Good morning, everyone.
The traditional trajectory of an organization—such as, say, the mob—taking over a business involves their wringing the establishment dry of every penny. They do this by skipping payments, cheating customers, and cutting deals they have no plan to follow through on before discarding them, ideally in a manner that makes investigation from the authorities impossible. The mob does this because they’re after the money, not because they hate the business and want to destroy it.
On Tuesday, Harpeth Hall School announced to students and alumnae that it had updated its gender policy in light of “the cultural dialogue around gender.” Unfortunately, instead of clarifying a contentious issue, the new policy mystified it, couching the changes in euphemisms and leaving many concerned that Harpeth Hall, which has been all-girls for 157 years, was on the cusp of letting boys named Sue into the school. The school has issued clarifications after receiving blowback, but every attempt to clarify only reaffirms that something has changed internally (despite the continued insistence to the contrary).
It's difficult to get all of this straight: female-identifying, male-identifying, non-binary, she/they pronouns, trans man, trans woman, etc. These kinds of labels seem to only concern the minority of students, teachers, and administrators who choose to immiserate themselves in these language games which, intentionally or not, seek to undermine what it means to be an all-girls school in the first place.
As a friend put it to me recently, "There’s lots of slick phrasing out there which opens doors that are supposed to be bolted shut." Harpeth Hall has just pried open a bolted-shut door. But who pried it open? And how did Harpeth Hall get here?
There's a lot of vague invocation in the aforementioned document of "the shifting conversation regarding gender and gender pronouns." It's worth noting that for 99% of the population, there is no conversation to be had here. By failing to clearly and definitively settle the matter by stating that the school is only open to biological females, rather than those who simply identify as girls, the administration has pried open the door and opened the floor for discussion. And as we've observed time and time again, discussions of this sort only go one direction: towards more liquid interpretations of gender and sex.
Unlike the mob, whose primary concern is monetary extortion, the gender entryists who've taken up residence at Harpeth Hall—be they students, teachers, or administrators—are not motivated by profit. Instead, they are powered by their disdain for all-girls schools as institutions. By its nature, an all-girls school is exclusionary, which violates the sacred virtue of openness. The goal of those pushing for clarity on the school's gender policy is to reform Harpeth Hall to be more “open”—and in the process, redefine what it means to be "all-girls."
After their long march through an institution, once they’ve gained a modicum of influence, the shakedown begins. The coalition interested in exerting power goes to the older, more traditionally liberal—and thus, open-minded and empathetic—leaders and makes a demand: in this case, it’s “affirm your commitment to gender diversity in order to make the school more inclusive and appeal to more people.” The leaders, being older and coming from a different, higher-trust America, are unacquainted with this kind of political maneuver. They think, "Wow, that's a great idea!" Because, you know, when is building a more accepting culture a bad idea? So, they get together, form a gender policy, and make the announcement.
By the time they realize they've messed up—and, in this case, alienated their donors, students, and alumnae—the mobsters have them right where they want them. The leaders at Harpeth Hall now must double down on committing to gender parity… or reverse course and risk being labeled transphobic or sexist or something.
Again, these mobsters’ goal is not to wring every last penny out of Harpeth Hall, but to take advantage of its clout as an institution in order to push its boundary-expanding ideology onto others and, in the process, alienate the base of people who made it great in the first place, ensuring its eventual demise. And now, a once stable, enduring, and respected institution in Nashville has begun to walk this path.
Now that we’ve dealt coldly with the matter, I’ll mention that I grew up right down the street from Harpeth Hall. I’ve spent many afternoons playing touch football on the lacrosse field. I’ve watched my sister and cousins graduate and know many people associated with the school today. I went to Montgomery Bell Academy, its brother school located down the street which David Brooks, in his famous piece on Bill Frist from 2003, described as follows:
You look through the yearbook Frist edited (this is 1970, remember) for any sign that the sixties are happening—Woodstock, the peace movement, hippies. There is none. The yearbook looks like it was produced in 1962.
What has defined both Harpeth Hall and Montgomery Bell Academy through the years is their resilience to the changing world around them. Of course, necessary reforms have occurred. But they’ve tended to be slow, measured, and circumspect, in order to keep from dissolving into a puddle of gray goo, unlike many of their peer institutions across the country.
There’s more to this announcement than politics. What it has done is invite a divisive pathogen into the community. Now that we’re airing out what an “all-girls” school actually means, lines in the sand will be drawn, and coalitions for and against will form. Will MBA be subject to the same demands? Will other schools, churches, and institutions in the community have to defend what until this announcement, were uncontroversial stances in every neighborhood aside from East Nashville?
Maybe it was all inevitable. Maybe airing it out publicly is the most expedient way to destroy this pathogen (sunlight is the best disinfectant after all). Whatever the case, a door has been opened in a place that many—myself included—believed to be uniquely immune to these kinds of things. Unfortunately, there’s no turning back.
If Harpeth Hall does not reverse course, there will be no smoldering ruins in Green Hills for detectives and firemen to pick over: just a crumbling institution left looking lost and confused as donors pull out and students go elsewhere.
