Judging a Book By Its Cover:

FIRE has produced a video of the outrageous case of Keith John Sampson at Indiana University-Purdue University Indiana. Eugene blogged about it back in the spring. The video is a nice summary of the whole affair.

Greg Lukianoff has blogged on it too.


More on the original actions by IUPUI was provided at the time by John Rosenberg here.

Tracy Johnson (www):
Video? What video? (2:21PM EST)
12.30.2008 2:21pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
Great video. I can't wait for you to add a link to it so I can watch it.
12.30.2008 2:36pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Here is the video.

Lazy guys.
12.30.2008 2:39pm
Gone Fission':
That link doesn't work.
12.30.2008 2:56pm
Mick C Pitlick (mail):
12.30.2008 3:33pm
New Pseudonym:
Try . . . 76 . . . instead of . . . 67 . . .
12.30.2008 3:34pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
This matter has not been resolved satisfactorily. The university needs to be punished along with the specific people responsible for libeling Sampson.

It seems to me that Sampson had every right to read whatever he wanted on his own time and by himself. It matters not that the book was actually anti-KKK.
12.30.2008 3:59pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
I just tried the link. Works for me.
12.30.2008 4:00pm
Gone Fission':
Thank you, New Pseudonym, for posting that working link without trying to sound superior and calling us lazy. It appears that both links now work, but the '67 link was inoperative for a few hours.
12.30.2008 4:05pm
As a Hoosier and a Domer, may I simply add: Read the book. It's worth it.
12.30.2008 4:07pm
egn (mail):
Would have been nice to see an interview with one of the doofuses on the other side of this.

What's with the plug for the university's website at the end?
12.30.2008 5:03pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
Just fyi, from IUPUI, 4/08:

"You're Invited to Lillian Charleston's Retirement Celebration: Chancellor Bantz invites you to a celebration in honor of Lillian Charleston, Affirmative Action Officer, in appreciation for her 27 years of service to IUPUI. The Celebration will take place on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. in the 2nd floor atrium at University Place Hotel. Light refreshments will be served."
12.30.2008 5:23pm
fortyninerdweet (mail):
Another case of good intentions running afoul of logic and reality. What is that saying about "absolute power......?"
12.30.2008 6:12pm
What is that saying about "absolute power......?"
" what Obama needs for the good of the planet?"
12.30.2008 6:33pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
. . . and to BGates: you're now in contention for "Fastest hijack of a thread to complain about Obama"; 15 by my count, of which 8 are only about getting the link for the video right!
12.30.2008 6:46pm
Jerrod Ankenman:
Someone needs to tell them that Indiana University Purdue University Indiana isn't a palindrome.
12.30.2008 7:31pm
Jerrod Ankenman wrote at 12.30.2008 7:31pm:
Someone needs to tell them that Indiana University Purdue University Indiana isn't a palindrome.
That would be sexist. So it's a gender-unspecific-friend-indrome.
12.30.2008 7:45pm
PeterWimsey (mail):
I believe the school's name is actually Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.
12.30.2008 9:54pm
Former IUPUI Teacher:

I believe the school's name is actually Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

More accurately, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. Affectionately known as "Ooey-Pooey".
12.30.2008 11:00pm

Which has always been a bit embarrassing, since IUPUI should be pronounced "Eeoo-pooey."
12.31.2008 12:25am
A Domer and a Hoosier? Who'd a thunk that the Hoosiers would be lamenting the passing of football season (or at least sleeping through BB season) and the pugilistic paddies would be glad that hoops have arrived.
12.31.2008 12:42am
man from mars:
Does anyone know if the allegation in the video at 3:30 that the complaining co-worker was illiterate is accurate?

It is difficult for me to believe that a complaint about a book's significance made by a person who was not literate would have been taking seriously.

Furthermore, why would a person who was illiterate be offended by a book at all? Why would she not simply have asked a co-worker what the words she could not read were?

I find this portion of the story as reported on the FIRE website difficult to credit. It would require simultaneously believing (a) that a University employs illiterate workers; (b) that those workers are offended by books that they cannot read; (c) that their complaints are credited in a quasi-judicial proceeding; and (d) that the illiterate worker did not simply ask a literate co-worker what the suspicious symbols in the book denoted.

Furthermore, FIRE's failure to divulge the name of this supposedly illiterate complainant makes me suspect the story all the more.
12.31.2008 3:27am
Is the post above mine parody?

