Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tightening the Noose

A most enlightening (and one might say courageous) letter to the editor today in The Appalachian, the student newspaper at Appalachian State University, written by a member of the sociology department about the now notorious "noose incident."

The facts of the case continue to leak out in a slow damaging seep, no thanks to the official "suits" at the university, which have once again gone all rigid with denial and cover-up.

The facts as they have been established: a disgruntled and failing student gains unauthorized access to a faculty member's office in order to photograph a noose, a souvenir of that faculty member's published research into the death penalty and lynching in the South. The photographs are used to stampede the ASU administration and to raise a hue-and-cry against the specter of discrimination and race hatred. The faculty member feels (rightly) violated and unjustly "fingered" for disciplinary action. The most incriminating sentence in the letter linked above: the faculty member was " 'strongly advised' by university administrators not to pursue criminal charges against this student and not to mention the break in of their office space."

No, wouldn't do for the actual facts of this mangled bit of crisis management to get out into the general public.

There's an absolute instinct at that university among the highest echelons to do the wrong thing automatically and then snarl when confronted. And the faculty has an absolute instinct to be cowed by the snarling. Except one brave sociology professor.

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