A Lorain County, Ohio, jury awarded Gibson’s Bakery $44 million this month in its defamation suit against Oberlin College.
In November 2016, the owner of a store near the campus apprehended a then-19-year-old black student for shoplifting wine. In response, about 150 students staged protests in front of the store, accusing its owners of racism and racial profiling. This month, a jury said Oberlin’s handling of the incident would cost it $11 million in compensatory damages and $33.2 million in punitive damages (which is $11 million more than Ohio law permits).
WSJ columnist Dan Henninger writes:
What happened at Oberlin is a parable for the politics of our times. Its lesson is that you may end up paying a high price for your facile political assumptions about people with whom you don’t agree.
Barack Obama didn’t pay a price for his remark about people who cling to guns or religion, but it proved too much to swallow when Hillary Clinton recast his condescension as the “basket of deplorables.” She paid an unimaginably high price for the increasingly common impulse to say any slovenly thing that comes to mind.
Wow, didn’t she. From almost a shoo-in against arguably the most “deplorable” candidate her base could have imagined, she lost.
colleges and universities across the country are learning that letting the political left run wild across their campuses without adult supervision may be more trouble, and more costly, than it is worth.
One would presume that university professors and administrators would be adults. It seems that the professoriat is populated with those stuck in adolescence.
One shouldn’t need a multimillion-dollar liability judgment against a college to define recognizable boundaries of common sense. But given the intensity of political animosities these days, maybe that’s what it takes.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), an organization of which we support and contribute to, has won a number of suits against colleges that deny free speech to students. None the size of this, though.
Read the full column at https://www.wsj.com/articles/oberlins-44-million-mistake-11561589414