It's Safe to Read Again at Indiana University

Remember Keith Sampson, the janitor at Indiana University-Purdue University in  Indianapolis (IUPUI) who was accused of racially harassing his co-workers by reading a scholarly book about the Ku Klux Klan? When I last discussed the case, IUPUI's Affirmative Action Office had backed off its initial charge—not because Sampson has a First Amendment right to read whatever books he wants at a state-run university but because the office could not determine exactly what he had been thinking while reading the book about the Klan. The implication was that if he ever read another book that a co-worker considered offensive, he could be investigated again and might be subject to disciplinary action if he displayed clearer signs of racial insensitivity than he did the first time around. But in a recent response to a letter from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), IUPUI Chancellor Charles Bantz suggests the university has seen the light:

I can candidly say that we regret this situation ever took place and that IUPUI takes this matter very seriously. IUPUI is committed to ensuring that its future approach to such matters is consistent with and affirms the long-standing commitment of this campus to the principles of freedom of expression, lifelong learning, and respect for the rights of all members of the IUPUI community. In the near future, IUPUI will be reexamining the campuswide affirmative action processes and procedures related to internal complaints.

This is probably as close to an apology as Sampson is going to get. FIRE notes that IUPUI's reconsideration of its harassment-by-reading theory came only after the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana repeatedly contacted the university on Sampson's behalf.

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  • thoreau||

    This is probably as close to an apology as Sampson is going to get.

    Yep. That's how academic administrators play it.

    To be fair, as much as I have issues with academic administrators, they also face a lot of no-win situations. Especially in something like this. If they say that they were wrong then it means that whoever filed the complaint was wrong to be offended and then the drama continues. So you say that you regret that it happened the way it did, and that you remain committed to lofty ideals.

  • ||

    The Da Vinci Code harasses me.

  • Fluffy||

    I think we should have a contest to see if anyone can top this initial complaint for spuriousness.

    You would have to file an official complaint with a university somewhere, either directly or through some university-connected patsy - and see how far you got.

    My entry would be to complain about students playing cards, because all decks of cards contain a suit called "spades".

    This to me makes it clear that the people playing cards are secretly thinking, "Spades - heh heh heh. See that? Spades," and this is obviously harassment.

  • robc||

    Fluffy,

    While playing cards in a University computer lab, I once called my opponent a reneger.

    The room got really, really quite really quickly. Fortunately, nothing came of it.

  • robc||

    quiet, not quite. Sigh.

  • Elemenope||

    My entry would be to complain about students playing cards, because all decks of cards contain a suit called "spades".

    To say nothing of the common cleaning supply known as "spic 'n span".

  • ||

    Sampson got what he deserved. Serves him right for readin' anyway. Fucking elitist janitor. Put down the fucking books and get back to doing something honorable and non-sissified, like cleaning toilets or mopping.


    My entry would be to complain about students playing cards, because all decks of cards contain a suit called "spades".

    In college we used to play a card game called "spades". No one ever complained though. Probably because the "spades" were a kind of trump card? :)

  • ||

    To say nothing of the common cleaning supply known as "spic 'n span".

    Now what if Sampson had been caught reading, while waiting for a floor he mopped with Spic N Span to dry?

    Would that have given the Uni enough insight into his mindset to justify their actions?

  • Other Matt||

    The Da Vinci Code harasses me.

    As it does all Catholics. Bring out the Iron Maiden!

  • ||

    "My entry would be to complain about students playing cards, because all decks of cards contain a suit called _____"

    I'm offended, sir, that you would even say that word in polite discourse.

  • jtuf||

    I researched cultural evolution for my MS. My findings showed that the variation within nations swamped the variation between nations, so you might as well stop pigeonholing people. My literature review included more than a century of different classification schemes to show how arbitrary and biased they were. Some people who read it ended up fuming. I think they mistakingly read my quotations as endorsements. Honestly, how can we confront prejudice if we can't quote or learn about it?

  • Bronwyn||

    moose - Polite discourse? Have you forgotten where we are?

  • Episiarch||

    I was in an anthropology class once and the subject of the evolution of black skin came up. I raised my hand and remarked that it might have something to do with the physics concept of black body radiation (I was spitballing).

    The whole room went dead quiet, and there were a few people I could see summoning their brain-dead outrage, so I said, in an incredibly condescending tone, "the physics concept of a black object radiating at greater efficiencies than lighter objects." My tone basically implied that if you were outraged you were dumber than a sack of hair.

    That shut everybody up and we got back to class.

