debuted an unreleased song called “Medicine,” and one set of lyrics in particular has his fans in a whirlwind, Billboard noted. In a verse, Styles appeared to sing “The boys and the girls are here/ I mess around with him/ And I’m OK with it.” Twitter users immediately called the song a bisexual anthem, claiming that these lyrics confirm the singer’s sexuality. However, Styles has said in previous interviews that he does not feel the need to label his sexuality.

GLAAD announced that actress/comedian/writer Wanda Sykes will host the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles at Beverly Hilton on Thursday, April 12, a press release noted. GLAAD previously announced that Britney Spears and Jim Parsons would be receiving honors at the event. The organization also announced special appearances by Lena Waithe, Olympian Adam Rippon, Chloe Grace Moretz and Gigi Gorgeous.

Anderson Cooper and his longtime boyfriend, Benjamin Maisani, have called it quits, Page Six confirmed. “Benjamin and I separated as boyfriends some time ago,” Cooper, 50, said in a statement. “We are still family to each other, and love each other very much. We remain the best of friends, and will continue to share much of our lives together.” The Daily Mail reported that Cooper has been dating a 33-year-old Dallas doctor named Victor Lopez since splitting from Maisani.

Cory Michael Smith, who plays The Riddler ( a.k.a. Edward Nygma ) in Fox’s hit series Gotham, opens up about his sexuality in a new interview with The Daily Beast, NewNowNext.com noted. Smith is promoting his role as Adrian, a closeted gay New Yorker with AIDS who returns to his Texas hometown during the early days of the epidemic, in out filmmaker Yen Tan’s 1985. There’s something special about telling a story that feels closer to home,” says Smith, who “identifies as queer,” adding that his family handled his coming out with “a lot of love,” though it took “a lot of time.”

After months of speculation, Fifth Harmony announced that the act is taking some time apart for members to pursue solo careers, EW.com noted. The pop group—composed of remaining members Ally Brooke, Lauren Jauregui, Normani Kordei and Dinah Jane—shared the news on Twitter. In part, the statement read, “After six years going hard, non stop, we also realized that in order to stay authentic to ourselves and to you, we do need to take some time for now to go on a hiatus from Fifth Harmony in order to pursue solo endeavors.”

The nation’s largest radio-station operator, iHeartMedia, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to shed billions of debt it has carried for more than a decade, USA Today noted. The San Antonio-based company, which has more than 850 radio stations, says it will continue to keep operating after reaching an agreement with creditors for more than $10 billion of its $20 billion in debt. That means its popular iHeartRadio streaming radio app, which has 270 million monthly listeners, will continue to operate.

At Paleyfest, it was revealed that the NBC comedy Will & Grace ( in the first season of its revival ) has been renewed for a third season, according to Deadline. This will also be a longer run than the previous season, said creator/executive producer Max Mutchnick. Originally on air 1998-2006, the show returned to critical acclaim last year.

Kristen Stewart is set to play iconic actress Jean Seberg in Against All Enemies, a movie with an all-star cast, Deadline noted. A political thriller directed by Benedict Andrews ( Una ), the story is inspired by true events about the woman who, in the late 1960s, was targeted by the illegal FBI surveillance program COINTELPRO. Also starring are Jack O’Connell, Anthony Mackie, Margaret Qualley and Colm Meaney.

A star of the gay teen dramedy Love, Simon has come out publicly as gay, Queerty noted. Joey Pollari, 23, who plays Lyle in the film, got candid about his coming out experience in an interview with The Advocate. “The only part that was difficult was me coming out to myself. And I think that is the most difficult coming out,” he said.

After a twist in which contestant Shangela was voted out by a jury of her peers, Trixie Mattel was crowned the season-three winner of VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, earning the title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar” and $100,000, and joining the “Drag Race Hall of Fame,” a press release noted. “ConDRAGulations to the unstoppable Trixie Mattel,” said executive producer/host RuPaul. “You have more than earned your place in the ‘Drag Race Hall of Fame.’ And to Kennedy, Shangela and Bebe: You have earned my deepest respect for giving your all and fighting your way to the top. You’re all winners, baby.” The 10th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race will start March 22.

Out comedian James Adomian said that SNL has a problem with casting gay men, The Daily Beast reported. There hasn’t been an out gay male full-fledged cast member on SNL since Terry Sweeney became the first and only one more than 30 years ago; it was another 26 years before the show brought on its next out cast member, current star Kate McKinnon. “It would be nice if they put a gay man on camera on that show,” Adomian said. “I’ve been out of the closet the whole time since I auditioned 13 years ago. You would think that they would have tried to put someone else on that was a gay man. It’s about time.”

In the world of professional women’s basketball, former Phoenix Mercury standout Penny Taylor and her wife, current Mercury guard Diana Taurasi, welcomed a son on March 1, ESPN.com reported. With the Australian national team, Taylor won two Olympic silver medals, plus a gold and two bronzes at the FIBA World Championship, now known as the World Cup. Taurasi, who’ll be 36 in June, will begin her 14th WNBA season in May with the Mercury, who drafted her No. 1 in 2004 after she won three NCAA titles with the University of Connecticut.

Adam Rippon received a date offer live on air in the middle of an interview on E! News, The Washington Blade noted. Daily Pop host Justin Sylvester asked Rippon if he was single, to which the figure skater responds that he’s been too busy for dating. Sylvester then asked to take Rippon on a date. “So I’m gonna throw this out there. When you come to L.A. I wanna take you out on a date, and grab drinks, your choice, or I can show you my L.A. and we can just kick it,” Sylvester said. Rippon smiled and replied, “Wow, I love it. I love to just kick it.”

Kendall Jenner has a theory as to why the internet believes she is lesbian, CNN reported, citing a Vogue interview. “I think it’s because I’m not like all my other sisters, who are like, ‘Here’s me and my boyfriend!,’ she told Vogue. “So it was a thing for a minute because no one ever saw me with a guy.” Jenner said doesn’t think she has a “bisexual or gay bone in my body” but she’s open-minded about her sexuality.