The professor stated that the woman was "functionally illiterate," a functionally illiterate person has some grasp of reading ability and certainly would know enough to interprete "KKK" on a book cover, but likely would struggle with reading the entire book, which is why she didn't understand that the book was not pro-KKK.

And yes, many employers, including universities hire functionally illiterate workers. You don't need to be able to read Umberto Eco to be a janitor.
12.31.2008 9:24am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Ref your "c" and "d". Hang around universities much? Probably not. Ref "c", universities have entire offices run by highly-paid individuals to do just that.
12.31.2008 4:50pm
man from mars:
I still find this story implausible. Whether the complainant was completely illiterate or "functionally illiterate" it strains credulity to believe she would be offended by a book. I do not read Japanese, for example - it is therefore highly unlikely I would be offended by someone reading a book in Japanese. Even if I were so offended, I would first ask someone else what the book was about before being further offended. And if I then complained to a third party that I was offended by a book written in Japanese, the third party would rightly doubt I could be offended by symbols I did not understand.

As to Aubrey's comment, any of these "highly paid individuals" would have simply clarified that the complainant, not being able to read the book, could not have been offended by it.

Finally, this tactic of FIRE's of casting aspersions on the reading ability of an anonymous complainant seriously weakens their credibility, it seems to me. There is no way for anyone to check if the assertion is accurate, so why credit it?

Surely there is no legal bar to naming the complainant - if the characterization were accurate. (If it were not accurate, then not naming the complainant avoids certain libel claims).

I still find it hard to believe this incident could have happened as described, both because of its inherent implausibility and because of FIRE's not providing enough information for anyone to verify its most extraordinary claim, namely the (functional) illiteracy of the complainant. I do not believe either Aubrey's or Nifonged responses addressed the core reasons for my skepticism.
12.31.2008 5:09pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
man from mars:

You are trying to project your motives and abilities onto someone else. The whole point of this thread is the book was judged solely on the basis of the cover. According to the FIRE report even the administrators refused to consider the content of the book. It was enough for everyone that the book had iconic KKK symbols on the cover.

If the complainant was not offended in some way by the book, then why the letter of discipline?
12.31.2008 6:00pm
Gil (mail) (www):
"KKK" doesn't appear on the cover, except as capitalized within "Ku Klux Klan."

But, there are clear iconic KKK images of burning crosses and assholes in robes.

It's easy to understand the desire to protect people from actual harassment but this does constitute, as the book's author said in the video, "Willful crusading ignorance."

Anybody who is easily offended by disturbing symbols and ideas should probably avoid Universities...and all other interesting places and people, for that matter.
1.1.2009 12:18am
R. Gould-Saltman (mail):
Eh, Man from Mars: Doc Volokh's original post contained what is apparently the complainant's name, which was apparently redacted in other sources.

What's most troubling about this is the apparent lack of remorse/cluelessness of a bunch of people involved in this. I don't think the complaining witness has ever come forward and even ever said "I was mistaken"; not that she's obliged to, but it mighta been nice...

While I also think FIRE has a deep and poorly concealed ideological bias in some of their material, the "functionally illiterate" conclusion might have simply been an inference, good or otherwise, from the complainant's offense at a book (more or less plainly) titled "Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan". Either complainant couldn't or didn't read the title. More appallingly, U officials apparently initially did neither....
1.1.2009 4:57am
"I still find this story implausible."

Considering you're ignoring all facts and making undeserved assumptions, I'm not surprised.

You've managed to write two of the most narcissistic posts I've ever read on any blog. When you use the word "I" nine times in one paragraph to get a point across that the story doesn't match how "you" would have handled a situation that "you" weren't involved in, what credibility do "you" have?

What would it take for you to lend credence to this story, other than changing or ignoring the facts and statements and documents involved and substituting them with "your" narrative?

It ain't all about "you" pal.
1.1.2009 12:32pm
"FIRE's not providing enough information for anyone to verify its most extraordinary claim, namely the (functional) illiteracy of the complainant."

Good grief how one can be so consumed by so minor and non sequitur of a point is beyond me.

1) FIRE didn't say she was functionally illiterate, it was a statement made by a Professor at IUPUI to provide some context as to why she couldn't understand that the book was not pro-Klan. Watch the film again.

2) I'm not sure why you seem to not understand that there are MANY employed functionally illiterate people, including (likely) the people that empty the trash cans in my office in the evening. Do you think that the numerous high-school drop-outs that don't have competent reading skills do nothing the rest of their lives?
1.1.2009 3:10pm

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