March 14, 2008

Public Reading—A Hate Crime

After spending so much time in grad school, and witnessing the Duke Lacrosse hoax first hand, I thought that I had built up a general immunity to academic PC??there they go again? was my usual response to the latest advance in sensitivity training.

But even a hardened veteran like myself was a little taken aback when my friend Michael Brendan Dougherty sent me this report on Keith Sampson, a janitor at Indiana-Purdue who was convicted of ?racial harassment? for?publicly reading a book!

The book in question wasn?t exactly the latest by David Duke, it was instead an academic tome lauding Notre Dame for resisting the Klu Klux Klan. One would think a janitor would be commended by the administration for being an autodidact. It seems the Affirmative Action Office would prefer that he instead study the latest from Mark Anthony Neal, the corpulent “radical intellectual” comfortably ensconced in the Duke African and African Studies department. 

Here?s the letter from the AA Office in full: 

?The Affirmative Action Office has completed its investigation of Ms. Nakea Vincent?s allegation that you racially harassed her by repeatedly reading the book, Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan by Todd Tucker in the presence of Black employees. In conducting this investigation, we interviewed you, Nakea Vincent, and other employees with information relevant to the mailer.

Upon review of this matter, we conclude that your conduct constitutes racial harassment in that you demonstrated disdain and insensitivity to your co-workers who repeatedly requested that you refrain from reading the book which has such an inflammatory and offensive topic in their presence. You contend that you weren?t aware of the offensive nature of the topic and were reading the book about the KKK to better understand discrimination. However you used extremely poor judgment by insisting on openly reading the book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject in the presence of your Black co-workers. Furthermore, employing the legal ?reasonable person standard,? a majority of adults are aware of and understand how repugnant the KKK is to African Americans, their reactions to the Klan, and the reasonableness of the request that you not read the book in their presence.

During your meeting with Marguerite Watkins, Assistant Affirmative Action Officer you were instructed to stop reading the book in the immediate presence of your coworkers and when reading the book to sit apart from the immediate proximity of these co-workers. Please be advised, any future substantiated conduct of a similar nature could result in serious disciplinary action.

Racial harassment is very serious and can result in serious consequences for all involved. Please be advised that racial harassment and retaliation against any individual for having participated in the investigation of a complaint of this nature is a violation of University policy and will not be tolerated.

This concludes this matter with the Affirmative Action Office. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.?

In one of my articles for TAC I traced the trickling down of academic PC from the tenured professorate to the middling intellects of the university bureaucracy. Now it seems the university employees have joined in the fun?taking part in the accusations, denouncements, and public floggings?as a good way of bashing those they don?t like and getting ?empowered? by the Affirmative Action Office.   

(Hat tip to the Volokh Conspiracy and the well-intentioned if profane ?Freedom and Shit.?)

Subscribe to Taki’s Magazine for an ad-free experience and help us stand against political correctness.


Sign Up to Receive Our Latest Updates!


Daily updates with TM’s latest