March 2, 2007

Last night at the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Here's what happened at my law school last night, at an event I avoided:
An emotionally charged group of hundreds of students, faculty and community members met Thursday night to address a University of Wisconsin professor’s statements about the Hmong community.

Law professor Leonard Kaplan made several statements during his Feb. 15 class that offended a group of students, who were coined the “Magnificent Seven” by those in attendance at the forum.

According to an e-mail sent to several law and Hmong students, Kaplan spoke for 10 minutes using “racist and inappropriate” remarks, allegedly saying, “Hmong men have no talent other than to kill,” and “all second-generation Hmong end up in gangs and other criminal activity,” among other comments.
Kaplan's version of the story has never been presented, strangely enough. The quotes are obviously cruelly torn from the teaching context. It is irrational to think that a law professor would assert things like this as a matter of belief. Kaplan isn't a racist, but anyone ought to know that a real racist who is clever enough to be a law professor would express himself subtly, not by bursting out with racist comments (unless he's lost his mind).

I don't know what the actual quotes were, and the repetition of the purported quotations from the email is giving them the aura of reality. Even if they are true, however, anyone who thinks about how teaching works ought to be able to imagine how there might be some pedagogical context in which those words would be said by the professor, perhaps phrasing a hypothetical or characterizing the thoughts of another person. Obviously, it would help to have an accurate report to counterweight the email (which I don't think was intended to go out to the press).
Jane Hamilton-Merritt, an author and Nobel Peace Prize nominee known for her writings on Hmong culture, flew in from Connecticut for the forum.

Originally aimed at addressing cultural acceptance of Hmong people, the discussion shifted focus almost entirely to Kaplan’s controversial comments.
As you can see, some people here at the law school believed this event would not focus on what happened in the classroom. You can detect a plan for healing, closure, and positivity.
“No matter what we all think is offensive, we’re not going to leave here with anyone ‘winning,’” said UW law student [name deleted], who was in Kaplan’s lecture. “I think the reality is the remarks, … if you agree or not, have been very damaging to the particular students and an entire population.”
[Name deleted] thus acknowledged the effect on the students, something that could conceivably be done without needing to get the facts straight or understanding why Kaplan said whatever it is he did. I imagine that [name deleted] believed this was a path toward closure.
With the initial goal of the meeting to be generally about Hmong cultural ignorance, [UW law professor Jane] Larson said Kaplan felt being in the room himself would change the nature of the discussion....

UW undergraduate [name deleted] said he regretted Kaplan did not take the opportunity to explain his comments.
But with such a large group assembled and some students very upset, how could you realistically expect them all to sit passively for Hamilton-Merritt's healthful lesson?
“We fully support all research with the marketplace of ideas, but we believe [what Kaplan said] extends far beyond the bounds of academic freedom,” [name deleted] said. “We respectfully request a public repeal and apology, and a (diversity) committee dedicated to faculty and staff.”

[Name deleted] then turned to Law School Dean Ken Davis personally, breaking the meeting’s procedural rules, before being cut off by the forum’s moderator.
What?! Procedural rules failed to keep the meeting on track? Who could have predicted that a student would try to refocus things on a matter of pressing, passionate concern? Wouldn't you have thought that someone who was "nominated for a Nobel Prize" and who flew in from the east coast would inspire awed silence?
Davis told the large crowd he hopes to continue the education of his faculty and staff.

“Sometimes we stumble, but we try to learn and try to move forward,” Davis said. “Within the Law School community, this will not be the end to learn about the wonderful community within our state.”
"Continue the education of his faculty and staff"? So it's reeducation time for all of us -- even though whatever it was that Kaplan said seems to be a complete anomaly and says nothing about the rest of us? Personally, I would never choose to approach a racial theme in class by stirring things up with exaggerated statements, and I find it hard to understand why Kaplan did whatever he did. As you know from my recent column, I support traditional law school teaching, but there are some people here who go for innovation. Innovation could lead a teacher to do things that distress the students and unleash difficult emotions. I would suppose that it would be the deepest concern about racism that would take a professor down this path.
Law student [named deleted] said he was hoping for more of an open forum where both sides were represented, adding several students may plan a “counter-forum.” He said he thinks Kaplan’s comments were conveyed as “bold and obviously untrue” and should be a part of the law education process.

“Every law professor offends their students — that’s their style,” [name deleted] said. “The last thing I’d want is to have professors treading on thin ice because they’re afraid of offending people.”
Don't you love the voice of reason?
Several students from Kaplan’s class gave their accounts of the incident in question.
[Name deleted], who was in class when Kaplan made his comments about the Hmong community, said she was outraged and upset she didn’t immediately respond to the comments in class.

“When I heard these comments, I was disturbed, shocked and angry at Kaplan and at myself for not speaking up, and at my classmates,” [name deleted] said.
The law professors want you to speak in class. The presentation is usually designed to create an occasion for speaking. Why not go in the next day and speak up? Kaplan's class is ongoing. There are endless opportunities. Did you ever get the impression that Kaplan was trying to close down discussion as opposed to stimulating it? When does a teacher stimulate discussion so much that instead of speaking in class, you choose to go outside of the class?
[Name deleted], who was in Kaplan’s class and first circulated mass e-mails to gather support, said she has been inundated with e-mails from both hate and support mail from around the country.
This is a classic example of the behavior of email. I can see how a student might feel too confused or intimidated to speak in class and might then send out an email as a way to process what happened and get ready perhaps to go back to class and engage with the teacher in a good way. But once something this inflammatory is in email, it escapes. It goes viral. It takes on a life of its own:
[Name deleted], who is in the class but did not attend lecture Feb. 15, met with Kaplan regarding the comments.

“We all genuinely believe that he is sorry we are hurt,” [name deleted] said. “What came as a shock, an injury and an insult was the fact he believed his statements to be true. He was not willing to repeal his statements.”
"The fact he believed his statements to be true"? And how did you come to be in possession of that "fact"?

ADDED: Today's Badger Herald also has this letter from Gerald Cox. CORRECTION: I think these are in fact 3 separate responses to a column on the subject by Gerald Cox (which would explain why the paragraphs don't fit together too well!):
I was in the class, this is all being taken out of context. If anything he was supporting Hmongs and criticizing Wisconsin failure in incorporating them into Northern WI society. Look at all the talk this has stirred! If anything he’s remarks helped bring light to a situation. He is not a racist and his remarks were not racist.

I’ve had Kaplan for a few courses and he is not a racist, and these remarks were completely taken out of context. The initial email describing Kaplan’s comments removed the context and intentionally led readers to conclude that Kaplan believes all Hmong are criminals and gangters which is obviously not something Kaplan believes. I feel bad that the student was offended but this student should publicly apologize to Kaplan for clearly misrepresenting his beliefs, the context of the discussion, and ignoring the fact that his effort to integrate cultural differences into the legal process class was designed to argue that the law should be more sensitive to cultural differences.

Especially as a professor, he should not be using terrible, ridiculous, ignorant stereotypes to prove his little point because you know what, to some, it is a terrible, ridiculous, and ignorant way of making a point. That’s not to say Kaplan’s a racist, but just because he isn’t a racist doesn’t mean he didn’t make ignorant, racist remarks. People make mistakes, he made a mistake, he should apologize, the Hmong student should not have to apologize for being offended (that suggestion just has no merit) and everybody should just learn and move on.
Cultural difference is quite the petard.

MORE: Here's the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's coverage of last night's event. Excerpt:
The students, who would not elaborate on what Kaplan had said, said in the beginning that their main goal was for faculty and students to be educated about the Hmong community and culture. But two of the students later broke down in tears as they talked angrily about the way Kaplan and the administration had responded to their concerns, with one student telling the crowd, "You have alienated us."

The fallout began when law student [name deleted], a Hmong who grew up in Eau Claire, circulated an e-mail among a dozen classmates accusing Kaplan of making "racist" comments during a class that focused on the intersection of culture and the law. [Name deleted] was not in class that day; she compiled the remarks from others.
So this is how the quotes came to be quoted. Did no one record the class?
Kaplan, who has refused the students' request to apologize publicly, did not show up at the forum even though he was expected to.
Expected to by whom? The faculty knew he wasn't going to be there.
For his part, law school Dean Kenneth Davis, who has overseen the fallout of the incident, which has not involved disciplinary action of Kaplan, would not comment, saying only that he was committed to moving forward with efforts to improve cultural understanding among faculty and students.

So it was no surprise when, toward the end of the forum, a woman in the audience drew applause when she complained:

"I'm left not knowing what happened. But I'm supposed to engage in a dialogue about it? . . . I'm left hanging."
The idea of the meeting really was that there was some way to go forward without needing to know what happened. But people care about the truth. I understand the impulse to say: Whatever happened, happened. Let's emphasize the positive and talk about the good things we can do in the future. But the human mind doesn't work that way. We want to understand the world we're in as we think about what to do about it.
[Name deleted] said Thursday night that her e-mail "wasn't well-informed" but "the remarks have had a damaging impact."
Ah! The tragedy of the viral email.
The students who were in Kaplan's class said they met with him to voice their anger and that he dismissed their opinions. They said that he apologized for hurting their feelings, but he stood by the comments he made in class.
Whatever they were!
However, law students were still upset by his remarks.
Whatever they were!
[Name deleted], a law student who is not in Kaplan's class, said she had been part of the discussions with the administration and was upset by the outcome. "Every corner we've turned, we've been dismissed by the faculty and our peers at the law school," she said.

She also said: "We feel so intensely alone. We have not gone to class. We have worked eight hours a day. We don't sleep very well. I want everyone to know you have alienated us."

[Name deleted], who was not in the class but was part of the discussion with Kaplan, broke down in tears while talking about the meeting. She said that she told Kaplan, "I know these things you said about Hmong people aren't true."
This is a terrible tragedy. I'm sure these students really are suffering, and I'm sure Kaplan, who was teaching about cultural difference, cares about this suffering. Contemplate whether his silence is benevolent forbearance.

NOTE: I've deleted the student names that originally appeared here. I didn't like using the students' names, and only had them because they were in the newspaper article I was commenting on. Obviously, the names are still available in the linked newspaper articles.

140 comments:

hdhouse said...

Ann posted: "It is irrational to think that a law professor would assert things like this as a matter of belief. Kaplan isn't a racist, but anyone ought to know that a real racist who is clever enough to be a law professor would..."

Therein rests the first problem...the assumption that a "law profesor" and a "clever" on at that (as all law professors are clever?)...would yada yada yada.

What makes law professors any more or less suspect?

