The Other McCain

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Arkansas School Suspends Teacher for Gay-Rights Activism … No, Wait …

Posted on | May 1, 2014 | 53 Comments

One can easily imagine the outrage of progressives if a gay teacher were subjected to disciplinary action for his political beliefs, but that’s not what happened in Star City, Arkansas:

Star City School District teacher Philip Holthoff has been suspended with pay and under investigation by the district Friday after he allegedly made racist comments on a white supremacist website.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization which identifies hate groups, says they’ve been keeping their eye on the website called “Stormfront” whose slogan is “white pride world-wide.” The SPLC says they identified Star City teacher Philip Holthoff as posting racist comments on the site under a pseudonym, “David Lee Saxon.”
“I teach social studies in a public high school and I am racially conscious,” wrote poster David Lee Saxon.
The SPLC says they were able to identify Holthoff’s connection to the website by a donation.
“Mr. Holthoff gave money on April 20th to the site so we were taking a closer look at him and that’s how he came up as a donor on Stormfront,” said Heidi Beirich of the SPLC.
Beirich says she reached out to Holthoff before publishing his alleged connection to Stormfront.
“He was using a pseudonym online, David Lee Saxon, but by looking at all of the posts by Saxon, it’s very easy to figure out that this is Philip Holthoff, which he confirmed in a conversation to me,” Beirich said.

This story came to my attention via a Twitter debate between Aaron Walker and another user which, I am told, focused on the question of whether First Amendment protections apply without regard to the content of offensive speech. One might also see in this story an issue of whether anyone has a right to be employed by public schools. The whole matter of “employment rights” — which the labor movement has propagandized to the point that few ever question it — is problematic to me from a libertarian perspective:  In a free economy, employment is arranged by mutual voluntary consent; if an employee is free to choose his employer, and to quit a job whenever he wants, then by similar principle, the employer should be able to hire, fire or promote anyone, for any reason, without being subject to tort complaints.

By my lights, then, whether or not Star City schools discipline Philip Holthoff — up to and including termination from his job — is not a matter of Holthoff’s “rights” in any sense. Assuming that the school board members are accountable to the voters who elected them, they are acting entirely within their prerogative whatever they do. It is only the bogus entitlement mentality of “employment rights” that could possibly make anyone think otherwise.

Therefore, it doesn’t make any difference whether Holthoff was posting on Stormfront or on an NAACP website, or for that matter, if he was marching in the Little Rock Gay Pride parade. The content of whatever it was that may have offended his employer is irrelevant, from a libertarian perspective. However . . .

How did the SPLC get donor information at Stormfront?

Here at Hatewatch, we’re taking a deeper look at the donors who keep the largest hate site on the Internet — Stormfront — up and running. Taking in more than $100,000 a year in contributions, Stormfront is one of the best-funded hate sites in the world.
Although the site has hundreds of “Sustaining Members” that pledge $50 a year, a detailed financial study by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) shows that usually less than a dozen donors provide more than half of the income Stormfront takes in each month.
In fact, only a handful of high value contributors cover most of the costs involved in keeping Don Black, owner of Stormfront, and his vision of “White Pride Worldwide” online.
This month, Philip Holthoff, an odd and intensely racist Arkansas high school social studies teacher was among them, pledging $100 on April 20th. . . .

How does SPLC know how much money Stormfront collects and from whom? Given what we know about how IRS employees leaked information on donors who supported California’s Prop 8, shouldn’t we be suspicious about this kind of scrutiny of donors? Such a suspicion is not about the content of one neo-Nazi site, but rather about the means by which this kind of investigation is carried out.

Meanwhile, do parents know who is teaching their kids in public school?

The SPLC’s files suggest that Holthoff, 53, has been an active neo-Nazi for most of his adult life. Records show he joined the neo-Nazi National Alliance in May 1980 at the age of 19, where he was given membership number A3148. Records also show Holthoff joined National Vanguard in May 2005 as member #V0547, and he is listed as a “lifetime” member of White Revolution.
In a 2007 Stormfront post, Holthoff outlined his pedigree in the racist movement. “I was a loyal NA [National Alliance] member for years, went to two national leadership conferences and once stayed a week in WV [West Virginia] with a friend who was employed on staff under WLP [now deceased leader of the National Alliance William Pierce],” he wrote on Stormfront. “After the death of WLP the infighting and rumors and excessive secrecy disgusted me and I left and joined NV [National Vanguard]. I was at the second [David] Duke leadership conference and had so much hope. I suspect most of those present were NV members.”
Expressing common movement fantasies about rounding up “race traitors” after the revolution, Holthoff wrote earlier this year that he hopes a “top secret group” of white supremacists will form to “bring to justice“ those “traitors” who promote interracial activities like the Super Bowl.

