As regular readers know, I’ve been following the Gibson’s/Oberlin College case. In my last article on 09-20-19, I wrote:
It’s now clear Oberlin engaged in abominable misjudgment, driven by Leftist ideology and grossly inflated egos. If their attorneys did not make repeated attempts to urge a reasonable settlement, they not only had idiots for clients, but were themselves idiots. The Gibson’s made multiple, good faith attempts at a reasonable settlement, one that would have cost Oberlin a fraction of the eventual judgment, but they arrogantly refused each one. Now they appeal, hoping they’ll find judges as faux-elite and intellectually shallow as they.
David Gibson, tragically, was dying of pancreatic cancer during the trial. While Oberlin and its attorneys knew, the jury was denied that knowledge. It didn’t matter. He lived to see his family vindicated, but inevitably, died. Prof. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection reported:
In early August 2019, David released a video announcing his condition, David Gibson VIDEO: Oberlin College plans to drag out litigation because it knows I’m dying from pancreatic cancer:
Hello, I’m Dave Gibson of Gibson’s Bakery and Candy. I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who’s reached out to our family after the recent verdict in our lawsuit against Oberlin College.
I’ve been amazed at the kind words of encouragement we’ve received from all over the world, including the support of so many people right here at home. I know I haven’t been able to respond to all your emails and letters, but please know that your words are greatly appreciated.
It’s very humbling to know that so many people care about my family and our bakery, so I wanted to record this video to express how much your support means to us. You know, part of what we’ve heard is that the impact of this case is not just limited to our town or even Ohio. And while I’ve been shocked at the national attention our trial received, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise. The fight has always been about sending the message that the truth still matters and doing the right thing, even when it’s difficult, is important. No matter who you are or where you live.
As you may know, the president of Oberlin college has recently indicated from their perspective, the jury verdict is just the first round of what will be a long and difficult battle. It’s become clear that the fight’s not over. With that in mind, I’ve decided it’s time to share some news my family has attempted to keep private until now.
As we’ve been going through this legal battle, I’ve been going through another personal battle. Late last year I was diagnosed with the devastating news that I have pancreatic cancer. Once the next round of my treatments begin, I know this will be impossible to hide any longer, so I wanted you to hear it from me.
Oberlin College has known about my health condition since February. Their legal team filed a motion to prevent any mention of my cancer diagnosis at the trial and honestly, we agreed because I wanted the jury to decide this case on the facts alone. Nothing else.
As you know, the jury sent a clear message that the truth still matters in this country. But recent public statements from Oberlin College make it clear that the college is refusing to accept the jury’s decision. The college has stated that the verdict is just the beginning of a long legal process. I believe they’re sending a clear message to me and to my 91-year-old dad that they will just wait us out.
But, I’ll do everything I can to make sure I see this through. And even if I’m not able to see the end of this battle, our family has committed to continue serving the Oberlin community just as we have for the past 134 years. So while this journey has been difficult in many ways, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for your messages. Thank you for all of your support. Thank you to those members of the Oberlin college community who aren’t afraid of saying or doing the right thing. Thank you to the jurors who sacrificed their time. Thank you to the American justice system that enables a David to stand up to a Goliath. And most importantly, thank you for your prayers.
As regular readers also know, Oberlin is appealing the verdict, and has hired high-powered, big city lawyers to handle their appeal. Oberlin continues to lie about the case, claiming it is about student free speech. That was not at all the issue. Daniel McGraw, who attended the trial, has published a sort of memoir at Quillette:
The media didn’t pay all that much attention to the case while it was being tried, but when the verdict was announced, it went berserk. Conservative outlets crowed that it was a victory for the kind of common man elitist college radicals held in contempt, and outraged progressives seethed that free speech was being sacrificed to enable bigotry and hatred of minorities. But in their hurry to use the case as a blunt object with which to club their political enemies, neither side got it right. For Gibson and his family, meanwhile, the verdict provided hard-won vindication but also bemusement. ‘All Oberlin had to do,’ Gibson told me in September, ‘was to say we weren’t racists and there would have been no trial. What I didn’t understand is that they didn’t have the civility to do so. The basic civility we all try to live by. They didn’t seem to understand that.’
Of course not. Leftist ideology and policy cannot possibly be wrong, and leftists cannot possibly make mistakes, so apology—and telling the truth–is impossible.
David Gibson has not lived to see the end of this distressing saga. In late 2018, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and, on November 16 of this year, he passed away aged 65. At his funeral, there were no bitter condemnations of the school’s administrators. Instead, friends and family spoke fondly of his kindness, his volunteer work helping the marginalized to find jobs and addiction treatment, his unpaid service on various local boards, and how his family had been active members of the Oberlin community since the late 1800s. But Eddie Holoway, a longtime family friend and one of many African Americans who attended the service, did address the point that almost everyone else had tactfully avoided. ‘The environment today is where name-calling is quite popular,’ he said. ‘Words do matter. The names put upon him weren’t very pleasant. But he wanted to see a healing point. David had made peace with this before he died … his main concern wasn’t himself, but for everyone in this town. This [lawsuit] was about damag[e to] his reputation, but all of us who knew him knew what his reputation is. He had a good heart and helped everyone he could and that was priceless.’