Actor Isaiah Washington was let go from the ABC hit Grey’s Anatomy in 2007, reportedly for making homophobic comments and getting into a physical altercation with co-star Patrick Dempsey—but Mo’Nique is saying the firing was based on a lie, according to an Ebony.com item. Mo’Nique and her husband, Sidney Hicks, recently shared an email that “fell into their hands,” detailing an ABC attorney who allegedly admitted to lying about Washington’s character, behavior and resume prior to his firing from the series, having written, “I knew we threw Isaiah Washington under the bus for Patrick Dempsey.” Washington has yet to respond to the email read by his Blackbird co-star, but recently acknowledged many of the misconceptions about himself via Twitter.

Fox bosses have revealed they’re considering a Buffy the Vampire Slayer revival, Attitude magazine noted. The production studio behind the teen supernatural drama starring Sarah Michelle Geller have revealed they’re looking at reviving the television series. Speaking at the INTV Conference in Jerusalem on March 13, Fox Chairman/CEO Gary Newman stated that Buffy is the “most ripe” show they have for bringing back. The production company recently revived hit shows The X-Files, 24 and Prison Break, but Newman insisted that revivals aren’t “a focus” for the studio.

Village People’s original cop character, Victor Willis, has returned from obscurity to take back the role he walked away from nearly 40-years-ago, The New York Daily News noted. Ray Simpson replaced him in 1979; however, Willis won a lawsuit in 2012 allowing him to reclaim publishing rights on many of the band’s hits including “YMCA,” “Macho Man” and “In the Navy.” Willis reached an agreement with French producer Henri Belolo, who created the Village People, giving him rights to the band’s name and image, too. Willis immediately replaced the tribe’s cowboy, Native American chief, construction worker, soldier and leather-clad biker—leaving Simpson and his bandmates fighting for their livelihoods. The former and current incarnations of the group have been criticizing each other online for months.

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter/producer Charlie Puth has unveiled his new single, “Done For Me,” featuring Kehlani, a press release noted. His sophomore album, Voicenotes, is set to arrive May 11. Also, On March 24, Puth will perform at March For Our Lives Los Angeles, in solidarity with the national March For Our Lives taking place in Washington, D.C. on the same date.

The pansexual New York rapper formerly known as Angel Haze has announced they have changed their rapping name, according to Gay Star News. They posted, “I WILL NO LONGER GO BY ANGEL HAZE, but instead would like to be called ROES. This means a lot to me, guys! And in no way does it erase the past 5 years of truth ive lived out in front of you all.” The rapper’s real name is Raykeea Raeen-Roes Wilson.

Darren Criss is half-Filipino, but doesn’t identify as Asian-American, according to Page Six. When asked by Vulture if he identifies as Asian-American, the American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace actor said, “No. I think that’d be unfair. I think that’d sound like I’m reaching for the minority card on a college application. I think that would be unfair. Yeah, my mom’s Asian-American. She’s from the Philippines and came here and then married a white guy, and here I am.”

The March 18 episode of Family Guy, with limited commercial interruptions, featured a one-on-one conversation between Stewie ( voiced by Seth MacFarlane ) and his therapist ( voiced by Sir Ian McKellen ), TheWrap noted. Seven minutes of that discussion had a monologue by the Griffin baby, where Stewie dissected details of his therapist’s relationship and life after seeing a photo of the psychiatrist and his younger boyfriend, Michael.

Electus is partnering with songwriter, producer and artist Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds for a scripted music series that takes viewers behind the scenes of the booming New York City music scene in the ’90s, Deadline noted. The untitled serialized hourlong dramedy is developed by and based on the lives of award-winning songwriter and record-producer Damon Sharpe, who has worked with such artists as Jennifer Lopez, Ariana Grande, Pitbull, Nelly and more; and actress and former Warner Brothers/Ruffnation Records recording artist and producer Stacy Asencio-Sutphen.

The Metropolitan Opera fired Music Director Emeritus James Levine after finding credible evidence supporting a string of long-standing sexual-assault and -abuse allegations, Playbill reported. Levine—who served as music director with the opera company for nearly 40 years—was first suspended in December as the Met launched an investigation. The investigation followed the release of a 2016 police report that detailed allegations made by Ashok Pai that spanned over several years, beginning when Pai was 15.

Taylor Swift’s newest video, for the song “Delicate,” features Kevin Falk, a well-known star on the gay-porn site Randy Blue, Billboard noted. He plays a bodyguard who enters a hotel lobby with Swift and a team of bodyguards, and when the star becomes invisible upon being handed a magical note, she attempts for several seconds to get his attention. In 2012, men.com’s Mike de Marko was briefly featured as a partygoer who gets showered with glitter in Swift’s video for “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”

Rihanna does not think much of Snapchat after an advertisement that appeared to mock her domestic-violence incident with former boyfriend Chris Brown appeared there, CNN noted. The ad, for a game called “Would You Rather?,” featured photos of the two singers and asked users if they would “rather slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown.” Brown pled guilty in 2009 to assaulting Rihanna during an argument when they were dating. Rihanna posted a statement about the incident on her Snapchat account, criticizing the company for making light of domestic violence.

Actress Charlize Theron said the idea of arming teachers after recent U.S. school shootings or “adding more guns” to the situation is “so outrageous, Page Six reported. The Oscar-winning actress said, “I have a very personal experience with gun violence. I lost my father to gun violence. I just don’t understand when people try to make the conversation, the argument that the fix is more guns. It is so outrageous to me.” Theron spoke March 17 at the Global Education and Skills Forum being held in Dubai.

Aretha Franklin is canceling two upcoming concerts on doctor’s orders, according to Page Six. Her management team said in a statement that Franklin will not perform March 25 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey. That show would have taken place on her 76th birthday. Franklin also won’t appear April 28 at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival; Rod Stewart will perform as the headliner instead. Last year, Franklin announced her plans to retire, saying she would perform at “some select things.”

John Bailey, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is under investigation for allegations of sexual harassment, Variety noted. The Academy received three harassment claims and immediately opened a probe. The tenure of Bailey ( who was elected in August ) has been marked by a historic shift in the Academy’s approach to misconduct by its members. In October, the Academy voted to expel Harvey Weinstein less than 10 days after the New York Times first reported on his history of sexual harassment.

