A university librarian accused of “sexual harassment” simply for recommending all incoming freshmen read the popular book “The Marketing of Evil” by David Kupelian – a case that made national headlines, having been called the year’s most “shameful” campus persecution case – has filed a defamation lawsuit against the accusing faculty members.
Scott Savage, a devout Quaker and head of Reference and Instructional Services at the Bromfield Library on Ohio State University’s Mansfield campus, had been condemned by a 21-0 faculty vote on March 13, 2006, to be formally investigated for “sexual harassment.” The reason? Several professors, two of them openly homosexual, had become extremely upset over Savage’s nomination for the freshman reading program of “The Marketing of Evil,” calling it “hate literature.” Subtitled “How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom,” chapter one of the book exposes the marketing strategies and tactics of the “gay rights” movement.
As WND reported previously, one of the homosexual professors, J.F. Buckley, in a March 9, 2006, e-mail, reacted this way to Savage’s recommendation of Kupelian’s book: “As a gay man I have long ago realized that the world is full of homophobic, hate-mongers who, of course, say that they are not. So I am not shocked, only deeply saddened – and THREATENED [sic] – that such mindless folks are on this great campus. … You have made me fearful and uneasy being a gay man on this campus. I am, in fact, notifying the OSU-M campus, and Ohio State University in general, that I no longer feel safe doing my job. I am being harassed.”
The unprecedented attack on a librarian over a book recommendation attracted national media attention, as well as a threat of a legal counterattack by the Alliance Defense Fund. Finally, on April 18 of last year, OSU backed down and informed Savage the charges against him had been withdrawn.
Now, Savage is fighting back. On Tuesday, attorneys representing the librarian filed a defamation lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas in Richland County, Ohio.
Named as defendants are OSU-Mansfield professors Norman W. Jones, James F. Buckley, Hannibal Hamlin and Gary Kennedy, as well as 10 additional “John Does” and “Jane Does” – which the lawsuit characterizes as “members of the OSU-Mansfield faculty members and/or other identified persons who conferred privately with Defendants Jones, Buckley, Hamlin and Kennedy and/or acted in concert with them to advance the goal of defaming and humiliating Mr. Savage at OSU-Mansfield and in the broader community.” The idea being that the identities of the additional defendants will become known through discovery once the case gets rolling.
According to the lawsuit:
4.1 In early February, 2006, Plaintiff Scott A. Savage agreed to serve on the First Year Reading Experience Committee (“Committee”), the purpose of which was to select books that OSU-Mansfield’s freshmen students would be required to read as part of their immersion into college life. At the Committee’s first meeting, several books were proposed that carried a leftist perspective on history, culture, or politics. The proposed books included works by Richard Dawkins, Jared Diamond and Jimmy Carter. …
4.4 On March 8, 2006 … Mr. Savage suggested via e-mail to the Committee that perhaps the conventional wisdom of the university should be challenged and proposed four current conservative books: “The Marketing of Evil” by David Kupelian, “The Professors” by David Horowitz, “Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis” by Bat Ye’or, and “It Takes a Family” by Senator Rick Santorum. As required by Committee protocol, Mr. Savage included excerpts from Amazon.com’s descriptions of the books.
4.5 On March 9, 2006, Jones e-mailed the Committee taking issue with Mr. Savage’s recommendation of “The Marketing of Evil,” labeling it “anti-gay” and “homophobic tripe.” Mr. Savage e-mailed the Committee to offer other reviews of the book and to defend his academic freedom to suggest it to the Committee. Jones then took the further step of sending a private e-mail to Mr. Savage’s supervisor, Library Director Beth Burns, questioning the integrity of the library staff and implicitly attacking Mr. Savage’s professionalism. Jones also sent an e-mail to the campus Dean, threatening to look for other work and explicitly denigrating Mr. Savage’s professionalism in suggesting the book. Jones then sent another e-mail to the Committee attacking Mr. Savage’s academic opinions.
4.6 Hamlin responded with an e-mail to the Committee warning Mr. Savage that requiring students to read “The Marketing of Evil” would violate OSU-Mansfield discrimination policy. …
4.10 On March 12, 2006, Jones sent an e-mail to all faculty members attacking Mr. Savage’s professional competence, and accusing him of “harassment” and “creating a hostile work environment” for himself and Buckley. Jones also claimed that Mr. Savage had acted unprofessionally by disagreeing with Jones’ assessment of the book and had “impugn[ed] both [Jones'] credibility as well as that of the entire OSU-Mansfield faculty in determining the basic standards of scholarly integrity.”
4.11 At a March 13, 2006 faculty assembly, a public meeting, Defendant Hamlin accused Mr. Savage of defending “hate literature” and stated to the faculty assembly that the overriding issue raised by Mr. Savage’s conduct was that of “sexual harassment.” Jones agreed that “It is a sexual harassment issue.” Based upon the facts known to Hamlin and Jones at that time, their statements to the faculty assembly were false, slanderous per se, and made in reckless disregard of the truth.
