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Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College: “The jury held accountable an unhinged progressive activist college …

Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College: “The jury held accountable an unhinged progressive activist college …

… that lost concern for the lives of working people in its community” — My column in The Wall Street Journal.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/oberlin-pays-for-smearing-the-town-grocer-11560294176

I have a column in The Wall Street Journal regarding a case you *might* have heard of, Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College.

Here’s an excerpt from Oberlin Pays for Smearing the Town Grocer:

On a different campus on a different day, it is unlikely a simple shoplifting case would have gained much attention. But the incident occurred the day after Donald Trump was elected president, in the wake of which Oberlin students appeared ready to build on the school’s history of left-wing activism to exercise their angst. Thus this otherwise unexciting crime became their cause célèbre….

This historic case received scant media attention during the trial. My publication, Legal Insurrection, was the only national outlet to be present for the entire trial, because we felt Gibson Bros. v. Oberlin College was emblematic of tensions in American culture, particularly the “town vs. gown” divide that pits activist colleges against the places that host them.

In this case, Oberlin students and administrators appeared happy to smear a family-run institution in pursuit of a “social justice” agenda. Ignoring the facts, they attempted to destroy a business without concern for the damage they were inflicting on a family and workers in their own community….

The Gibson family showed that, using the legal system, it is possible to fight back and win. The verdict in Gibson Bros. v. Oberlin confirms that colleges and universities aren’t immune from accountability for participating in aggressive activism among their students, especially when that activism is built on lies and smears.

For Oberlin, it didn’t have to end this way. At the height of the controversy, the Gibson family says it asked the school to send a letter to students reiterating what had already become clear: The bakery didn’t engage in racial profiling. Administrators refused. Had the college agreed to refute the baseless claims of racism, it is unlikely that the Gibson family would have pursued the matter in court.

The verdict is in, and it regards more than money. The jury held accountable an unhinged progressive activist college that lost concern for the lives of working people in its community.

[This will be in the print version on Thursday. If anyone gets the print version and could send me a photo/scan, that would be great.]

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Thanks to a reader for this:

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Comments

So Branco isn’t the only big shot at LI anymore!

Lol

You know, that op-ed isn’t long but it captures everything clearly. Reframed in the context of national political theater and making Oberlin’s refusal to write a letter to make clear the Gibson’s are not racists may help the judge reconsider allowing the ensuing mass e-mail as evidence.

I believe the judge was wrong yesterday and trivialized the importance of this case by reducing this to a local issue rather than take in the entire context and why that e-mail is relevant to the case. Let’s at least get the maximum penalties and hope this new national attention captures the voters’ attention. WSJ op-eds have legs.

    RITaxpayer in reply to Pasadena Phil. | June 12, 2019 at 7:43 am

    ” WSJ op-eds have legs.”

    If most around the country haven’t heard of this case, they will now.
    Good on ya Perfessr J and Mr McGraw.

    Tom Servo in reply to Pasadena Phil. | June 12, 2019 at 8:52 am

    We all would have enjoyed seeing that letter allowed in as evidence, BUT it also would have opened up a big avenue for an Appeal on the part of Oberlin. That’s why the Judge disallowed it, he is crafting an absolutely bulletproof case with no legal flaws, one that will stand against any appeal.

    And if you want a reason why it would be so dangerous to allow national political considerations to enter into the trial: some here have been speculating as to whether this could be subject to a Federal Court appeal. Well, as long as it is a completely local case, based on nothing but actual evidence of how the defendants caused harm to the plaintiffs, then no, it won’t. The instant anyone starts to “nationalize” the case by bringing in broader political interests or whatever, the door is opened to a Federal Judge jumping in for some reason.

    So far, that door is still bolted shut, and the trial Judge is making sure it stays that way.

      I guess it doesn’t really matter since this the op-ed doesn’t publish until tomorrow when the court proceedings will probably have been concluded. But it is important to have that discussion.

