As you likely have heard, a jury in Ohio has sided with Gibson’s Bakery, a family-owned business that was pilloried as racist in campus wide protests at Oberlin College.
The owner had tried to prevent a simple theft of liquor by several African American students.
In the ultra-politically correct atmosphere of Oberlin, Commentary’s Christine Rosen points out, this was enough to spark riots:
In a rational world, this would have been handled as a simple robbery and assault arrest. The facts of the incident were not in doubt, and many witnesses corroborated Gibson’s account.
But this is Oberlin, a campus that has become a caricature of political correctness. It is the place where students protested the school’s food-service providers because of a poorly-executed Banh Mi sandwich (there were also complaints about inauthentic sushi and General Tso’s chicken.) Students declared this an intolerable form of cultural appropriation, and school administrators quickly caved to their demands for more ethnically sensitive cuisine, setting up a meeting where students could air their grievances about the cafeteria menu and telling the school newspaper, “It’s important to us that students feel comfortable when they are here.”
The problem is that they are too comfortable—so comfortable in the knowledge that their feelings and ideological beliefs will be catered to that facts are no longer relevant to any discussion or debate on campus. In the case of Gibson’s, a simple shoplifting incident prompted the Black Student Union, College Democrats, and the student senate to launch a protest and boycott outside the store; the student senate even issued a resolution calling for an end to all financial support for Gibson’s Bakery by anyone at the university.
At the protest, students hurled expletives at customers, entered the store, and waved signs saying, “End Racial Profiling.” And not only students; Oberlin’s dean of students, Meredith Raimondo, attended the protest and passed out leaflets that read, in part: “This is a RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION.”
When the college briefly stopped doing business with Gibson’s, it of course, blamed the stressful situation on Donald Trump. Well, why not? Oberlin’s president issued a statement saying that there was a high degree of angst at Oberlin not merely because of the bakery incident but from the 2016 presidential election.
That the shoplifters pled guilty made little difference in this atmosphere:
According to the Legal Insurrection blog, which has followed the case since the beginning, all three of the assailants eventually “would plead guilty to shoplifting and aggravated trespassing, and would avow that Gibson’s was not engaged in racial profiling.” None served any time in jail. Even that non-punishment was too much for Oberlin’s administrator-activists. As Legal Insurrection noted, when news broke that Aladin and his accomplices would receive only probation, “Toni Myers, Oberlin College’s Multicultural Resource Center Director then, send [sic] out a text which said, ‘After a year, I hope we rain fire and brimstone on that store.’”
Suffering from enormous financial losses, the baker in 2017 filed a civil suit against Oberlin for “libel, slander, interference with business relationships, interference with contracts, deceptive trade practices, infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring and trespass.” A jury has awarded the baker $11 million in damages, with possibly more to come.
Rosen believes the sobering award might be a tipping point:
With their courtroom victory in Ohio this week, the Gibson family put college officials across the country on notice that people unfairly victimized and libeled by campus activists are done acquiescing to the mob’s demands.
It is heartening to see a smear victim fight back and win.
Just one caveat (and Rosen mentions this): $11 million?
C’mon. I hate what happened to the owners of Gibson’s Bakery, and thus it is tempting to cheer on the jury’s award, but it is another runaway verdict.
The owners suffered; the activists acted dishonestly. Justice is a lovely thing.
But let’s get real: nobody involved is likely to have suffered eleven million dollars worth.