The second problem rests in a gaggle of law students, some politically correctly or directly involved with the substance of the remarks, sitting on their hands without even a "what do you mean by that professor?" passing their lips. Does the UW law school admit advocates or sheep? Are the students only courageous in groups or in forum meetings?

MadisonMan said...

It is interesting that the Kaplan side of the comments has never been presented. It certainly allows the Perpertually Outraged to maintain their PO'ed state. The Magnificent Seven. Ugh.

Are there a lot of Hmong law students at the UW? This story makes me think there are -- it seems there are 3 in Kaplan's class, for example.

Ann Althouse said...

hdhouse: I'm not saying lawprofs are geniuses, but a certain basic level of cleverness -- and I chose the word "clever" with care -- is definitely needed to acquire the credentials you must have to get the job. That doesn't mean we aren't often idiots in one way or another. We are! But we're not idiots in the way that would cause us to openly and directly make assertions of actual racist beliefs. That's a fairly low level of cleverness. Believe me, I'm not bragging about how brilliant we all are. I'm just saying there's a floor below which we cannot exist here. A real racist would do something else (like maybe package it in libertarian abstractions. Note to hotheads: I don't actually think the people at the Liberty Fund thing were racists. I was making the point -- which seems obvious to me -- that the abstractions they purported to love were the same ones that smart racists would hide behind.)

Kevin Lomax said...

"Are there a lot of Hmong law students at the UW? This story makes me think there are."

I think I recall someone at the beginning of the forum saying there were all of seven Hmong attending the law school. The 40 or so who came in during the beginning to sit-in in the middle of the room apparently came from somewhere else.

I think the best part is that the most offended students in the class weren't even in class that day:

"The fallout began when law student KaShia Moua, a Hmong who grew up in Eau Claire, circulated an e-mail among a dozen classmates accusing Kaplan of making "racist" comments during a class that focused on the intersection of culture and the law. Moua was not in class that day; she compiled the remarks from others."

Pogo said...

I cannot even begin to express how much I hate these PC show trials, with their mass denunciations, exposure of "wreckers", and demand for self-criticism. Like the Chinese Cultural Revolution, we see the metaphorical dunce hats and people wearing signs around their necks denouncing their shameful crimes.

And it doesn't matter whether anything actually happened at all. The "truth" is irrelevant. Someone felt bad; there must be healing. This is no different than the Duke non-rape case. It's what happens when, a la Thucydides, "words lose their meaning." Rigoberta Manchu and Tawana Brawley are examples of the PC "crimes" that never happened but, representing a "larger truth", are believed anyway.

This sort of mobe rule should frighten people. But they seem blind to how quickly such tactics can engulf many innocents along the way. Did Burke write Reflections on the French Revolution for nothing? Do people even read Burke anymore?

MadisonMan said...

there were all of seven Hmong attending the law school.

Seven is a huge amount, considering that Hmong comprise just .7%, about, of Wisconsin's population. Unless there are 1000 law students at the UW.

James said...

The letter by Gerald Cox is surprisingly poorly written. I hope this letter isn't indicative of the intelligence of students at your university.

yetanotherjohn said...

All this sure doesn't make me want to hire a University of Wisconsin Law grad. Taking the comments at face value, if you can't develop an argument countering them, even as a first year law student, then you may just be lacking an essential element of being a successful lawyer.

Enjoy your reducation and self criticism class. Just try to remember who's who in this seasons class enemies list.

Kevin Lomax said...

"Seven is a huge amount, considering that Hmong comprise just .7%, about, of Wisconsin's population."

That might be true at another school, but Wisconsin has a well known and active East Asian Legal Studies Center and many students attend the school through it.

http://law.wisc.edu/ealsc/

I am so glad I've got my firm job lined up already.

Richard Fagin said...

Prof. Kaplan's only real offense seems to have been making a statement that could be taken out of context to convey a racist message while not being a member of the ethnic group being discussed.

I wished I had a tape recorder to store Prof. Anthony Chase's (UH Law Center) oration about the injustice of the Hopwood v. Texas decision from the 5th Circuit when the decision was announced. I used the word oration intentionally. It took up the entire class that evening. It was bigoted (against whites) to the core, but was one of the finest standing speeches (no notes mind you) I have ever seen and probably ever will see. The man is genuinely gifted. He was able to convey the message "white people suck" in a manner that left a lot of white people agreeing with him.

The point is, if a similar speech had been given by a white professor about the correctness of the same appeal decision, that professor would have been hauled before a law school tribunal of some kind for "re-education."

There is no free speech on college campuses and certainly none in the private workplace with respect to any aspect of people other than European whites that is less than entirely complimentary. Offending such people, intentionally or otherwise, is grounds for immediate termination at almost any private U.S. employer subject to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. What do you think would have happened if Prof. Kaplan were not tenured?

ada47 said...

That such a spectacle has faculty support is difficult to believe. As a professor, this scares the crap out of me. Why does it not scare the crap out of every academic that their words can be cherry picked to paint one as a racist, sexist, homophobe or whatever. Why does it not scare the crap out of every academic that a statement you make in class, most likely for the specific purpoise of challenging the students, that then goes unchallenged, can find its way into the national media.

So, do I start planning out every word of a lecture and submit it to the PC poliece befrehand so they can make sure I don't say something that will "offend" someone?

Clyde said...

We live in a country where even comments about non-viable Litho-Americans (Cavemen) insprires ourtrage. Hypersensitivity to any perceived slight is the order of the day.

That said, I can't read this story without thinking about some permutation of the old SNL skit Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.

"Your world frightens and confuses me. I'm just a caveman..." And then the legal gobbledygook follows, in which the smarmy Litho-American lawyer makes the case for his client.

Everyone's a victim, baby, that's the truth...

Kevin Lomax said...

I'm sure it scares the crap out of students too. Imagine discussing the policy issues in race discrimination cases smartly while trying to avoid saying something that will cause another five culture forums.

George said...

In other news, Samuel L. Jackson's new movie "Black Snake Moan" tells the story of a black man who chains up a nekkid teenage white nympho girl. Just the thing white chicks need!

The 400th anniversary "celebration" of the creation of the Jamestown colony is fraught with moral tension..."The exhibition...repeats the classic tribute: “Jamestown’s notable legacies include the introduction of representative government, English culture and heritage, and Protestant religion,".. But those legacies also include conflicts with Indians and the introduction of “race-based slavery.” These matters, once considered secondary, have become central. Now Jamestown is seen as the precursor to “a multicultural society grappling with a legacy of slavery and racism.”
http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/03/02/arts/design/02jame.html Yes, let's "celebrate" how awful we are.

But there is good news! John Travolta stars in a new gay friendly "hot man-on-bike action" flick. "It's magic!" raves the New York Times.http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/02/movies/02wild.html?8dpc

Matthew said...

Now I know why people don't leave the university. It is the only place where molehills can be regularly transformed into mountains by the power of feelings.

Vic Sapphire said...

These events are not worthy of law students. When did this sort of rank emotionalism become part of the legal trade? I recall there being less of this (albeit not much less) when I was a student in the 90's.

Incidentally, I had Jane Larson as my real property prof. at Northwestern in the mid-1990's. She is a wonderful, smart and compassionate professor and person. Congrats to UW on snapping up a quality facultymember.

CF said...

I think I'd rather have bamboo splinters shoved under my fingernails than be on a university faculty these days.
BTW these law students might take a look at a brief or motion. If they did, they'd see that facts precede argument.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Contemplate whether his silence is benevolent forbearance

My contemplation made me think of this:

Matthew 27:5a-8: "Now Jesus stood before the governor, and he questioned him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" Jesus said, "You say so." And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he made no answer. Then Pilate said to him, "Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?" But he did not answer him one word, so that the governor was greatly amazed."

MadisonMan said...

What do you think would have happened if Prof. Kaplan were not tenured?

What happened to Kevin Barrett?

The UW has an admirable record, IMO, of tolerating wacko ideas promulgated by its faculty. (Do not read that statement to mean I think Kaplan said something wacko, by the way -- there's no way of knowing).

I echo Ann's question -- did no one tape this lecture?

P. Froward said...

"Cruelly" torn? Is that not a bit silly?


I agree, though, that it's funny how this elaborate Ritual Empowerment Ceremony can be conducted without anybody actually knowing what it is that they're responding to. It exists for its own sake. Any excuse will do for a picnic, right? Same with these large-scale group therapy sessions, for some people.


But, if we're talking about silly...

"We feel so intensely alone. We have not gone to class. We have worked eight hours a day. We don't sleep very well. I want everyone to know you have alienated us."

Everybody is alone, and one day we will all be dead. Human existence is a brief flicker of obscurity between two voids. Blah blah blah. Pull your f*****g socks up and get on with your goddamn life. Nothing is more unhealthy than being in touch with your feelings.

Jeff said...

My favorite piece of irony here is that a child of refugees from Communism is here earnestly engaged in an effort to institute a similar system in her new homeland. The Pathet Lao would be proud!

Speech codes, identity politics, the irrelevance of facts in the face of truthiness, reliance on the spectacle of demonstrations over drab procedure, the enshrinement of victimhood- the leftist long march through the academy proceeds apace.

Pogo said...

Ruth Anne lights a candle.

Internet Ronin said...

Why no one actually physically present that day has seen fit to provide the context in which the remarks are alleged to have been made is mystifying to me.

What was the lecture subject that day? Was it a quotation of someone else's remarks? Was Kaplan describing what he thought were the opinions of others in Wisconsin? Was this a reference to reactions to the murder of the Hmong hunters? Or did he just blurt that out? Who knows? Not almost all of the people who have spoken thus far.

It seems to me that someone could easily find out some of these answers with just a modicum of effort, but that also seems beyond the capabilities of the reporters covering the story. Kaplan's failure to issue any statement is unfortunate.

Ann Althouse said...

Ruth Anne: I meant for you to think of that.

Mike said...

I think Kaplan was wise not to attend. Unless he was willing to apologize and grovel for an offense he (presumably) didn't commit, no good would have come out of it.

ada47, you are right to be frightened. Take my advice. Stay as far away from race and culture as you can. Never say anything. You may feel that your educational duties require you to discuss the subject, but your good intentions will not be reciprocated by some. And that "some" will dominate the discussion.

Kevin Lomax said...

I wonder how much money will be spent because of this.

We have the law school organizing forums and issuing apologies, people being flown in to talk about things, lawyers being retained to protect.

Mike Rentner said...

Yeah, but what's a Hmong and why are we supposed to care?

El-Visitador said...

"The letter by Gerald Cox is surprisingly poorly written. I hope this letter isn't indicative of the intelligence of students at your university."

