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Reading Book About KKK as Racial Harassment?

The matter seems to have been finally resolved, and resolved right (though the complaint should have been thrown out at the very beginning, rather than leading to a finding of racial harassment). Here's the letter from the Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis Chancellor:

I can candidly say that we regret this situation took place and that IUPUI takes this matter very seriously. IUPUI is committed to ensuring that its future approach to such matters is consistent with and affirms the long-standing commitment of this campus to the principles of freedom of expression, lifelong learning, and respect for the rights of all members of the IUPUI community. In the near future, IUPUI will be reexamining the campuswide affirmative action processes and procedures relating to internal complaints.
Thanks to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the ACLU of Indiana for their work on this case.

with all due respect ...:
Unless they send a second letter saying that everyone involved in this incident will be fired, I would say this "candid" expression of "regret" is insufficient.
5.1.2008 2:43pm
with all due respect ...:
And of course, the book was not even about the KKK. It was about Notre Dame's succesful battle against the KKK. There are a lot of things wrong with this story, but it is even more astounding when you consider that the title and subject matter of the book are decidely anti-racist.
5.1.2008 2:57pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Definitely insufficient.
The morons who pushed this deserve to be isolated--from employment.
5.1.2008 2:59pm
lostmycookies (mail):
A temporary win. Like in the early days of the bolsheviks in Russia and the Nazis in Germany, when courts would sometimes step in and preserve a little liberty, and some brave cops would save a little law and order, and an occasional private citizen would stand up for what's right. But the longterm decline is certain: our affirmative action friends will be victorious. The future belongs to them.
5.1.2008 3:13pm
darelf:
Why am I always jarred and physical ill when reading phrases such as "a historically...." instead of "an historically"?

Oh, and good on them for dismissing this... it went on much longer than it should have.
5.1.2008 3:14pm
Hoosier:
I am a Hoosier. I am an ND alumnus.

Go ahead--Pile on me. Just know that the shame I feel over this incident will wound me more deeply than anything you can throw at me.

(I mean figuratively "throw", of course. Because, like a desk or something would probably hurt worse.)
5.1.2008 3:23pm
Hoosier:
darelf--

I know. It's a hard one. But I now say I am a historian. While I realize that language does not have to make sense, I was struck when a colleague once asked me if I would ever say "I am an historian, and have written an history of . . . "

No, I would not.
5.1.2008 3:26pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
"Make sense"? 'H' is a consonant. "History" begins with an 'h'. Words that begin with sounded consonants are generally preceded by article "a"; words that begin with sounded vowels are preceded by "an". Most of us aren't Londoners who use silent 'h's, saying (say) "'istory" and "'istorian."
5.1.2008 3:51pm
emsl (mail):
MEM -- Actually, I think it has nothing to do with a Cockney accent. I think it is way more obscure. In Ancient Greek, the "H" sound was not really a consonant, but was just "rough breathing". So that meant that the word actually began with a vowel. Deep in the mists of time, Oxford/Cambridge decided that the English "H" should be treated the same way even though in English, "H" is a fully-fledged letter.
5.1.2008 4:04pm
Hoosier:
Michael--You're right of course for most of us. But I've worked for years with some NYC-area people, and I run into this frequently with two of them: one from Hudson Valley, one from LI. (Or, as he calls it, "Lawn Guyland." But I say I'm originally from "Chi-CAW-go", so who am I to complian?)

Neither aspirates the initial "h". And this really was not a problem for us Mid-westerners . . . UNTIL our new dean came on board. His name is 'Hugh'. So this comes up frequently, though now I am on the look out for it.

But the scenario that kept cropping up:

Me: "OK. This seems like a problem this college will face in the coming years."

LI-Guy: "I'm just going to let you deal deal with it."

Me: "I can't deal with it. That's why I'm asking you."

LIG: "No. Not you deal with it. You."

Me: "Hugh?"

LIG: "Right! XXXXHHHugh."

I still rememeber the half-second of total panic when I heard my outgoing dean tell me that "This is a problem that only you can deal with." WHY ME!

Silly Midwesterners and our aspirated "h"s.
5.1.2008 4:08pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Hoosier: LOL!

Emsl: Fascinating theory. One would like it to be true (as perhaps it is), even if not.

