Monday, July 7, 2008

Sympathy to the citizens of Inidiana.

I continue to maintain that if you want to see:

1. dumbness in action.

2. how scary the future can be.

Then all you need is to follow what is going on in our schools. At one time it was confined to so-called higher educational groups, but now it is K through 20. But this one sets a new standard.

The story began prosaically enough. Keith Sampson, a student employee on the janitorial staff earning his way toward a degree, was in the habit of reading during work breaks. Last October he was immersed in "Notre Dame Vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan."

Now let's see. We have a guy reading a book that describes how Notre Dame kicked the KKK's behind. Outside of a KKK fan, who could mind? Stay tuned.

Mr. Sampson was in short order visited by his union representative, who informed him he must not bring this book to the break room, and that he could be fired. Taking the book to the campus, Mr. Sampson says he was told, was "like bringing pornography to work." That it was a history of the battle students waged against the Klan in the 1920s in no way impressed the union rep.

OK, the union dude is just carrying a message, and doesn't want to defend the employee. I mean, what are unions for? Worker's rights? But onward.

The assistant affirmative action officer who next summoned the student was similarly unimpressed. Indeed she was, Mr. Sampson says, irate at his explanation that he was, after all, reading a scholarly book. "The Klan still rules Indiana," Marguerite Watkins told him – didn't he know that? Mr. Sampson, by now dazed, pointed out that this book was carried in the university library. Yes, she retorted, you can get Klan propaganda in the library.

Now I am sure that the people of Indiana will be surprised to know that the KKK rules Indiana. I am also sure they will be surprised to learn that the school's library is full of KKK propaganda. But even worse than these obviously off the cuff unsupported comments, we again find that his offense is reading a book that documents how Notre Dame kicked the KKK's butt. Did Ms Watkins bother to look at the book?? Also note that, evidently, Sampson is unaware of who he has offended. He finally is told.

Mr. Sampson stood accused of "openly reading the book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject in the presence of your Black co-workers." The statement, signed by chief affirmative action officer Lillian Charleston, asserted that her office had completed its investigation of the charges brought by Ms. Nakea William, his co-worker – that Mr. Sampson had continued, despite complaints, to read a book on this "inflammatory topic." "We conclude," the letter informed him, "that your conduct constitutes racial harassment. . . ." A very serious matter, with serious consequences, it went on to point out.

I again return to the point. Why would a book that describes how the KKK got beat be in disfavor by anyone but KKK fans?? The question goes unanswered, but I think it obvious. No one read the book or listened to what Sampson said.

That they did not is terrible. But what is worse is that a university, a place that supposedly stands for free speech and free discussion in order to find the truth, did the exact opposite.

So Sampson took it to the ACLU.

That was in November. Months later, in February of this year, Mr. Sampson received – from the same source – a letter with an astonishingly transformed version of his offense.


And so the new letter to Mr. Sampson by affirmative action officer Charleston brought word that she wished to clarify her previous letter, and to say it was "permissible for him to read scholarly books or other materials on break time." About the essential and only theme of the first letter – the "racially abhorrent" subject of the book – or the warnings that any "future substantiated conduct of a similar nature could mean serious disciplinary action" – there was not a word. She had meant in that first letter, she said, only to address "conduct" that caused concern among his co-workers.

Pardon me while I puke. After reading the next paragraph you may wish to join me.

This, indeed, was now the official story – as any journalist asking about the case would learn instantly from the university's media relations representatives. It would take a heart of stone not to be moved – if not much – by the extraordinary efforts of these tormented agents trying to explain that the first letter was all wrong: No reading of any book had anything to do with the charges against Mr. Sampson. This means, I asked one, that Mr. Sampson could have been reading about the adventures of Jack and Jill and he still would have been charged? Yes. What, then, was the offense? "Harassing behavior." While reading the book? The question led to careful explanations hopeless in tone – for good reason – and well removed from all semblance of reason. What the behavior was, one learned, could never be revealed

So the bureaucrats have the final say. He remains accused of harassing behavior.

All for reading a book that any minority, heck anyone outside of the KKK, should enjoy.

My sympathies to the citizens of Indiana. These are your employees.

Monday's are tough

My thanks to Dave T!

Hussein and Iran and voting for

This from the New York Times.

In the interview, Mottaki also sounded an optimistic note about future relations with the United States.

"We hear new voices in America. We see new approaches, and we think that the rational thinkers in America can, based on these new approaches, seek reality as it is. We are ready to help them in this endeavor," Mottaki said.

Asked specifically about Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, Mottaki declined to comment, saying Obama had run into trouble in the past for expressing a willingness to negotiate with Iran.

"So by commenting on this we do not want to create further problems for the U.S. presidential candidates," Mottaki said.

Iran's choice is obvious. And anyone they like we should be concerned about.