In the latest round of the ongoing legal battle, the California Supreme Court has rejected Bill Cosby’s request to overturn an appeals court decision that favored former supermodel Janice Dickinson, according to Deadline.com . “That means our case against him, on behalf of our brave client Janice Dickinson, moves forward,” Dickinson’s attorney Lisa Bloom tweeted. She said the state’s Supreme Court ruled against Cosby on three out of three issues. Dickinson has alleged that she was raped and drugged by Cosby in 1982, and that Cosby and members of his legal team accused her of lying when she later made the accusation.

Deckstar and Circle Talent Agency cut ties with DJ/producer Datsik following allegations on social media of sexual assault while on tour, Billboard reported. Various allegations have been spread across social-media platforms Facebook and Twitter. “Yo everyone. This is a very serious matter to me,” Datsik wrote on Twitter before making his account private. “There have been recent allegations against me for things I have not done. I am a vibe reader. I hand out with a ton of people after every show, and always keep a positive vibe.”

Broadway’s Tony-winning Kinky Boots producer Ken Davenport has acquired the musical rights to the life of Miracle Mop inventor and home-shopping entrepreneur Joy Mangano, Deadline noted. Mangano was the inspiration behind Joy, the 2015 David O. Russell film starring Jennifer Lawrence. Mangano, who periodically appears on HSN, has created and sold nearly $3 billion of products like the self-wringing Miracle Mop, Huggable Hangers, My Little Steamer, Forever Fragrant and the SpinBall Wheel luggage.

Former Dance Moms reality-TV star Abby Lee Miller is set to be released from prison early, USA Today noted. WTAE-TV reported that Miller was originally scheduled for release June 21, but online records now list her release date as May 25. Miller has been in a California prison since turning herself in this past July. She was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for hiding $775,500 worth of income and bringing $120,000 in Australian currency to the U.S. without reporting it.

Kanye West is being sued by Jordan Outdoor Enterprises, which claims that the rapper-turned-designer ripped off the camouflage print from its Realtree collection for some of his Yeezy Season 5 products, Vanity Fair noted. West’s label heavily incorporated a camouflage print into its Season 5 line, with his wife, Kim Kardashian West, being photographed in the designs as recently as January. LeBron James’s fashion company, UNKNWN, is also named in the suit.

One of the biggest casting questions for the Murphy Brown reboot—who will play Murphy’s grown-up son, Avery—has been answered, Deadline noted. Former Limitless star Jake McDorman has been tapped for the role opposite Candice Bergen in CBS’ current-day revival of the 1988 sitcom. In addition to Bergen, the duo join previously announced original cast members Faith Ford, Joe Regalbuto and Grant Shaud, all of whom will reprise their roles.

In other reboot news, Happy Endings alum Zachary Knighton is set as a lead, Rick Wright, opposite star Jay Hernandez and Perdita Weeks, in CBS’ Magnum P.I. pilot, according to Deadline. The reboot of the classic 1980s Tom Selleck series follows Thomas Magnum ( Hernandez ), a decorated ex-Navy SEAL who, upon returning home from Afghanistan, repurposes his military skills to become a private investigator.

Starz has given an early renewal to its hit drama series Power. Ahead of production wrapping on season five, Starz has ordered an additional sixth season with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson set to the direct the season-six premiere episode. Season five will return on Sunday, July 1.

A Utah gun-rights advocate is criticizing a move by a national supermarket chain — which operates Smith’s Food and Drug stores across Utah — to take magazines featuring so-called “assault rifles” off its news racks.

“It’s an ill-conceived idea to restrict the First Amendment,” Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, said Monday.

The Kroger supermarket chain, based in Cincinnati, announced last week it would begin removing magazines that tout “assault rifles” from its nearly 2,800 grocery stores nationwide. The chain operates 51 Smith’s and City Market food stores in Utah.

“There’s been nothing shown that the reading of such magazines contributes to any illegal behavior,” Aposhian said. “Are they going to restrict hot rod magazines as well, because of all the accidents that cars cause? Are they going to restrict magazines that happen to have advertisements for liquor in them?”

A spokesperson for Kroger did not respond to requests from The Salt Lake Tribune to clarify which magazines will be pulled from newsstands, or when. A report in USA Today listed such titles as Guns & Ammo, Recoil and Tactical Life, which have featured assault-style weapons on their covers.

“We regularly review the company’s assortment of periodicals and make merchandising decisions based on customer preferences,” a Kroger spokeswoman told USA Today.

“On the one hand, the greater the choice of opinions, the better for our society,” Gunn said. “On the other hand, I don’t like anything that glorifies ownership of these kinds of weapons. … We’re not going to be losing a significant voice from the gun-rights side of the argument if a few of these magazines are not being sold.”

Kroger’s move comes in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in which 17 people were killed. Surviving students at Stoneman Douglas have kept alive a national dialogue about guns, particularly semi-automatic rifles, such as the AR-15 used at the Florida school.

Earlier this month, Kroger raised the minimum age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21. This policy covers the Fred Meyer stores in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska — the only stores in the Kroger chain that sell guns.

Aposhian questioned the Kroger chain’s use of the term “assault rifles.” He prefers the firearms industry’s terms, “sport utility rifle” or “modern sporting rifle,” to describe AR-15s and similar weapons.

“If they use that term,” Aposhian said, “then they’ve already bought into the demonizing rhetoric of the gun-control crowd.”

Turning Point members at their table session
Image caption Turning Point members at their table session

A conservative group for US students, formed less than six years ago, has 1,200 branches and a $10m budget. So who are they?

On a sunny day in middle America, a line of students with Colgate smiles stand behind a table of apple pie.

In front of them, passers-by throw balls into buckets. If the ball goes in, they take a slice.

The students are here to sell. But they’re not selling a product, or event, or even a pie. They’re selling a message.

“The US army purchased a mega blimp for $297m – but never even used it!” says one bucket.

“The federal government is spending $2.6m over five years…to make sure prostitutes in China drink less on the job!” claims another.

Under the buckets, a poster sums up their message in three words: “Big government sucks.”

Image caption Leaders such as Malia receive training from Turning Point HQ; last July, a four-day Chapter Leadership Summit took place in Chicago

Welcome to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and the campus chapter of Turning Point USA.

Officially, the non-profit group promotes “freedom, free markets, and limited government”. Unofficially, it wants to blow the dust off conservatism.

