A former librarian at Ohio State University-Mansfield who was publicly accused by the faculty of sexual harassment – just for recommending students read the best-selling book “The Marketing of Evil” by David Kupelian – has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the school and faculty members, alleging they violated his 1st and 14th Amendment rights.
The case was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio by attorney Tom Condit, representing Scott Savage, a devout Quaker and former head of Reference and Instructional Services at Bromfield Library on Ohio State University’s Mansfield campus.
Savage took a leave of absence and said he was later forced into resigning because of the virulent reaction from homosexual faculty members after he suggested the book be included in a required reading list for freshmen.
In a case that made national headlines, Savage was condemned publicly by a 21-0 faculty vote on March 13, 2006, to be formally investigated for “sexual harassment” after several professors, including two who are openly homosexual, objected to the librarian’s having recommended “The Marketing of Evil.” Subtitled “How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom,” chapter one exposes the marketing strategies and tactics of the “gay rights” movement.
Included as defendants in Savage’s action are Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee; Nancy K. Campbell, a human resources officer; T. Glenn Hill, a consultant; members of the university’s board of directors, and Christopher Phelps, Norman W. Jones, James F. Buckley, Hannibal Hamlin and Gary Kennedy, who teach on the campus.
Also named as a defendant is former Ohio State President Karen A. Holbrook, whom Savage described as allowing the false accusations against him to be pursued.
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 formal attack on Savage, as well as a threat of a legal counterattack by the Alliance Defense Fund, finally ended when OSU backed down and informed Savage he was not guilty.
But the lawsuit outlines how the professors and school, despite failing to uphold the accusations, continued to conspire to attack and damage Savage.
“What we found was an incredibly concerted effort on their part, long after the complaint cleared me, to try and get me fired, otherwise harass me, to try and turn staff, non-faculty members, there against me, all quite openly,” Savage told WND.
And besides the damage to his career, he told WND that the impact on freedom of speech could be huge.
“Anyone at Ohio State, faculty or students for that matter, are in danger,” he said. “You look at how kids spontaneously break out into debates over any number of subjects. Now at Ohio State University, if somebody defends Christian marriage, they might be hit with a sexual harassment charge.”
“Look at what happened to me. Who in their right mind would utter so much as a peep?” he said.
He said his goal is justice, but doesn’t know if that’s possible.
“Justice would have occurred if the university had honored my counterclaim and admitted these professors falsely accused me. That would have been justice. But two things need to happen. The professors need to be completely exposed and brought to account for having done that to me. And the university needs to change its policies so this stuff doesn’t happen again,” he said.
A spokeswoman in Gee’s office at the university took a message but refused to respond to WND’s requests for comment, and a message left with Holbrook, who now is vice president for research and innovation at the University of South Florida, generated only a response from an assistant who asked questions about the lawsuit.
Savage’s attorney, Tom Condit, told WND the scenario is a case of homosexuals “posturing” themselves as victims, then making “aggressive” demands against Christians.
“Scott Savage never threw his religion around at these people,” he said. “But Christians are the ones who are willing to stand up to these folks.”
“They demand not just tolerance, but approval,” he said. “Scott never said one thing as to his opinion as to homosexuality. He recommended a book that suggested the homosexual lobby is marketed in a slick way.”
Condit said the case earlier was filed in state court, but since it addressed constitutional issues also needed to be handled in a federal court.
Hamlin, in one e-mail, exhorted his colleagues to simply “refuse to allow the situation to be cast in terms of freedom of speech,” and in another recommended an official complaint be drawn up against Savage.
In an e-mail from Jones, he advised the library manager that he would withdraw from using the facility because of Savage, generating a response from the library manager that such a “personal attack” was greatly disturbing to her.
It was Buckley who unleashed an obscenity-filled diatribe on the subject, according to copies of e-mails accompanying the lawsuit.
“What the G– d—– f—– h— kind of homophobic s— h— is this?” he ranted. The e-mails document how faculty members first talked about changing Savage’s mind, then reprimanding, then censuring, and finally getting rid of him.
In still another e-mail, Jones complained that it was inappropriate for a librarian to dispute his judgment when he pronounced an opinion. Savage also is variously described as a “troll” and “virulent parasite.”
Phelps discussed how “dangerous” it was to let Savage know what the faculty was planning to do, and Jones at one point said he would not participate in a meeting to discuss the situation unless there was “no public record.”
The lawsuit explains it simply: “This action arose because Plaintiff Scott Savage dared to express an opinion and recommend a book that was rooted in Christian morality and therefore offended the pro-homosexual faculty at OSU-Mansfield.”
His recommendations came after he agreed to serve on the First Year Reading Experience Committee to choose books freshmen would be required to read. “At the committee’s first meeting, several books were proposed that carried a leftist perspective on history, culture, or politics,” including authors such as notorious atheist Richard Dawkins, the lawsuit said.
Each of those book titles was e-mailed to committee members, accompanied by a “brief Amazon.com” description. Savage responded with the comment that the books were “polarizing” and suggested an alternative.
Several professors, including Jones and Hamlin, immediately attacked his comments and Hamlin specifically suggested the purpose of the students’ reading assignment was to oppose “Christian fundamentalism.”
He commented, in light of Savage’s Christian beliefs:
Furthermore, I think the university can afford to polarize, and in fact has an obligation to, on certain issues … I would say polarize away … Certainly this may offend some students who come from [a Christian fundamentalist] background or hold such beliefs. But welcome to the secular university…
Savage then responded with suggestions for “The Marketing of Evil,” David Horowitz’ “The Professors,” Bat Ye’or’s “Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis,” and Sen. Rick Santorum’s “It Takes a Family,” including Amazon.com descriptions.
Jones immediately condemned “The Marketing of Evil” as “homophobic tripe,” Savage defended his academic freedom to suggest it, and Jones responded with an attack on Savage to his supervisor.
Then Buckley, who was not on the committee, sent an e-mail to all Mansfield faculty and staff claiming he felt “threatened” and “harassed” by Savage’s book recommendation, sending the case spiraling into a formal sexual harassment complaint against Savage.
Savage in April 2006 received a letter from the school noting he was not guilty of discrimination or harassment, but Hill followed with a defense of the accusation.
“In a series of e-mails and communications dating from immediately after their public exposure in early April 2006 and continuing to at least the end of May 2006, those five OSU-Mansfield faculty members continued to conspire to drive Mr. Savage from his position …,” says the lawsuit.
“Defendant faculty members were gearing up a campaign to further harass Mr. Savage and to make his work in the library impossible,” it adds.
After Savage had been cleared, Phelps, the lawsuit says, still told the university provost the librarian “is an acknowledged advocate of bigotry.”
“Not only did he sent e-mails to FIRE but he has a very intimate relationship with WorldNetDaily, a vituperous and rabid web site …,” Phelps continued.
Savage then took a leave of absence because of the “extreme emotional distress that was the direct result of Defendants’ false and defamatory accusations …,” and eventually felt forced to resign, the lawsuit said.
The result was a series of violations of Savage’s constitutional and statutory rights, including freedom of speech and academic freedom, the lawsuit charges. It seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief ordering Savage’s reinstatement “to a library position other than his former position at OSU-Mansfield,” as well as policy changes to prevent their use in order to “harass and punish constitutionally protected speech and academic freedom.”
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