I must say I am just as surprised.

Mike said...

Internet Ronin asked: "Why no one actually physically present that day has seen fit to provide the context in which the remarks are alleged to have been made is mystifying to me."

I've been asking myself that question. The answer may be self preservation. If you were in attendance, would you want to stand up to these people? You'd be setting yourself up for a lot of grief.

Anthony said...

This doesn't really strike me as all that unusual, except in degree. When I was starting teaching in anthropology (late 1980s) we had a whole training section on this sort of thing. And we got all the horror stories of deeply offended students. The sad thing is, many faculty were willing to drop subjects that might be controversial.

Ferinstance, the classic example of a deleterious gene that conveys a selective advantage in certain environments is sickle cell. In its heterozygous state, it protects against malaria, but in homozygous recessive it produces the disease. Despite this, it became fixed within certain populations. But that was off limits because black people might feel offended for being singled out.

Pogo said...

Law professor Leonard Kaplan's diary entry for the evening of March 1, 2007:

"Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death."

ada47 said...

mike,
I wish I could take your advice.
Problem is, I'm a developmental geneticist. That means I teach about such things as evolutionary conservation of developmental mechanisms, and geographic segregation of polymorphisms in pigmentation genes.

Culture and race.

I get to offend right wing religious nuts AND PC liberals.

And I don't have tenure.

vnjagvet said...

IIRC, Ann has said that Prof. Kaplan is a good professor who, to her knowledge is not a "racist".

That doesn't matter, say his critics, because he uttered words that someone has deemed "racist".

It doesn't matter even if he was using those words to make a non-racist point. Or to convey a general message important to the understanding of "racism" as the law actually deals with it.

Of course, that is a ridiculous position. It is an instance of allowing hysteria to completely overcome rationality.

But even so, from the university's perspective, hysteria must be dealt with rationally. The session described is one way rationally to deal with hysterical people. Let those suffering from hysteria vent and the hysteria runs its course.

Parents with children who have tantrums from time to time employ this technique. As a father of five now adult children who had their share of tantrums during infancy, childhood and adolescence, I can testify that the technique works.

Kevin Lomax said...

"But even so, from the university's perspective, hysteria must be dealt with rationally. The session described is one way rationally to deal with hysterical people. Let those suffering from hysteria vent and the hysteria runs its course."

Problem is we're dealing with twenty-something year-old law students who should be learning how to be professionals, not infants. Additionally, a time-out at a university didn't work to end this crap in the 60's and it won't now. More than likely the administration will just give them whatever it takes to make them shut up and go away. Akin to giving the candy to the spoiled brat in the checkout aisle so as to not look like a bad parent to the surrounding shoppers.

Pogo said...

Re; "I can testify that the technique works."

I disagree. These are adults engaged in mob tactics. Universities have long since shed any sense of concern for truth in these matters, so they bow to the demands of those who shout the loudest (as here, the most offended weren't even there).

These law students are making serious accusations that may be completely false. If an investigation reveals that Kaplan did not do what they said, these students should be dealt with accordingly. They should be expelled. But they won't be. They will be apologized to, and the professors will be forced to attend re-education camps.

hdhouse said...

ann - on being "clever"

ohhh pls. don't get me wrong...your point is well made..i was being a little picky...and "clever" in many parts of the world is a high compliment.

but i remain surprised and a little saddened that students didn't confront this directly...that is a shame and doesn't say a lot about the potential for a student to rise in defense of at some later date....albeit easier to defend an intrusion on someone else, i guess, over one that impacts you directly.

hdhouse said...

ann - on being "clever"

ohhh pls. don't get me wrong...your point is well made..i was being a little picky...and "clever" in many parts of the world is a high compliment.

but i remain surprised and a little saddened that students didn't confront this directly...that is a shame and doesn't say a lot about the potential for a student to rise in defense of at some later date....albeit easier to defend an intrusion on someone else, i guess, over one that impacts you directly.

Richard Dolan said...

What a strange place the contemporary university has turned into. A student who skips a class is told of a prof's comments that she finds offensive -- in what context and with what intention those comments were made she clearly does not know. The student then vents her offended feelings in a email that circulates around, and predictably generates lots of heat on all sides. Next thing you know, everyone is falling all over themselves to conduct forums and whatnot to heal the hurt feelings, condemn the (possibly) offensive remarks, etc., etc. Through all of this the professor who made the remarks denies that he said anything that was intended to offend, or that in context should reasonably have been taken as offensive. But that little detail quickly becomes irrelevant. Fake but accurate strikes again!

Perhaps it is just as well if these would-be, wanna-be victims of offensive comments (real or fancied) get all that out of their systems now, in an environment where such nut-ball stuff is taken (more or less) seriously. It's a way of taking center stage, parading one's self-worth (as if anyone was questioning it), and wrapping oneself in the warm, cuddly blanket of ethnic victimhood. Viewed from the outside, the whole spectacle is just astonishing, as if the university community had taken a collective leave of its senses. If there is any explanation (beyond the evident desire by the administration to Move On), it's that the whole show allows everyone to bask in the warmth of their own righteousness, virtuous feelings and overall merit. Why should anyone care that the occasion for this hootenanny was a misunderstanding by a student who skipped the class, coupled with a (possibly) tone deaf professor who momentarily forgot that his student-charges have been taught to hone exquisite antenna for just this sort of thing.

Ann summarises all of this: "This is a terrible tragedy. I'm sure these students really are suffering, and I'm sure Kaplan, who was teaching about cultural difference, cares about this suffering. Contemplate whether his silence is benevolent forbearance." Terrible tragedy? Suffering? Oh, boy. A little perspective would be helpful. Whatever may be happening at this university, preparing students for life in the real world doesn't seem to be high on the list. Just another day in the life of our tax dollars at work!

Mike said...

ADA47, I don't think you are at risk offending right wing religious nuts, so maybe you can stick to those topics.

I, for one, look forward to Ann's blogging from the mandatory diversity seminars!

Simon said...

I'm never quite sure if the entire English idiom made it across the pond into American English. Does the phrase "storm in a teacup" work in this country? It seems to apply to this situation.

vonliszt said...

It is a wonderful thing to provide an opportunity to discuss and elaborate the "Hmong experience" and the meaning of diversity and academic freedom. I am not sure, though, if the venue last night was about this.
Do I see it right that the UW Law Schools provided an opportunity for students to talk about the way they "feel" insulted by Kaplan? Such a public event has a tremendously labeling effect on the reputation of a faculty member, and it can also have a negative effect on the reputation of Hmong as well, because at this point nobody knows how racist (if at all) Kaplan's comments were. Is the idea of due process that easily sacrificed by the law school's administration? I certainly see the need for a discussion, but as long as not all parties are involved, I am not sure if the law school should be the place for that.

Mike Rentner said...

Simon, we say "tempest in a teapot."

I think that is right in line with my comment about "what's a Hmong and why are we supposed to care?"

As a law student, I find it hard to find time to walk my dog every day (and I consider that a very important job), let alone attend silly rallies over insults to people that I'd never heard of before.

reader_iam said...

I think the best part is that the most offended students in the class weren't even in class that day

They were the ones operating without context, which makes it easy for them to experience the purity of outraged offense without caveats.

brian said...

I am a fairly left-leaning student at UW Law, and while I frequently disagree with many Althouse commenters on many occasions, I completely agree with the general feeling present throughout this thread. I cannot understand why a professor is being condemned by nothing more than hearsay and rampant speculation. The only real account of Kaplan's comments is a quite foggy one coming from one student's email that was not even meant for public consumption. I'm with my fellow student Nishith Patel - a law professor's duty is to challenge you into thinking about the world from a variety of perspectives, and I for one do not want "chilled speech" in class. That only makes our education less effective.

I'm saying that Kaplan did or did not make inappropriate comments. I do not know, because I was not there. Let Kaplan present his side of the story. Only when both sides of the case are presented may we come to any meaningful conclusion. In a court of law an accused is afforded the opportunity to present his case before being determined guilty.

brian said...

Whoops. My second paragraph above should read "I'm not saying..."

Simon said...

The new year's resolution's really gone out the window, hasn't it? ;)

I'd agree with Brian - do we even care what the one or maybe two students thought the prof said, let alone what those who weren't in the class think? What did the other students in the class hear him say?

Mike - that's much more elegant. Alliterative, too!

me said...

With the risk of sounding racist, it is certainly possible that the reason Kaplan is clearly being taken out of context is because of cultural differences.

This episode is 100 percent pathetic. No one was transcribing the lecture. Without the complete "rant" a few lines, even if correctly taken down, cannot lead to the conclusion that Kaplan said something out of turn.

Kaplan is being treated like Kramer, except Kaplan was teaching a class, which some time requires using examples. It would be like saying that talking about a sexual harassment case is an act of sexual harassment.

Y.G. Brown said...

Ruth Anne: I meant for you to think of (Jesus Christ).

Ann, you intended to compare Kaplan to Christ? Really?

And did you actually compare the statements from your own dean to being shipped off to re-education camps like those found in Vietnam and China??

Goodness me.

You further state that, "Kaplan's version of the story has never been presented, strangely enough." Some of your commentors here have grasped onto this as a sign of bias in how these events are being reported.

First, this is only true in the sense that Professor Kaplan himself has chosen not to speak publicly on his own behalf. As you know, many students in the class have publicly written that Kaplan was critiquing the State of Wisconsin and that the statements were not meant to be racist. This almost certainly reflects Kaplan's own view, though he could certainly offer further detail into both his statements and his educational intent.

Second, there is nothing "strange" about the fact that Kaplan's version of the story has never been presented. Multiple news organizations have contacted him asking for comment. He has refused. He was invited to the forum last night. He refused to attend. You seem to see some sort of Christlike nobility in his silence but you also imply that there is some mystery about the fact that no one is reporting "Kaplan's version of the story." It is painfully obvious that this is only true because Kaplan steadfastly refuses to give it.

I actually agree with some of your less strident and hyperbolic points, and I think that Kaplan most likely made an inarticulate attempt to provoke and challenge his students and in the process he left some of his more sensitive students with their jaws hanging open.

However, rather than directly engaging your students, your peers, and your community last night you instead chose to avoid the forum entirely and to then fisk a news article written by an undergraduate about the forum.

This is absurd and irresponsible. It is beneath you, if you are interested in actually educating the students at your school.

Kevin Lomax said...

"no one is reporting "Kaplan's version of the story." It is painfully obvious that this is only true because Kaplan steadfastly refuses to give it."

One learns rather quickly in this type of situation that you cannot win. One can only lose by talking to the press.

George said...

