Wednesday, November 25, 2009

F.I.R.E. Talks About a Case at Missouri State (Threats, Coercion, and Bullying at Missouri State); Also: The Keith John Sampson Story, Worst of 08'

Political Correctness vs. Freedom of Thought

This short documentary covers FIREs case at Missouri State University, where social work student Emily Brooker was threatened with expulsion after she refused (as a matter of personal belief) to send a signed letter to the Missouri state legislature in favor of homosexual foster parenting and adoption. This violation resulted not only in a federal lawsuit (which the school settled) but also in an official report that found that a culture of intimidation rife in the schools School of Social Work. For instance, many students and faculty stated a fear of voicing differing opinions from the instructor or colleague, and bullying was used by both students and faculty to characterize specific faculty. The 12-minute documentary features interviews with Brooker, faculty at MSU involved in the case, and Missouri state legislator Jane Cunningham.

One of FIRE's most shocking cases in 2008 was that of Keith John Sampson, a student-employee at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) who was found guilty of racial harassment for merely reading the book Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan during his work breaks. Thanks to FIRE's involvement and the extensive media coverage of the case, the finding against Sampson was eventually overturned and his school record was cleared, but the story behind this incident is still disturbing months later. Filmmaker Andrew Marcus has produced a short documentary on Sampson's case in the hopes of restoring his reputation and bringing to light the incidents of censorship that are all too common on college campuses today.