"The law school is my home," Leonard Kaplan told law school colleagues at a weekly meeting, which was recorded by Ann Althouse, a fellow professor. "I'm going to fight to make it stay my home."Twohey refers to the "tumultuous" meeting at the law school on Thursday (which she witnessed and we talked about here yesterday) and reports that "other students" who were in the class said his words were "misconstrued and taken out of context." The quotes that have appeared in the press and that have gotten so many people exercised were -- according to Twohey -- compiled by a student who was not in the class but who spoke with two students who were. There is no indication whether those two students wrote verbatim quotes down while they were in class, and no one seems to have an audio recording, but the student who wrote the inflammatory email did put quotes around words:
While not offering a detailed explanation, Kaplan said: "I didn't say what was attributed to me. But I think I know why it was misinterpreted."
Kaplan said he was crafting a written statement to be released later that "was compassionate but a response from a lawyer."
[Name deleted] told the standing-room-only crowd Thursday that the allegations she made in her e-mail were "not well informed," but insisted that what Kaplan said was hurtful and damaging....I hope that phrase "cultural awareness programming" means that there will be programs and not that we are about to be programmed -- like a computer or a brainwashing victim.
The offended students said they were upset with the way their complaint had been handled. They said that Kaplan, in a private meeting, had apologized for hurting their feelings but stood by his statements.
Kaplan did not attend the forum. He said in a statement that was read by another professor that he did not want to draw attention from the educational purpose of the forum - an apparent reference to some speakers who had been invited to talk to the group about Hmong culture.
Davis, the dean, did attend the forum, and he praised Kaplan's accusers for the way they had handled their concerns and promised to provide cultural awareness programming next month.
Althouse said Friday that Davis should have "demonstrated a concern for finding out what was true."A law school, especially, should set the example of what it means to care scrupulously about the truth, to follow due process when a person's reputation is on the line, and to show that remedies should be tailored to real problems, not based on one-sided accusations. These are principles fundamental to law. We are a law school. What are we teaching? You may well have some questions about what Kaplan taught his class. But our actions these past two weeks have taught something to our students and to the rest of the world. That is what I am questioning.
"What happened to the truth?" she said. "It seems to me that before you design remedies for problems, you should find out what the problem is. I don't think it's the interest of people who care about race to see this minefield where your quotes are taken out of context."
Twohey, unlike some of the other reporters who splashed this story into the news, does some digging for the truth:
[Names deleted], students who were in Kaplan's class, said Friday that [name deleted's] e-mail misquoted Kaplan.Misquoted. That is an important word.
"I think the comments were taken out of context," said [name deleted], a Latino undergraduate in the class.
They said the focus of the class was how American law can sometimes conflict with the values of different cultures, and that Kaplan was using the Hmong experience in Wisconsin as an example. They said Kaplan did touch on issues of rape, dowries and crime within the Hmong community, but had been misquoted in [name deleted's] e-mail.
"If anything, he was critiquing what a bad job Wisconsin was doing in providing job opportunities to the Hmong, that that's why they end up in gangs," said [name deleted], who is Vietnamese.On the subject of why Kaplan has not comprehensively refuted the accusations, Twohey quotes Professor Downs:
[Name deleted], who is white, said Kaplan talked about Hmong women thriving because they had skills such as needlework.
"He was saying that Hmong men aren't thriving as much because they don't have skills that have transferred as well," she said.
The students said they could see how [names deleted] could have been offended by the comments, and [name deleted] acknowledging that Kaplan had used Hmong stereotypes that made him feel uncomfortable at times.
But the students insisted Kaplan did not strike them as racist or bigoted. They said they were upset by the fallout from the incident.
"I think this is really out of control," [name deleted] said.
Donald Downs, a political science professor who is a friend of Kaplan's, said Friday that Kaplan had an attorney who had advised him not to talk about the incident publicly because of the potential for a harassment lawsuit.This is also a point I make in my NYT column today:
"He's all lawyered up," Downs said.
Downs, who heads the university's committee for academic freedom and rights, said some professors have come away from the controversy fearful of discussing race in class.
Your colleagues may sympathize with you in private, but most likely they'll be rethinking this idea -- heartily promoted in law schools since the 1980s -- that they ought to actively incorporate delicate issues of race into their courses.One of the many ironies of this story is that both Kaplan's style of teaching and the Dean's student-appeasing efforts at climate-control come from the same well-meaning liberal idea that law schools ought to take account of race.
I'm on that committee with Downs and a number of other UW professors. It's called CAFAR (Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights). (The same group supported that 9/11 conspiracy theorist last fall and was critical of the "Think. Respect" program. Downs wrote this book about free speech on campus.) Twohey notes that CAFAR has a statement on the Kaplan affair, and I will publish that statement in full when it's through with the final edit (which will be very soon).
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.