Another day, another absurd tale of excess by social justice warriors on campus. Over at Reason, Robby Soave relates the story of a student at Indiana Wesleyan University who was investigated and disciplined in 2017 after he wrote a brief, trollish Facebook post about Halloween costumes. The Facebook post was a response to signs that had been posted on campus warning students about the dangers of cultural appropriation. The signs included a list of questions designed to help students check their privilege. For instance: “Does this costume mock cultural or religious symbols?” A student named Micah Sample wrote this in response:
Just to mess with the ideologically possessed people who made this cancerous sign, I’m very, very tempted to dress as an incarcerated Muslim Native American chieftain, wearing both a hijab and a ritual headdress. If anyone can get me some face paint and a headdress, or an authentic hijab, please message me here on Facebook. I’m going to culturally appropriate as much as I please, and I couldn’t possibly care less about who gets offended. If my choice of costume is restricted by “social justice”—that is, “victim” worship and fetishizing—I’m going to rail against every boundary these people set up. Let the virtue-signaling games begin, and may the odds be ever in your favor this Halloween—if you’re a member of a non-privileged, non-white, non-male minority, that is.
Also, please don’t dress up as a Wild Western cowboy outlaw—that’s appropriation of my culture, and I find that really offensive. Just, like, be culturally sensitive and stuff, so we don’t have to send the thought police after you.
Micah Sample wrote about trying to offend campus SJW’s to make a point but he never actually did it. The extent of his offense was this brief message on Facebook. Soon, there were complaints from several students. From Minding the Campus, which was first to get a copy of the University’s complete investigative report:
This first complainant terms Sample’s conduct “vicious neglect of the well-being, both emotionally and mentally, of others.” Sample is a leader in Student Government, too, and a member of the Honors College, and so he is supposed to be a “World Changer,” not one who “marginalizes and offends” minorities. When it comes to the impact the Facebook post has had, the complainant says he feels “incredibly sad” and “was personally offended and bothered.”
The next witness suffers similar pain. “HIS WORDS ARE FUELED w/HATE,” he says of Sample’s post, and it has caused him a near breakdown: “I’m not going to lie this has broken me to a certain degree.” (The punctuation error, a missing semi-colon, is in the original.)
Another witness notes “the evil in his words” and charges that Sample “has no regrets or shame for his venom.” The next witness states that the post “is one of the most disrespectful things I have seen.” It made him “feel attacked and completely dehumanized.”
So because a few social justice undergrads claimed to be deeply and permanently wounded by six sentences on Facebook, the University alerted Micah Sample that it would need to issue a public statement about his Facebook post and also that he may have violated a campus policy on harassment. He was told he would be informed of the school’s decision six days later. There’s a record of that meeting in the case file. It makes clear that the school’s investigators didn’t think Sample was guilty of any actual harassment, they were prepared to punish him because his Facebook post wasn’t sensitive enough to the feelings of others:
I asked Micah if he could help me to understand his intent for the post. I explained that based on only reading the post, he seemed to have no concern for how others might respond. I explained that it did not seem to invite a conversation, but rather antagonize individuals to respond with their opinion, even though his mind would not change.
Random thought: Has anyone at Indiana Wesleyan University heard of the Sex Pistols? I sincerely wonder if you could be brought up on charges at this school for owning a copy of “Never Mind the Bollocks…” Can you imagine the complaints? “This album was insensitive and I had a total and complete mental breakdown by the time I heard ‘God Save the Queen.‘”
Ultimately, Micah Sample was found guilty and put on “citizenship probation.” He was suspended from his position in the student government and dismissed from the honors program. He was also forced to write a “reflection paper.” Here’s a bit of what he wrote:
Throughout the humiliating process of being berated and condemned by Student Conduct for the sole purpose of appeasing offended parties, I have come to realize that the impact I have had on this campus due to the Facebook post in question has been immensely positive, despite mid-ranking faculty (who I will neither name or indicate here) doing their absolute best to convince me otherwise. Not only am I wholly innocent of the charges at hand—because I neither harassed anyone, nor instigated disruptive behavior, but instead merely spoke the truth in a humorous fashion—but I have also created a conversation among students surrounding the restrictions of free speech on this campus, which is a highly necessary conversation.
He’s absolutely right about his own innocence. I hope he keeps railing against the absurd boundaries set up by SJW’s and campus administrators. It’s a shame that no one at the University could see the problem with this absurd response to a few sentences of undergraduate opinion.