The verdict against Oberlin is emblematic, not just of a town versus gown schism, but of a much larger schism between urban America and the rest of us.
As you all know, a jury in Oberlin, Ohio, concluded that Oberlin College and one of its deans had behaved very badly indeed when they sided with those students who had claimed racism lay behind Gibson Bakery’s accusation that a student was guilty of shoplifting. The accused student was black, so the woke students stirred themselves into a frenzy aimed at destroying a family bakery in continuous operation since 1885.
Oberlin, rather than calming that frenzy, cultivated it and even took the policy step of canceling its standing order from the bakery. The bakery sued and a local jury awarded it $11 million. Oberlin promptly, and officially, announced that the verdict was idiotic, which was probably a bad move considering that the local Oberlin community jury still has the chance to award the Gibson Bakery another $22 million in punitive damages.
And no, I’m not kidding about Oberlin College officially stating that the jury verdict was stupid. Immediately after the verdict, it sent a mass email out in which it stated, among other things, “We are disappointed with the verdict and regret that the jury did not agree with the clear evidence our team presented.” There’s no other way to read it than to understand that Oberlin College contends that the local Oberlin jurors were too intellectually defective to understand the college’s exquisitely nuanced defense.
This whole thing prompted John Ringo to remind Glenn Reynolds about the “town v. gown” warfare that was long a fixture in towns hosting academic institutions:
One point that none of the commentors seem to be making/noticing is the ‘town/gown’ dynamic.
Oberlin is the classic small liberal college in a less liberal (though still very) town that exists entirely to support the small liberal college.
Thus the jury was made up of ‘townies’ who resent the college, the students and the administration and the college resented that the unwashed townies were ALLOWED to have any input on the actions and deportment of their superiors.
Throw in the many notable examples of the current ‘elites’ being both lacking in competence and unlacking in hubris and you get everything from the protests against an innocent (townie/unwashed/ignorant) baker through the hubristic email. Not to mention a jury that’s about to throw the Oxford Unabridged Dictionary at them.