I haven’t covered the lawsuit against Oberlin College (an elite private college in Oberlin, Ohio) by a bakery that was libeled as racist by “social justice warrior” students with the complicity of the school’s administration because I was waiting for the other shoe to drop (that would be whatever punitive damages the jury decides to add.) But since Oberlin has effectively hit the “pause” button by requesting a mistrial after losing very badly, this would be a good time to bring you up to date.
It all started when employees at Gibson’s Bakery, a 5th generation local family business that’s long served the college and town, stopped three underage black Oberlin students from shoplifting some alcohol.
That spurred Oberlin students with a leftist mob mentality to accuse the owners of racism and declare (falsely) that the bakery had “a long history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment of students and residents alike.” The Student Senate passed a resolution condemning Gibson’s, and there were protest rallies that drove away customers and sparked threats of violence against the owners. This was facilitated by college officials, including Oberlin dean of students Meredith Raimondo, who allegedly participated in the protests and handed out flyers attacking the bakery.
They didn’t bother to wait and find out that the three students pleaded guilty to shoplifting the alcohol. Gibson’s sued Oberlin for libel and interference with their business, and a jury just ruled in the bakery’s favor, awarding $11.2 million in compensatory damages. The trial was put on hold before they returned a verdict on punitive damages, which could add up to $33 million more.
Here’s a good summation of the story up to the first verdict:
Be sure to click the links to the Legal Insurrection blog for more details. And here’s an update on how Oberlin officials may have realized they shot themselves in the pocketbook by sending out a mass email denying any responsibility and repeating their feeble defense that they were merely protecting the students’ freedom of speech and weren’t responsible for the independent actions of the protesters, all before the jurors considered punitive damages.
…Also after realizing that their insurance company probably won’t cover damage awards caused by their own willful wrongdoing.
(This might be a good place to note that as of 2019, allowing your kid to experience one year of tutelage by these Oberlin geniuses will cost $55,976 in tuition alone.)
Finally, after you’re caught up on this story so far (a story that I hope causes serious reverberations on liberal college campuses nationwide), read this excellent analysis of how it all came about, by Daniel McGraw at Legal Insurrection.
Bottom line: it happened because Oberlin, like too many other liberal colleges these days, has coddled hot-headed leftist students by giving in to their childish demands and half-baked accusations instead of telling them, “You’re crazy, get back to studying” or you’ll be expelled. Let’s all hope and pray that this jury verdict sends a message to all such colleges that the victims of the student mobs they have allowed to take over their campuses like inmates running the asylum are fed up with being punching bags. They’re starting to punch back in ways that are really going to hurt.
So start doing the job of college administrators and teach students how to be responsible thinking adults instead of encouraging their worst impulses to act like overgrown two-year-olds. And while you’re at it, either order your faculty members to start behaving like adult mentors instead of the overly-emotional, immature radicals they were at 21. Or better yet, try hiring some faculty members who had enough sense never to be immature radical leftists to begin with.