Thursday, April 07, 2016


Drinking coffee in the pre-dawn, I was surfing around over at Wirecutter's place and found this little gem about students at Indiana University mistaking a clergyman for a KKK member.  Yeah, really.
Residential hall advisor Ethan Gill quickly wrote an email to his students, warning them of the “threat” on campus: “There has been a person reported walking around campus in a KKK outfit holding a whip. Because the person is protected under first amendment rights, IUPD cannot remove this person from campus unless an act of violence is committed. Please PLEASE PLEASE be careful out there tonight, always be with someone and if you have no dire reason to be out of the building, I would recommend staying indoors if you’re alone.”
It turns out that the "threat" was a clergyman in white robes.  The "whip" was the cord tied around his waist.  Of course, the warning goes viral, it spreads all over campus, but then Gill learns that the whole thing is an error of identification.
 “Then my residents, terrified, come running to me, saying yeah the report must be true, they saw him and couldn‘t believe there was a klansmember [sic] with a whip,” he explained. “And I see this picture. It’s a priest. With a rosary.”
Two problems here.  First is the mis-identification.  It would seem to me that it's easy enough to tell the difference between the robe of a KKK member and the clerical clothing worn by priests. This speaks to the general level of education at Indiana University.  Even if you're not a member of the Roman faith, one should at least be familiar enough with the clergy to know the special garb that is often worn by religious persons.

The second problem is the level of hyper-sensitivity that this story displays?  Was the guy doing anything dangerous?  Was he causing problems?  Even if it was a Klansman with a whip, was he doing anything illegal, or hurting anyone?  If not, why the general alarm?  Yeah, I know that the Klan is a scary bunch, but that is no reason to be afraid.  They certainly anger me, but they don't scare me.

There is so much wrong in this story that I'm tempted just to laugh it off.

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