Over the past few weeks, pretty much every institution of higher learning in America started to realize dorms and college campuses are really effective incubators for worldwide plagues, and canceled their classes at least until the end of the year. Meanwhile, Jerry Falwell Jr.'s Liberty University, which is ... not an institution of higher learning, not really ... decided it would be fine to let kids come back to campus, and require professors to do so. Don't worry, they're doing online classes! And we can't imagine what kinds of virus mutations are happening on the floors in the dorm bathrooms, but SHHHH, IT'S FINE.

You'll never guess what happened next, it is the twist you never saw coming. The doctor who runs the health department at Liberty, Thomas Eppes, told Falwell that they couldn't control coronavirus, but didn't say not to bring the little Bible-spouting disease vectors back. "I just am not going to be so presumptuous as to say, 'This is what you should do and this is what you shouldn't do,'" Eppes told the New York Times.

And because Jerry Falwell Jr. is not a smart man, he was unable to come to the obvious and correct decision on his own. And then the murders began, etc.


As of Friday, Dr. Eppes said, nearly a dozen Liberty students were sick with symptoms that suggested Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Three were referred to local hospital centers for testing. An additional eight were told to self-isolate.

As of 8 p.m. on March 29, of those three students tested, one was positive, one was negative and one student's results are still pending, according to Dr. Eppes, who added that the student who tested positive for Covid-19 lives off campus.

Well that is a shock, we for one are shocked. As we know with the bunglefucked American response to coronavirus, the real numbers are likely much higher, because the real numbers are much higher everywhere, because our testing record is, again, bunglefucked.

Don't worry, Falwell is doing something about it too late after the fact, and says Bible-spouting disease vectors who come back to Liberty have to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Of the 1,900 students who initially returned last week to campus, Mr. Falwell said more than 800 had left. But he said he had "no idea" how many students had returned to off-campus housing.

"If I were them, I'd be more nervous," he added, because they live in more crowded conditions.

Yeah, if we were literally anybody in Lynchburg, Virginia, or the surrounding areas, we'd be nervous about Liberty being close to us, in general, and even more so now that it's a breeding ground for the plague. The city of Lynchburg, for the record, is pissed.

And apparently so are some people on campus:

"I'm not allowed to talk to you because I'm an employee here," one student on campus wrote in an email. But, he pleaded, "we need help to go home."

And Falwell is reacting like a grown-up man-child in love with an authoritarian shitheel conman president, because that is who Falwell is:

After a Liberty undergraduate, Calum Best, wrote on his personal Facebook page that students should receive refunds, he said Liberty's spokesman, Scott Lamb, called his cellphone to berate him. [...]

After Marybeth Davis Baggett, a professor, wrote an open letter asking the university's board of trustees to close the campus, Mr. Falwell mocked her on Twitter as "the 'Baggett' lady."

Jeff Brittain, a Liberty parent, wrote on Twitter: "I'm as right wing as they get, bud. But as a parent of three of your students, I think this is crazy, irresponsible and seems like a money grab." Mr. Falwell replied, calling him a "dummy."

He really did that, to a rightwing parent of kids in his charge at Liberty, on Twitter:

What a respectable man.

Brandon Ambrosino, a journalist who knows Liberty very well, reports at Politico that, according to people who know Falwell, this is just "classic Jerry," which we guess is Liberty-University-ese for "what a stupid-ass dumb goddamned motherfucker":

"He doesn't think anyone should be able to tell him what to do, and he's going to do whatever he wants," a former Liberty University executive told me.

"He's very defiant," said another longtime Falwell associate with close ties to the Falwell family. "It's very much in his character. That's a family trait. His father was the same way."

Jerry Falwell Jr. has had many very S-M-R-T things to say about coronavirus since it became the only thing we ever talk about. For instance, he is just pretty sure it's a North Korean bioweapon and also a liberal hoax meant to take down Donald Trump, or at least he did think those things. Maybe his power of discernment has changed in the last few days. (You betcha.)

Here's what he told alleged pee enthusiast Todd Starnes last week:

"We think it's irresponsible for so many universities to just say 'closed, you can't come back,' push the problem off on other communities and sit there in their ivory towers," Mr. Falwell said on Wednesday on a radio show hosted by Todd Starnes, a far-right conspiracy theorist.

"We're conservative, we're Christian, and therefore we're being attacked," he said.

Go fuck yourself.

As of this second, there are 1,020 confirmed coronavirus cases in Virginia. If those numbers spike and Lynchburg becomes a serious hotspot, we'll know why.

[New York Times / Politico]

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Evan Hurst

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