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Riley’s Farm Schools Another District
By Lou Desmond
As has been stated in these pages in earlier pieces Riley’s Farm is one of the treasures of our local area and a key economic engine for Oak Glen. One of the unique features to Riley’s Farm is the Colonial Tavern the Hawks Head and the historical reenactments that are on near constant display. Jim Riley is a man of conviction, patriotism and deep and abiding faith – and he wears it proudly. He is on a mission to see that the true history of the founding of this great country is not forgotten and uses his unique assets at the farm to instill this in the younger generations. To that end many school districts for decades have been coming to Riley’s farm for school outings where the children have a grand time on the premises while learning important cultural history of the United States.
Apparently a mean-spirited leftist zealot took issue with some of Jim Riley’s wry and often humorous commentary on social media and decided to play the tired, racist, homophobic, misogynistic etc. liberal playbook against him and then call for the economic death penalty for him, his family and his hundreds of employees by calling for a boycott of Riley’s Farm.
While the majority of Southern California districts have seen through the witch hunt, a few have indulged the false victim narrative of those who would spoil a history lesson for everyone.
Facing a few districts that have cancelled tours, Jim Riley, unwilling to offer the usual phony mea culpa, has decided to fight and with the help of brilliant legal counsel he has filed a lawsuit against Claremont Unified School District – one of the first to cancel trips to Riley’s. In the wake of that law suit some of the blacklisting districts are re-thinking the cost of violating the first amendment. (Taxpayer money cannot be used to conduct boycotts.)
Claremont’s legal counsel made matters worse by doubling down on the accusations in their own response legal brief opening them to even more damages according to legal opinion. Then a prominent legal scholar from Claremont McKenna College – Ralph Rossum, went on a regional radio program (on KMET 1490) and declared flat out that the school district should quickly settle so they don’t face enormous damages that could ensue. Mr. Rossum pointed out clear legal precedent that showed that the district was obviously in the wrong based on constitutional law of which he is an internationally recognized expert.
Just last week, another, as yet unnamed district, during negotiations, proposed an absurd and Orwellian restriction for possible future field trips, demanding that Jim Riley not be on property or show his face in any way while the school children are on the premises. This is not only the site of Mr. Riley’s family business but also his home. The proposal was immediately rejected and an apology demanded, on pain of the district being named, its additional proposals being made public and a lawsuit initiated.
The courts have made it clear: under the first amendment, government entities simply cannot restrain the speech of anyone it employs or does business with. Most public educators in Southern California appear to understand this. A few do not – and they may pay a very large price for it.