Ed Driscoll

Hey, Beats Detroit And Wall Street

The Onion: “Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole?”

Meanwhile, in a story that both indirectly involves The Onion and seems tailor made for it, a college professor has sued students who’ve slandered him:

After you’ve been called racist by some students, can you sue to get your reputation back?

Richard J. Peltz, who teaches law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, tried. The idea of suing students intrigued and worried many observers of the professoriate, and Peltz’s case prompted much discussion about free speech and the respect that should be accorded both professors and students. Peltz has now dropped his suit — but he did so only after the law school agreed to fully investigate the charges against him and after he received a letter affirming that, based on that investigation, he had done nothing racist or inappropriate.

The university has also agreed to discuss allowing Peltz to again teach required courses, which he was barred from offering once the complaints against him were filed.

* * *

The demands for Peltz to be punished and removed from teaching required courses came from the Black Law Student Association at Little Rock and from a local group of black lawyers — groups whose leaders Peltz sued and who did not respond to requests for comment either now or when the suit was filed. The complaints concerned a series of class discussions in his constitutional law course that touched in some way or another on race or affirmative action. The complaints started after Peltz participated in a campus debate on affirmative action — at the invitation of the black law students’ group — and argued against it.

The various accusations against Peltz were circulated to people at the law school in memos that Peltz cited in his defamation suit. In his own detailed accounting of the charges, now backed by the university, he answers the charges against him point by point.

One of the examples of his alleged racial insensitivity was that he used an article on the death of Rosa Parks from The Onion to prompt class discussion. The black students’ memo called The Onion “a conservative based medium that uses satire” and said that the article “poked fun at the contribution Rosa Parks made” to the civil rights movement. As Peltz has noted, The Onion is not seen by most people as conservative and in fact regularly makes fun of conservatives (as well as liberals), and the article in question appears to mock, not Parks, but Republicans who think that racial discrimination is all in the past.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)