November 12, 2005

"A betrayal of the law school's liberal values."

Adam Liptak writes about the way Yale lawprofs treat their own -- graduates Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito and colleague Robert Bork. But why should your opinion of a nominee be any different because he has a tie to your institution? Isn't that cronyism?

14 comments:

brylin said...

Is loyalty to an institution (school spirit) the same as cronyism?

Is loyalty to an institution similar to patriotism?

Allah said...

My favorite paragraph:

In his 14 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas, of the Yale class of 1974, has refused to return here, and Judge Bork, who was on the faculty for 15 years, chortles during speeches when he cites "a bit of populist wisdom" he once saw on a bumper sticker: "Save America. Close Yale Law School."

Heh. If only.

Ann Althouse said...

Brylin: Such an immensely important position shouldn't be about your school. It shouldn't affect whether you support or oppose him. And if he's not from your school, it should have no effect either. And it's not an issue of how decent, respectful, or fair you should be either. That ought to be the same whether or not the person is connected to your school.

Brendan said...

Surely there are some at UW who deem Ann an "oddity" or a betrayer of some sort of institutional culture. To them, "woman" + "UW" should = "liberal," no?

brylin said...

Ann, Perhaps you are right, but isn't school spirit similar to loyalty to one's family or patriotism?

Assume, for the sake of argument, that your son received the nomination to Supreme Court. Could your reasoning lead you to oppose him as currently unexperienced? Or would we expect you to support him, but discount your support because of family ties?

In the end, I think we can expect some school spirit and the best analysis considers the source and applies what we know about human nature.

brylin said...

And Kanye West has written a song called "School Spirit" but I am having a hard time trying to figure out what it means.

vbspurs said...

I'ma get on this TV, momma
I'ma, I'ma break shit down
I'ma make sure these light skinned n*ggaz
Never ever never come back in style


Thanks for reminding me why I dislike Kanye West, and why I cannot stand hip-hop.

P.S.: The asterisk is mine. Even when it's not written correctly, I cannot bear to see it written out anyway.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

As the only sayings go:

There are things you can't choose, like family.

There are some things you can choose, like friends.

...and then, there are some things which you choose, which many many others choose as well.

It's not just your choice; you have to take into account many others as well.

It could be a military regiment, or branch. It could be a football club. Or it could be, in this case, one's alma mater.

Usually each alma mater has a culture and ethos which infuses the values of its alumni. When you break the trust which was given you as a member of that institution, the bonds which joined you all, are betrayed.

This is why I could never attend a school like Berkeley. I'd rather be a no-show, than a traitor, because I too am one of those people who dislike disloyal people.

Cheers,
Victoria

XWL said...

I can't believe I'm defending Cal (maybe cause they got spanked by SC, I feel sorry for them), but Berkeley has long since stopped being 'Berkeley'.

It's still left, but the protest culture is just the locals and professors reliving their past (like mold in a forgotten petri dish).

The student body since the 80s has been a plurality of serious-minded Asian and Asian-American students, who are more concerned with the prestige of going to a top ranked public university than they are bringing about a new liberal paradise.

There is a massive disconnect today between the direction of scholarship at a school like Berkeley and the meaning the diploma has to its graduates.

It's not about absorbing the values and culture of the institution, its about proving to the business community (and the student's parents) that you were good enough to be accepted at a highly competitive institution and therefore should be considered a top hire for any position upon graduation.

Icepick said...

XWL, I think you meant 'Berzerkley'.

Victoria, you need to give hip-hop more of a chance than some fool like Kanye West. You need to kick it Old Skool. I used to find that I could win hostile audiences over with The Fat Boys "Crushin'!" Besides having an entertaining take on "Louie Louie", they also have helpful advice on safe sex, and an ode to ... uh ... their nuts. (Somehow I'm certain that Allah knows which nuts I'm talkin' about.) And, of course, hip hop kazoo!

Humor makes for the best intro. You can move on to more serious fare like Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five or Big Daddy Kane later.

Icepick said...

Which reminds me....

Even though it's not an actual version of the song, I think The Fat Boys have the third best take on "Louie Louie". The second best version is by Motorhead (LEMMY RULES!), and of course The Kingsmen did it best.

brylin said...

I've had Kanye West's "School Spirit" in the car CD player since yesterday afternoon and I still don't know what it means. But I actually like the music! (And this from a lover of '60s and '70s songs.) And apparently Kanye's music is well-received by the younger folks. Scary.

On topic, some grads have loyalty to "liberal values" that exceeds the loyalty to the school and that seems to be expressed in the original article. One could say the same about those dedicated to "conservative values."

But school spirit is different from cronyism or nepotism. There is something honorable about holding your alma mater in high esteem. And generally, holding academic institutions in high regard promotes the value of education, doesn't it?

So isn't loyalty to an institution more akin to patriotism than cronyism?

Ann Althouse said...

Brylin: Well, I think they lose something if they don't show pride in the accomplishments of their own graduates and colleagues. The fact that Clarence Thomas shuns them should be felt as a negative. That it's not says something about them that they should care about. Personally, I think the discussion of Supreme Court justices is way overheated. At the same time, I don't think we criticize them enough. I want more intelligent, engaged argument about their work, not all this personal antagonism. In this vein, I think it's fine for individual lawprofs to oppose nominees and vigorously criticize justices. But it should come across as engaged with legal issues, not partisan pollitics and political agendas.

brylin said...

Ann, I agree completely with your statement that the engagement should be about "legal issues, not partisan politics and political agendas." The marketplace of ideas of Adam Smith is the best model. (After all, I'm a former economics prof.)