However, it sounds like the just sort of artificial grammatical stricture that it's high time for ordinary usage to put paid to.

Can you or anyone clarify how the rule whereby words beginning in 'h' where the stress was on the second syllable (e.g., "historian") received an "an", whereas words where this wasn't true ("history") were awarded "a", originated?
5.1.2008 4:26pm
corneille1640 (mail):
I guess I have a question about the "h" controversy. How is an "h" not aspirated? Do you mean the written "h" is silent?
5.1.2008 5:03pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
To get back to the original point.
As Mark Steyn has recently noted and all attorneys deny knowing, the process is the punishment.
Going back to square one and pretending this did not happen is not sufficient.
These morons and others like them, if they are not severely sanctioned, retain the implicit right to give you a very hard time if you do anything, anything at all, that they dislike. They can even make stuff up.
5.1.2008 5:07pm
one of many:
As for the 'h', I'm pretty sure it goes back to when the French speaking vikings took over southeastern Britain and created England, the English identity (as opposed to Briton/British identity) and the English language (Old English being thought of as Saxon by the people who spoke it). The vikings from France (William and his gang) spoke French, which has (almost entirely) silent initial "h"s, while the locals (many of whom were also vikings, but not from France) spoke Old English (Saxon) which always pronounces the "h". These two groups eventually wound up merging their tongues and producing what we think of as English, a language considered to be Germanic instead of Frankish but with many French words and conventions, including (varying by time and place) silent initial 'h's on words from the French. It (the silent initial 'h') was almost completely wiped out of British English in the early 20th century although it seems to have made a come back as certain persons show their sophistication by putting hon hairs hand husing the French silent 'h's, halthough Hi suspect hit is honly ha matter hof time before hother people
start mocking them by putting 'h's hin where they don't belong.

On topic, I find it interesting that the Chancellor did not apologize for the actions of the university, but merely expressed his regret that the "situation took place". IS IUPUI that they overreacted over the book or that they got caught?
5.1.2008 5:17pm
Hoosier:
corneille1640--Yep.

"Ow does e like is istory omework?"

Wow. That DOES sound Cockney.
5.1.2008 5:28pm
PersonFromPorlock:

On topic, I find it interesting that the Chancellor did not apologize for the actions of the university, but merely expressed his regret that the "situation took place". IS IUPUI that they overreacted over the book or that they got caught?

Being in charge means never having to say you're sorry. ;^)

FIRE does good work, but not good enough. They really should try to put people in jail.
5.1.2008 5:34pm
darelf:
I'm not sure about origin, but I certainly prefer "A History from An Historical Perspective" I wish I knew why. I also abuse the language in other ways mostly having to do with my preferred nighttime reading of 18th and 19th century theology. There are certain turns of phrases and grammatical affectations that just start to creep in. You are the company you keep, and all that.
5.1.2008 5:35pm
Frater Plotter:
Remember, folks. Any time you say you "take this matter very seriously", not only do you sound like a freakin' tool, you also make it abundantly clear to your audience that you don't give a damn for anything other than sounding good.
5.1.2008 5:41pm
Hoosier:
Richard Aubrey: Well, I have no doubt that you and Steyn are correct. A grad school colleague, as an example, was a quite conservative academic economist (Why only those guys?) He was accused of "sexual harassment" and "sexual misconduct" by an undergrad back in the late 90s. Smaller-sized, fairly prestigious university in Texas. I think I'll just leave it at that.

The incident, no surprise, related to something he thought and taught. No accusation that he had touched the accuser, or pressured her to engage in sex acts. But she found two of his ideas threatening to her as a woman. (I leave that without quote marks, since I have not seen the correspondence in years. But, boy, I think that was actually the wording.) She thus concluded that she had been "sexually violated." (Quotes here. Hard to forget.)

Of course the university went through the whole procedure that involved assuming she was a victim until he could placate their suspicions by producing blood from a turnip. Or vice-versa. Anyway, it was hard to prove his innocence, even though the facts were never much in dispute.

He was cleared of all charges. She was not punished. The AAUP did not sanction the school for violating his intellectual liberty. (Only surpsie: He was voted tenure. Justlate. Since this dragged on for two years, roughly.)