  • ||

    Would watching BET with the sound off classify (at college)?

  • the innominate one||

    If you offend others' delicate sensibilities as a result of their ignorance, it's your fault. If you correct their ignorance in an effort to mitigate their offense, you will be castigated for drawing attention to their ignorance.

    It's your fault for being educated, you elitists!

  • Paul||

    whatever books he wants at a state-run university but because the office could not determine exactly what he had been thinking while reading the book about the Klan. The implication was that if he ever read another book that a co-worker considered offensive, he could be investigated again and might be subject to disciplinary action if he displayed clearer signs of racial insensitivity than he did the first time around



    Freedom isn't free.

  • ||

    All I know is that angry renter needs to get a hair cut.....and you know hit puberty before he starts bitching about the rent.

  • ||

    moose - Polite discourse? Have you forgotten where we are?

    Oh shit. Yeah, sorry :)

  • ||

    Damned ACLU standing up for peoples so-called "civil rights". They are nothing but a bunch of Left Liberal pinkos. Every one should be dragged through the street and shot.

    You should read my website and learn the truth about the those librul scum.

  • Taktix®||

    You know, Conservitarian is absolutely right. Those damn ACLU liberals, providing legal defense for people and all, probably brown people too!

    We should get rid of them. In fact, we should get rid of all legal defense. These criminals should stand up in court, like a real man, and defend themselves.

    Better yet, let's hold trials on barges, so these criminal, drug-addict, terrorist scumbags can't get away...

  • God of all Daleks||

    Since when do the epsilons know how to read?

  • ||

    "I can candidly say that we regret this situation ever took place and that IUPUI takes this matter very seriously."

    I don't think he intended to, but he's actually saying he regrets that IUPUI takes this matter seriously.

    I agree.

  • ||

    "Good morning gentlemen. I hope you all have had time to look over my thesis: "Multiculturalist Niggling Versus Effective Pedagogy."

  • ||

    So, is accusing someone of a hate crime in part because of their race, in itself a hate crime? If not, why not?

  • Hat Trick||

    At Northwestern, the business school named one of their auditoriums after a guy named Owen L. Coon. Everyone just called it Coon forum, because that was the dude's name. Nobody ever thought anything about the name until the administration came up with a rule (in 2002) that you could never refer to it without preceding "Coon" with "Owen L."

  • ed||

    They really call themselves IUPUI?
    That's almost as silly as The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

  • Russ 2000||

    What about Dyche Stadium?

  • ||

    If they say that they were wrong then it means that whoever filed the complaint was wrong to be offended

    thoreau -- no, that would say whoever filed the complaint was wrong to try and strip the other person's First Amendment rights. The complainant had a perfect right to be offended, they just didn't have the right to enforce that offense by taking away someone else's reading materials. If the university actually believed in academic freedom (rather than, say, minimizing legal bills) they would insist on offending the complainant by dismissing the charge with a explanation that the charge was entirely without merit, and the written campus speech policy was wrong-headed and would be replaced with a simple affirmation that First Amendment rights would be vigorously supported in the future.

  • ||

    moose - Polite discourse? Have you forgotten where we are?

    On a sperm besplattered mattress in the basement in one's mother's house?

  • ||

    whoever filed the complaint was wrong to be offended

    I think rather that it would say the complainant was wrong to demand relief from being offended.

    Be offended if you must, at whatever it is that offends you, but never lose sight of the fact that it's your problem alone.

    Perhaps one day when academia's balls drop they'll have a more firm grasp on the matter.

  • Bronwyn||

    prolefeed, speak for yourself, dude. I'm in a brightly lit office/lab, temporarily shirking my manuscript-writing duties.

    And my mother's house doesn't have a basement... she lives in my basement :)

    My dad, while at a gas station one day long ago, asked a gentleman how he got his tires so shiny. The gentleman of color grinned and replied, "Black Magic." Dad of course paused before cracking up.

    /yeah, irrelevant, I just thought of it.

  • ||

    It is one more demonstration that current epicenter of intolerance is on the left. They do not hold values of classical liberalism such as freedom of speech in high esteem. It is just an inconvenience to them standing in a way of enforcing and maintaining an ideological purity. Not to say that conservative right is free of it either.

  • ||

    Bronwyn -- gonna have to repo your libertarian coder ring for not living in an approved facility -- unless "shirking" is being used as a creative euphemism for some other activity that would be consistent with the partial liquidity of the aforementioned mattress.

    (I keed.)

    P.S. Cute kid!