      This is all part of an organized national campaign and explains the primary motivation of Oberlin was to be a national player. The timing was no accident. Only a complete idiot would fail to see that there was no racism involved here. A small college with big ambitions operating on a small stage desperate to get on the big stage.

        CincyJan in reply to Pasadena Phil. | June 12, 2019 at 10:13 am

        Your last sentence at least explains what seems inexplicable. Difficult to believe administrators that educated could be that dumb.

          Barry in reply to CincyJan. | June 12, 2019 at 11:03 am

          As I have often made note of, there is a rather large difference between an education and intelligence.

          One can get an education that is entirely false, complete with a piece of paper declaring you a doctor of some kind.

          The Oberlin administrators may be well educated, intelligent they are not.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to CincyJan. | June 12, 2019 at 1:13 pm

          @Barry

          Bingo, 100% agree. My Grandfather didn’t even finish high school, but he used to warn us of the danger of what he termed “Highly Educated Fools”.

          MajorWood in reply to CincyJan. | June 12, 2019 at 3:58 pm

          I think it is more about lacking common sense than not being intelligent. I know lots of brain surgeons who probably couldn’t change a flat tire.

      DB523 in reply to Tom Servo. | June 12, 2019 at 9:27 am

      Thank you for that clear reminder.

      I come to LI to separate “feel” from Legal.
      As a non-progressive I have feelings too.
      LI helps me “count to ten” before verbal vomit ensues.

        Winning on court is fundamentally important but it is only a part of a much bigger game. If this is just a parlor game for you and your fellow lawyers, you don’t understand the value of LI. Why didn’t you lawyers sue Hitler to stop him? You would have won in court. Why fight a way and have to deal with the messiness of human feelings?

        There is a reason why our constitution was written on two pages. So everyone would understand the SPIRIT of the grand experiment for personal freedom. That is why we have HEARINGS. The “ring of truth” is not found in the words but in how they resonate once they leave the legal parlor.

      Milhouse in reply to Tom Servo. | June 17, 2019 at 11:27 am

      The instant anyone starts to “nationalize” the case by bringing in broader political interests or whatever, the door is opened to a Federal Judge jumping in for some reason.

      No, it isn’t. The temptation would be there, but the door would remain shut and locked.

“This will be in the print version on Thursday. If anyone gets the print version and could send me a photo/scan, that would be great.]”

Buy a hard copy and frame it! It would be like a store tacking its first dollar to the wall.
Good for you for being published in the WSJ….it’s pretty neat to see your name in that paper. I had a letter to the editor published once…..guess how many copies I bought?!

I’m glad that the WSJ gave the Professor space to set the record straight and push back against the fallacious narrative being advanced by the Leftists, that Oberlin was allegedly “punished” for protecting its students’ exercise of free speech.

The College was, in fact, held accountable for its administrators’ gleeful and irresponsible regurgitation and amplification of mob vitriol and slander directed against an innocent party.

JusticeDelivered | June 12, 2019 at 8:49 am

I am hoping to soon hear that the total award is 33.6 million, plus millions more in attorney fees, followed by termination of upper administrators. I would advocate termination of their nonprofit status, but that would only further harm area residents. It is a shame that there is no way to end Oberlin College’s miserable existence without harming the community.

Thank you for the coverage of this trial. I found myself returning to L.I. page several times a day hoping for updates. I enjoyed your interview on Michael Berry’s radio show which I just happened to catch while in my car running errands. I have made a donation to the L.I.Foundation in appreciation of your efforts in making us aware of the Gibson case.

Yes, it is “possible” to win, as highly improbable it might be…

Wonderful! Congratulations!

The only thing missing are numbers on the people in the picture and a list of names below. The only reason they are enjoying any peace in their life at this moment is that the Gibsons legal team decided it was not in their best interest to go after them AS WELL. If there were 300 of them, as reported, then they might want to each pony up $100,000 to the college as their share of stupid behavior. They took a simple crime and hi-jacked it for a “higher purpose.” Let them be judged by their peers, the other students whose diploma has been devalued by their actions. These may have been unintended consequences, but they are consequences nonetheless.