As best I can tell from scanning the above, no one has yet taken the time to find out if there was any truth in what the prof. supposedly said.

Well, it turns out that there are many Hmong criminal gangs in the US and their "activity is increasing in severity." So says the FBI.
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2194/is_2_72/ai_98253655

Among other things, many of these groups specialize in rape, not to mention murder and home invasions. And by rape, I mean gang rape.

As best I can determine, the Hmong are/were a primitive tribal people who live in remote mountainous areas of Laos and SE Asia. (I say "primitive" because they are animist.)

Recruited by the CIA and US Army during the Vietnam War, they provided an effective guerilla resistance movement. After the US defeat, Hmong tribes were severely persecuted, if not exterminated. Translation: They were good killers.

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2194/is_2_72/ai_98253655

I can also recall reading articles that said because of the huge cultural gap between the US and near Stone Age conditions in rural Laos, Hmong who were resettled in the US experienced extreme difficulties adjusting.

If the prof's a racist, he's a racist, but there may be a grain of truth in wondering if disproprortionate levels of violence exist among Hmong, just as European settlers found that some Indian tribes were peaceful and others warlike.

Cedarford said...

Pogo's 8:48 AM post was dead on. Another PC show trial.

This time a professor victimized by radical students.
Versus the Duke case of students being denounced by radical professors at a show trial.

Once again showing though, that whites are fair game to hunt, others - not so.

Professor Kaplan was wise not to show up. Because no matter what he said, surely there was some comment that could be seized on and shown to prove his underlying anti-Hmong racism, even subliminal, thus validating the underlying "just grievance" metanarrative.
Then Kaplan would of course been called on to apologize - in order to legitimize and agree to accept the "truth" of his own denunciation.
Guys, this has been around forever in Marxist politics. Kaplan is lucky he lives in these days, actually, vs. in a time and place where he'd get a bullet in his brain for his "sins".

Just once I'd like to see someone fight back against the power-thirsty little Leftists. In China, many a Show Trial was ruined because the accused figuratively and literally spit in the face of consternated Red Guard students.."But you must admit error! You must apologize!"

Then again, the PC victims then knew their brains were literally minutes away from being pulverized and spattered by a high velocity rifle round, so they had nothing to lose..

tjl said...

The law school does no favor to its Hmong students by encouraging them to obsess about their wounded feelings. Any lawyer can expect to hear occasional unkind words from judges or opposing counsel. If your legal training encourages you to respond to perceived slights by agonizing as these students have done, you will have a short career.

Brian said...

Imagine the level of immaturity and self-indulgence required to get offended, self-righteously offended, by comments you have not heard, the nature of which you do not know.

To the extent that these kids suffer, their suffering should not be respected. The problem with these kids is that no one ever told them that their feelings are not interesting or important.

Bob said...

Ann, great read as usual.

Here is a quote from you at the end of your post. "I'm sure these students really are suffering".

This struck me in a odd way. I am sure they are, confused, angry, hurt and in todays use of "suffering" they probably are.

Have we dumbed down the word suffering however by using it here so cavalierly. I find myself lately rejecting the modern usage of many old reliable words like suffering.

Suffering to me used to mean anguish with real and ongoing physical pain. If describing emotional suffering, it used to mean to me, emotional pain so intense that thoughts of suicide might not be far off.

Like you, I don't know what was said, but the context from the person who attended, stating that the quotes are out of context, clearly seem to be the most logical.

It is hard for me to get from there to suffering.

Clayton said...

I'm so glad that I will never be able to be anything but adjunct faculty. When teaching Constitutional History, there were individual phrases or statements where I was expressing the positions or beliefs that were common at a particular time--and clearly articulated as such. If my students were the brilliant sorts that attend UW Law School--instead of students attending a fourth rate institution like Boise State--I might have been the subject of this sort of verbal auto da fe.

Increasingly, it is apparent that universities, especially the top tier universities, are collapsing. Their faculty are so in love with self-loathing and a weird mix of cultural relativism and hatred of America as the only real evil that they intend to commit collective suicide as teaching institutions.

PatCA said...

He ought to call FIRE right away. They are used to defending such cultural enemies, now that the Cultural/Emotional Revolution is in full swing.

Note the complete anti-intellectual flavor of this show trial, in a law school, of all places! The student sobbed; therefore, Kaplan must be guilty of causing her to sob. If the students were honest, and if the university really supported them, they would look inside their own emotionally hysterical behavior for answers and stop projecting on everyone else.

cheddar said...

So it seems that at least two of the most offended students enrolled in the class were not actually in class on Feb. 15.
Can't the taxpayers expect just a tiny bit more from these Magnificent students getting a taxpayer-subsidized education?

Tibore said...

Comment disguised as a dumb question:

Racial insults - assuming one was actually delivered by this professor (I don't know; I didn't hear the lecture) - are personal injuries. Amends for such injuries are normally personal too. Why do these protesters hold the mindset that a personal insult can only be dealt with through public shaming? Is a publicly induced apology really as meaningful as a privately delivered one? Is this really about salving a wound, or more about being "activist"?

This seems like so much racial grandstanding to me. And I say that as an Asian (Filipino, not Vietnamese Hmong).

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

I suppose I should have some pity for these poor young folk, being forced to work an 8 hour day and skip class, and then not sleep well, all because of some remarks that may or may not have been racist, and may or not have been about their racial group.

But have to work my 8 hours today, go home and work another 4 or so, all to make sure me and mine are fed, clothed and housed.

I ain't got time to worry about what someone may have said that may have insulted someone- Hell, I ain't got time to worry about what may have been said to insult ME that wasn't said to my face.

Must be nice to be a college student.

Adjoran said...

"We feel so intensely alone. We have not gone to class. We have worked eight hours a day. We don't sleep very well. I want everyone to know you have alienated us."


If they haven't gone to class, WHERE were they working "8 hrs a day" then?

The Hmong people I knew back in the '80s had just arrived as refugees. They were given cheap apartments and slept on the floor on straw mats, no furniture except a low table, a dozen or more people to a small apartment. They worked hard, their children worked hard and went to school, and after a time, most adapted well to the new culture, considering they hadn't even seen an automobile or electric light before leaving their homes.

These kids sound like whiners looking for an excuse for flunking the class.

David D said...

The poorly written letter in the Badger Herald was written in response to Gerald Cox, not by Gerald Cox.

It also appears to be a posted comment, rather than a printed letter, and as such has not been edited for clarity or spelling.

The writer claims to be a law student; if this caliber of writing is typical, you and Mr Kaplan have my sympathy, Ann.

Perhaps, after these young people are out of school and living in the adult world, they will learn not to let their feelings get so, so, so terribly hurt by gossip. . .

Poor Nancy, loosing sleep after she read that KaShi wrote that she heard from someone that Mr Kaplan said something mean.

Ann Althouse said...

Y.G. Brown said..."'Ruth Anne: I meant for you to think of (Jesus Christ).' Ann, you intended to compare Kaplan to Christ? Really?"

So did you really intend to say that when someone models their behavior on Christ's they are purporting to be the equivalent of him? I'm simply pointing out that the behavior people are finding incomprehensible is a core example for behavior in our tradition.

Y.G. Brown said...

One learns rather quickly in this type of situation that you cannot win. One can only lose by talking to the press.

While I disagree, this is certainly a reasonable point of view. Professor Kaplan apparently opted to meet privately with the students, to apologize privately to them, and to discuss his statements with them. This strikes me as a completely rational, thoughtful way of addressing these matters on his part.

I am not arguing that he has any obligation to make his own account of these events public. That is his choice, and he is more than capable of deciding whether it would serve his own interests to speak publicly on the subject. Others are certainly making salient points in his favor to the press and elsewhere. At the same time, his silence is the only reason that his version of events is not being reported. To claim that the failure to report it is "strange" is itself quite odd, particularly when coupled with Ann's attempt to draw parallels between Professor Kaplan and Jesus Christ for refusing to speak about these events publicly.

Y.G. Brown said...

I'm simply pointing out that the behavior people are finding incomprehensible is a core example for behavior in our tradition.

Ann? You are the one who presented the media's failure to report Kaplan's account of events as "strange". You are the one who is scolding reporters for their inability to give both sides of this issue equal time. No one else has even suggested that Professor Kaplan's decision to decline comment is "incomprehensible."

You are describing Professor Kaplan's silence as a Christlike virtue while also expressing wonderment at the failure by the press to report his non-existent public comments. That is incomprehensible.

Kevin Lomax said...

"While I disagree, this is certainly a reasonable point of view."

You haven't dealt with the press enough.

Kevin Lomax said...

"While I disagree, this is certainly a reasonable point of view."

You haven't dealt with the press enough.

Bissage said...

I’m envious of these law students into all this ethnic grievance stuff. I mean, they get to hang out and gossip and go to meetings and get all umbraged (umbragified? unbragicated?) and talk to newspaper reporters (which is only two steps away from celebrity status) and all that cool kind of stuff. Afterwards, I’ll bet they go out for drinks and then go dancing.

If I were back in law school, they’d be out having a good old time and there I’d be, all sad and lonely, sitting in my little chair by the reading lamp with a casebook on my lap with the Bic Stics (blue, black and red), three highlighters (yellow, blue and orange) and my little six inch ruler.

*sniff.*

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
aquariid said...

It's a little surprising that no Hmong student who was in the class has stood up to defend and explain the teacher's comments in context, that is, if the comments were didactic.

Back in the 90's when I was a student teacher in a racially diverse middle-school my supervising teacher, an older white woman from the midwest, privately made the comment to me that she thought blacks in the US had achieved so much progress because of the admixture of white blood. I was dumbfounded and made no reply. Years later it occurred to me that she may have been testing me. It has always bothered me that I didn't refute her, but I was in a dependant position and her recommendation was all important to getting a job (which ironically I never got, because I failed her test?).

Y.G. Brown said...

Ann, you wrote the following only one day before you retreated from your academic community to attack many of your students in this blog post rather than engaging them directly last night at a public forum addressing these exact issues:

"Blogging is actually not the only way to speak up about something and there may be something craven about using blogging as the mode of expression in some cases, especially when you have a pedestal higher than that of the people you mean to address."

Well said. Though I would change the words "may be" to "unquestionably is."

clairedm said...

I am in the Legal Process class that is the subject of the discussion and was there that day. No one was recording it or even taking notes, probably, because the class has such an informal quality.