What? The Super Bowl is about “race traitors”? And nobody told me?

As shocking as it is to learn that a guy who has been a neo-Nazi since he was a teenager would be working as a public school teacher — even in rural Arkansas — what about teachers who are associated with other controversial political organizations? For all you know, your kid’s science teacher may be an environmentalist who supports the eco-terrorist Earth Liberation Front. Maybe your local school teachers are supporting Planned Parenthood, or GLSEN, or the pro-abortion lesbian youth organization known as the Girl Scouts.

Heck, some of them may even be Democrats.

We must investigate these dangerous extremists in our public schools!



53 Responses to “Arkansas School Suspends Teacher for Gay-Rights Activism … No, Wait …”

  1. M. Thompson
    May 1st, 2014 @ 3:37 pm

    Once you start banning people for speaking, there’s no where to stop.

  2. robertstacymccain
    May 1st, 2014 @ 3:41 pm

    My point is that, while we may support a school firing a neo-Nazi, there are lots of controversial groups and movements out there. Who decides which controversial beliefs justify firing teachers?

    If the SPLC wants to “hate-list” prohibited extremist groups, why shouldn’t conservatives have the authority to do the same with left-wing extremists?

  3. Anon Y. Mous
    May 1st, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

    By my lights, then, whether or not Star City schools discipline Philip Holthoff — up to and including termination from his job — is not a matter of Holthoff’s “rights” in any sense. Assuming that the school board members are accountable to the voters who elected them, they are acting entirely within their prerogative whatever they do. It is only the bogus entitlement mentality of “employment rights” that could possibly make anyone think otherwise.

    If we were talking about a private school, I would agree 100% (with the caveat that they could “discriminate” against any viewpoint).

    But, this is a government school and therefore a government employee. Having the government make choices about what (out of the classroom, off-duty) speech is allowed and which speech isn’t, should be unacceptable in a free society. Today it is the pro Nazi guy, tomorrow it is the Prop 8 supporter.

  4. robertstacymccain
    May 1st, 2014 @ 3:50 pm

    Right. But a local school board is accountable to local voters. That means that San Francisco schools don’t have to hire homophobes, and schools in [insert notorious redneck location here] don’t have to hire gay teachers.

    “Diversity” should mean that not all communities have to uphold the same ideals. But as a friend of mine observed years ago, liberals believe in “diversity through homogenization.”

  5. rather be anon
    May 1st, 2014 @ 3:53 pm

    Maybe the Stormfront forums show who is a donor in the user info. Alternatively, the teacher himself may have explained this identifying information. The overall numbers for Stormfront probably just came from their own tax filings, which are probably more reliable than the filings of other organizations such as Velvet Revolution, US and Justice Through Music Project.

    I’m OK with a school being able to fire a teacher for this. It’s a serious, disqualifying problem for a whole lot of job positions.

  6. Anon Y. Mous
    May 1st, 2014 @ 3:56 pm

    Yes, but 2 things.

    1. Since all local schools now receive much of their funding from the federal government, school boards are not as autonomous as they used to be.
    2. The 1st amendment is there for a reason. To protect unpopular speech. It is always easy to point at the Nazi, in any setting, and say, “Why should he be able to spew that stuff here?” If it is a private entity, then that is the owner’s prerogative to say “no, you’re fired”. But a school board is a government entity. Just as a city council is, or a state legislature, or the US Congress. All are chosen by the people to represent their interests. But, none of them are allowed to shut down private speech just because they don’t like it.

  7. robertstacymccain
    May 1st, 2014 @ 3:56 pm

    Yeah, it wasn’t just “he wrote offensive stuff on the Internet.” Once I saw that he claimed to have been associated with neo-Nazi groups for more than 30 years, it was obvious this wasn’t just some random incident of political incorrectness.

