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A memorial outside Oxford High School in Oxford Township, Michigan, where Ethan Crumbley killed four students in November 2021. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Should Parents Pay for the Crimes of Their Children?

The conviction of Jennifer Crumbley. Plus: Shane Gillis gets uncanceled, more DEI overreach in academia, and new Free Press merch.

Jennifer Crumbley, who was found guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter on Tuesday, did not kill anyone, not even “involuntarily.”

Rather, it was her son Ethan who, in November 2021, sneaked a gun into his Michigan high school and killed four of his classmates. In December, he received a life sentence with no chance of parole.

Does his mother share some of the blame for his killing spree? Of course she does, writes Joe Nocera in today’s Free Press

On the morning of the shooting, school officials wanted Jennifer to take Ethan out of class after they saw a drawing he’d done of a gun and a bleeding human body. “The thoughts won’t stop,” he’d written. “Help me.” Jennifer promised she would take him to a therapist, but in the meantime, she left him at school. Neither she nor the school officials realized he had a gun in his backpack. Hours later, he went on his rampage.

Never before has an involuntary manslaughter charge been used to put away a parent whose negligence led to a mass shooting.

“But so what?” Joe writes. “It is possible—in fact, I think it’s likely—that Jennifer Crumbley’s conviction could serve, at long last, as a deterrent to the scourge of school shootings.”

Read his full argument below:

And for a different view, read Billy Binion’s piece in Reason, “Mom’s Manslaughter Conviction for Her Son’s School Shooting Sets a Dangerous Precedent.”

The DEI rollback hasn’t made it to Nebraska 

Readers may remember John Sailer’s recent Free Press story “The DEI Rollback,” where he detailed how the tide is turning against the diversity, equity, and inclusion bureaucracy, especially in higher education. But that’s not true for one major state school where DEI dogma is alive and well, John reports for us today:

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Engineering might sound like one of the last places in higher education where you’d expect to find evidence of DEI orthodoxy influencing big decisions. Nebraska is a red state and UNL is a public school. Plus, you’d expect hiring at an engineering school to be based on, well, scientific criteria. 

But through a public records request, I reviewed every diversity recruitment report created by the school over the last four years. And I’ve discovered that even here, DEI has been central to hiring decisions. 

For example, in 2020, when the school set out to hire a professor of National Defense/Computer Network Security, the search committee made its priority clear: each candidate’s “diversity” score—assessing how well applicants understand things like “many intersectional aspects of diversity”—was given equal weight to factors like research and teaching experience. 

Another search in 2021, for a professor of Big Data/Cybersecurity, stated: “the weight of the ‘diversity’ scores were equal to the other scored areas that contributed to the candidate’s overall score.”

And applicants have been ruled out for failing to clear DEI hurdles. According to one report, from 2021, “a small number of candidates” in a search for a professor of thermal sciences “were eliminated based on absence or weak diversity statement.” In another case that year, three applicants for a role in environmental engineering “did not include diversity statements and were disqualified from the search.”

Per the college’s diversity and inclusion plan, which is still in place, the reports carry high stakes: a search that fails to show “a serious consideration” of DEI-related issues risks being canceled, resulting in no hire at all.

Diversity statement evaluations have long been criticized for their potential to enforce an orthodoxy on issues of race and gender, weeding out faculty with heterodox views. They raise serious questions of academic freedom—as well as First Amendment compliance.

The college’s DEI statement evaluation rubric—also acquired through a records request—confirms these fears. The rubric dictates a high score for engineers who identify and discuss “intersectional aspects of diversity”—while punishing those who fail to “distinguish inclusion from diversity.” 

In other words, even in Nebraska, chemical engineers and materials scientists must be fluent in the idiom of race consciousness.

The absurdity is transparent, which is why state university systems from North Carolina to Missouri to Wisconsin have abolished diversity statements. Even faculty at progressive universities have begun to push back. In Nebraska, the policy is alive and well—but that’s something the state’s lawmakers could easily fix.

From DEI in engineering to anti-racism in medical schools. . .  

Jeffrey Flier was dean of Harvard Medical School. Writing in The Free Press today, he sounds the alarm on the rush to embrace ideas about combating racism in medical education that will do more harm than good. And he worries that doctors are told race matters more than excellent care. 

Read his alarming account in full: 

The joke’s on SNL: It’s good to be Shane Gillis. This weekend, five years after the comedian was axed by Saturday Night Live before making his debut as a featured cast member, he will return as a host. Back in 2019, Gillis was accused of using an anti-Asian slur on a podcast that an SNL spokesman called “offensive, hurtful, and unacceptable.” 

In the years since his big break went badly wrong, Gillis hasn’t kvetched once about his cancellation. Instead, he’s made lots and lots of people laugh with his YouTube sketches, stand-up shows and, most recently, his Netflix special. A big part of Gillis’s appeal is his commitment to making fun of everyone, from Fox News–watching moms to MSNBC–watching dads. And as a white, working-class guy from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, he can tell a joke about Donald Trump that actually lands.

Boring people (remember when Vanity Fair was readable?) will tell you that Gillis’s return is a sign that SNL is “cater[ing] to the right” and “giving problematic people a platform.” Others wonder if Gillis’s return is a sign that cancel culture is over.

So which is it? For an honest take, we asked fellow funnyman Andrew Schulz, who self-released a comedy special when an unnamed streamer asked him to water down his set:

Some people will use this to claim “Cancel culture doesn’t exist.” That’s not fair to Shane. It was used to strip him of his original role on SNL. He then was so undeniable and determined that he overcame his cancellation. What a story. Banished from the city only to return as king! I love Shane. He’s brilliant and absolutely deserving of his success and the opportunity. 

More merch! 

Again, you asked, and again, we delivered! Free Press merchandise is officially back in stock and up for sale on our website. We’ve added new items and subtracted the delivery issues (our apologies. . . it won’t happen again!). 

We have new t-shirts (the people wanted t-shirts!), even better totes, and our classic hats and mugs available for purchase. Go to TheFP.com/shop to support our mission, show off your love for The Free Press, and buy your swag to wear with pride. And be sure to tag photos of you and our merch on Instagram @thefreepress or on X @TheFP

Happy shopping!

Oliver Wiseman is a writer and editor for The Free Press. Follow him on X @ollywiseman

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