Turning Point pre-dates Donald Trump’s presidency – it was formed in 2012 – and is non-partisan. They support conservatism, rather than the Republican Party.

Some of the Creighton chapter – including the founder – didn’t vote for Mr Trump, and the treasurer is a Democrat. But nationally, there are links between Turning Point and the president.

Donald Trump Jr is friends with the group’s founder, Charlie Kirk, and spoke at a Turning Point event in Florida in December. Soon afterwards, the president thanked Mr Kirk in a tweet.

There are also shades of Mr Trump in the group’s messaging. Big and bold. Short and simple. Uncomplicated and – above all – unapologetic.

In Omaha, a poster says: “I am not a victim”. A sticker shouts: “Socialism sucks”. This is active, go-get-em conservatism; proselytizing politics for the Instagram age.

The chapter’s president, 21-year-old Malia Shirley, encourages her team to engage passers-by. Some take a sticker, or a piece of pie. Others take issue.

Shannon Chamling is a 19-year-old from southern California – “a very liberal area,” she says – and wants to complain about a cake sale.

Last year, Malia and her team tried to organise an “affirmative action” cake sale on campus (affirmative action favours groups who have suffered discrimination; all-women shortlists are an example).

The cake sale idea came from Turning Point HQ’s 51-page chapter handbook. The 2016 handbook recommends different prices for different races: “$2 for white…$.50 for black…free for Native American.”

The point, says Turning Point, is to “demonstrate the unfairness and inadvertent racism of affirmative action”. Malia decided to charge everyone the same, but include a card with every sale.

Image copyright Turning Point Creighton University
Image caption The card that would have been handed out at the cake sale

The university approved the event, but some students complained. It was divisive and racist, they said. It should be cancelled.

The protesters threatened to blockade the sale. In the campus newspaper, one student wrote that he “died just a little bit inside, knowing that Turning Point USA is allowed at Creighton”.

The university called Malia. We are not telling you to stop, they said, but we are asking. Reluctantly, she cancelled. “I was extremely disappointed,” says Malia.

Shannon, the student taking issue, thinks affirmative action is a good thing. “It helps people of colour and a lot of women, so I am in favour of that,” she says.

Despite that, her 10-minute conversation with Turning Point is calm, considered, and respectful. They agree to disagree. She is glad they’re on campus.

“Having both sides, and every viewpoint, is really important,” she says. “Especially the way the last [presidential] election went – both sides screaming at each other, without very much listening.”

Malia welcomes conversations with liberals like Shannon. It’s one of the reasons Turning Point exists, she says. But, she adds, those conversations are rare.

“We want people to come up and talk about the ideas,” she says. “If they disagree, totally fine. But that’s never the case. They just want to shut us down, shut us down, shut us down.”

Image caption Malia describes herself as “conservatarian” – “not totally conservative, not totally libertarian”

A day after the pie event, the Creighton chapter hold their monthly meeting. Nineteen people turn up; seven are women. There’s free pizza at the front.

Malia, wearing a Socialism Sucks t-shirt, begins with a clip from Fox News: Candace Owens, Turning Point’s director of urban engagement, debating Jehmu Greene, a Democrat.

Members pitch for next month’s leadership election, before debating that day’s campus protest (around 200 staff and students joined a 17-minute walkout, calling for action after February’s school shooting in Florida).

Some think the staff should have stayed – “We’re paying them to be here,” says one – while others think they had a right to protest. It’s a good-natured debate. At Creighton, it seems, Turning Point is a broad church.

When asked what their political priority is, the answers vary: immigration; fiscal responsibility; free speech; law and order; anti-abortion; others.

When asked what media they use, there’s also variety: New York Times; Breitbart; Buzzfeed; Daily Wire; Drudge Report; Ben Shapiro’s podcast.

But, when asked if there’s liberal bias on campus, the answer is unanimous. Yes, they say, there is – even at Creighton, a Catholic university with $38,000 annual tuition fees (£27,000).

Many have lost friends over their conservatism. Others feel essays are marked down for raising right-wing ideas. One student from Texas says a professor called Trump voters “uneducated rednecks”: at the time, the student had a Trump sticker on her laptop.

The chapter’s founder, Justin Carrizales, sits at the back, smiling. This is familiar ground. When he alleged liberal bias at Creighton, it made national news.

Image caption Turning Point stickers include “I love capitalism”, “Guns save lives”, and “You are entitled to nothing!”

Justin is a smiling 22-year-old from Chicago who speaks in rapid-fire sentences. He wears shorts and a National Rifle Association T-shirt; on the back, it says “Keep calm and carry guns”.

He was raised in a Democratic family, with Democratic teachers and friends, but grew up more right-wing. At high school, he started calling himself conservative, and enjoyed challenging teachers in class.

“I would try to have a conversation with them – this is the other side – because we weren’t getting that,” he says.

When he went to college in 2014, a Turning Point member in Iowa – just across the Missouri river from Nebraska – asked if he would start a chapter at Creighton.

“I was like yes, absolutely, I’d love to,” says Justin. He liked Turning Point’s support for fiscal responsibility – the US public debt is over $20 trillion – and its non-partisan stance.

“It was always principles over people [candidates], and principle over party,” he says. “I enjoy that so much more, because I consider myself a conservative before a Republican.”

After proving interest in a Turning Point chapter, Justin went to the college for approval. They turned him down, saying he missed the deadline (he says they agreed to a late filing).

“But I was like, simple enough, I’ll submit again,” says Justin. And then came the multiple-choice Trump question.

Image caption Justin Carrizales, founder of the Turning Point chapter at Creighton

In 2015, one of Justin’s English professors included a bonus question on a test. It asked whether Donald Trump was a) a fool, b) already in hell, c) a clown, d) all of the above, e) an evil man, f) the anti-Christ.

Justin took a picture, and the story was picked up by media across the country. Creighton said the question was an attempt at humour and didn’t represent the university’s views.

Soon afterwards, Justin’s second attempt to get Turning Point approved on campus was turned down.

“They rejected it outright,” he says. “All of a sudden there was a target not only on my back, but the organisation’s.” (The university says it did not attempt to silence Turning Point).