  8. rather be anon
    May 1st, 2014 @ 3:59 pm

    Look at it this way. If you were a parent of a public school student who had his class, and then any problem arose from his paying support of white supremacists, what do you think you’d say about it? “Man, these public school admins are complete idiots for hiring an enthusiastic paying supporter of Stormfront! Any private school would have known not to hire the guy.”

    I allow the possibility that some people hold heterodox views on ethnic divisions and it’s best to try to get along with them before shunning them. In other words, not every little sign of racism disqualifies someone from teaching school, but this particular guy has an especially high chance of being a problem.

    From a slightly different angle, communism is terrible, but I could see allowing a communist (if you could even find one) to be a school teacher. But I could also see disqualifying the teacher if he advocated everyone getting up and marching to the homes of the bourgeoise, to re-distribute their assets to the workers.

  9. rather be anon
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

    In recent history, the federal share of school funding is commonly in the 10% area. Which doesn’t really refute your point, it just shows how little it takes to buy out an organization.

  10. Anon Y. Mous
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:02 pm

    What is your limiting principle? Where is the line drawn in which we can tell what is the speech that is unacceptable and that which is ok?

    What if the county says that anyone who contributed to Prop 8, and has failed to repent, is no longer eligible to work in the county tax assessor’s office?

    What principle would you apply to say what the school board did was ok, but what the county did was over the line?

  11. richard mcenroe
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:03 pm

    “Heck, some of them may even be Democrats.”

    Oh, seriously, what are the odds?

  12. robertstacymccain
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:06 pm

    Yes, I know. It’s hard to believe that educated people would associate themselves with a discredited fringe group like the Democrat Party, but we must be vigilant — for the children!

  13. rather be anon
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:07 pm

    My preference is to separate government from schooling, so each of us can patronize schools even if the school is run in a way that might offend some of our neighbors. This inherently de-politicizes school policy.

    The next best thing is that the government-run schools can try to imitate most of the key policies of private organizations, and it turns out that most private companies won’t put a devoted white supremacist in front of a bunch of children all day.

  14. Kirby McCain
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:09 pm

    By default, the SPLC apparently condones some hate groups.

  15. Anon Y. Mous
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:11 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly with your preference to get the government out of the schooling business. I would also apply that philosophy to many, many other areas.

    Until that happens, though, government schools need to follow the constitution, just like all other governmental entities.

  16. rather be anon
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:11 pm

    Maybe you mis-spoke, but being qualified to hold a certain job isn’t inherently a free speech issue.

    I think I take your point, though. If there were only one employer – the government – then banning views would be a terrible burden on freedom. But here, there are many employers, and they are free to have different hiring and firing policies. I hate to admit it, but many good jobs are totally compatible with racist views, which is why most racists have jobs. I do hope hate-filled racists are at least under-represented among teachers, though, and if I were that guy’s boss, I’d fire him from a teaching position.

  17. Kirby McCain
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:15 pm

    You mean like J Street? The Auburn Tigers?

  18. rather be anon
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:17 pm

    The analogy in the last sentence doesn’t really hold since conservatives don’t sympathize with groups like Stormfront, right? But, yes, there are certain characteristically leftist views that might disqualify someone from being a teacher. Most on the left don’t believe in Earth Defense Force tactics, but an actual ecoterrorist is probably disqualified from teaching schoolkids. Having terrorism on one’s resume is a sign of an ethical issue 🙂

    Interesting aside: In the 1950s, unions sometimes expelled communist members, and a few teachers lost jobs because of this.

  19. Anon Y. Mous
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:18 pm

    Do we really want to go down a road where the government is able to say, “We will decide which speech is acceptable and which is not. Anyone who refuses to comply is permitted to continue speaking as desired, but you are disqualified from working for the government.”

    I know, it is tempting to say we are just talking about some Nazi here. But, once the principle is established, it is very easy to expand it.

    Look at what has been done with the commerce clause. It was used in an unprincipled manner to fight a good cause (entrenched racial discrimination). Now, the federal government uses the same reasoning for all kinds of stuff.

