School Blackmails Parent Over SSA Club

The story of the SSA club at Pigsah High School in North Carolina just gets worse by the day. First they refused to let the club form, then they approved it, then the young lady who was trying to get it started withdrew due to death threats and intimidation. Hemant reports on what else the school did to scuttle the club:

After making a public records request on Friday, a district official sent me a copy of a letter sent by their lawyer, Patrick Smathers, to the ACLU and FFRF…

Smathers continued his letter for another two pages in which he listed a number of “concerns” he had about the whole situation, including the insinuation that the church/state advocacy groups were out “to seek publicity and notoriety.” (I guess that also suggests there was a chance at quiet reconciliation, but that the advocacy groups didn’t want that, a claim I find hard to believe.)

He also brought up the fact that Kalei’s father has a criminal past and that would be a problem for people in the community if this club were to form, adding that Mr. Wilson is likely responsible for this whole affair:

It is my opinion [that the ACLU/FFRF’s] allegations… are without merit and baseless. In my opinion, the allegations arise from a manufactured controversy caused by [Mr. Wilson’s] influence on his children and a desire for publicity and potential financial gain. Further, that your respective organizations either unwittingly or willingly have participated in the same.

This is a ridiculously low blow. Basically, the lawyer — with the district behind him — is saying that he has no problem opening up a very old, and entirely irrelevant, can of worms about Kalei’s father in order to make this issue go away.

It worked. Even though Kalei received serious threats and nasty text messages, that’s not the only reason she decided she no longer wanted to form the group. She also wanted to protect her family, specifically her father, from being subject to vilification based on a decades-old matter.

It seems to me that there is only one reasonable conclusion to draw, which is that the school essentially tried to blackmail the family by dredging up old and utterly irrelevant criminal problems that the father may have had. What other purpose could it possibly serve to do a background check on the father and then to use that in a letter? I can’t think of any other possible purpose. I hope they’ve got a lawyer because I’d be looking into all the legal options.

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  • jeffwoodhead

    It’s worth noting that Pat Smathers, the lawyer in this case, ran for the Democratic nomination for Lt. Gov. in NC back in 2008, coming in 3rd behind Walter Dalton (who would eventually win the general). Goes to show you – assholitude is bipartisan.

  • d.c.wilson

    Isn’t blackmail a disbarring offense?

  • alanb

    Isn’t blackmail a disbarring offense?

    It doesn’t sound like he made an overt threat. He just said, “Nice reputation ya got there. It’d be a shame if anything happened to it.”

  • eric

    Well the obvious next step would be for an entirely different student to try and sponsor it., so that the district’s personal attacks on the family are chopped off at the knees. Though I would not think negatively of any secularist student who didn’t want to do it, given what prior students went through.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    You know what’s really sad about all this:

    Kalei is going to get this club going in later years. She’s 15, articles have said. She can’t be more than a Sophomore, if she’s on the typical track. The hostility has reportedly continued. News coverage is even continuing. What they had over her was that the consequences of going forward seemed more net negative than positive. But with the benefits all waiting to be realized, as soon as Kalei and her family come to the conclusion that it can’t get much worse **creating** the SSA than **trying to create** the SSA, they will no longer be able to calculate consequences already having come to pass as potential consequences of creating the club, and the calculus will look very different.

    Mark my words: Kalei is going to do this. The bad behavior of the Christians and their ill grace even in “winning” the shut down of the club is literally going to make that result inevitable.

  • lofgren

    Even if Kalei did this in order to achieve some kind of celebrity, how does that matter? Did it suddenly become wrong to do something because it makes you famous? Is it wrong to capitalize on your achievements in order to gain fame? Fuck, doing things just to get famous is practically the new American Dream.

  • Kevin Alexander

    Let’s not forget that Morality Comes from God™

  • Modusoperandi



  • eric


    Even if Kalei did this in order to achieve some kind of celebrity, how does that matter? Did it suddenly become wrong to do something because it makes you famous?

    Ah, you missed the point of the lawyer’s threat. The reading between the lines is this: “your father is a convicted criminal. Our “suspicion” that this whole club thing was his idea in order to gain some fame/money is our way of threatening to out him as a criminal to your community and drag your father’s reputation through the public mud.”

  • freehand

    Hasn’t reporting on this blackmail let the cat out of the bag?

  • caseloweraz

    There are, it seems to me, two possibilities regarding the elder Wilson’s unspecified (and decades-old) criminal activity: either he paid his debt to society, in which case the shyster Smathers should have known better than to bring up the matter at all; or Mr. Wilson has somehow evaded the judgment of the law (hypothetically, perhaps violating parole and moving out of that jurisdiction) in which case Smathers is derelict for not notifying the proper authorities.

    Personally I’m convinced at this point that Mr. Wilson has nothing to worry about from a legal standpoint. However, he and his family could well face community disapproval. And some may disapprove of my using the term “shyster” but I think it fits well in this case.

  • jnorris

    One thing is sure: Mr Smathers and the True Christian ™ Bullies have guaranteed that Ms Wilson and her friends will leave Haywood County and never return. That may sound good to the school board but businesses don’t like locating in areas populated by the lower half of the intelligence curve.

  • leonardschneider

    Hopefully Kalei is saving all the threats delivered to her by these True Christians ™. It would be an interesting collection, one to point to and say, “Yeah, here’s your ‘Christian love.’ Here’s your acceptance and humility.”

    From eric @ #4:

    “Well the obvious next step would be for an entirely different student to try and sponsor it., so that the district’s personal attacks on the family are chopped off at the knees.”

    I like the way you think. Being oh-so tough Christian Warriors, they went after a fifteen year old girl. So what do they do when the next student tries to start the club? Or the next, or the next, or the next?

    This would be an interesting strategy: instead of one at a time, have every secularist student all applying to form an SSA club at once. Overwhelm ’em, twenty students all running the course to start the same club. All the fuckin’ pussies who sent Kalei death threats would have to work overtime… Which means some of them are gonna fuck up, and make themselves traceable. And won’t that be interesting. “So Revered Nutburger, a sixteen year old from the high school has gotten death threats ever since he tried to start an SSA chapter on campus.”

    “Nothing to do with me.”

    “Funny you say that, because the threats came in the form of email, and the IP address linked to the email account which sent the threats is yours.”

    “…. Buh?”

    “The threatening emails came from your house; we can prove it. Do you care to comment?”

    “Umm…. I… Ahhh…. It was hackers. Hackers and World of Warcraft players. I really have to go now…”

  • freehand

    jnorris: That may sound good to the school board but businesses don’t like locating in areas populated by the lower half of the intelligence curve.


    Hmmm. Payday loan companies, furniture rental stores, homeopaths, Southern Baptist churches?

  • countmagnus

    I’m a little embarrassed to admit that until I saw this post, it didn’t occur to me that the mention of the father’s past in this report might be thinly-veiled blackmail. I thought it was sleazy and irrelevant, but I thought of it just as a crude attempt to paint Wilson pere in a more negative light as part of a general effort to discredit the family.

    IANAL, but unfortunately, I suspect that this douchebag has phrased this carefully enough that it would tough to make blackmail charges really stick in court. He could just claim, “I simply intended it as a comment on the general character of this individual” and without a mind-reading machine, you couldn’t prove otherwise. Even I’m not 100% sure that’s untrue, although now that Ed has raised the point, I suspect strongly it is. If he thought Cash Wilson’s criminal past was really an important point, you’d think he’d lay out the details. Instead, the coy withholding sounds like, “I won’t say more now, but I could if you make me.”