Cancel Culture Update

Published by 13 Comments

“You can’t get out of those repercussions by papering over a policy that was already violated”  — Judge Ryan Nelson

A three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in our First Amendment retaliation case yesterday.  Normally, each side is given fifteen minutes to present their case and answer questions, but Judges Ryan T. Nelson, Lawrence VanDyke, and Gabriel P. Sanchez held Claremont’s counsel, Daniel Modaferri, over for an extra ten minutes with questions that seemed intent on determining whether Claremont Unified truly intends to curtail viewpoint discrimination (commonly called cancel culture these days.)

For 18 years, since 2001, Claremont schools booked an average of 5 field trips a year. Those abruptly ceased in 2018, when Claremont educators worried about Jim Riley’s personal political speech — speech that mocked Stormy Daniels, David Hogg, and Louis Farrakhan. This political content has no place in Riley’s Farm living history programs, but a few educators believed the personal political opinions of a vendor were fair game for reprisal — until wiser legal minds advised them that US Courts have frowned on the government taking economic vengeance on vendors and employees for exercising their First Amendment rights.   As a result of our lawsuit, and after a Claremont teacher was prevented from booking a field trip in 2021, Claremont adapted a resolution reinstating Riley’s Farm as a vendor.

The question really is:  would that have ever happened had Riley’s Farm and several law firms not spent an enormous amount of money getting them to do the right thing?   And does the resolution really constitute a “policy?”   Does the policy have any teeth?  Could a teacher book a field trip here without fear of professional reprisal?  Is there an unspoken code (wink, wink):  “Yes, Riley’s Farm is approved, but don’t go there.”

Judge Nelson: “Why don’t we just resolve it?  If the district court had done that on remand, he could have just had a two day bench trial.. and we could be done.”

Daniel Modaferri: “At the end of the day, if it were ‘Claremont, don’t stop anyone from going to Riley’s Farm,’ no one at Claremont would bat an eye at that.  What would happen is the plaintiffs would then ask for millions of dollars in attorney fees.”

Judge Nelson: “And they may get it.  That’s — I’m sorry, we didn’t write the law — but we face this all the time on civil rights litigation, and the point is that you can’t get out of those repercussions by papering over a policy that was already violated…”

Our own legal counsel, Bill Becker of Freedom X Law, reminded the court that this isn’t just about field trips at Riley’s Farm.  It’s about the ability of the government to curtail an open discussion by exacting economic vengeance.

Bill Becker: “We want to flip the facts for just a moment.  Let’s say this were some conservative Northern California county and a conservative school district who wanted to stop sending field trips to some destination because the owner was gay or the owner said something.. they didn’t like politically?   This holding here today, whatever it may be, has got to be generally applicable to anticipate every stripe of political interest..  We’re seeing in this culture right now lots of examples of people losing their liberty, and when my client tonight goes back to Riley’s Farm and puts on his Patrick Henry costume and talks about preserving liberty or death, he means it.. ”

We have cued up the court video to the ending moments, but you can hear and see the whole thing in the link below..

All in all, we’re encouraged.

Help us fight.. 


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This post was written by Jim Riley


  • Dayna Mitchell says:

    Wish I were in a position to help financially with this. Great thing that you’re doing here Mr Riley
    My prayers are with you and your family.

  • DeAnna says:

    *^$! Claremont School district, stay true!!!

  • Not today says:

    Wow, I would never have known any of this, but my daughter is supposed to be visiting your farm tomorrow with her school, so I wanted to checkout your website. I remember bringing my students here many years ago and they had such a wonderful time and learned so much. But knowing you spoke badly of David Hogg, a survivor of a mass shooting, a student at the time and learning that you are an insurrectionist denier, I can’t let my daughter attend. I doubt the school knows because I am sure they would never have booked this trip otherwise. It is not called “cancel culture,,” it is called be ACCOUNTABLE for what you say and do and post on your website. I will inform the school of my thoughts as a parent and in the future they can choose to come here or not but they will at least be informed of your views and what is posted on your website. I was hoping my daughter would learn history but I’m not sure what kind of history she’d be learning with your radical political ideology.

    • Jim Riley says:

      You make our point for us. You took your students here many years ago “..and they had such a wonderful time and learned so much.” Exactly. Our living history programs never feature the contemporary political beliefs of Riley’s Farm owners or their employees. You just want to punish people for beliefs held by literally MILLIONS of Americans. You want an America where only your own beliefs are approved. You would likely terminate any public employee or vendor who required being “accountable” to your own subjective standard, no matter how well they did their job. Thankfully, the First Amendment, and its protectors in the courts, do not agree with you.

      • Dylan Bratisax says:

        The courts have no stance on where an individual sends their kid. Also, zero Americans have a right to be a bigot or a bully. If someone makes homophobic, racist, or disparaging remarks, you are not immune to that backlash. I hope you think long and hard about what it means to be inclusive to all Americans whether they are Hindu, Black, Trans, Gay, Atheist, or christian.

        • Jim Riley says:

          Your rhetoric is as fevered as your reasoning is sloppy. Look around our place. We have every ethnicity and likely every political perspective in America working for us, (and visiting us), but what people like you want is a 1984-style ministry of truth, where the state gets to decide approved speech. Fortunately, the courts don’t agree with you.

  • Patrick MacGuire says:

    Even when a conservative business owner very happily makes wedding cakes – or in your case, wedding pies – for gays, they still feel compelled to disparage the cake. David Hogg was indeed fortunate that day, but, unfortunately, he took all of the wrong lessons from his experience. He is at least a gentleman willing to engage in civil conversation with opponents.

  • Toni B-Native American says:

    Thank you Mr. Riley for keeping up with the true American history. The fact we fought for independence against tyranny and fought for freedom of speech and religion. Where Dylan is wrong and does not know you at all. You have not said anything wrong, homophobic, racist nor are you a bigot or bully. He doesn’t know where this original story began with that school district. I remember. They were upset that slaves were represented in your living history. Well Dylan- hate to tell you- slaves were a part of our history. We need to learn from this, not mask over it or erase it. Riley’s farms does not glorify it either. As far as I can tell- he is inclusive in all types of people. We cannot allow cancel culture to take away our freedoms to do what we like with our own businesses. And that it was what attempted.

  • Steve E says:

    I don’t seem to see any contrition or counter comments from Riley’s Farm stating how despicable Jim Riley’s statements are. It also seems like Jim is more than just a vendor. He is the one that put this post together as a part of the website. I suppose Riley’s Farm has done the right thing elsewhere and posted against those vitriolic statements, but I don’t see that stated here in this posting. What a shame and what an embarrassment for a great place.

    Further, this post is stating that the ‘political opinions of a vendor’ should not affect anyone coming here and should be ignored. Yet, the political views of a customer to not go to the Farms are not allowed. I don’t quite see equity there.

    • Jim Riley says:

      No need to talk about me in the third person. Why would anyone of sound mind show contrition for calling Louis Farrakhan a hateful antisemite? Why would anyone apologize for thinking David Hogg a Constitutionally illiterate dolt? These are opinions held by MILLIONS of Americans. Private citizens can boycott anyone they like. Government entities cannot. In America there is no single “approved” position. That freedom to disagree, and not be penalized by the government for doing so, is a great source of our strength. Here’s to hoping you crack a book on these topics.

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