Meanwhile, down in Chattanooga, The McCallie School, when faced with a similar shakedown, replied: "McCallie was founded as a boys’ school and has periodically in its history reaffirmed its ongoing commitment to serving only boys. The Board of Trustees again confirms that clear and strong commitment. McCallie only admits students who are biologically male and who identify as male."
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Thanks for reading.
➫ TENNESSEE'S NEW ATTORNEY GENERAL
The Tennessee Supreme Court selected Jonathan Skrmetti to serve as the state’s next Attorney General.
NEW AG FOR TENNESSEE
Jonathan Skrmetti currently serves as chief counsel for Governor Bill Lee, but will be taking the position as Attorney General and Reporter starting on September 1st. Skrmetti's experience runs the gamut including everything from successfully prosecuting high profile human sex trafficking and opioid cases, to prosecuting an assassination plot against Barack Obama and various other political corruption cases. During his interview he expressed a keen interest in cyberlaw. He taught classes on the subject as a professor at the University of Memphis and hopes to get ahead of the fast-paced issues by focusing on data security and corruption.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Skrmetti wants to create a separate unit to pursue affirmative litigation against the Federal government instead of pulling resources from other departments:
"While I don't think that it's a partisan move to attempt to enforce the state's interests in affirmative litigation against the Federal government, I think it's part of the dynamic tension of separation of powers that keeps our system going and keeps everybody free, I recognize a lot of people don't want to be involved in those cases. Particularly if they're deeply committed on the other side of the ideological spectrum."
Skrmetti thinks holding tech companies accountable is important:
"Cyberlaw’s particularly interesting in that it moves incredibly fast. Technology has moved incredibly fast and the law tends to move slow. It always takes a while for the law to catch up to where the technology is. We’ve seen technology companies accumulate tremendous amounts of power not just over money, but over the culture…
There is evidence out there and there are published articles out there about how certain people in some of the big tech companies, some of the social media companies, were well aware of the specific detrimental effects that their technology had on consumers but because they were making a substantial amount of money, they hit the gas on these problematic algorithms and problematic systematic arrangements.
Detrimental effects on pre-teens. Juveniles are the most vulnerable. I think it's really important that people pay attention to this."
Skrmetti on the role of AG in protecting the sovereignty of Tennessee:
"I think the elected branches should be the primary policy makers for Tennessee. I think the AG is selected by the court to ensure that you get a good, ethical attorney who will represent the state well. But just as the court will interpret and apply laws that are passed in a partisan fashion, but not do so in a partisan manner, I think the AG's job is to further the policy interests of the state as defined by the other branches… I think the AG has strategic decisions to make on how to best further those ends, but it's not the AG's job to determine what those ends are."
Skrmetti's first priority:
"If we want our laws to remain in effect, we need to have good lawyers in a position to defend them so I think hiring and retention is absolutely the number one priority."
Listen to Jonathan Skrmetti's entire interview online.
- Tennessee residents paying less than neighboring states for electricity even with higher fuel costs (Center Square) While energy and fuel prices have risen over the past year, the prices in Tennessee have been comparatively low. While Tennessee is 22nd in energy consumption per capita, based on the latest numbers from 2020, the state ranked 41st in electricity prices and 35th in the cost of natural gas.
- Are Pharmacies In Tennessee Breaking The Law By Not Dispensing Ivermectin? (TCN) The Tennessee Conservative has received multiple reports that corporate-run pharmacies are either not carrying Ivermectin or telling customers that a prescription is required before they will dispense the medication, contrary to the original intent of a bill passed in the last session of the General Assembly.
- Voters face 'Right to Work' addition to Tennessee constitution (Channel 5) On the November ballot, voters will see the push for changes in the Tennessee constitution. There's a push asking voters to "Vote Yes" on Amendment 1, which will make it harder for lawmakers to change the current Right to Work law.
- Less than 20% of Tennessee's registered voters cast ballots in August primary (Tennessean) Turnout was about 30,000 voters below average for August primaries over the last decade, which saw a low of 557,507 in 2016 and high of 1,227,913 in 2018, driven in part by a competitive U.S. Senate race and gubernatorial primary.
- Supreme Court picks Skrmetti for AG (TNJ) The vote was 4-1, with Justice Sharon Lee dissenting. The order did not include an explanation by Lee, the only justice appointed by a Democrat, about why she disagreed with her colleagues Jeff Bivins, Sarah Campbell, Holly Kirby, and Roger Page.
- Tennessee School Teachers Being Trained To Use Preferred Pronouns Of Students Due To Proposed Title IX Changes (TCN) Sources tell us that Tennessee school teachers are being trained to use the preferred pronouns of students and that they must keep that knowledge hidden from parents in some cases.