  20. rather be anon
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:20 pm

    The constitution doesn’t tell the government how to run public schools because its authors never imagined the federal government would run mandatory, taxpayer funded public schools. That’s the only crystal clear constitutional issue. The rest is pretty murky – I mean, it really is largely just a practical question of how one should run a school.

  21. rather be anon
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:24 pm

    Interesting last paragraph. It brings to mind the adage that tough cases make for bad law. In my opinion, this means that the law isn’t always the right tool to use to fight racism, and that other methods are a better fit.

  22. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:29 pm

    You defined the problem, or as it has been previous defined: “Who watches the Watchmen?”

    I am not defending contributors to NAMBLA, StormFront, or the SPLC.

  23. Anon Y. Mous
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:45 pm

    The problem with the entrenched racial discrimination prior to the 1960’s was twofold: governmental actions and private actions. The federal government had a duty (not just a right) under the 14 & 15 amendments to stop the state and local government from violating the constitution.

    But, it had no right to stop private citizens from discriminating. However, the free market could not work because the local governments were interfering. For example, separate seating in restaurants was not just a preference of the restaurant owners in some communities, it was required under the law. So, if someone decided to open a restaurant that did not require separate seating, they would be prohibited by law.

    When the federal government decided to stop racial discrimination, it was completely within its legitimate powers to prohibit the state government from practicing racial discrimiation. But, they didn’t stop there. They wanted to be able to go into some corner coffee shop and tell the owner. “You are forbidden to discriminate.” Since they didn’t have the power under the 14th, they claimed that since people who travel need to eat in restaurants, that they could regulate restaurants underneath the interstate commerce clause.

    If they had stuck to governments, it would have worked itself out through free market forces. Especially when you consider that McDonalds was just a few years away from taking off. If a McDonalds in Dallas discriminated, picketers could not only go after the one in Dallas, but also the ones in Chicago, New York, etc. Private businesses, given the opportunity would have eliminated the most egregious examples. And, if there is some bar that just wants to serve Nazis and other Stormfront fans, well, let them. How does that really hurt anyone else?

  24. Atari 2600
    May 1st, 2014 @ 4:55 pm

    So, your proverbial commentator at Stormfront is your usual Neo-Nazi. Aryans abound. In the end, one strongly prescribes that you keep your children away from there.

  25. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    May 1st, 2014 @ 5:01 pm

    You mean by supporting itself?

  26. M. Thompson
    May 1st, 2014 @ 5:13 pm

    Good point. The problem here is we’ve got no information about what the district thought of this man, and if there is any proof that he attempted to use his status to indoctrinate students.

  27. K-Bob
    May 1st, 2014 @ 5:38 pm

    I love how people abuse the old, pre-American “left vs right” model to place these statist, skin-color obsessed “white power” clowns on the right, and SPLC on the left. As far as I’m concerned they both go in the same, offensive bucket of political filth.

  28. Southern Air Pirate
    May 1st, 2014 @ 5:50 pm

    You don’t need to look far for that example of government deciding what job you can hold based on political views. Just examine the 1900s red scare and the rise of the HUAC. Which then went after the fascists in the 30s and 40s and again after the communist/socialists in the 40s to 70s. At nearly all of the times any taint of HUAC investigation lead to people being fired or contracts not being renewed or retired.

  29. Kirby McCain
    May 1st, 2014 @ 5:57 pm

    Did the teacher commit a crime? Stormfront? The SPLC? Of the three, which has harmed someone?

  30. Jeanette Victoria
    May 1st, 2014 @ 6:13 pm

    Heidi Beirich got Kevin Lamb from former managing editor of Human Events fired she told his superiors that he also edited The Occidental Quarterly, a race-conscious, right-wing journal, a fact he had apparently not told his employers but had not hidden either.

  31. RKae
    May 1st, 2014 @ 6:48 pm

    It’s not illegal to be a white supremacist. It’s nutty. It’s vile. But it’s not illegal.

    In fact, that’s how progressives took possession of the education system: it’s not illegal to be a communist and it’s not illegal to get a job as a teacher. Hmmm… Maybe that’s why they want to clamp down on their opponents: they know what can be accomplished by taking advantage of perfectly legal beliefs and opportunities.

  32. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    May 1st, 2014 @ 6:53 pm

    Personally I am all for firing and hiring at will.