Turning Point was finally approved at Creighton in 2017, and is free to host events. Even so, Justin says some conservatives don’t feel comfortable on campus.

“I would hate to take away from the gay community, and the struggles they have, but I relate to it,” he says.

“Students come up to me, or they message me. They’re saying: ‘Hey, I support you. Keep doing what you’re doing. I would totally love to be involved, but I can’t, because I’m scared, or I’m worried.”

Scared of what?

“The most worrisome thing, which comes out again and again, is their worry about professors,” says Justin.

“And they want to feel comfortable around friends. Anyone in this room could probably tell you – people look at you differently.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionA BBC video from 2017 on campus conservatives

Turning Point was founded by an 18-year-old from the Chicago suburbs, Charlie Kirk, in 2012. Since then, it has attracted – or sought – controversy.

In November 2016, it published a list of teachers who, allegedly, discriminate against conservatives and push left-wing propaganda. It was called the Professor Watchlist. So far, 258 people are on it.

Critics call it sinister; McCarthyist, even. Turning Point calls it a “free speech response to radical leftist professors who are silencing opposing student viewpoints”.

Either way, that muscular, chest-out conservatism has proved popular.

Turning Point has groups on more than 1,200 US campuses – high school and college – with 450 officially recognised by their school. Wealthy donors provide a $10m budget, and there are more than 100 staff.

In February, the Creighton chapter hosted a talk with Ben Shapiro – a 34-year-old conservative commentator and rock star of the right-wing. They expected to sell 400 tickets; they actually sold 2,000.

“After we announced we were bringing him in, I started getting emails, Facebook messages, DMs on Twitter,” says Malia.

“People were saying, ‘I’m so excited a conservative speaker is coming. I’m conservative but I never want to say it.’ It shows that it [conservatism] is not unpopular – just quiet.”

So is this a trend? Are we seeing the start of a conservative fight-back? At the very least, says Justin Carrizales, there is a push-back.

“Conservatives have been pushed around too much, to where they feel the need to push back, and there needs to be some sort of counter-culture,” he says. So conservatism is the new counter-culture?

“Yeah! Which is kind of crazy, because liberals were at some point a counter-culture to a traditional, conservative country, right? Now, the conservatives are doing the exact same thing.”

Statement in full from Creighton University:

“The Creighton University chapter of Turning Point USA met all the requirements of our Student Organization Review Committee in its most recent application to form a student organisation.

“Creighton University did not, at any time, attempt to silence Turning Point USA’s opinions or right to form a chapter.

“We simply asked the group to follow the same regulations and submission guidelines as any other group, and the initial application contained insufficient information.

“In addition, the university provided support to TPUSA when Creighton students asked to use one of our facilities to host a lecture by Ben Shapiro, including moving the event to a larger venue.”

Donna Collins

Okahandja soul singer David MCorney (33) is making his dream come true, by singing his way to the top of the first ever ‘Voice of Namibia’ competition, which is heading to the finishing line next week. From 15 hopefuls, David has emerged as a finalist, and is the “last man standing”, against three female country singers, with song choices from the likes of Michael Buble, Cool & the Gang “Celebration” to mention some while complementing his vocal capabilities. His recent live performance in Walvis Bay was just enough to get people craving more of him, as he wowed the judges and audience with his rich voice that took you to church and back. David made the stage his own, as he hit all the notes whilst belting out a goose bumps rendition of Josh Grobin’s Remember when it rained. He is a natural born artist with a strong gospel spin as well as old time R&B influence.

The Okahandja born father of two boys, has been singing since he can remember, and was part of a group called ‘Vocal Dynamics’ which participated in the 2012 Tustco Star Performer competition and won. The group which gained momentum, also travelled later that year to an arts convention to Orlando Florida, USA, and won the competition – flying high the flag for Namibian artists. David says he has come a long way in the entertainment scene, yet despite a lapse in his music career over the past few years, he plans on taking it up again and going guns blazing into the recording studio with a solo album – which he says will include some Afrikaans hits.”The Voice of Namibia competition has really given me the encouragement to continue with my music, as well as a platform to showcase my singing capabilities, he adds.

A telesales marketer by day and musician by night, David is preparing himself with two fresh recordings for the final round of judging, with the winner being announced next week. Meanwhile, competition organiser, Alinda Lu’Mar, describes David as a “gentle and kind person with an amazing talent, who has really impressed the judges and the public with his rich and powerful voice.” Lu’Mar adds that the four finalists are making use of smaller recording studios to present their work in a professional manner, and this has been a wonderful opportunity for all of them to shine.

“I believe the top four are really our top singers and we are really proud of them,” she said. “But in the end it will be the public who will vote in our winner.”
The top three ‘Voice of Namibia’ finalists are: David McCorney, Joharetha Nel, and Claudine Nelson while Jo-Ann Dobson was saved by the judges. The finalists have all been presented songs written by Cat Lamondt of Lamondt International Records, which will include an Afrikaans song, which will be uploaded on the ‘Voice of Namibia’ facebook page for the public to vote. The winner of the competition will be announced on March 24, with prizes including a recording contract from Lamondt International Records, a professional microphone, a week-end for two at Indulge Guesthouse in Swakopmund.

Among the hundreds of students across the Treasure Valley who walked out of class Wednesday morning, one hopes to be the future U.S. secretary of education.

Petra Hoffman, 13, a seventh-grader at Sage International, said she has big plans to stay involved with politics throughout her life. But first, she walked out of her design tech class at 11:30 a.m. to show solidarity with the survivors and mourn the dead of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. She encouraged other students to join her in a gathering to give pointers on how to contact their legislators and congressmen about important issues.

Students and teachers took to the streets beginning at 10 a.m. March 14 in about 2,500 protests across the country demanding safer schools and the end of mass school shootings.

Hoffman said she’s proud of fellow students who are joining the debate and organizing protests. She hopes adults understand “every student deserves an education, a safe education.”

“The best way to show adults this matters is to take their criticism and act to get our voices heard,” Hoffman said. “We are a generation to make change … there are adults who are supportive and our teachers especially are supportive. But we’re going to make change.”


The Treasure Valley’s largest protest took place at the Statehouse on Wednesday morning, where the crowd slowly swelled to about 1,500 protesters from schools as near as Boise High School and as far as Borah High and Mountain View High.