And now he works in the policy field.

"The process is the punishment"? In his case, it sure was.
5.1.2008 5:41pm
Hoosier:
Frater: HA HA HA

Absolutely right. And I like the word "tool" in this context.
5.1.2008 5:43pm
CJColucci:
The big problem with a historical is that "ahistorical," with a hard "h" is a word that comes up often in contexts where "a historical" with a soft "h" will also be used, so using "an historical" helps avoid confusion.
5.1.2008 5:47pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
So, do you sit down to dinner wivout a 'at on?
5.1.2008 7:11pm
wfjag:
Hoosier -- I'm glad you comment regularly on VC. Between this case and Tony Z., I was beginning to wonder if there was more than water in the Walbash River.


I am a Hoosier. I am an ND alumnus.

So, are you a single Dome-er or a Double Dome-er (and is "Dome-er" hyphenated?).


In Ancient Greek, the "H" sound was not really a consonant, but was just "rough breathing". So that meant that the word actually began with a vowel.

emsl -- I think that "One of Many"'s explanation of the quirks of "H" in modern English is better supported.

In Ancient Greek, the digamma was the letter corresponding to the rough breathing sound. By the time of Classical Attic Greek, the digamma was no longer used. Still, that may have had a more important consequence than whether "a" or "an" should preceed words beginning with "h". Some confusion developed as to whether "esti" or "hesti" was meant (roughly, "it is", denoting a physical object, vs. "there exists", denoting an abstract concept) and a major factor in leading Classical Greek philosophers to recognize abstractions as a concept distinct from concrete objects. (Full disclosure: In college I spent some time in the company of a Classics grad student. She was a hottie (an hottie?). It is amazing what a student will listen to, and by chance learn, in the pursuit of knowledge. And, sobering to conclude that much of modern Western thought may stem from a linguistic accident.
5.1.2008 7:32pm
Hoosier:
wfjag—Thank you so much for the kind words. Doubly nice of you, sicne you could have no idea how much I needed them this week. (Arrgh AND ugh! BOTH)

Our rivers could not possibly contain intoxicants, since if the did, by law they would have to be closed on Sunday. And no one has yet figured out how to work that one. (I know, I know. But on the other hand, the people here really are friendly.)
5.2.2008 7:59am
Hoosier:
wfjag—Thank you so much for the kind words. Doubly nice of you, sicne you could have no idea how much I needed them this week. (Arrgh AND ugh! BOTH)

Our rivers could not possibly contain intoxicants, since if the did, by law they would have to be closed on Sunday. And no one has yet figured out how to work that one. (I know, I know. But on the other hand, the people here really are friendly.)
5.2.2008 8:00am
Jay Myers:
The matter was resolved some time ago with regards to Keith although the AA/EO office is still being investigated. The Chancellor is just now responding to the ACLU and FIRE but they are third parties and never represented Keith. Besides, in an effort to marginalize the campus IU moved the Chancellor's office to Bloomington and gave him duties relating to all the other campuses so Bantz is not as on top of things as his predecessors.

The shop steward who initially told Keith that this book was equivalent to pornography was stripped of his position by the union.

The top Affirmative Action Officer has been replaced and the position's title changed "Director of Equal Opportunity" (unfortunately the office wasn't abolished but that is unrealistic I suppose), and the office is getting some serious attention which has uncovered similar incidents which didn't receive this kind of attention.

Although the campus administration seems to be composed mostly of incompetent buffoons (nobody ever reads the internet so this won't come back to bite me in the ass, right?), I think it is a mistake to tar the entire university with the blame for this stupidity. From the very beginning Keith has received tremendous support from students and faculty. His Dean even discussed with the school's department chairs sending a letter of protest against this travesty although I don't know if they actually followed through.
5.3.2008 4:44pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Jay Myers.
Good news, indeed.
5.3.2008 9:17pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
And whatever you do, never use the work "niggardly."
5.4.2008 12:10am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I'd be careful about a couple of agricultural implements, as well. One is like a shovel, and the other vaguely similar to a mattock.

However, the outcome as detailed above is a lesson to those who seek power by feigning outrage. Not necessarily a winner, and not necessarily a freebie.
5.4.2008 12:25am