Three trends on college campuses all came together in the case of Keith Sampson:
- Rampant political correctness
- A newfound "right" for protected groups to be free from being offended, a right that now seems to trump free speech
- The fetishization of symbolism over substance, and the belief that other people's reactions to an act is more important than the nature of that act itself.
IN November, I was found guilty of "racial harassment" for reading a public-li brary book on a university campus.
The book was Todd Tucker's "Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting
Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan I was reading it on break from my
campus job as a janitor. The same book is in the university library.
Tucker recounts events of 1924, when the loathsome Klan was a dominant
force in Indiana - until it went to South Bend to taunt the Irish
Catholic students at the University of Notre Dame.
KKK tried to rally, the students confronted them. They stole Klan robes
and destroyed their crosses, driving the KKK out of town in a downpour.
I read the historic encounter and imagined myself with these
brave Irish Catholics, as they street-fought the Klan. (I'm part-Irish,
and was raised Catholic.)
But that didn't stop the Affirmative
Action Office of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis from
branding me as a detestable Klansman.
They didn't want to hear
the truth. The office ruled that my "repeatedly reading the book . . .
constitutes racial harassment in that you demonstrated disdain and
insensitivity to your co-workers."
A friend reacted to the finding with, "That's impossible!" He's right. You can't commit racial harassment by reading an anti-Klan history....
But the $106,000-a-year
affirmative-action officer who declared me guilty of "racial
harassment" never spoke to me or examined the book. My own union - the
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees - sent an
obtuse shop steward to stifle my freedom to read. He told me, "You
could be fired," that reading the book was "like bringing pornography