Saturday, July 3, 2021

Amazing the Effort the Gun Control Groups Go To

 I guess Dr. John Lott and Crime Prevention Research Center are doing important work:

I was honored to deliver a commencement address to a Nevada high school this month. But the school didn’t exist. It was a hoax perpetrated by gun-control activists. 

On May 14, I received a call from a man who identified himself as Jordan Simon, board chairman of James Madison Academy, a Las Vegas-based online high school with 2,000 graduating students. Mr. Simon told me students and faculty had picked me to be their commencement speaker.

I looked up the school and found a professional website ( no longer exists) featuring photos of smiling students and detailed descriptions of the school and teachers.

Mr. Simon offered to cover my travel expenses and pay a small honorarium. Since there were no direct flights from Missoula, Mont., where I live, and Las Vegas, he even offered to charter a plane to fly me down. That seemed excessive, so I drove. I wanted to save the school money and visit friends in Idaho on the way.

I agreed to give the talk, and made plans to drive the 950 miles for the June 5 event. I planned on giving a talk based on the advice I give my own children about hard work and how to get started in a career. But a few days before the event, Mr. Simon told me that I had to discuss background checks and James Madison’s role in drafting the Second Amendment. I objected, but he said the students were conservatives and the Second Amendment had been part of the core curriculum. So I went along.

In an email to Mr. Simon in which I outlined my speech, I wrote: “I still feel uncomfortable getting into this type of political discussion for a commencement because it seems to me that commencements should be talks that leave everyone satisfied.”

Mr. Simon told me that I needed to attend a dress rehearsal on the morning of June 4. I replied that I had another talk scheduled for June 3, and it would be almost impossible for me to get to Las Vegas on time. He pleaded that they had a big crew for the rehearsal, and it would cost the school a lot of money to delay. 

I offered to give my rehearsal address over the phone. “Unfortunately,” Mr. Simon texted, “my hands are tied. Everyone participating will have to be there on Friday for rehearsal.” 

Later, in a phone call, Mr. Simon said they were making a video of the dress rehearsal in case there were problems with the recording at the commencement. They wanted the video to be just right so they could use it to market the school.

I sped through the night to Las Vegas, getting a ticket along the way. But what should have been a 13-hour trip took an extra four hours because of a major accident. I kept Mr. Simon apprised, and he kept pleading with me to hurry and saying how much the students and faculty appreciated my effort. 

I arrived early in the afternoon June 4. I met Mr. Simon and was taken to the venue. It was an impressive setup. A team of about 20 staff and technicians were present. There were multiple cameras and flying drones, a large dais and a tent filled with technical equipment. Banners with the high school’s logo hung on either side of the stage. No expense was spared, and I had no suspicion that the event might be fake. Mr. Simon called me the next morning to say the commencement had been cancelled, claiming that the police had contacted the school about a credible threat of violence. 

Change the Ref, the group that orchestrated the hoax, argues that I should have done a “proper background check” on the school. Seriously? I have given many hundreds of talks at schools over the years, and nothing like this ever happened.

The group then posted a deceptively edited one-minute video with excerpts from my speech. It claims, for instance, that I am working to “block background checks.” In fact, my talk focused on how to fix a system that discriminates against minorities and the poor. I made two points.

6/24/2021 USA Today has an article quoting the fraudsters. 

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