It is being suggested by the quotes going around that Professor Kaplan's remarks were some comment about the essential worth of a Hmong man, as in "All Hmong men are good at is killing," meant that it is just in their inherent nature to kill and be good at it. They are uncivilized and that is all they are good for. This is a misrepresentation of the comments. I believe that the clear thrust of his comments was that all these immigrants who lived their whole life in the mountains of Laos are now transplanted here. There, all the men knew was killing. Here, the society is different. Kaplan pointed out the difficulties that Hmong men have had at integrating here because the kind of society here is different than the hunting society that existed in their homeland. He also pointed out how well Hmong women have intergrated because the skills that they came to this county with translate here. That is, they are weavers and artisans, and they can use that skill here while the Hmong men's skills are simply no good here. The context of the discussion was basically a critique of how the federal and state governments have dropped the ball in the way that they have handled the Hmong. Kaplan was very critical of the fact that the government should have easily forseen the problem and set up programs to help the immigrants integrate.

Also the suggestion that he made a conclusory statement that all young Hmong men turn to gangs is an incredible simplification. First of all he said that all second generation immigrant groups turn to crime as a way to break into an economy that is not integrating them. He illustrated with examples of other cultural groups, most notably that of Jewish immigrants.

He did not say that Hmong men rape their wives and then get upset that they have paid too much for them. During a discussion about legal formalism he illustrated how black letter law can be more open to interpretation than one might think, once cultural difference are factored in by using the example of a Hmong man who agrees with a woman's father to pay a dowry in exchange for a bride. Then he wants to be intimate with his wife. She says no, he does it anyway because in his mind this is a marriage and this is just the way things work. She claims she was raped. He asked how many of us in the class would agree, and I believe everyone raised their hand. He then suggested that the husband and the father might disagree, and he did say that the man thought he paid to much, which was a joke, and many people laughed.

I apologize that I can't put quotes around the things that he said, but it has been a while and I don't want to misquote him. Many of us in the class are upset about the way this is all happening, the way that his statements are being interpreted. I feel very bad for the students who feel offended, and I know that Kaplan does too. I decided not to attend the meeting last night when I read that some students from the class would give their opinions. When these comments first came out I wrote to Dean Davis and expressed that I did not agree with the characterization of those comments. When I was not invited to give my opinions I knew that only one kind of comment was going to be appreciated at last night's forum. I want my Hmong classmates to come back to class, and I am sorry that they are hurt, but I think that it is important to be a voice against "P.C." and a voice for real equality and critical thinking about the issue of race.

MadisonMan said...

clairedm, thank you for adding the important context to the remarks. It's very helpful.

Jeff said...

"Note the complete anti-intellectual flavor of this show trial"

On the contrary- a show trial strikes me as a profoundly intellectual exercise. Non-intellectuals would simply fire (or lynch) someone who had violated social or communal norms of conduct.

Self-flaggelating struggle sessions are a hallmark of the PC academy- just ask Larry Summers! (But don't ask Nicholas De Genova or Ward Churchill- being of the Left means never having to say you're sorry!)

aquariid said...

"clairedm said...

I am in the Legal Process class that is the subject of the discussion..."

Well put.
You have redeemed your school and revived my faith in humanity.

Bissage said...

Clairedm's input has the ring of truth to it.

File this one under "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished."

Cosmo said...

Pogo and Cedarford nail this for the Cultural revolution-style 'struggle session' circus it is.

y.g brown: No one is under any obligation to respond to the (possibly concocted) accusations of a mob. Issuing a license for any handful of people to demand answers from others is madness.

The Cultural Revolution devolved into naked political score settling by factions charging individuals and one another with various ginned-up ideological transgressions. Those who "won" were the most ruthless and manipulative.

ada47 is right to be fightened.

Pogo said...

Re: "being of the Left means never having to say you're sorry"

I disagree. According to the cited articles thus far, professor Leonard Kaplan has tons of lefty credentials. But these do not protect him. He is finding out that cultural revolutions inevitably eat their own. It was true in France, in China, and in Cambodia.

And clairedm was wise not to attend the meeting. Had she come and voiced any disagreement about The Crime, she knew she too would have been convicted.

This kind of lefty hysteria is no joke. It's a primer on how the West has slowly been committing suicide. 50 years ago, a film with this plot would have been laughed out of the theater. Now such idiocy is not only tolerated but nurtured, coddled, and promoted.

RogerA said...

Another mouse dropping over which academe has pole vaulted.

Harkonnendog said...

what a bunch of ugly whining. how frigging ridiculous this entire thing is.

Michael said...

What a bunch of drama queens.

When I and a bunch of my classmates witnessed first-hand a professor making sexist comments in class, three of us marched straight over to the dean's office and filed a complaint.

The single female student in that class was appreciative, but told us we didn't need to do anything on her behalf.

No tears, no mass emails, no sit-ins, no reporters, no witch hunt, no rending of garments, no re-education in room 101 at the ministry of truth, no nothing. Just one trip to the dean's office, and that professor never made another sexist comment in our presence again. We got right back to what we came there for in the first place - learning.

My opinion is that any law student who can be driven to emotional distraction over hearsay evidence, in spite of exculpatory evidence, isn't fit for the profession. Unless, of course, the profession is "race hustler with a law degree."

Y.G. Brown said...

y.g. brown: No one is under any obligation to respond to the (possibly concocted) accusations of a mob. Issuing a license for any handful of people to demand answers from others is madness.

I have no idea why this is directed to me, since I wrote:

"Professor Kaplan apparently opted to meet privately with the students, to apologize privately to them, and to discuss his statements with them. This strikes me as a completely rational, thoughtful way of addressing these matters on his part.

"I am not arguing that he has any obligation to make his own account of these events public. That is his choice, and he is more than capable of deciding whether it would serve his own interests to speak publicly on the subject. Others are certainly making salient points in his favor to the press and elsewhere..."

Regardless, I agree with you in attacking and destroying this strawman argument made by no one. Kudos.

Y.G. Brown said...

Some of you are comparing this situation to the Cultural Revolution. Your views of history are amusingly askew and self-serving.

Internet Ronin said...

Thank you, clairdm. Your comment is most appreciated (and pretty much what I expected to hear when context was finally provided). It shows some error in judgment on the part of Professor Kaplan but nothing approaching the level of what he has been accused of, and certainly unworthy of what appears to be a continuing effort, based on hearsay, to destroy what remains of his personal and professional reputation. When the facts ultimately come to light after some sort of investigation (which appears inevitable), and they will, I imagine Kaplan will be exonerated.

I am reminded of what former Secretary of Labor Ray Donovan said after being cleared of all charges filed against him in a politically motivated prosecution, "Who will give me back my reputation?" No one will, No one can. And that is why I disagree with Ann about the organizers of this public humiliaiton campaign. Most of those responsible for this outrage, who were not in the classroom but embellished half-thruths and spread rumors, will never pay a price for what they have done.

It is sad that the atmosphere at the University of Wisconsin, like most universities today, is so poisoned that one dare not speak the truth lest one be indelibly marked as an outcast or worse.

Jeff said...

"He is finding out that cultural revolutions inevitably eat their own."

I agree- Summers offend the Left, while De Genova and Churchill offended the center and the Right. If Summers had been part of a protected minority, he would have gotten a pass from the Left. As it is, he commited heresy and had to be sacrificed on the altar of feminism.

Comparisons to the Cultural Revolution are apt and on point. No one is being sent to re-education camps, but careers and lives are being ruined and our culture is being degraded by these kinds of hysterics.

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pogo said...

YG Brown said "...comparing this situation to the Cultural Revolution. Your views of history are amusingly askew and self-serving."

Yeah, I always thought the Chinese show trials were a hoot. Of course, there's no comparison here, where a lefty professor is convicted in absentia on trumped up charges of violating the PC Party doctrine.

This lies in stark contrast to the 1960s, when the Red Guard had massive assemblies ("struggle rallies") in which "enemies" of the regime – mostly dedicated Communists turned in by rivals – were rounded up, publicly humiliated, and forced to confess to trumped up charges (and sometimes beaten in the process).

Why, these are entirely different things!!

Naked Lunch said...
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freelunch said...

I would like to add my thanks to you, clairdm.

I find it most sad that the perpetually peeved, like the absent-but-annoyed student who appears to have started this, tend to undermine the cause that they are claiming to support. Of course, there are always students available to egg these folks on.

A student who missed class and heard rumors about what was said, who actually cared about the class, would have gone to the professor and asked him about it. I haven't heard that Professor Kaplan is difficult to talk to (though it was a while ago for me) and cannot understand why anyone would make unsupportable public accusations without making a private contact to understand.

Naked Lunch said...

Pogo
It's funny, I've seen you jump down the throats of plenty of liberals in an unabashed display of PC. Funny how our world comes crashing down when a liberal makes a botched joke, or a Catholic joke on a blog, eh. Hypocrite.

RJ Schwarz said...

From a trial lawyer legal context I would think how to use or defend against this kind of ginned up hysteria could be very useful.

TMink said...

I was in graduate pshcyology class with a fairly dramatic professor. His style irked my friend who called him on it in class. "Dr. Martin, I have seen you perform, act out, do funny voices, look intoxicated, and generally waste my time all semester. I am wondering if you will ever get around to teaching?" she asked. No joke! He turned beet red and mumbled something before dismissing class. You could have heard a pin drop.

Next test I was sitting beside her (not brave just stupid) and he returned her test, it was an F, saying "I just want to see how an arrogant Jewess reacts to failure."

She calmly took the paper and replied "OK, here is the deal. I just got an A in the class without spending another second here or taking any more tests or turning in anymore work. And you get to keep your sorry ass job."

She gathered her things and walked out with her head held high. A few weeks later she showed me her grades, and there was the A.

Now that is how you deal with bigotry.

Trey

me said...
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me said...

One of Len Kaplan's more memorable lines was that he critiqued Kennedy's statement "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," as being a tenet of fascism. He said it while he was teaching at a conservative law school, and his comment did not go over well.

tinyblue said...

I'm not a student in Kaplan's Legal Process class. I am however a law student that's concerned about how this is being treated. This incident should not have become a public issue, and the students should not have brought the entire community into this.

The law school is itself a unique community that discusses many issues that are difficult to discuss in public. For example, we discuss acquaintance rape, specifically whether the allegedly raped women’s subjective beliefs should be the only inquiry; we discuss gender issues, specifically whether women are strong enough to be in combat; we discuss sexual orientation, specifically whether two men should be able to marry and raise children; and we discuss immigration, specifically whether Mexican immigrants should be paid a higher wage for their minimal skill sets. These are just some of the issues that get students in heated debates during class. We come out of these classes with mutual respect and admiration for each other’s views. More importantly, we come out prepared to face these challenging issues in our profession and to make informed decisions.

