Dear Reader

Random musings on reading and books from a librarian in training.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reading under fire

File under: Say what now?

Keith John Sampson, a janitor and student, at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis was accused of racial harassment after a coworker complained about Samspon reading a book on the Ku Klux Klan.

The book: Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan. As the title hints, the book was about the students' and university’s struggle against the KKK.

Sampson tried explaining that he was reading a historical account, the book was actually anti-KKK and that the book came from the university’s library. To no avail. He was told his actions were the equivalent of racial harassment and similar to bringing pornography.

After outside pressure the university has apologized to Sampson.

One would hope of in all places an institution dedicated to higher learning, one could read a book without fear of persecution or offending others. How can we learn from the past and plan for the future if reading about events that have taken place is offensive?

Indeed, if Sampson had been reading say Hustler in front of a female coworker I would have said no, no, no. Not allowed. But a non-fiction history book?!

When we crack down on freedom of expression even if it’s just the act of reading, we all lose.

(Note: the book cover shown was apparently not the same as the one of the book Samspon was reading.)

IUPUI says sorry to janitor scolded over KKK book -;_ylt=Avcpuf72BlMEdaNLpJk6gVRvzwcF

American Politics Aren't 'Post-Racial' -

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