Each student who spoke to Statesman reporters at the rally said they’d felt unsafe in their school at some point, thanks to threats of violence. But, they said, they’re hopeful that the outcry following the Parkland shooting is a sign that things are really going to change.

“We as young people connected with this (shooting),” said Garrett Richardson, a 16-year-old junior at Borah. “There are many ways to attack this.”

The list of mass shootings in the U.S. “just keeps growing,” Richardson said. Other Boise-area students agreed, rattling off incidents including Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Pulse, Las Vegas and, perhaps closest to home, Roseburg, Oregon.

Jasmyn Montgomery, an 18-year-old senior at Boise High, said she had lived in Oregon when instances of gun violence occurred there. She said she is still traumatized by the effects of the shootings.

“I can’t stand to lose another friend. I would love for guns to not be more valuable than (kids),” Montgomery said from the front steps of the Capitol building.

Related stories from Idaho Statesman

Montgomery and Richardson were part of a swarm — mostly students, but many of them adults — who laid down on the Statehouse steps during a moment of silence honoring victims of gun violence. They also streamed into the building, chanting “Go away, NRA” before filling four floors around the rotunda.

“It’s been an irrational fear of mine since I was in sixth grade, that someone would bring a gun to school. The majority (of other students) shrug it off, but I guarantee that people said ‘this won’t happen here’ before it happened in Parkland,” said Sadie Atkins, a junior at Borah High School.


About 30 miles away at Nampa High School, hundreds of students gathered to remember the 17 people who were killed last month.

Two groups emerged — separated ideologically and physically — with 30 yards of grass in between.

Signs on one end of the walkout read “Books not bullets” and were accompanied by a loud chorus of “No more silence, end gun violence.” Their message was clear: gun reform is necessary to stop mass shootings.

Directly across the field stood a smaller contingency making their voices heard. Their message: while gun control won’t solve anything, arming teachers is a step in the right direction.

Although divided on the issue, everyone was there for the same reason: to memorialize the students were gunned down in Florida and to spark change. After discussions with school administrators, students are not going to be penalized for attending the 17-minute walkout.

“We are in memoriam too. We stand firmly behind those students. They’re brave, both the survivors and the victims,” said Nampa freshman Ethan Schmerer, one of the organizers of the Arm Our Teachers USA group. “We have to change something. It’s just that we don’t believe that something is gun control.”

Schmerer and fellow student, sophomore Porter Kindall, believe the purpose of the nationwide walkout has changed since the idea began. Instead of being about ending school shootings, it has become purely about the Second Amendment, something they feel won’t change things for the better.

The solution, in their opinion, matches their group’s slogan: save our children, arm our teachers.

Arming teachers would provide a deterrent for potential shooters while also providing more enforcement should an active situation occur, they said. At a large school like Nampa High, Kindall believes security wouldn’t be able to get every student to safety.

“These teachers have the heart to defend their students, but they don’t have the means,” Kindall said. “If we have a teacher in at least every building who could defend students, that would alleviate so much worry.”

Sophomores Autumn Morgan and Tehya Miller were two of the organizers behind the gun control side of Nampa High’s walkout.

Morgan and Miller said something as simple as a fire drill is a cause of stress, as the shooting in Parkland began after a fire alarm was pulled.

“We’re just really trying to make a change to motivate our legislators and politicians to do something,” Miller said. “It can happen anywhere. Just because it hasn’t yet doesn’t mean it’s not going to.”

The means to make that change happen, however, comes from higher up. As Miller said, they’re just teenagers. They don’t make the laws.

“What’s stopping it from happening to us?” Morgan said. “Whether you think it’s a mental issue or a gun issue, our politicians have done nothing to try and help that issue or solve it.”

The fact that students across the entire country are joining in solidarity to make themselves heard is a point of pride for Morgan. Perhaps thousands of voices can start the conversation.

“You know change is coming when kids start acting like adults and politicians start acting like kids,” Morgan said.


School districts across the state have responded differently to the walkouts. Many are walking a fine line of supporting the students’ right to free speech and encouraging students to stay in school with other activities and assemblies, such as the one at Kuna High School.

The Kuna assembly was not mandatory for students to attend, and it was not intended to be political, according to an online post from Olivia Webster, one of Kuna’s student organizers. She said the assembly there is not about gun control, but rather school safety and remembering the 17 victims killed in Parkland.

“We are having representatives come to answer questions from students regarding their concerns of the safety of their school etc.,” she posted.

Students from Mountain View told the Statesman their school officials had been amicable. Atkins, 16, said she and other students weren’t deterred by some adults’ vocal criticisms of the rallies.

“This is our voice, and we can’t let people tell us we can’t be voicing our opinions,” Atkins said following the gathering at the Statehouse.

Gov. Butch Otter and other state officials have been pressed in recent weeks to answer questions about their stance on gun rights, gun control and school safety.

A day after the Parkland shooting, Otter said he believes the state has done as much as it can to deter mass shootings at schools. Top Idaho House and Senate leaders of both parties said otherwise in a Tuesday forum, speaking about mental health, background checks and other ideas.

Superintendent Sherri Ybarra announced on Monday a new $21 million initiative — Keep Idaho Students Safe — for greater investments into school safety at the start of the 2019 legislative session. The initiative calls for a grant to train security personnel in every school and a statewide crisis communications counseling position, among other efforts.

Idaho Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday night at Independence Indoor Shooting about public school safety and active shooter protection. Nate will advocate for his bill making its way through the Legislature that would encourage gun safety courses to be held in Idaho schools.

Some students at the Capitol building expressed frustration with adults, both at their reactions to the walkout and their reticence to pass gun control laws.

“We’re doing more to save our lives than they are,” said 17-year-old Hannah Byers.

Christina Lords also contributed to this report.

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American gun culture is unique in its glorification of toxic masculinity. That in addition to the stigmatization of mental health and the almost ubiquitous access to military grade weapons is an amalgam that gives rise to constant instances of gun violence all over the country. As these egregious acts of violence increasingly move into classrooms, legislative inaction is branded with debates about arming teachers.

