Ohio State overreacted to use of book

Like Kent State, administration at The Ohio State University’s Mansfield campus decided to implement a summer reading book for incoming freshmen in order to spark discussion and intellectual debate, according to higher-education news Web site InsideHigherEd.com. The administration wanted the book to present different sides of a debate so the students could have a more “unified intellectual experience.”

Several book titles were suggested, including books by Jimmy Carter and Maria Shriver, and a lively, yet civilized, debate arose between committee members as to whether those book titles were appropriate. A problem surfaced when Scott Savage, a librarian on the committee, suggested a book titled, The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom by David Kupelian.

A summary of the book from WorldNetDaily.com, of which Kupelian is the managing editor, describes the book as such: “Americans have come to tolerate, embrace and even champion many things that would have horrified their parents’ generation – from easy divorce and unrestricted abortion-on-demand to extreme body piercing and teaching homosexuality to grade-schoolers . The Marketing of Evil reveals how much of what Americans once almost universally abhorred has been packaged, perfumed, gift-wrapped and sold to them as though it had great value.”

The book, among other topics, discusses the gay rights movement as a marketing ploy to destroy America’s once-high ideals. Several administrators demanded the book (which never seemed to be a serious contender) be removed from consideration. Two others filed harassment charges against the librarian, saying that gay members of the university (faculty and students included) now felt uncomfortable knowing Savage’s views on homosexuality.

We feel the administrators missed the whole point in this case. The committee was supposed to select books that would get the students talking, and engaged in debate. True, the book is filled with anti-gay statements that would have definitely encouraged homophobia, which we’re sure no administrators would stand for. But Savage had a right to suggest a book, as a member of the selection committee. If the majority of the committee felt the book wasn’t appropriate, then the book wouldn’t be selected.

Instead of resorting to legal action, the committee should have had some of that “intelligent debate” they wished the students engaged in. Filing harassment charges was an overreaction to the problem. If the book had been selected and became required reading, then the faculty members may have had a valid reason to feel harassed, as they definitely would have had the right to feel offended. But Savage shouldn’t have been charged simply for selecting a book that could possibly become the book of choice for freshmen.

To date, the charges have been dropped against the librarian, which was definitely the right move. Next year, when the faculty members are selecting a book for the freshmen, we hope they remember this experience so they too can say they learned something from it.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.