The social justice left was just given 11 million new reasons to rethink the policy of destroying anyone perceived as easy prey. An Ohio college was recently served a heaping helping of humble pie after encouraging defamatory attacks on a local business that just happened to transgress the sacred laws of progressivism.
The left has enjoyed a level of success when it comes to finding new targets on which to pounce, but in this case, a small local bakery showed that the social justice monster might not be as powerful as it seems. Perhaps if others follow the example given by this latest David vs Goliath story, it might make the cultural totalitarians on the hard left hesitant to engage in their usual antics in the future.
Oberlin College Gets Baked
Oberlin College was recently ordered to pay Gibson’s Bakery more than $11 million in damages to compensate for defaming the business after an altercation with one of the university’s students. The attack began after Allyn Gibson, the son of the owner, found himself in a physical struggle against a black student who attempted to steal from the store. Two other black students were also involved in the fracas and were assaulting Gibson when the police arrived. The incident ignited accusations of racism.
Although the three students pled guilty to misdemeanor charges and claimed that Gibson’s actions were not motivated by racism, their colleagues still began protests within days of the incident, urging boycotts of the bakery. That’s right. They didn’t care about the evidence proving their accusations were false; they still launched their ill-fated crusade against the Gibsons. The Chronicle-Telegram reported that the college ceased ordering from the bakery after the incident, but began ordering again in January 2017.
Bakery Strikes Back
In response to the college’s smear campaign, David Gibson, the owner of the bakery, filed a defamation lawsuit against the university and its vice president and dean of students, Meredith Raimondo. The suit alleged that Oberlin harmed Gibson’s business by making false accusations of racism and claiming that the bakery had a history of “racial profiling and discrimination.”
The jury ruled in favor of the Gibsons, and the school will be compelled to pay damages. Predictably, the university’s general counsel, Donica Thomas Varner, slammed the jury’s decision. “Neither Oberlin College nor Dean Meredith Raimondo defamed a local business or its owners, and they never endorsed statements made by others,” she said. “Rather, the college and Dr. Raimondo worked to ensure that students’ freedom of speech was protected and that the student demonstrations were safe and lawful, and they attempted to help the plaintiffs repair any harm caused by the student protests.”
But Owen Rarric, one of the bakery’s attorneys, summed the situation up nicely: “I think part of what we did here today is answer the question as to, ‘What are we going to tolerate in our society?’ We’re hopeful that this is a sign that not only Oberlin College, but in the future, powerful institutions, will hesitate before trying to crush the little guy.”
While the jury’s initial award of $11 million is a significant blow to the college, it may get even worse. The court will hold a hearing to determine whether punitive damages will also be awarded to the Gibsons. If punitive damages are imposed, it could add $22 million. To make matters worse, Oberlin may be forced to pay this amount out of its own coffers. According to Legal Insurrection, the college’s insurance company may not be willing to cover the damages.
Can We Have More of This?
Here’s the reality: Many on the hard left believe they are on a mission to eradicate all forms of bigotry in the United States. But their definition of bigotry is so broad that it can apply to anyone they wish, and when they have a target, they are only content after having destroyed it completely. This is what motivates them to make life miserable for people like Jack Phillips, who is now facing a third lawsuit for his refusal to cater gay weddings.
The school’s hubris in this endeavor to shut down the bakery is not surprising, given the fact that other progressive factions have had some success. But what happens when people decide they have had enough? In this particular situation, Gibson’s Bakery made the progressive behemoth bleed, and the victory could inspire others in similar situations. Oberlin College stands to lose a damaging sum of money as punishment for using deception in an attempt to destroy someone who violated the tenets of social justice dogma.
This story demonstrates that the hard-left outrage machine is not invincible. After all, it is this bullying behavior that gave us Trump, right?
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