A leather shoelace mistaken for a noose triggered a massive microaggression at Michigan State University leading to public denunciations by university officials and at least two investigations.
MSU President Lou Anna Simon issued a statement this week alerting students of what she called a "racial incident" in one of the university's residence halls.
"A student reported a noose was hung outside of her room," President Simon breathlessly declared.
She announced that investigations had been commenced by MSU police and the Office of Institutional Equity (no idea what that is - but it's probably funded by your tax dollars).
"A noose is a symbol of intimidation and threat that has a horrendous history in America," the president said.
She said such behavior would not be tolerated on the campus.
"No Spartan should ever feel targeted based on their race, or other ways in which they identify," President Simon said.
I completely agree.
But there's just one glaring problem -- the piece of leather turned out not to be a noose. It was a packaged shoelace.
In case President Simon is not aware, a shoelace is a cord or leather strip passed through eyelets or hooks on opposite sides of a shoe and pulled tight and fastened.
"The matching packaged shoelace was found outside of the residence hall," a university spokesperson said. "Officers located and spoke to the student who lost both of the shoelaces, which are packaged in a way that someone could perceive them to look similar to a noose."
I sincerely doubt the last part of that flaccid explanation.
It turns out the student who filed the original complaint exaggerated her perceived microaggression.
"The original shoelace found inside the residence hall was not directed at any individual," the university admitted. "It was originally seen on hallway floor and later on a stairwell door handle where officers believe someone put it after picking it up."
So it was a fake "racial incident."
Instead of apologizing for scaring the living daylights out of the campus, the university seemed to double down on its handling of the matter.
"The university takes any reported racial incident very seriously," they said. They also take fake racial incidents seriously.
President Simon stressed that no student should ever feel targeted based on their race -- and I echo her belief.
However, I also believe that no student should be targeted for their selection of footwear.
That being said, I would recommend that Michigan State students might want to consider trading in their sneakers for a pair of penny loafers -- or Uggs.