Monday, July 21, 2008

Janitor reads historical book on KKK...

This was an interesting story out of Indiana University. A 58 year 0ld white janitor who is majoring in Communications was accused of racial harassment over reading a historical book entitled "Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan." ...."The book's cover features white-robed Klansman and burning crosses against a backdrop of Notre Dame's campus. It recounts a 1924 riot between Notre Dame students and the Klan in which the students from the Catholic university prevailed."

Kevin Sampson said he tried to explain that the book was a historical account.
"I have an interest in American history," Sampson said. "I was trying to educate myself." The school's officials compared his bringing this book to work as the likes of bringing pornography to work. "You used extremely poor judgment by insisting on openly reading the book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject in the presence of your black co-workers," Lillian Charleston wrote in a letter to Sampson.

Civil liberties groups and bloggers who took up his cause said Sampson had been wrongly cited for reading a book that is carried by the school's library. "I am sure you see the absurdity of a university threatening an employee with discipline for reading a scholarly work that deals with the efforts of Notre Dame students in the 1920s to fight the KKK," American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana attorney Ken Falk said in a letter to a university lawyer.

The university responded with an April letter to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the ACLU, in which Chancellor Bantz said that he regretted what had happened and that the letters written to Sampson were not in his personnel file.
But Bantz didn't apologize to Sampson until last week, after a column in The Wall Street Journal sparked renewed criticism. Bantz also wrote to the others involved in the incident, including the co-worker who filed the complaint, said university spokesman Rich Schneider.

Sampson, who still works for the school, said that he accepts the university's apology but that he was hurt by the allegations and has not enjoyed being in the spotlight.
"It's really frustrating for me because I am not the kind of person that they were painting me as," he said.