The president said in a listening session with the survivors of the Parkland shooting that gun free schools were a magnet for bad people. He further suggested that arming inapt teachers would put an end to these tragedies.

The most glaring issue with giving teachers lethal weapons is abuse of power, a problem already inundating the public school system. Everything from verbal to sexual abuse is extremely common. A year-long USA TODAY Network investigation found that education officials actively conceal evidence of abuse and keep allegations secret. This makes it exponentially easier for them to find jobs elsewhere and puts more children in harm’s way. Furthermore, there has been extensive research about black students not only being disciplined more harshly than their peers but also being targeted for punishment. The way black and brown folks are treated by the police is parallel at every level of education, especially in public schools. All this being said, while these form of abuses are extremely damaging, they could become instantly lethal if guns were introduced.

Parents of black and brown children already send their children out into the world with caveats on their existence. There are talks they have to have about the extent of their freedom and their liberty that their peers don’t. The idea that arming even more people with both conscious and subconscious biases in a setting with clear power disparity would be comforting to any of the borders on pure ridicule.

It also normalizes the institution of fear as a form of safety. Schools should not be arenas of constant fear, that in no way creates a learning environment prone to generate healthy and functional members of society. Instead a culture of silencing and intimidation could quickly manifest. Studies have shown that fear based education are counterintuitive. Trying to solve the issue of mass shootings in schools at the cost of children’s quality of learning is a blatant disregard for education. And public schools would bare the brunt of this legislative faux pas, were it to be signed into law.

The idea that guns are somehow immune to laws is proof of the NRA’s deep hold on legislators all over the country. Laws aren’t created because their existence make crimes obsolete. It’s never worked like that. Even the constitution which is held so dearly, still technically says that black people aren’t full people. No piece of American law, regardless of who wrote it and who signed it, is too precious to burn. Nothing about them are sacred.

Schools are not battlefields and teachers are not soldiers. Adding school shooter combat to the responsibilities of overworked and underpaid teachers perpetuates a culture of violence. In a school, a good guy with a gun and a bad guy with a gun is just a shootout with collateral damage that isn’t even old enough to get into an R rated movie.

To say that there is a single government action that could solve the United States gun violence epidemic is naive. But there are ways to start. It’s impossible to solve something you don’t understand. The Dickey Amendment makes it practically impossible to conduct research about gun violence. Repealing that amendment would clear up the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to do comprehensive research and diagnose this country’s gun problem more concisely.

Further, there is no reason whatsoever, for private citizens to own military grade weapons. If a choice is to be made between saving children today and having an AR-15, incase democracy completely crumbles and the military is turned on citizens, always pick children today.

Students hold a speak-out in front of the University of Vermont library in response to an anti-gun control event across campus at Ira Allen Chapel. Photo by Cory Dawson/VTDigger

BURLINGTON — The gathering at the University of Vermont’s Ira Allen Chapel, to talk about the state of gun rights in Vermont in light of recent developments in the state Legislature, attracted about 100 students and other interested persons.

It spawned another gathering across campus, at the UVM Bailey/Howe Library. An hour before the pro-gun event, a group of about 25 students held an impromptu “speak-out” in front of the library. The plan was to march on the chapel and hold a vigil for victims of gun violence.

“It’s a little disgusting to me that in the wake of yet another massacre of schoolchildren, and with the gun violence that happens around the country and in Vermont everyday, that a group UVM students want to bring this extremist perspective on guns, that guns don’t cause any violence, and rather guns are a solution to violence. That’s not how I would honor their memory,” said Alec Collins, 21, the lead organizer of the counterprotest outside the library.

The event at the chapel, hosted by two organizations, Turning Point USA and Young Americans for Liberty, was billed as a forum for discussion of recent gun control legislation passed in Montpelier, including S.221, the “Extreme Risk” bill that won unanimous approval by the state Senate on March 1.

The bill would allow law enforcement to take weapons from gun holders in situations of imminent threat. The House Judiciary Committee voted on March 2 to take more time on the bill.

The committee’s decision was criticized by senators of both parties and by the governor, who had hoped for unanimous and bipartisan support of a gun violence bill.

Ed Cutler, president of Gun Owners of Vermont, called the bill — as changed by the House — a violation of Fourth Amendment guarantees against unnecessary search and seizure, but most of the speakers at the chapel event focused less on legislation and more on philosophical gun rights arguments.

Vermont Traditions Coalition Chair Bill Moore told the story of Matthew Lyons, a Vermont senator re-elected from prison where he’d been sent for speaking out against John Adams in the early 1800s, the time of the Sedition Acts. Moore argued that the First and Second amendments are connected, in that both allow citizens to protect themselves.

Gun Owners of Vermont Vice President Bob DePino accused the mainstream media of misreporting gun rights issues, and further suggested that coverage of recent mass shootings has served to inspire so-called copycat killings.

Outside the library, Collins said he was happy to witness the work of the Vermont Senate. Collins noted that he is a graduate of Champlain Valley Union High School, which has had its own recent school shooting threat.

Brigette Riordan, 21, a student from Las Vegas, said the scariest moment of her life was learning of the mass shooting in her own city, that left 58 dead and 851 injured at a country music concert.

What mattered afterward, she said was “seeing how many people showed up to the blood banks the following days, and how many people came together, and how this city that I had come from, that felt so fragmented to me as a community, was able to come together and be strong. And that’s the kind of coming together that we need. It’s not lobbying, it’s not showing up and fighting for our guns, it’s about showing up and supporting each other.”

After the speak-out, the counterprotesters walked to the chapel where they had planned to hold an outdoor candlelight vigil, organizer Scarlett Moore said. The weather did not allow for candles, but they stood outside the chapel anyway, with signs that said “enough is enough.”

Moore said the students who had organized the pro-gun event had approached them with miniature copies of the U.S. Constitution.

“They were very respectful of our presence but they were a bit patronizing,” she said.

She would still talk with them, though, she said. “We have common interests and common ground with those people in the room, too,” she said.

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Betsy DeVos was referred to as “the most hated cabinet secretary” by Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes Sunday night. That was based on the Secretary of Education’s rough-and-tumble confirmation hearings—Vice President Mike Pence’s vote was required to break a Senate tie—and the constant protests that follow her on her visits around the country.