- Germantown commercial building offered for $1.35M (Post)
- Three-tower project eyed for Midtown (Post)
- Building with bars, live music planned for downtown (Post)
- D.C. company plans mixed-use building for SoBro (Post)
❑ IRS ARMS AND JOBS
A few things to note about the expanding responsibilities of the IRS. The first is a report on defense spending from Open the Books:
The Internal Revenue Service, with its 2,159 “Special Agents,” spent $21.3 million on guns, ammunition and military-style equipment between fiscal years 2006 and 2019. The agency stockpiled 4,500 guns and five million rounds of ammunition.
Second, between March and June 2022, the IRS ordered $696,000 in ammunition. Typically, the IRS spends about $675,000 per year on ammunition. Likely, the ammunition was purchased in anticipation of the department's expansion.
Third, the responsibilities required of IRS job openings for the "Criminal Investigation Special Agent" position—which has a pretty sweet name, to be honest—include:
- Work a minimum of 50 hours per week, which may include irregular hours, and be on-call 24/7, including holidays and weekends.
- Maintain a level of fitness necessary to effectively respond to life-threatening situations on the job.
- Carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary.
And finally, Matt Gaetz filed the 'Disarm the IRS Act' at the beginning of July which would prohibit the IRS from buying ammunition after it went into effect.
✔︎ CHART OF THE DAY: WHOSE GAS?
⚔ MISSIVES ⚔
- 📜 Donald Trump said he declined to answer questions from the New York attorney general’s office during his deposition in its civil-fraud investigation into the financial dealings of the former president and his company.
- ⚰️ An Iranian national plotted to assassinate at least two former Trump administration officials, the Department of Justice said, in what it described as a likely retaliation for the 2020 killing of a prominent Iranian general.
- 💰 Tesla CEO Elon Musk sold 7.92 million shares of the company worth around $6.88 billion, according to a series of financial filings published Tuesday night.
- 🇬🇧 Nearly one-third of households in the United Kingdom will face poverty this winter after paying energy bills that are set to soar again in January, campaigners say.
- 🛰 The FCC has rejected the application of Starlink to provide broadband to rural America at a cost of $885 million over 10 years, nullifying a tentative approval back in 2020.
THINGS TO DO
View our full event calendar here.
🍺 The Pamphleteer hosts Bar Hours on the third Thursday of every month (the next meeting is August 18th) at Lucky's 3 Star Bar from 6-8 PM. The first ten guests get drinks on the company tab.
🎪 Check out our favorite driving distance festivals this summer.
👨🏻🌾 The Pamphleteer farmer's market guide.
⚔️ Knights in Armor at the Frist starting July 1st: European arms and armor from the renowned collection of the Museo Stibbert in Florence, Italy.
🍅 Tomato Fest, all day on the 12th and 13th in Five Points
🎼 Listen to The Pamphleteer's Picks, our playlist of bands playing in Nashville each week.
🍀 Live Irish Music @ McNamara’s Irish Pub, 6p, Free, Info
🎸 Kelly’s Heroes @ Robert’s Western World, 6:30p, Free, Info
🎸 Open Mic @ Fox & Locke, 6:30p, Free, Info
📽 Inglourious Basterds @ Capital Mall, 6:30, $10, Info
🎙 Palomino @ Dee's Lounge, 8p, $5, Info
🗡 Sweet Knives @ The Basement, 9p, $10, Info
🎙 Los Colognes Album Release @ The 5 Spot, 9p, $10, Info
ON THE RADAR
🐂 Professional Bull Riding @ Bridgestone, (8/19-21), $20+ Info
🐖 Roger Waters @ Bridgestone, (8/27), $39, Info
🎹 Stereolab @ Marathon Music Works, (9/6), $35, Info
+ Motorik post-rock synth avant-pop surrealist prismcore
🎸 My Morning Jacket @ Ascend Amphitheater, (9/23), $22.88, Info
⚔️ HELMET @ Marathon Music Works, (9/24), $35, Info
+ 90's alternative metal band from NY, a Pamphleteer favorite
👾 Flamingosis @ Basement East (9/29), $20, Info
🎻 Gustav Holst's The Planets @ Schermerhorn (9/29-10/2), Info
+ Early 1900's orchestral suite, each movement is named after a planet
🕺 Remi Wolf @ Brooklyn Bowl (10/6), $30, Info
+ Young talented funk/pop/hip-hop singer, one of the few
🎸 Smashing Pumpkins @ Bridgestone Arena, (10/10), $133+, Info
+ 90's alt-rock from Chicago
🎸 The Doobie Brothers @ Bridgestone Arena, (10/12), $43+, Info
🎺 Too Many Zooz @ Basement East, (10/31), $20, Info
🌶 The Gypsy Kings @ The Ryman (11/1), $39.50, Info
+ The roving band of flamenco guitarists
NEW THIS WEEK
- Regenerative Agriculture and Animal-Based Skincare (w/ Charles Mayfield) (Listen)
- The Problem with American Agriculture (w/ William Wheelwright) (Listen)
FROM THE ARCHIVE
Around the Web
⁕ The Disillusionment of the Deplorables How Trump voters formed an ugly—and accurate—view of America’s ruling regime.
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Words of Wisdom
"Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all."
Alexander the Great