CALIFORNIA — A federal judge ordered the administration of IrvineValley Community College to pay a professor $126,000 in January for violatinghis free-speech rights by trying to censor his satirical newsletters.
The lawsuit came after Cedric Sampson, chancellor of the South OrangeCounty Community College District, told philosophy professor Roy Bauerin December 1998 that his satirical newsletters, the Vine and theDissent, werecausing a hostile working environment. Sampson ordered Bauer to tone downthe newsletters and attend anger-management classes. Bauer sued instead.
Bauer’s newsletters, which consist of contributions from anonymous writers,are critical of Irvine Valley administrators, particularly President RaghuMathur, whom Bauer often refers to as “Mr. Goo.”
Some of the material in the newsletters was violent, which Sampson saidcould cause hostility in the workplace. In one of the articles, the writerdiscussed the desire to drop “a two-ton slab of polished granite” on Mathur’shead.
“No reasonable person could have concluded that the written words ofBauer constituted a serious expression of an intent to harm or assault,”Judge Gary A. Feess said in his decision.
Bauer is not a novice to lawsuits — in previous years he has filedand won two lawsuits against the district.
“Naturally the board was not pleased with my legal victories,” Bauersaid. “This, I believe, plus the embarrassment caused by the newsletters,was the reason for Sampson’s action in December of 1998.”
Sampson did not return repeated phone calls made to his office by theReport.
This was not Bauer’s last legal victory. President Mathur filed a lawsuitin January against Bauer, claiming invasion of privacy. Mathur accusedBauer of publishing documents that came from his personnel file. A judgethrew out the case on March 1.
“My colleagues are very pleased that I was victorious,” Bauer said.