From what I’ve heard in Nam Dao’s statement and the law school Dean’s statement, the context of the classroom discussion was legal formalism and the State’s inability to adjust laws to the different cultures. Kaplan used Hmong as an example, but he could have used any other culture affected by this, e.g., Muslim, Latino or any other Asian culture. He used commonly cited stereotypes to illustrate his point. In one instance, he was discussing the “cultural defense” which American courts historically have been extremely reluctant to admit. This is an emerging issue that students need to discuss.

The problem is that the two (not seven) students in class complaining of the discussion didn’t want to hear the Hmong culture used as an example. They also didn’t like the way that Kaplan presented the material. What the entire law school student body wants to know is, why didn’t they speak up? Should they have spoken up? Is an inflammatory email distributed among the entire community the proper way to address a personal concern? If not, can we setup an independent, confidential body to deal with these personal concerns? Why are they not talking about the incident specifically and critically rather than emotionally? Why did they not take Kaplan’s challenged to come back to class and refute the statements? If this is too far, then how far are we going to allow professor to go?

Although we were promised a forum to discuss these questions, it didn’t happen. At the first forum, KaShia Moua told us that we were not discussing point of views on academic freedom and promised a second forum to do so. We all went to this second forum last night to get answers, to see how far he went and to determine what the moral not legal boundaries of education are. We did not get that. Instead, like the first forum, it started with a statement specifically telling students that we were not going to discuss the incident or any issues of academic freedom.

Many law students feel outraged. Although it’s good that those of us who attended the forum learned about the Hmong culture, we still do not know if this lecture came at the proper cost. The cost I’m referring to is the chilling effect that this will have on professors’ speech and the racist brand that Kaplan will have to carry with him for the rest of his life.

I agree with Nishith Patel and his statements in the Badger Herald. Let’s get another forum to discuss this issue. This time, let’s keep it within the law school community. Invite professors, students and administration to talk about this critically. Let’s come out of this forum with goals and a proper procedure for dealing with personal concerns. I think it will better discussion in class and will help our professors determine what the moral boundaries of education are.

Cosmo said...
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Cosmo said...

y.g.brown:

Gee, thanks for the link, but I think my sources are somewhat better.

My wife lived through it. Her family was classified as 'rich peasants' -- her grandfather having commited the crime of owning property at some point in the then distant past.

I've spent the past decade and a half doing business and living off and on in China. Those members of her family or my circle of business associates and friends who will talk about it will tell you stories that will curl your hair -- a descent into mass hysteria which tapped into some of the worst elements of human nature, unleashed by ideologues upon an otherwise civilized culture and society.

Am I arguing that campuses here have gone that far? Of course not. But the tactics of intellectual bullying -- the shaming, the collective assignment of guilt, the heckling and intimidation of speakers, the selective application and interpretation of 'doctrine' -- most of it done by folks who are quick to accuse others of 'stifling dissent' are familiar to my wife, and would be to her family and my friends.

"Amusingly askew and self-serving"? I don't think so.

As for my 'straw man,' keep your shirt on. You also wrote: "At the same time, his silence is the only reason that his version of events is not being reported." Confusing, to say the least.

Either I misconstrued an implied obligation on the professor's part to explain himself, or you need to spend more time thinking through your comments before you hit the publish button.

Pogo said...

Naked Lunch,
When have I ever engaged in "an unabashed display of PC"? Surely, you're joking.

(P.S. An anti-catholic (oh, hell, anti-religious) bias is a fairly standard among the left, so criticizing Edwards for hiring a bigot cannot remotely be construed as "PC", except if one desires to remove all meaning from the term, which I think you are in fact trying to do)

Pogo said...

I'm with cosmo here. A neighbor of mine lived through the Cultural Revolution and wrote about his travails and eventual escape to the US.

College campus shenanigans like this may be pale copies, but the ideas animating the mob are the same. I've heard much the same from people I know who left Eastern Europe to escape communist rule there.

Y.G. Brown said...

Either I misconstrued an implied obligation on the professor's part to explain himself...

Indeed you have misconstrued an implication. The reason that Professor Kaplan's version of events is not being reported is because he has refused to provide such an account. Mystery solved.

As for your family's grotesque experience with the Cultural Revolution, I would hope that such experience would prevent you from making comparisons between minor law school kerfuffles and the brutal, gruesome, organized murder of thousands upon thousands of innocent people.

Such hyperbole desensitizes people from the reality of historical events such as the Cultural Revolution or the Holocaust, and minimizes their true depravity.

Kevin Lomax said...

tinyblue,

Bravo.

I fear however that this shall never be.

These college show-trials have been going on for a long time. We had incidents like this when I was in undergrad in the early '90s.

Y.G. Brown said...

College campus shenanigans like this may be pale copies (of the Cultural Revolution which caused the horrifying murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children)...

It is quite generous of you to make such a concession.

Revenant said...

The reason that Professor Kaplan's version of events is not being reported is because he has refused to provide such an account.

It would appear that NOBODY has provided an account of the events, actually, since the one account to date -- the email -- is (a) written based on secondhand information and (b) now claimed, by its author, to be incorrect.

Pogo said...

Re: "It is quite generous of you to make such a concession."

What a dismissive, arrogant, and pendatic twit. The comparison is valid. The same malevolent force that animates campus show trials was present in the Cultural Revolution. It's no single molehill, this. These lefty rituals occur at many universities, as any simple research would reveal.

People who have lived through trauma like rape, murder, and oppressive regimes develop an early warning system for this kind of behavior and recoil at the obvious pattern of abuse when it arises.

You can belittle their warning if you wish, but I can recognize your idiocy for what it is.

Revenant said...

You know, even if the professor really DID make these remarks, aren't we kind of overlooking the fact that these students are a big bunch of pussies?

My Humanities teacher told us that Americans are all racists and fascists. I didn't lie awake at night crying for weeks afterwards -- I thought "sheesh, what an idiot!" and made jokes about the guy with my friends. The same held true for Black Muslims and their nutty "white people are inherently evil" beliefs -- no crying, just mocking.

Cosmo said...

I think revenant has the right attitude. A little thicker skin would do all of us some good.

y.g.:

I think our respective comments demonstrate that we both understand the limits of any comparison -- in fact, I made specific reference to it in my last post, and you state it quite well.

If this "kerfuffle" wasn't part of a pattern of similarly disturbing events at other campuses, I wouldn't be making any comparison at all.

Just because the tactics I listed are, in our case, not backed by violence (well, not much, yet) doesn't make them less effective tools for intimidating those who would otherwise speak up, shutting down debate, neutralizing potential competitors by stigmatizing or shaming them, or silencing and destroying opponents, political or otherwise.

Indeed, the Cultural Revolution provided excellent cover for an enormous amount petty score settling and personal vendettas -- that's what I meant by reference to the unleashing of the worst elements of human nature.

And a large measure of the broad public compliance with its worst excesses was predicated upon the fear of losing one's position or opportunity -- the same fear an easily-intimidated student might have about jeopardizing a career with a 'hate speech' hearing or remedial sensitivity training in his or her student record.

One of the things that has impressed me about accounts of the Cultural Revolution is near universal astonishment at how quickly things got out of control -- this in a consensus culture and at a time when most people more or less supported the regime in power or were, at least, ambivalent.

And, not to stretch the point too far, but we live in a time when 'free' media outlets censor themselves to avoid offending the politically-fashionable, and our arts communities award themselves, too often it seems, for the fidelity of its output to certain political assumptions.

All this without the Gang of Four policing newspapers and movie scripts, or bands of teenaged Red Guards kicking in doors and ad hoc tribunals sending people off to hard labor.

Apologies for my lack of brevity.

Bissage said...

Ah, tinyblue, you see a chilling effect on professors’ speech and a racist brand on Professor Kaplan, and then you want a forum to set the moral boundaries of legal education “with goals and a proper procedure for dealing with personal concerns.”

I commend your attention to vnjagvet’s comment at 10:21 a.m.

Besides, doesn’t your school already have a process to hear student complaints?

(Just saying.)

Internet Ronin said...

Y.G. Brown: If you were Professor Kaplan and your name was being dragged through the mud via press release and stories published all over the state of Wisconsin, somehow I doubt you'd consider this all a "minor campus kerfuffle."

Nishith Patel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PatCA said...

"If this "kerfuffle" wasn't part of a pattern of similarly disturbing events at other campuses..."

True, not to mention preemptive challenges to non-PC thinkers, like the personal interview mandatory to teaching programs, for instance, to "explain your educational philosophy."

And this is an interesting interview with Kashia Moua. Clearly, she is an activist in this area. Note she blames lack of guidance for a murder within her own family.
http://influx.uoregon.edu/2001/stories/hmong/multimedia/qa.html

Nishith Patel said...

Professor, thanks for calling me the voice of reason!

----------------

Those of us who went to the "open" forum yesterday quickly realized it wasn't very open. From the beginning, the organizers severely limited the discussion to topics they wanted to talk about. Many students who had questions and wanted to express their views on this matter were not allowed to speak. The Q&A session did not occur. Their excuse was that the room was booked only until 9pm. The Law School building closes at 12 pm and I'm pretty damn sure that nobody else had that room booked at 9pm. I'm not surprised that the organizers conducted the forum this way -- from the beginning, they have sought only to express their views publicly and not allow others to speak.

I want to make four points.

First, the organizers of the event painted an awful and inaccurate picture of the law school. The Law School is very diverse and extremely active in supporting diversity. For example, the racial minority population at UW Law is approx. 30%. That's about three times higher than the minority population in Wisconsin. It's no coincidence that at least 4 students in Kaplan's class of about 20 were of Asian descent. All our classes are diverse like that. The Law School has implemented the LEO program, whose sole mission is to recruit and retain students of color. The Law School even supports the arguably unconstitutional LEO study groups -- led by minority law students, exclusively for minority students, and supported by Law School faculty. We have many student groups that are ethnically focused, such as APALSA/SALSA, BLSA, ILSA, JLSA, LLSA, and MELSA. (Asian/South Asian, Black, Indigenous, Jewish, Latino, and Middle Eastern Law Students Assn., respectively) and these groups are very active in our community. From personal experience, I've noticed that students here get along well.

Second, many community members who spoke yesterday had absolutely no idea how law schools work, and specifically the dynamics of UW law school. They spoke from ignorance and passion, but not from informed knowledge and reason. As I just mentioned, this law school is extremely supportive of diversity. Some of the disparaging remarks made about our law school included "racist," "ignorant" and "narrow-minded." These blanket accusations about the Law School stemmed from one, isolated incident. These so-called community members offended law students who actually attend this school and know what this school is really about. Now they are in the same boat as Kaplan -- they have offended me and need to apologize. This leads to me my third point.

