Monday, June 02, 2008

Racial Harassment by Reading

In March, I blogged about Keith John Sampson, a janitor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Last November, a university official found him guilty of racial harassment because he read a book about the Ku Klux Klan in front of African-American coworkers. The fact that the book, Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan, is very much anti-Klan was considered immaterial.

On May 9, Mr. Sampson published a piece in the New York Post describing the utter absurdity of the situation he found himself in. Thankfully, it has a somewhat happy ending:

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.

For months, I felt isolated and dejected. Yet I knew that most of the faculty, staff and students at Indiana University were good people. The campus is a growing, thriving part of Indy, where people of all colors and religions come to study.

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 to work."

Shame on the affirmative-action people and my union for displaying their ignorance and incompetence. Their pusillanimous actions, in trying to ban Tucker's anti-Klan history book, played into the hands of the hateful KKK.

After months of stonewalling, the university withdrew the charge, thanks to pressure from the press, the American Civil Liberties Union and a group called the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE.

My 'Racial Harassment' Nightmare

(Link via Instapundit)


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