I just sent an e-mail to Meredith Raimondo suggesting her SJW students compete with Gibson’s [free market competition is good] and bake cupcakes for sale …. a lot of cupcakes will be needed to pony up [hopefully] $33M.

I looked at the picture again and it struck me. The catering table. It needs an arrow with THIS! Show me any student in the crowd who is capable of that organizational detail. 😉

I can see another phrase making it into the popular culture. Now, when you’ve been slandered or smeared, people can say “You’ve been Raimondoed”.

It’s wonderful to see those Oberlin social-justice warriors hoist on their own petard.

JackinSilverSpring | June 12, 2019 at 12:52 pm

WAJ says it will be in the Thursday’s print edition. I see it in today’s -Wednesday’s – print edition. Can someone clear up my confusion? Thanks.

Richard Aubrey | June 12, 2019 at 1:31 pm

Could a creative defense attorney make a case that the libel/slander defendant wasn’t guilty because he honestly thought the stuff was true? As in, “He believed his own BS. So it’s not like it’s his fault.”

Oregon Mike | June 12, 2019 at 2:57 pm

Nice.

I read this in the WSJ this morning at breakfast. Looked at the byline, said, “Hey, I know that guy!”

Now it’s out in the “bigger” world.

LukeHandCool | June 12, 2019 at 3:09 pm

Congratulations, Professor J !!

Hoping to see you on Tucker Carlson discussing this soon.

This blew my mind:

“If anyone gets the print version and could send me a photo/scan, that would be great.”

You mean you’re not going to buy a dozen copies and cut your piece out of a couple of them and frame it on the wall at home and office?

Don’t be so modest. It doesn’t suit you.

Just kidding!!!

P.S. Off topic, but it would be nice to have a “One hit wonders” video month. Some quick suggestions:

“Talk talk” The Music Machine
“We ain’t got nothin yet” The Blues Magoos
“Sweet Young Thing” The Chocolate Watchband
“1-2-5” The Haunted
“You need love” Danny & the Counts

There are so many …

    MajorWood in reply to LukeHandCool. | June 12, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    I think A Ha “Take on Me” could apply on several levels.

    I peaked early and re-wore my Gibson’s T yesterday before we peaked with the WSJ article this morning. And as it was 95 in PDX yesterday, it won’t be safe to wear for awhile.

I am not holding my breath waiting for liberals to speak out against this
https://www.dw.com/en/iran-defends-execution-of-gay-people/a-49144899

I really like MajorWood’s quote “Let them be judged by their peers, the other students whose diploma has been devalued by their actions. These may have been unintended consequences, but they are consequences nonetheless.” I would add “Let them also be judged by the alumni, most of whom are just NOW finding out what happened, thanks to Oberlin’s keeping a lid on it all this time.”

Having followed this case closely almost from Day One, and becoming angrier by the day with the actions of my once-beloved alma mater and the students involved, it will be very difficult for me to justify donating to Oberlin ever again. I know I am not alone in feeling this sentiment.

I stopped in Gibson’s on Memorial Day, just before leaving campus after my class reunion; expressed my support to Dave Gibson and bought a couple of Gibson’s souvenir tote bags. Today I am wearing with great pride my new Gibson’s T-shirt (ordered online), which arrived in today’s mail with a brief handwritten note signed “L”,  thanking me for my support. What a pleasure it is to support such an upstanding, classy family, pillar of the community. Go, Gibson’s! You deserve it. 

Correction: The nice little note that came with my T-shirt was actually signed “L Gibson”.

I didn’t know about this whole situation, until I saw it in the WSJ this AM. Incredible. Good article.

So pleased to see the op-ed when I opened the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Congratulations, Professor!

I a little surprised to see a complete reproduction here of a piece that was written for the Wall Street Journal, and placed behind their paywall.

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