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“Most hated” is quite an honor in this administration, which also features the climate-denying Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator. But DeVos is emblematic of Trumpism in its governing form: a member of the plutocratic class with limited expertise but unlimited, entrenched ideology, who attracts the suspicion that she simply bought her influence. At least, that was the opinion of Parkland survivor-turned-activist David Hogg on CNN yesterday.

Stahl’s questioning on 60 Minutes was an effective proving ground for DeVos. On a number of issues, but most prominently school choice, the secretary failed to convince the country of her qualifications. Often, it seemed like she’d just never thought about this before.

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Stahl and DeVos started with guns, an issue that still enjoys a sense of urgency despite the NRA and its Republican allies running their post-massacre playbook. DeVos was asked to weigh in on her boss’ plan to arm teachers, which she first grappled with in her confirmation hearings. Back then, she suggested there would be a gun in a school in Wyoming “to protect from potential grizzlies,” which doesn’t seem like a universal issue facing America’s schools. This time was little better:

STAHL: They want gun control.

DEVOS: They want a variety of things. They want solutions.

STAHL: Do you think that teachers should have guns in the classroom?

DEVOS: That should be an option for states and communities to consider. And I hesitate to think of, like, my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Zorhoff, I couldn’t ever imagine her having a gun and being trained in that way. But for those who are—who are capable, this is one solution that can and should be considered. But no one size fits all. Every state and every community is going to address this issue in a different way.

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STAHL: Do you see yourself as a leader in this—in this subject? And what kind of ideas will you be promoting?

DEVOS: I have actually asked to head up a task force that will really look at what states are doing. See there are a lot of states that are addressing these issues in very cohesive and coherent ways.

That “task force” is a commission established by President Trump. As an activist with Everytown USA, a gun-violence prevention group, illustrated on Twitter, the commission is probably not an honest attempt to find solutions to the gun violence epidemic in this country:

But DeVos’ most glaring professional shortcomings were laid bare on more traditional issues facing the education system. DeVos is unshakably committed to the concept of “school choice,” which involves using public, taxpayer money to get public-school students into private charter or parochial schools. When asked her basis for that ideology, DeVos seemed to be short on the facts:

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DEVOS: We have invested billions and billions and billions of dollars from the federal level, and we have seen zero results.

STAHL: But that really isn’t true. Test scores have gone up over the last 25 years.

Things got significantly worse when Stahl asked about DeVos’ home state of Michigan. She and her family have spent huge sums of money to lobby for school choice in Michigan, but DeVos claimed not to know how the state’s public school system was doing.

STAHL: Now, has that happened in Michigan? We’re in Michigan. This is your home state.

DEVOS: Michi—Yes, well, there’s lots of great options and choices for students here.

STAHL: Have the public schools in Michigan gotten better?

DEVOS: I don’t know. Overall, I—I can’t say overall that they have all gotten better.

STAHL: The whole state is not doing well.

DEVOS: Well, there are certainly lots of pockets where this– the students are doing well and–

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STAHL: No, but your argument that if you take funds away that the schools will get better, is not working in Michigan where you had a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system here.

DEVOS: I hesitate to talk about all schools in general because schools are made up of individual students attending them.

STAHL: The public schools here are doing worse than they did.

DEVOS: Michigan schools need to do better. There is no doubt about it.

STAHL: Have you seen the really bad schools? Maybe try to figure out what they’re doing?

DEVOS: I have not—I have not—I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.

STAHL: Maybe you should.

DEVOS: Maybe I should. Yes.

That’s right: when asked if she visits underperforming schools, the U.S. Secretary of Education’s answer was: never on purpose. This is an advertisement for what the Trump administration is all about. The data, the studies, even in-person observation—any way that we have of verifying whether a policy has worked or will work—are all irrelevant.

DeVos believes, deeply, that privatizing public education is the solution to all our problems. That she believes this, and is rich and influential enough to put her ideas into practice, is all that matters. The president’s thought processes are frequently an inversion of the scientific method, where his staff’s resources must be marshaled to find evidence to justify his ideology. It appears that ethos extends to his cabinet. DeVos championed school choice for years in her home state, and public schools there are now doing worse, but that has not impacted her calculus at all. The solution remains more school choice, just as the solution to gun violence is more guns.

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The interview also exposed further downsides to having a (white) billionaire who never visits poorly performing schools as Education Secretary. One is that DeVos seems almost completely oblivious to the fact that whites and students of color are disciplined differently in schools—particularly, that misbehavior from black students is more frequently met with punishment that’s escalated to suspensions or even the criminal level, which then serves as a blemish on their record as they seek higher education or employment.

STAHL: That’s the issue: who and how the kids who disrupt are being punished.

DEVOS: Arguably, all of these issues or all of this issue comes down to individual kids. And—

STAHL: Well, no. That– it’s not.

DEVOS: —it does come down to individual kids. And—often comes down to—I am committed to making sure that students have the opportunity to learn in an environment that is conducive to their learning.

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STAHL: Do you see this disproportion in discipline for the same infraction as institutional racism?

DEVOS: We’re studying it carefully. And are committed to making sure students have opportunity to learn in safe and nurturing environments.

This idea that racism is about individual interactions is foundational to modern conservative thought. It is also wrong. As Stahl points out, institutional racism is the more pressing issue in our society, as it is responsible for unequal treatment by law enforcement, the courts–and yes, schools. It’s not about an individual teacher’s prejudice, it’s about training and social conditioning that leads to subconscious bias. And it’s not about an individual kid’s behavior—as Stahl mentioned, this is about different punishments for the same offense. Like it or not, the color of the misbehaving kid’s skin matters. This might be lost on someone like Devos, who in a speech called historically black colleges “pioneers” of “school choice.” Historically black colleges were established because black students were shut out of other schools because of their race. There wasn’t much choice involved.

Devos never attended nor worked in any public school herself, and the evidence is fairly conclusive that she does not even believe in the concept of public education. In fact, she once called public education “a dead end.” Why else would she propose massive cuts to her own department? One answer, of course, is that she is a member of Donald Trump’s cabinet—which does not necessarily involve making sure your department is delivering better services to the public. But it does involve putting your pet ideology into practice, consequences be damned—if they’re even acknowledged at all. Long live the kakistocrats.