Conservative cancel culture lost its latest fight at Stanford, as a law student will now be allowed to graduate after posting a very funny satirical flyer linking a right-wing group to the Capital insurrection.  

The funny thing about "cancel culture" critics is that they are constantly trying to cancel people or things themselves. The chants of “Hang Mike Pence!” during the Jan. 6 Capital insurrection sure seemed like cancel culture, as did the attempt to "cancel" the certification of Biden’s victory that day via violent riots. And the current Republican civil war to oust any remaining Trump critics certainly smells like cancelling to me.

It was those very events that inspired a Stanford Law Student to post a very funny satirical flyer to a law school email listserv on January 25, a few weeks after the riot. The mock flyer purported to be from the hard-right Federalist Society, which does have a chapter at Stanford, and it promoted an obviously fake January 6 event called “The Originalist Case for Inciting Insurrection.” The very butthurt members of the Federalist Society demanded an investigation, and the prankster student Nicholas Wallace learned on May 27 that Stanford was investigating him and put a hold on his diploma over the complaint.


The flyer itself is hilarrrrious, and we will intersperse bits of it throughout this post. It advertises a Jan. 6 event (which was 3 weeks past when it was posted), and proclaims that “Riot information will be emailed the morning of the event,” and “The first thirty students to RSVP will receive a $10 GrubHub coupon to be used on the day of the event.”


In on-point mimickry of the Federalist Society’s consistently pompous language, the flyer continues, “Please join the Stanford Federalist Society as we welcome Senator Joshua Hawley and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to discuss violent insurrection. Violent insurrection, often known as doing a coup, is a classical system of installing a government. Although widely believed to conflict in every way with the rule of law, violent insurrection can be an effective approach to upholding the principle of limited government.” (It also depicts fist-waving Senator Josh Hawley, himself a Stanford legal grad and campus Federalist Society alum.)


The college Republicans were not amused, and demanded an investigation and that Wallace’s diploma be put on hold. “Wallace defamed the student group, its officers, Senator Josh Hawley, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton,” they complained, in documents obtained by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “Wallace, impersonating the Stanford Federalist Society, wrote on the flyer that ‘Riot information will be emailed the morning of the event,’ insinuating that the student group was encouraging and hosting a riot. He also wrote that Attorney General Paxton advocates for ‘overturn[ing] the results of a free and fair election’ by ‘calling on a violent mob to storm the Capitol.’ And he wrote that Senator Hawley believes that violent insurrections are justified.”

Wallace got Slate to write up his plight on Wednesday, and within hours, Stanford dropped the investigations. “In cases where the complaint is filed in proximity to graduation, our normal procedure includes placing a graduation diploma hold on the respondent,” a university spokesperson told the New York Times. “The complaint was resolved as expeditiously as possible, and the respondent and complainant have been informed that case law supports that the email is protected speech.”

So, the kid will graduate, and will be able to take the bar exam this summer (without the degree, he could not have). One Stanford Law prof just posted the supposed contents of a letter from Stanford Law Dean Jenny Martinez saying that “No one in the Stanford Law School administration had any role in placing the graduation hold, and we were shocked when we learned about it. I would never have approved such a thing.” So the case is now an administrative hot potato, with everyone involved eager to avoid further bad publicity.

And if the Stanford chapter of the Federalist Society doesn’t like the outcome…  hey, there's always violent insurrection.

Related: Following Backlash and Lawsuits From Athletes, Stanford Decides Not to Cut Any Sports [SFist]

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