15.6.19

WE DON'T AWARD DAMAGES BECAUSE OBERLIN ENDORSED DEFAMATION OF A BAKERY.

We award damages in order that other tony colleges don't endorse defamation of their neighbors.  "[I]t is a proceeding intended to signal to the nation, especially to the college administrators of the country, the costs of reckless catering to politically correct radical students making false claims of racism."  As a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial notes, that sort of reckless catering didn't turn out so well a few counties away at Antioch.

David French concurs, the verdict should concentrate minds.  "To the extent that the verdict causes activist administrators to pause and consider the underlying veracity and merit of the public campaigns they’re asked to join, then this is one chilling effect that may well do some good." The problem, dear reader, is that activist administrators are administrators whose mouths are more active than their minds are.  Thus far, Margaret "University Diaries" Soltan suggests, administrators have been able to get away with it.  "[O]nce awake, mainstream liberals might ask themselves why Oberlin has as a vice president and dean of students an angry factionalist, a woman way, way out of the liberal mainstream."  Perhaps so, although the fancy colleges provide the court intellectuals for mainstream liberals (and for the angry factionalists) and they've all mastered the art of condescending and deplorable-shaming.  It's easier to hope that a few bons mots or a well-polished credential will make the rabble go away.  Sorry, no, that's not going to work.

Yes, John K. Wilson notes, in the house organ for the professors' guild (that is, where there still are professors in higher ed) that the verdict is probably easily appealed.  "[B]eing pissed off at the local college is not a valid legal doctrine for taking millions of dollars." Maybe not, and yet, he's hard pressed to put a favorable gloss on this.
Gibson’s Bakery won this case by depicting Oberlin College as an uncaring bully, but these arguments have no legal merit. Their lawyer used a repulsive and stupid email written by the inept Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo that said about a professor critical of Oberlin’s action, “I’d say unleash the students if I wasn’t convinced this needs to be put behind us.”
Perhaps it's a good day when a defender of business as usual in higher education turns on a functionary.  It's unlikely, though, that the townies or all the Internet pundits enjoying Oberlin's discomfiture are going to cut them any slack.

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