    Let’s assume he did post to Stormfront (I would not want a neo nazi teacher), yet never did anything at school that was wrong. Should he be fired?

    And if he can be fired, does that mean other teachers who have offensive views can be fired too?

    I could cut both ways.

  33. Quartermaster
    May 1st, 2014 @ 7:03 pm

    And who defines offensive? One of the major problems is the fact of bad facts. F’rinstance: Tennessee is supposedly the most violent of state in the country. Yet, if you stay away from Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville, the place is rather sedate. I’ll leave it to my fellow denouncees to point out the commonality between those 4 locations.

    Facts are what they are and they are amoral. Only an idiot feels the facts are racist.

  34. Quartermaster
    May 1st, 2014 @ 7:04 pm

    SPLC is one of the most odious organizations that has been allowed to exist in the US. I would place it on a par with NAMBLA.

  35. Quartermaster
    May 1st, 2014 @ 7:05 pm

    I remember that. I haven’t had much truck with HE since.

  36. Zohydro
    May 1st, 2014 @ 7:12 pm


  37. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    May 1st, 2014 @ 7:31 pm

    But therein lies the problem, does that mean nothing is “offensive.”

    I am all for businesses hiring and firing as they deem fit.

    Government is a bit different, but if we are going to throw out some dude who may be into white power, does that mean the teacher who promotes the New Black Panther party gets the boot too? And if not, why not?

  38. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    May 1st, 2014 @ 7:31 pm

    Or change is like a ratchet and only goes one way.

  39. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    May 1st, 2014 @ 7:32 pm

    Which is what I did.

  40. Quartermaster
    May 1st, 2014 @ 7:35 pm

    You’re last paragraph nails the problem. The fact that the left is being allowed to define what is offensive enough to get you fired is a serious problem. I’m no member of Stormfront, or similar orgs, but it bothers me a lot that simple membership in something like that is a firing offense in a government school.

  41. Quartermaster
    May 1st, 2014 @ 7:37 pm

    I was simply more explicit in my rating.

  42. PPs43
    May 1st, 2014 @ 9:58 pm

    Ya’all are missing the point. Mr. Holthoff is a socialist, just not a socialist who is approved by the “correct” sort of socialists. If he’d just learn to wave a flag with a hammer and sickle on it instead of a bent cross, all would be forgiven. There might even be some Soros money in it for him.

  43. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    May 1st, 2014 @ 11:02 pm

    Carry on!

  44. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    May 1st, 2014 @ 11:04 pm

    That is why in government you have to create rules up front. But that just allows individuals to weasel around them (or leftists to unfairly apply the rules against those they politically disagree with). There is no easy answer here (other than elections matter and we have to get these Democrats out of office).

  45. Art Deco
    May 2nd, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

    7%, I think.

  46. Art Deco
    May 2nd, 2014 @ 3:42 pm

    I suspect it takes a good deal more to buy off an organization. Keep in mind school administrators are the issue of the most addle-pated degree programs in existence. I will wager there are many assaults on common sense they fancy perfectly reasonable. That discontinuing some idiocy will cost federal aid is a dandy excuse to politicians to be allowed to continue doing what you’d prefer to do (that no ordinary person would countenance). I am recalling a case in Florida a number of years ago where the disturbed kid from hell was kept in a mainstream classroom to everyone’s consternation at the behest of the stupefying cretin who bore him. The excuse was that fishing him out and locking him in a padded cell where he belonged would cost the district $565,000 in federal aid. Some school administrators actually believe this b.s. about ‘teach every child’ (though you do not catch them in the classroom with these kids).

  47. Quartermaster
    May 2nd, 2014 @ 8:28 pm

    For a people without virtue there are never enough rules. The rules you have will ignored, or misapplied by those without virtue. Ben Franklin said it well “we will be ruled by God, or we will be ruled by tyrants.”

    The tyrants are rising.

  48. cmdr358
    May 3rd, 2014 @ 12:31 pm

    Or a President who once attended a church run by an activist who hates white people and America in general?

  49. cmdr358
    May 3rd, 2014 @ 1:05 pm

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

  50. cmdr358
    May 3rd, 2014 @ 2:58 pm

    There are many other non- educational funding opportunities that the feds can hold over local politician’s heads in order to persuade them to influence local school policies.

    N’cest pas?