Third, the Law School should not capitulate to demands of the offended students. Although Kaplan has already apologized for hurting the offended students, they are also demanding that he apologize for making those remarks in the first place. This demand is highly offensive to the First Amendment and the marketplace of ideas. Professor Kaplan made those comments knowing fully well that there were at least 3 Asians in that classroom. He knew his audience. Punishing professors for addressing issues frankly will deter them from addressing them in the first place. Other demands include sponsoring a Hmong Cultural Awareness Week and implementing a critical race theory program. Basically, the offended students want to hold the entire law school ransom for the offensive comments made by one person. Maybe that's the reason they feel isolated.

Finally, one offended student stated that there were two main camps in this debate: the Hmong, and people who don't like the Hmong in the first place. That is silly. It's a way to discourage people who disagree with her from speaking up. Many reasonable minded people -- I'm guessing a large majority of her classmates -- disapprove of the way these offended students have gone about addressing their hurt. What they've done is offend the rest of us -- their classmates, their faculty, and their administration -- by smearing UW Law's name in the press and misrepresenting what this school is about.

David said...

Interesting that in this day and age someone uses an ally of ours from the Viet Nam era. Coincidentally, it occurs as the anti-war crowd is singing the quaqmire mantra regarding Iraq.

The Hmong deserve respect and our thanks. I can think of better examples from indigenous groups in the U.S. who would be better examples of the criminal element.

I will take this opportunity to say thank you again to our Hmong friends who sacrificed so much in support of our efforts in the Highlands.

AJ Lynch said...

Ann:
That is the longest post I have ever seen on your blog. Hate to see how long the post would be for an event you actually attended.

MikeinSC said...

What I'd like to know is since when did law students seem so utterly oblivious to the basics of presenting a case?

We have hearsay (at best) being used to stir up a controversy in which the accusers are not expected to actually present any evidence for their case?

These kids are studying to be LAWYERS and they ALREADY seem to be more than mildly inept in their chosen line of work. That anybody is humoring them is sad. They should be soundly smacked around for simply presenting a really bad arguments backed up with non-existant facts.

Studying to be lawyers? Then present a case that wouldn't be laughed out of court. Otherwise, you look like children.
-=Mike

Revenant said...

Interestingly, one of the comments the professor allegedly made:

"All Hmong men purchase their wives, so if he wants to have sex with his wife and she doesn’t consent, you and I call it rape, but the Hmong guy is thinking 'man, I paid too much for her.'"

... is, in fact, basically accurate. In Hmong culture brides are sold by their families and cannot generally divorce without repaying that money. As in most cultures prior to relatively recent history there is no notion that a wife has the right to refuse sex from her husband. So, yes, Hmong women can find themselves essentially sold into sexual slavery by their families, and have no way out unless their families are willing to cough up the money to buy them back.

If the quote is accurate the professor is guilty of making a tasteless joke -- but not a racist one.

Rachel said...

I was in the class in question, and I have witnessed the resulting fallout with dismay. The reactions to Ann's post validate my apprehension about speaking out at all. Many assumptions are being made about the actions and intent of the offended students. Let me try to correct some of them.

These students did speak privately with Kaplan, and they didn't feel that he was very respectful. This may or may not be fair, but it's how they felt.

One student then circulated a (fairly incendiary) email to student groups to set up a meeting to discuss the incident. She didn't send it to the media - rather, it was widely forwarded, as such emails often are. I received it no fewer than 4 times.

During the first forum, last Thursday, the students asked that members of the media leave so that the issue could be dealt with internally. Journalists elected to stay. The rest is history.

Much of the outrage is - at this point - not from the students who were in class and who were, I believe, honestly offended.

I am troubled that so little context has been provided. One of the reasons for this is that few students have been asked. Some students who did speak to the press were misquoted. In a discussion that is characterized as having only two sides, you automatically identify yourself as belonging to only one of them when you speak.

I thank clairedm for her account of the class in question, and I think it is accurate.

To me, this situation illustrates that we don't know how to talk about race, and how necessary real, honest, and heartfelt (read: non-reactionary and non-snarky) discussion is.

To my writing professors: I am very sorry about my continued use of the passive voice. It seems necessary here.

ilia said...

Kaplan raises issues that anyone concerned with immigration of Hmong should be concerned with: degree of fit between occupational skills to opportunities in a new location, relationships between informal norms (such as culture) and formal legal rules in new location, the degree to which federal policy anticipates problems of assimilation of immigrant groups, and so on. The law students who object to Kaplan's comments should think about the possibility that they have made serious errors of misinterpretation, apologizing for the email KaShia Moua admits was uninformed, and acknowledge that the approach they have taken in fact has serious implications for academic freedom. Dean Davis should also take some responsibility and make a statement about the desire of the law school to balance ethnic diversity and a commitment to diversity of opinion.

I find it hard to have sympathy for a group of students that can stand up and argue that they need to educate us so that we can someday know why the statements Kaplan said were wrong. This completely removes the issue of what was actually said from the discussion and shifted this into the realm of something more like diversity training. The possibility a student is offended is not an excuse to attribute racist beliefs to a professor and it is certainly not an excuse for a law school dean to simply accept these accusations without making an effort to create a forum conducive to resolving these issues (such as a forum where there is a dean, students, and faculty with no media, a route that the students could have chosen but neglected).

Relating criminal law to Hmong culture (or any subculture in the United States) is extremely interesting and important as an area of academic inquiry. I would find a workshop on the relationship between Hmong, criminal law, Wisconsin politics, and federal immigration policy exceptionally interesting. Unfortunately, the method of attacking Kaplan has made that nearly impossible unless the students who orchestrated this witch hunt accepte some of the responsibility for causing this mess. An apology would go a long way to repairing Kaplan's reputation and would also shift this back to the issue of law and Hmong culture, which is an issue that law students and those of us who study law are much better able to deal with than cultural forum that neglected any substantive discussion.

Y.G. Brown said...

People who have lived through trauma like rape, murder, and oppressive regimes develop an early warning system for this kind of behavior and recoil at the obvious pattern of abuse when it arises.

So this series of events is not only similar to the Cultural Revolution but also to rape and murder. Got it.

You can use any childish names that you want to describe me. Your willingness to engage in this absolutely ridiculous, overblown, childish whining is worse than the alleged conduct of the offended students. You are (apparently) a fully grown adult who should know better.

The remarkable willingness of some of you to make absolutely absurd comparisons to describe this situation (Kaplan to Jesus Christ, the students to rapists, etc.) is laughable.

cosmo, I appreciate your thoughts on the subject. My grandfather, who survived the Holocaust, was insistent to his dying day that "it could happen here," and because of this he had strong views against allowing such things as Klan rallies to take place.

The best antiseptic for ridiculous thought is the open, sometimes messy exchange of ideas. Good ideas and solid reasoning generally win out in the end (I'm a cock-eyed optimist that way). That is why I am so thoroughly disgusted by Ann's avoidance of the forum last night, her high-horse refusal to directly engage the students involved in an effort to teach them, and instead chose this blog to snark from on high.

What a wasted opportunity.

Ann Althouse said...

As to my "avoidance," don't be too disgusted. I wanted to attend, but it was at night and I just didn't have the energy to go back to school and sit through a long event. I had a project that I was working on, and I was just plain tired. If you find that disgusting, tough. I wish I had seen the event. And I would have been more likely to go if I had predicted the contentiousness. I was picturing a long history lesson and a feel-good session. I didn't want to take the time to do that. Any sort of "reeducation" session is not going to rate with me.

But there was no way for me to participate actively and do any teaching. I wasn't asked to do that. The students set things up, I think, and no one asked me to do anything. The official program was the historian and there wasn't supposed to be any coverage of the actual incident (other than a brief expression of feelings by the students).

I would have preferred a different sort of event, but I wouldn't barge in and try to re-track their event.

PatCA said...

Thanks to the UW students who wrote in with their accounts of what actually happened at the forum. Very enlightening. I'm sure the media accounts are not accurate, and Kaplan was wise not to be part of it.

I would have to still agree with Mike that the students are off base. They should be presenting their cases as lawyers, not as emotional victims, to determine if harm was done and what to do about it -- and that's what I meant by this being totally anti-intellectual (and dangerous) in nature.

We do have a problem in discussing race, but only certain aspects of race. It would be great if like ilia suggests we inquire rationally into law and other cultures, but how do we present artifacts of that culture that we in the US would deem anti-woman, anti-gay, racist, or just counterproductive to having a happy life? We see the results here. We simply don't know what to do when faced with that dilemma, valorize this other culture or suggest assimilation? On the scholarly level, the tendency is to valorize the culture and document Western racism or to drop the investigation.

On one hand, Ms. Moua in her work urges US citizens of Hmong extraction, American girls, to embrace their Hmong culture. OTOH she chastizes authorities for not providing guidance to an uncle who before he killed two family members due to what she terms "complex cultural, social, and generational problems" -- IOW to have him give up part of his Hmong culture. These are contradictory demands of society that no social apparatus can possibly adequately overcome.

LoafingOaf said...

In light of the account of the student who was in the classroom who posted in this thread, I agree with the consensus of commenters in this thread.

I'm left puzzled, however, as to why some of these same commenters weren't so fair to the Shakespeare's Sister blogger, McEwan. They were perfectly willing to allow the smearing of her as an "anti-Catholic bigot" to go on to the point where she lost her job, even though she never actually said anything bigotted against Catholics and was merely found guilty by association with another blogger who happened to be hired by John Edwards around the same time and who had said far more infammatory things.

I still think the bloggers and blog commenters who smeared McEwan and cost her a job ought to apologize to her. The smears caused this blogger to be portrays as a bigot in the mainstream media even though the Catholic League went over her web site with a fine-toothed comb and failed to find a single bigotted statement against Catholics. Until that apology happens, I'm left feeling that some of you are only interested in fairness when you perceive a lynch mob as being from a differing political persuasion as yourselves.

Ann Althouse said...

Loafing: I don't remember anyone here condemining McEwan. Are you sure you're not condemning people without the facts?

Johnny Nucleo said...

Great info from Clairdm and Rachel.

To the Hmong students who felt offense: Get over it. The guy is obviously not a racist. You guys are just a bunch of pussies.

(When I say "pussies" I mean no disrespect to pussies, which I love.)

For the non-Hmong who thought this was a good-opportunity to do some Totalitarian Rock N' Roll - you guys are totally evil. I mean that. You are evil.