4.12 In response to the slanderous advocacy of Jones and Hamlin, the faculty unanimously approved a motion to forward a sexual harassment allegation to a university investigator accusing Mr. Savage of sexual harassment.
Although the faculty later “rescinded its vote on the sexual harassment motion because of concerns and confusion over the faculty’s authority on the matter,” the complaint explains, Kennedy and Hamlin continued to press the issue, “falsely accusing Mr. Savage of discriminatory harassment, seeking other policies under which Mr. Savage’s constitutionally protected speech could be punished, and urging that a discrimination/harassment claim be filed against Savage.”
Indeed, Hamlin persuaded the faculty assembly to instruct Kennedy, Jones and Buckley to file individual formal complaints of discrimination/harassment against Savage. And on March 16, Kennedy filed a discrimination/harassment complaint on behalf of Buckley and Jones with OSU-Mansfield’s Human Resources Officer, who along with the university’s general counsel, classified it as a “sexual harassment” complaint.
One month later, the OSU-Mansfield Human Resources investigator informed Savage in writing that he was not guilty of discrimination/harassment and that the charges should never have been filed. The embattled librarian took a leave of absence from his employment at the university, “a decision caused by his extreme emotional distress that was the direct result of this controversy and the Defendants’ false accusations against him,” according to the lawsuit just filed.
“Particularly distressing to Mr. Savage,” says the complaint, “a man with sincerely held Christian beliefs regarding honesty, Christian charity, sexual purity and marital fidelity, is the knowledge that his name is linked on campus (and probably elsewhere) with allegations of sexual harassment, unethical behavior, and hatred of his fellow man. No amount of diligence and discovery by Mr. Savage, in the context of this litigation of otherwise, could ever determine the extent to which his name is now linked with those allegations in the minds of people, known and unknown to him, who do not know the other relevant details of this case.”
Savage is represented by Cincinnati attorney Thomas W. Condit and co-counsel Trip Bodley of Batsche & Batsche in Mason, Ohio.
“This is the most extreme case of political correctness I’ve ever heard of,” said Condit. “For the faculty to say it doesn’t want to suppress any viewpoint, and then to go after Scott in this way, it’s shocking, people have to be appalled at this.”
In addition, said Condit, “this has done real damage to Scott and his family. He feels his career is threatened by the publicity, with his name associated with sexual harassment. And he’s now in his second six-month, unpaid leave of absence, since he felt staying at the university had become untenable.” Savage is scheduled to return to OSU in June.
One particularly poignant aspect of the case stems from the fact that Savage is a Quaker, specifically a “Plain Christian” – having written two books on his faith: “A Plain Life” and “The Plain Reader.”
Part of the Quaker belief is pacifism. So how does Savage square his lawsuit with his Christian beliefs?
“I am nonresistant in the sense of not fighting back against a robber or murderer,” Savage explained. “We believe this is commanded for believers. But Friends (Quakers) also believe that government is established for our good. Persecution by these government-employed educators of those whose beliefs differ from campus orthodoxy is not good government.
“Simply because of their beliefs, the earliest Quakers were roughed up, their homes and goods destroyed, their due process rights trampled, all by people acting in the name of the government. Although they did not resist these evildoers, they were enjoined by the founder of the Quakers, George Fox, to ‘lay your sufferings on the judges, and the King.’
“These college professors have just as roughly damaged my life and career, having tried me – in absentia – and found me guilty of ‘sexual harassment,’ and then of ‘discrimination based on sexual orientation’ merely because I recommended ‘The Marketing of Evil.’
“I am laying my sufferings on the judges – the real ones, not the professors.”
WND also asked Savage how his treatment by the university faculty affected him, his career and his family.
“That’s a question no faculty member on my campus has ever asked!” he said. “We have eight children and I am the sole provider, so you can imagine our fear at the possibility of suddenly losing my income. My wife was three months pregnant, and she lost about ten pounds in the first few weeks of this, making me fear for the baby (who was born healthy in October).
“The worst part, though, was coming home and having to tell my wife that I was being accused of sexual harassment. We had to be careful to talk about it out of earshot of our (sexually pure and innocent) children. The very sort of thing we avoid as a plague was forced into our household by this awful, untrue charge.”
Savage also explained his legal battle in professional terms: “Librarians need to counter academic bullying and censorship – it is in our code of ethics, and I take that charge very seriously,” he said.
One irony of the story is that after being “banned” on the Ohio State University-Mansfield campus last year by “gay” professors and their faculty supporters, “The Marketing of Evil” soared up the best-seller lists, remaining No. 1 on Amazon’s “Current Events” list for a week. And OSU students reported that the book was sold out at all book stores in the area surrounding the university.
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