  • Bronwyn||

    Thanks! He knows it, too :-D

  • Chink in the wall...||

    ...Nip in the air.

  • ||

    But, you see, the janitor couldn't really have been interested in the scholarship in the book. After all, he is working-class.

  • ||

    And my mother's house doesn't have a basement... she lives in my basement :)

    Given what we're hearing about a certain Austrian gentleman's basement, I wouldn't necessarily be bragging about that, B.

  • ||

    If a homeless person is living in your basement, would that make him an "unsubstantiated roomer?"

  • ||

    If Jesus was living in your basement, you could call him your "transubstantiated roomer."

  • Bronwyn||

    Ewwww!

  • ||

    Chink in the wall... | May 1, 2008, 3:03pm | #
    ...Nip in the air.



    Frog in my throat. Hun in the sun. Yank my chain. Dixie cup. Texas toast. Write a bad Czech. Mexican stand-off. Yellow peril. Kiwi fruit. Canadian bacon. Belgian waffle. Bloody Russian. Indian giver. Dutch treat. Pole vault. Russian roulette. Put your feet on this here Ottoman. Black Irish. Fruit Danish. Prussian blue. Commie bastard. ...

    ... ya, I'm reaching, but all the good ones are taken.

    Don't Scotch my attempts, or be so niggardly with your praise.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Sticks and stones may break my bones, but nemes will give me an aneurysm because I'm such an uptight asshole with low self-esteem.

  • Dello||

    Hat Trick,
    "...that you could never refer to it without preceding "Coon" with "Owen L."

    Could we just use his initials?

    "I'll meet you at ol' Coon hall."

  • ||

    # KD | May 1, 2008, 4:32pm | #

    # Don't Scotch my attempts, or be so niggardly
    # with your praise.

    I would never gyp nor jew you out of the praise you deserve.

  • ||

    The thing that seems so outrageous to me is that the fellow in question could be hauled up on charges for reading a book, the mere SUBJECT of which offends someone -- and that, after this particular incident blows over, he could well be AGAIN (absent a sufficient overhaul of the institution's policy).

    The mere thought of Nazis and fascists offend me. So I am going to complain that someone is reading Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in my presence? Puh-leeze.

    The mere thought of ilicit drugs offend me. So I am going to bring someone up on charges because he has hung a Mr. Mackie poster captioned, "Drugs'r'bad...mmkay?" on a wall in my general vicinity. Yeah, right.

    When will the insane PC bullying end?

    Nobody can be forced to give you access to a press, but if you can acquire it, then nobody has the right to keep people from reading what you print. That's the first amendment, and it beggars the imagination that people setting policy in our institutions of higher learning cannot get that simple concept and live up to it. Good for FIRE.

  • Bronwyn||

    I've gotta say it. Y'all make me laugh, and that's why I love you so *wipes tear*

  • ||

    Frog in my throat.

    Miss Piggy's gonna kick yore ass.

  • Monty Python||

    Never be rude to an Arab
    an Israeli
    or Saudi
    Or Jew.

    Never be rude to an Irishman,
    no matter what you do.

    Never poke fun at a nigger,
    a spic, or a whop, or a kraut,
    and never put down-*explosion*

  • ||

    Don't Scotch my attempts, or be so niggardly with your praise.

    "niggardly" is derived IIRC from the Swedish word "nygard", which has nothing to do with the pejorative N-word.

    Though I would recommend not prominently using "niggardly" in Harlem unless you're into BDSM and actually enjoy a good ass-whuppin'.

  • ||

    "nygard" means "lazy", and has no ethnic connotations

  • ||

    "Waiter! Why did I get such a niggardly portion of collard greens?"

  • ||

    |prolefeed | May 1, 2008, 6:08pm | #

    "niggardly" is derived IIRC from the Swedish word "nygard", which has nothing to do with the pejorative N-word.

    Though I would recommend not prominently using "niggardly" in Harlem unless you're into BDSM and actually enjoy a good ass-whuppin'.



    Yeah I agree ... not Harlem. And from the link below (BTW they offer a different, but I can see a connection, word origin) nor it would appear is it recommended in (scroll) Wilmington NC, U of Wisconsin, or Washington DC. Probably other examples, but this was found after some very basic, you might even say somewhat niggardly research.

    And on another matter:

    P Brooks | May 1, 2008, 5:34pm | #
    Frog in my throat.

    Miss Piggy's gonna kick yore ass.



    I wonder if Miss Piggy's ever had a frog down in her throat? Or what?

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