Chalk one up for the deplorables. Imagine you're victimized by a criminal who shoplifts from your store and who then, when you intervene, beats you with the help of two other men. Now imagine that though they end up pleading guilty and admitting you did no wrong, you're targeted by their nearby college with defamation and for destruction. This is precisely what befell the owners of Gibson's Bakery in Oberlin, Ohio. Yet this story has a happy ending (well, almost an ending): A jury has just awarded the Gibsons $44 million, to be paid by their tormentor, Oberlin College. (Five Gibsons are shown here with their attorney in the foreground.)
Gibson's Bakery is a fifth-generation business established in 1885 and had long had contracts with the college. But this didn't stop the institution of "higher learning" from taking the low road after the owner wouldn't allow himself to be victimized by one of its students. American Greatnessrelatessome background:
The lawsuit stems from a November 2016 over a shoplifting incident a student tried to buy alcohol with a fake ID and shoplift items. He was chased from the store by Allyn D. Gibson. The two got into an altercation outside, and two more students joined [and beat Gibson]. The students are black, while the Gibsons are white. Following the incident, other students protested, alleging a pattern of racist behavior by the Gibsons....
The students involved in the shoplifting incident all pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, and stated their culpability in court while noting Gibson's reaction was not racially motivated.
The school's aggressiveness was reflected in the jury finding that "the school and Oberlin's vice president and dean of students, Meredith Raimondo, [were] guilty of libel after Raimondo allegedly helped pass out flyers claiming that the bakery was ‘racist' and had a history of ‘racial profiling and discrimination,'" reports Fox News.
This accusation was false. In fact, if it had been true, why would Oberlin have maintained its long relationship with the bakery?
"The jury also found that the college (not Raimondo) was guilty of intentional infliction of emotional distress for [sic] the owner, David Gibson, as well as libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress on his son," Fox continues.
As a result, the jury awarded family members more than $11 million in actual or compensatory damages and, later, added $33.2 million in punitive damages. (Ohio law will likely limit the latter, however, to twice the $11 million figure.) Oberlin will have to pay the Gibsons' legal fees as well.
If this seems extreme, realize how egregious the school's behavior was. The Gibsons are hard-working, middle-American people who long woke up, probably in the wee hours, to bake goods for Oberlin's students. Yet the school treated these victims like victimizers, participating in a pattern of destruction that forced the Gibsons to lay off most of their staff, stop taking salaries for two years, and almost go out of business.
Moreover, Oberlin then used their torments as leverage, at one point telling the Gibsons that they'd renew their lucrative contracts if the bakers dropped the charges against the criminal students (the contracts were eventually renewed, anyway). David Gibson's post-verdict comments (video below) reflect the emotional distress the school inflicted.
Gibson praised the jury's bravery, but his family deserves similar recognition. They could have bent to the blackmail but held firm - and beat a Goliath.
The school used every trick in the book, too. "Oberlin argued at trial that it isn't liable because its students, not the college, were to blame for harming Gibson's," wrote Paul Mirengoff of Powerline. "Then, at the damages phase, Oberlin argued that the college shouldn't be slammed with a big damages assessment because that outcome would harm its students." (If the school is so concerned about them, perhaps it could lower the attendance costs - $71,330 annually.)
Note also when hearing Oberlin plead poverty that its endowment is $887.4 million and it has more than $1 billion in assets.
Unfortunately, the school is unrepentant and vows to appeal the verdict, in what may "turn out to be a lengthy and complex legal process," as Oberlin's president, Carmen Twillie Ambar, put it.
Ambar also states that "none of this will sway us from our core values." But what might they be? What kind of "values" causes you to torment innocent victims with a hate hoax and seek their destruction? What values are represented by Dean Raimondo who, in emails released during the trial, "attacked her own colleagues who defended the Gibsons and discussed, quote, "unleashing the students on Gibson's bakery," as Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson reported Friday evening (video well worth watching below)?
Carlson's guest, Cornell Law School professor Bill Jacobson, weighed in on those values. "[B]ecause of the crazed ... so-called social-justice movement on our campuses," he said, the Gibsons "were immediately designated an oppressor, in part because of their skin color, in part because they're the owner of a business." He said they were thus pigeonholed as "racists" and racial profilers - and no one cared about the facts.
This conclusion is inescapable. When innocent victims are viewed as unquestionably guilty, regardless of the facts - and those judging them aren't making money off the persecution - prejudice is the only explanation.
Oberlin's behavior reflected the vile "white privilege" racial ideology now status quo on college campuses. Leftists, who once trumpeted Martin Luther King's enjoinment to judge others by the content of their character and not the color of their skin, have in their topsy-turvy, morally inverted world turned that on its head. White=guilty/black=innocent was all Oberlin needed to know.
As to what they know now, many commentators believe the jury verdict sends the message that normal Americans are fed up with ivory-tower types' abuse and that social-injustice-warrior persecution won't be tolerated. Unfortunately, here's the message I suspect academia has gotten:
Don't get caught.
Be more careful.
Don't detail your malicious machinations in writing.
Also note that while Oberlin will almost assuredly have to pay out, personal accountability is unlikely here. With academia's phenomenon of "failing upwards," as Professor Jacobson put it, Dean Raimondo probably won't be on the unemployment line. After all, Marvin Krislov, president of Oberlin when the Gibson persecution began, is now out of that job.
He's now president of Pace University in New York City, a bigger institution where, if his predecessor is any indication, he's commanding a salary of $700,000 a year.
Photo showing Gibson family members with their attorney in the foreground: AP Images