And I think I agree with Loafing Oaf, but I also disagree, I think. Totalitarian Rock N' Roll is evil - but if someone says something evil, and you say, "That's evil!" that is not Totalitarian Rock 'N Roll. Totalitarian Rock N' Roll is something else. Actually, I'm not exactly sure what Totalitarian Rock N' Roll is - I just think it sounds cool.

Pogo said...

YG Brown, your grandfather, a Holocaust survivor tried to teach you one of the most important lessons of his life, "it could happen here", and all you got out of it was a nice story. Sheesh.

Johnny Nucleo said...

I re-read Loafing's comment - If what he says is true, I agree. But I am not really familiar with the case.

I remember Edwards hired a blogger who made foul-mouth jokes about Mary, the mother of Jesus, which were offensive to some Christians and she got fired. That's all I remember. If that's all that happened, I think that is cool. That's just politics, that is not Totalitarian Rock N' Roll. If there was a guilt by association thing that happened, that was wrong. But like Althouse, I am skeptical that the readership of this blog would engage in Totalitarian Rock N' Roll.

Daryl Herbert said...

Was she fired, or did she choose to resign? Which is it?

Here is a list of all relevant threads containing comments about McEwan, that I could find

Feb 07
Feb 14
Feb 15
Feb 16
Feb 18

McEwan called Catholic (and Protestant) opponents of gay adoption Christofascists. Is that bigoted against Catholics? I think that's open to debate. A lot of the adoption agencies that don't want to give kids to gays are Catholic.

LoafingOaf has asked about the guilt by association thing before. This was my response: I said people would find it hard to believe what Edwards said--that neither blogger intended to offend--after Marcotte unhooked her leash and went after her critics, like she promised to do.

Plus, the whole thing died down after Marcotte resigned. McEwan resigned on her own. She probably should have stayed--but like I wrote previously, she would hardly want to be thought of as the docile, "good" feminist safe for men to keep around, while Amanda got to have all of the fun. She's got an anti-establishment cred to maintain.

graveswr said...

So the professor is conducting a class in law. Nobody ever askes an intelligent question or indeed questions anything he says. Are these people all wind-up zombies or is there at least one of them who can reason? He remembers the french film 'Investigation of a citizen above suspicion.' ... and he has an idea. he says something preposterous and trys to deliver it in a seemingly serious demenor. Nothing happens. Thinking that they're just slow, he esclates his rhetoric exponentially. Still no response. Are they all asleep? Are they brain dead? Is there not one of them capable of a reasoned response, able to concoct a logical response to a flawed argument? No, they are indeed nothing but wind-up toys.

He now knows that if they are confronted in open court by argument designed to ensnare fools, that they will be unable to respond logically, but will rather respond emotionally to no effect.

He meets his friend, Professor Moot, at a local bar after class and they get gloriously drunk. The next generation of attorneys are dumb as rocks. Furthermore, they lack all sense of argument, or even of humor. Instead of reasoned argument, they appeal to emotion and will try to win cases by leading silly insurrections. He loves the law, but can't remember why he wanted to teach.

Drunk as skunks, he and moot vandalize the statue of justice in front of the county courthouse. Tomorrow morning Justice, no longer blindfolded, will greet the bar as it shows up for work.

isopelberners said...

Ann, so strange that you criticise the students for doing exactly what you are doing, ie relying on hearsay and making it up as you go along. You "avoided" an event, an event you then proceed to write about as if you were there, relying on reports in those famous newspapers of record, the Badger Herald and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Well it doesnt get any better than that does it? You admit you have no idea what Professor Kaplan said, but that doesnt stop you from saying what he couldnt have said and what he probably did say. Reading your blog is like watching urban myth grow sentence by sentence. And then your friends have the utter chutzpah to liken this incident to the Cultural Revolution (clearly the study of history is not their forte). Please try to observe some rigour in your work, this is risible.

PatCA said...

If the dean requires attendance at a cultural reeducation session, I would hope the profs refuse to go and to say why.

MikeinSC said...

You admit you have no idea what Professor Kaplan said, but that doesnt stop you from saying what he couldnt have said and what he probably did say. Reading your blog is like watching urban myth grow sentence by sentence. And then your friends have the utter chutzpah to liken this incident to the Cultural Revolution (clearly the study of history is not their forte). Please try to observe some rigour in your work, this is risible.

Seeing as how the students presented zero proof of their claims, why SHOULD anybody believe them?

Again, they're training to be lawyers. They should try and act like it.
-=Mike

Revenant said...

Seeing as how the students presented zero proof of their claims, why SHOULD anybody believe them?

More to the point, what exactly are we supposed to believe? None of them have said what, exactly, he actually said. All we know is that they're deeply offended. They need to give us a reason to *care* that they're deeply offended.

Ann Althouse said...

Daryl Herbert: "Here is a list of all relevant threads containing comments about McEwan, that I could find."

Well, that's a totally inadequate response to what I said; "I don't remember anyone here condemining McEwan. Are you sure you're not condemning people without the facts?" Loafing Oaf:

"I still think the bloggers and blog commenters who smeared McEwan and cost her a job ought to apologize to her. The smears caused this blogger to be portrays as a bigot in the mainstream media even though the Catholic League went over her web site with a fine-toothed comb and failed to find a single bigotted statement against Catholics. Until that apology happens, I'm left feeling that some of you are only interested in fairness when you perceive a lynch mob as being from a differing political persuasion as yourselves."

I looked at a few of those links and I only saw focused comments referring to real quotes. Loafing Oaf or someone should support his criticism or acknowledge his mischaracterization of the discussion on this blog.

Y.G. Brown said...

As to my "avoidance," don't be too disgusted. I wanted to attend, but it was at night and I just didn't have the energy to go back to school and sit through a long event. I had a project that I was working on, and I was just plain tired. If you find that disgusting, tough. I wish I had seen the event.

Ann, why in the world did you initially dismiss the event entirely by sniffing that you had "avoided" it if in fact you both wanted to go and wish that you had gone? Was it simply for the rhetorical flourish, or because you thought it would bolster the impression that you were above that sort of scene? It makes you look petty, and now it makes you look dishonest.

And Pogo... go watch High School Reunion. You're a child.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, why in the world did you initially dismiss the event entirely by sniffing that you had "avoided" it if in fact you both wanted to go and wish that you had gone?"

Because the part of me that prevailed was the avoiding me. I wanted to go, and tried to make myself go, but the avoider prevailed. When I read about it and saw that it wasn't merely the boring feel-good exercise some people wanted to make it, I wished I'd gone.

Sorry if it's so hard for you to believe I'm telling the truth.

Y.G. Brown said...

Sorry if it's so hard for you to believe I'm telling the truth.

Your initial post was not truthful. It was snarky and dismissive of the students, the community, and the very notion that a meeting like this could be more than an event to ridicule on your blog. Now you have explained that you wanted to go, you wish that you had gone, but you also avoided the event. While this is an odd explanation, I have no way to know if you are explaining or spinning.

The bottom line is that an event took place in which your fellow faculty, your students, your administration, and your community exchanged ideas and shared their thoughts on topics that touched on racial tensions, teaching style, communication, and yes, emotion. You decided not to go, and you decided instead to mock the participants on your blog. What a waste.

Ann Althouse said...

Well, it was an event that I -- unlike those other faculty members -- strongly disapproved of. The only reason I wanted to go was to observe and report. Others who went were trying to show support for the students who felt aggrieved. And this post is not about "mocking" people. This post is about criticizing something that i consider to be very wrongheaded. Frankly, I don't find it funny at all.

MikeinSC said...

The bottom line is that an event took place in which your fellow faculty, your students, your administration, and your community exchanged ideas and shared their thoughts on topics that touched on racial tensions, teaching style, communication, and yes, emotion. You decided not to go, and you decided instead to mock the participants on your blog. What a waste.

Going by the news coverage, very little thought and very few ideas were exchanged. It was Orwell's 2 minutes of hate.
-=Mike

graveswr said...

I shared an office for four years with a friend who was studying physics in Lithuania in 1939 under Prof. Rache. When the Nazis occupied his country, they asked if anyone was educated, suggesting that if a person were literate, then perhaps a menial job could be found for them in, say, a library. Some of his friends volunteered. They were executed. My friend wound up in a Camp until liberated by Patton's army. He was a cook for Patton for a year, then emmigrated to Israel, where he joined the army and fought in the battle for Jerusalem.

My wife is chinese. Her family had to run for it. Those who couldn't get out were imprisoned. Some were executed.

Sorry, but these idiots are SUFFERING? They can't stand an ambiguous comment in class and they want to be lawyers? Pass the pablum.

LoafingOaf said...

I looked at a few of those links and I only saw focused comments referring to real quotes. Loafing Oaf or someone should support his criticism or acknowledge his mischaracterization of the discussion on this blog.

The threads around here are filled with comments that express outrage over things Marcotte said (those tend to be the quotes focused on, because McEwan never said anything arguably bigoted) and then approval of McEwan being punished for the things Marcotte said. Even in the Edwards thread today people are doing it.

So, whatever. It looks like people are selectively fair or unfair in relation to their politics. In this thread people leap to stand up against taking quotes out of context and using them for a PC agenda while a professor's academic freedom is unfairly assaulted. A lot of commenters here are predisposed to sympathize with victims of hypersensitive PC mobs, so that's easy for them, but a pat on the back to them nonetheless.

In other threads, you can see how smears from Malkins of the right who took quotes out of context to serve a Christianist agenda fueled by a hypsersensitive religious-right mob have prevailed against fairness and victimized someone who didn't deserve to lose her job.

I'm glad the MSM has finally decided to get the story right on Kaplan. George Will, Bill O'Reilly and others still haven't gotten it right on McEwan and that's because one side of the polarized blogosphere was okay with unfairness towards her. It's harder to be fair when one's own political allies are the lynch mob and one's political opponent is the victim.

MikeinSC said...

Of course, the blogosphere never really mentioned McEwan. Feel free to find the posts criticizing anything she wrote.

It was focused solely upon Marcotte while leftists defended her vigorously.
-=Mike

John Sawyer said...

I know I'm coming to this thread a year late, but here's my question: could Kaplan have simply been sarcastic in his original comments that started all this?

I've found that a disturbing number of people simply can't understand sarcasm, and mistake a sarcastic comment for the speaker's actual beliefs.

Couple that with Kaplan's apparently less-than-perfect social skills ("standing his ground" against the students, instead of explaining what sarcasm is, or whatever the misunderstanding was), and you get a stupid incident.

If it was sarcasm, was there some cultural barrier here to understanding it, or was it due to the students' (presumably) young age?