What a sad state of affairs, gentle readers, have we come to that it is necessary to identify Eddie Holoway as Black, the better to defend the Gibsons against false charges of racism. We live in a time when the mere, obviously false. accusation of racism, sexism, transphobia, etc. is sufficient to convict one in the court of self-imaged elite public opinion. Evidence is irrelevant, indeed, any attempt to deny one is racist is the best possible non-evidence of racism. However, as Oberlin found to its dismay, it is—thankfully–not yet enough in a fairly conducted trial.
The assembled mourners seemed to appreciate these remarks but they made me angry on behalf of Gibson and his surviving family. Oberlin College has hired high-powered lawyers to handle the appeal, and still maintains that it is the real victim of this ugly controversy. Academics who never set foot in the courtroom insist that the case was about the right of students to freedom of speech, even though the judge had explicitly declared such arguments irrelevant. The trial was intended to determine whether or not the college had ‘aided and abetted’ the dissemination of false and defamatory claims made about Gibson’s bakery by Oberlin students, and the jury was asked to decide if the school had promoted accusations it knew to be untrue.
And they found that the school did just that.
Nevertheless, over the past few months, Oberlin College president Carmen Twillie Ambar has repeatedly claimed that the verdict was a disgraceful violation of First Amendment rights. ‘The specter of such liability could chill free speech and justify censorship,’ she wrote in an op-ed published this summer. ‘This is especially troubling for colleges, which the law recognizes distinctively as ‘marketplaces of ideas’ where speech should have ‘breathing space’ so that ideas can be tested and thought can flourish. The First Amendment encourages us to speak up. This verdict tells us to be quiet.’
Ms. Ambar is a liar, but to be scrupulously fair, as a committed leftist, she likely has convinced herself that whatever she says is virtuous in the pursuit of leftist narratives. In reality, the verdict tells Oberlin not to defame the innocent in the pursuit of leftist narratives and the inflation of leftist egos.
This past fall, Gibson told me that the school president’s interventions in this vein were what bothered him most. ‘We have never said that students don’t have the right to free speech,’ he said. ‘Our family has had this business on the town square for more than 100 years and we have seen many protests. We have helped students through the years, even letting them use our tables and chairs on the sidewalk during this protest. But the school couldn’t even do a simple and basic thing by saying in some way that we aren’t racist. Because we weren’t and we aren’t.’
And the jury not only found that to be true, they punished Oberlin for the lie. Oberlin’s utter corruption was amply revealed during the trial:
During the prosecution of the three shoplifters, Oberlin’s attorney attempted to get the charges reduced from felonies to misdemeanors, a deal that required Gibson’s cooperation. Gibson was asked if he would meet with the shoplifters and speak to them about the larger issue of shoplifting and how it affects small businesses and their customers. Sure, Gibson replied, they can come to the store and I’ll show them how we work. In the end this arrangement fell through amid legal wrangling, but the students were eventually charged with misdemeanors anyway. In September, I asked Gibson why he had agreed to reduce the charges. ‘I’ve done this before and feel the same way as I always have,’ he told me. ‘A felony can follow them further down the road, and I don’t want anyone to have to deal with that because of something stupid they did in college.’
This is the man Oberlin students and faculty vilified as a racist, who Oberlin College punished by cancelling his cafeteria contract, and who is now accused, even in death, of attacking free speech for attempting to clear his family name. The Gibson family aren’t racists, they were just grist to a political mill. And as I watched all this all unfold in court, I was stunned by how unnecessary and senselessly destructive the whole episode had been.
About 300 people showed up for David Gibson’s funeral at the First Church of Oberlin. The church was built in the 1840s and is now one of the oldest landmarks in the town, along with the college campus and the town square where the Underground Railroad had once helped slaves from the South escape to Canada. It was at this church that Horace Greeley, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington, and Woodrow Wilson all addressed the Oberlin community over the years. But, aside from a few retired professors, no one from Oberlin College was there to pay their respects.
What can one expect of people who have no respect for others, who have no decency, and who actively hate any that don’t share their worldview? It is apparently unlikely, under Ohio law, the verdict will be overturned. One can hope so, but in the meantime, Oberlin, which earlier pled poverty, continues to expend millions it supposedly does not have to vindicate its false narrative of racism, to brand the Gibsons, in life and death, racists, when even the black shoplifters who beat Allyn Gibson for daring to stop their theft, admitted racism was not at all involved.
Oberlin is also trying to get the court to grant access to the Facebook records of Allyn D. Gibson. It was Allyn who stopped the shoplifters and was beaten for his efforts. He was not a party in the suit, did not testify, and his Facebook records were not used in the trial. So why does Oberlin want them? Prof. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection explains:
… there are strong implications that Movants’ Motion is nothing more that a backdoor attempt by Defendants to continue the smear campaign against Plaintiffs and dox ADG. On September 16, 2019, this Court denied Defendants’ Motion to Unseal the same exact materials
(Sep. 16, 2019 Order, p. 2). While the current motion was not filed by Defendants, there are substantial connections between Movants and Defendants’ counsel, including the fact that Defendants’ lead counsel, Ron Holman, II, was a television legal analyst for Movant WEWS-TV for more than ten (10) years. … (See, Ex. 1, p. 1). Thus, it appears that Defendants are attempting to use nonparties to this litigation to circumvent the Court’s orders. They should not be permitted to do so.
By all means, take the link and read the article. Oberlin, cruel leftists that they are, seeks to further smear the Gibson family, causing as much harm to them as they can despite the fact the jury utterly rejected their racist smear campaign. These are dishonorable, evil people, and I’ll continue to report on the case as developments warrant.