In most respects Oberlin College, in Oberlin, Ohio, is like a great many other colleges and universities around the country. It is an institute of higher education that has been taken over by the left and now runs as a four year indoctrination center.
But something happened at Oberlin three years ago culminating in a landmark legal decision which, it seems to me, every college and university in the country would do well to take heed of.
Here are the particulars.
Gibson’s Bakery has operated in the city of Oberlin for 135 years. Not surprisingly, it did a lot of business with the college…
…until three years ago, when an incident caused Oberlin College not only to sever all ties with Gibson’s, but to put out flyers accusing the bakery of institutionalized racism and run protests at the store.
What event caused this to occur, and do enormous harm to the Gibson’s business?
Well, I blogged about it at the time, so you can read the detailed account by clicking here.
But, for the meanwhile, the short summary is that an Oberlin student, with two others abetting him, entered Gibson’s and engaged stealing goods there. Gibson’s had the students detained and charged them with shoplifting…which they ultimately pleaded guilty to.
So what was the problem? The problem was that all three students were Black. And therefore, in the eyes of what passes for a liberal-education institution like Oberlin these days, Gibson’s must have been racist for doing anything about it.
And what happened then? From Steven Hayward’s account at powerlineblog.com:
The Oberlin student Senate passed a resolution charging Gibson’s with “a long history of racial profiling,” and the Oberlin dean of students, Meredith Raimondo, endorsed and distributed the flyer. The college also discontinued purchasing baked goods from Gibsons, because you just can’t take the chance that you’ll cause literal pain or mental anguish to Oberlin students by procuring a bag of racist bear claws for the faculty lounge.
Gibson’s decided not to take this politically-motivated harassment lying down. They filed a libel and slander suit against Oberlin College, and yesterday a jury found for Gibson’s, ordering Oberlin to pay $11 million in compensatory damages. A punitive damages hearing will follow, so the total award could grow to over $30 million.
(NOTE: As bad as that financial hit is for Oberlin, it might be worse. There are reports that the school’s insurance (yes, there is insurance for this kind of situation) will not be enough to cover the ultimate award.)
Now let’s deal with a few relevant questions and answers:
-Q. Did Oberlin deserve to be sued?
A. You’re damn right it did. The school was an active participant in making and promoting those charges and, doubless, did significant damage to Gibson’s business and its reputation.
-Q. Does this help or damage the fight against racism?
A. It obviously, and significantly, damages it, by effectively transforming the guilty students from shoplifters to victims, specifically because of their race; it says if you’re Black you’re supposed to get a free pass on such behavior…which inherently defines Black people as lesser beings who should not be expected to meet the societal norms of Whites. How does that work for the fight against racism?
-Q. Is the amount of the judgment fair?
A. No it is not, not in my opinion anyway. As ugly and damaging as the incident was, and as racist as it was (yes, Oberlin was the racist party), I don’t see $11 million dollars there, and certainly not $30 million.
-Q. If not that amount, then what’s fair?
A. I don’t know. But it should be enough to cover multiples of what Gibson’s lost in business and punitive damages to its reputation. It should also include the requirement of a written, public apology in which Oberlin College allocutes to its behavior.
-Q. Is this something other colleges and Universities should worry about?
A. Yes, yes, yes.
Please pay special attention to that last Q. and A.
You can bet your bottom dollar that this will be cited by other similarly aggrieved parties, whether commercial or individual, who have suffered damages from being attacked by the Social Justice Warriors schools like Oberlin are farting out into the world.
Ironically, therefore, in that obviously unintended respect Oberlin College may have done a great service to a great many people…none the least of whom are the college/university students who will learn that tossing out slogans and insults without good – i.e. justifiable – reasons for them can, and should, have serious consequences.
That, folks, is worth one helluva lot more than $11 million dollars.