sentencing standards of care


Prison exterior by Chris Gray

Chelsea Manning‘s news presence has veered from her leak of classified documents to WikiLeaks and subsequent conviction of espionage to her public confirmation of her already widely-acknowledged gender. Her identity with an unassigned gender and the medical associations that it entails may have implications for the conditions and duration of her sentence. In particular, it is unknown whether she will eventually be able to receive hormone replacement therapy while incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth.

The terms of transgender prisoners is an important human rights issue and hardly exclusive to high-profile cases like Manning’s. Case in point: Ophelia De’lonta.

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support, respect, inquire

Support-our-troops (Wikimedia Commons)

Campus is aflutter with talk of English professor Steven Salaita‘s column at Salon, provocatively titled (and possibly not by him) “No, thanks: Stop saying ‘support the troops'”. Salaita preludes with an incident familiar to many of us, being asked at a gas station to “donate your change to the troops”. From the ambiguity of where the donation would go, Salaita proceeds to spotlight the ambiguity of the sentiment of “supporting our troops” itself. The article is worth a read, and i’ll assume visitors here have taken a moment to digest it.

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informed citizenship and military intervention

Damascus by night (Wikimedia Commons)

As the Obama administration contemplates military intervention in Syria, with heightened enthusiasm (or is it urgency?) following the disclosure of the Syrian government’s probable use of chemical weaponry against its own citizens, we the citizenry are cycling through the now well-trodden exchanges: How successful can military intervention be? (And what does that even mean?) Should we take a utilitarian outlook that privileges lives spared or money saved in the short run; or recognize the imperialist tradition and the long-term destabilizing influence our legacy of intervention has wrought? How carefully—and to whom—are the Western powers obligated to respect the various international bodies, laws, and traditions that have been set up to manage this kind of thing—particularly those in the region?

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gearing up

Hello out there! I’m Cory, a member of the Freethinkers at Virginia Tech, and i’ll be your host on this blog for the immediate, if not the foreseeable, future. This blog is a public forum for atheists, agnostics, skeptics, humanists, freethinkers, rationalists, and all free and eager inquirers at Virginia Tech and the surrounding community to discuss our interests and activities and current and local events. As other “designated bloggers” join or relieve me, we’ll edit this post to reflect their roles and outlooks.

I’d like to keep this space as simple, open, and welcoming as possible. This blog is hosted by and geared toward the membership of Free@VT, but is open to all who wish to join in the discussion, especially our neighbors in the New River Valley and surrounding region. Rather than polemicize (as i tend to on my own blog), here i’ll try to take only enough space to get a conversation going. While the range of topics is as wide as club interests and all non-abusive* views are welcome, i may tilt toward my own interests and i’ll be honest about what i think. Comment freely!

If there’s one guiding principle, it’s this: Before rebuffing someone, (be able to) articulate their position in your own words, and (be ready to) let them scrutinize your articulation. No moderating policies are currently in place, but they are available if we need them.

In the comments to this post, please suggest any policies (formal or not) you’d like this blog to adopt, any suggestions you have for the site, any subjects you’re excited to tackle, and any external links, for instance blogs, forums, larger organizations, and other RSOs, that should be on the sidebar! (Personal blogs of Free@VT members occupy the top—let me know if you’d like yours to be included.) We’ll be working on an official bloggers’ “job description” as we go along. I’d also like to invite members of Free@VT and of the Blacksburg and surrounding community to submit posts to freeatvtlib@[the basic Virginia Tech domain] and whether and how you’d like to be attributed (unless you already have an account, in which case…post away).

See you in the comments!

* I view this as a personal safe space while not an ideological safe space; but this is something we can discuss and abridge.

Free@VT Weekly Announcement

Welcome back Freethinkers! I know many of you are just getting back into town, so I wanted to fill you in on some of the things that we’ve been working on, and some of the events that are coming up in the next two weeks.

A lot of work has been done over the past couple weeks developing promotional materials for the club. We’ve made posters, an A-frame, and finalized our table layout for Gobblerfest. We also had a booth at the LGBTQ Hokie Hi this week, and met several people that might be interested in joining the club. Josh Clark and Brian Farrell have been hard at work respectively creating our lineup of speakers and organizing the Breakfast Club.

The breakfast club is a Friday event starting on the second week of classes, facilitating discussion between people of different religious and political leanings. It will be held at 10:10am in the large dining area on the first floor of Turner Place. Visit the Facebook page ( if you’re interested.


Tuesday, Aug. 27 – This coming Tuesday will be the first meeting of the semester. We will be in Squires, Brush Mountain B from 7:00 to 8:30. It will be one of our normal discussion meetings; definitely try to make it if you can.

Tuesday, Sept. 3 — During next week’s meeting, Dr. Zack Lewis will be giving a presentation entitled “Secrets that Scientists Don’t Want YOU to Know About”. The meeting will be in the same time/place as the previous week.

Wednesday, Sept. 4 – We will be having an information table starting around 10:00 outside of D2. Contact Zack Lewis if you’re interested in volunteering to staff the booth. Here’s a link to the Doodle poll:

Friday, Sept. 6 – We will have a table at Gobblerfest from 4:00-8:00. More detailed information will be coming soon. We will also have our 1st Friday of the month event, where we will be watching TED talks of your choosing. That will take place in Squires 219 from 8:00-10:00 PM.


In addition, Cory Brunson ( has offered to begin regular (daily) posting on relevant topics to foster a more public discussion forum—if enough club members are interested! If you are, just subscribe to the RSS feed and let him know. The blog also welcomes posts from members any time on any topic. Make an account at the website, or email your post and nom de blog to Cory.

Here’s a link to the Free@vt RSS feed:

There is a group of us that go climbing at Crimpers Climbing Gym in Christiansburg during the week, and some of us will be going this Monday (today) at 6:00. It costs $18 to rent shoes and climb for the evening. Check out their website at


Visit our website ( or our Facebook page ( for more information.