December 23, 2016

"An off-campus event that a small number of students attended now gives rise to on-campus discipline because students (who did not even witness the event) feel compelled to 'avoid the resulting negative environment.'"

"If this is the standard, then anything and everything can create a 'hostile educational environment,'" writes Josh Blackman, commenting on the University of Oregon Law School decision that lawprof Nancy Shurtz — previously discussed on this blog here — committed racial harassment and created a "hostile educational environment" by wearing blackface at a Halloween costume party.

Shurtz was dumb to think it would work out well to dress in blackface, but she seems to have been sincere in thinking she was provoking a beneficial conversation about racism by dressing as the black male doctor who'd written a book she liked, "Black Man in a White Coat."

The law school acknowledged that "Professor Shurtz did not demonstrate ill intent in her choice of costume." But the point was that "her actions had a negative impact on the university’s learning environment" because of how students would have thought about it. And: "[T]he effects of Shurtz’s costume constitute disruption to the University significant enough to outweigh Shurtz’s interests in academic freedom and freedom of speech in the type of speech at issue."

Blackman gave a talk about intellectual diversity at the the University of Oregon Law School recently and afterwards:
One student told me that he attempted to defend Prof. Shurtz’s First Amendment rights on Facebook, and he was savagely attacked by other students, who charged that he was racist. Another student said that certain professors were dedicating class time to the issue (which upset some students), and other professors were not dedicating class time to the issue (which upset other students). Another mentioned the “fear of retribution” among students on the right. Another said that only one professor on campus offered a tepid response of Shurtz, and this professor was lambasted by colleagues. All noted that there was a tension in the air, and a distinct fear of defending Professor Shurtz’s rights.
What sad, timid people!


Michael K said...

No hope for the traditional university. Time for online university to become the model for the 21st century.

Unknown said...

Well, standing up for freedom of speech can cost you your job in today's tolerant, liberal environment.

Just like a vigorous defense of Davis v. Beecon's flat out declaration that one man, one woman marriage is the foundation of American civilization would probably get you skinned alive by the tolerant sort.


SteveR said...

I am certain that going to school where (NM and TX) and when (mid 70s to mid 80s) was a good thing. As I have grown older the real and important things I deal with would suffer from this kind of distraction. Sad and timid indeed.

Big Mike said...

What sad, timid people!

@Althouse, you write that as though things would be any different at Wisconsin Law. If anything it would be worse.

Birkel said...

The phone call is coming from inside the house.

Universities are quickly and efficiently destroying themselves.

Wilbur said...

I've said for some time on this site that a market exists for traditional, secular universities without any of this nonsense going on.

Accept no government funding, tell the accreditation people to pound sand, hire retired business and military as motivated untenured instructors, no sports, no decrees in nontraditional "studies", and you'd have parents breaking down your doors to get their kids in. And your graduates would get snapped up by the private sector.

Etienne said...

No good can come from social media. There is no adult supervision.

Anthony said...

This is the world liberal academia wanted and worked for. I cannot get too worked up about it.

Anthony said...

This is the world liberal academia wanted and worked for. I cannot get too worked up about it.

Sebastian said...

"What sad, timid people!" Just progs doing their prog thing, proud of their timidity, happy to toe the party line.

sean said...

Sad, timid people created and empowered by Prof. Althouse's generation of academics. What an embarrassing legacy today's professors are leaving behind.

mccullough said...

Law students are adults by any measure (except if they are on their parents health plans).

mccullough said...

I do give Oregon credit for holding professors to the same standards as students. Was funny to watch that whack job professor at Missouri get ousted and then complain about due process.

JaimeRoberto said...

If a heckler heckles in a forest and nobody is present to hear it, does he still get a veto?

Known Unknown said...

Everything within the State U., nothing outside of the State U.

Joe said...

What sad, timid people!

I prefer; what clueless assholes.

Bob Boyd said...

Well it certainly isn't raining balls at University of Oregon Law School

Fernandinande said...

she ... dressing as the black male...

White person "dressing" as black person = horrible racism, discussed for months.
Person of gender dressing as a stale male = barely worth mentioning.

I wonder if in, say, Saudi Arabia, the equivalent outrage would be reversed?
(You can tell who's in charge by who you can't laugh at....or dress as.)

David said...

"What sad, timid people!"

True. But they also have a lot to fear. The "Progressives" of Oregon are ascendant and they will shun, ridicule and ostracize those who take a contrary view. The petty (and not so petty) intellectual tyranny of left wing academia and government is daunting and dangerous.

Owen said...

I wonder how much that "legal opinion" cost the school?

Owen said...

I wonder how much that "legal opinion" cost the school?

Owen said...

I wonder how much that "legal opinion" cost the school?

David said...

Owen said...
I wonder how much that "legal opinion" cost the school?

Three times more than you think.

Laslo Spatula said...

Excerpt from "Black Blood, Black Seed":

“Why hellooo dere, Benjamin."

“Miss Christina, what is that on your face?”

“Onna my face, Benjamin? Jezz de black skin the good God gave me. Imma is darker than a coal mine in a monkey’s ass.”

“That’s charcoal on your face, Miss Christina. Are you all right?”

“Us darkies, we is always alright, Benjamin. You wanna see me dance a knee-slapping’ real Negro dance? I’ll dance like a dang skinny chicken, all a-scratchin’ and-a peckin’.”

“Please, stop that, Miss Christina. Why are you trying to act all colored?”

“I’ze don’t know what you mean, Benjamin. Dis’ is the way ALL us darkies act.”

“You’re embarrassing yourself, Miss Christina. Please tell me why you are acting so peculiar?”

“My instructor at College is having us all pretend we are black, so that we can better understand the conditions of the black man.”

“I guess she means well, your Professor, but acting that way ain’t gonna make you understand us black folk any better.”

“Tarnation, you is a negative goose! I LIKE being black! It’s like I don’ts have a care in the world!”

“Respectfully, Miss Christina, I don’t think you really understand…”

“What’s to understand, Benjamin? I jezz acts like I’m not as smarts as a white person an’ it all comes natural-like. Heck, anyones can do it!”

“Is that how you really see us, Miss Christina? Is that how you see ME?”

“Heavens no, Benjamin: you are a special one. Indeed: you’re almost as smart as any white person.”

“Miss Christina, I don’t think any good will come of this…”

“But I’ze is havin’ fun bein’ a darkie! Look: Imma walkin’ around barefoot ‘cause I ain’t got any shoes!”

“Your feet are WHITE, Miss Christina.”

“Oh, that. I guess that kind of ruins it, doesn’t it, Benjamin?”

“Being black isn’t fun and games, Miss Christina. We face hardships every day, just because of the color of our skin.”

“Maybe I jezz ain’t bein’ black enough. You wants to eats some watermelon wit’ me?”

“Miss Christina, I think you should just go home and wash your face…”

“Do you wish you could do that, Benjamin? I mean, do you wish you could wash the black off of your skin?”

“No, Miss Christina. I accept what the Lord has give me, and I find my blessings where I can.”

“You wouldn’t rather be white? I’ll never understand you black people…”

“No, Miss Christina: I don’t think you ever will…”

I am Laslo.

Paul said...

Sue them under the 1st Amendment. Sue them on campus under freedom of association.

Sue them again under harassment laws.

And then sue them for causing a 'negative environment'.

Ken B said...

Remember the time you posted on the horrors of yoga classes?

loudogblog said...

Since the earliest days of humanity, people have dressed up like other people for entertainment. Mimicry is on our nature. I really wish that every time someone who is not black tries to look like a black person, they would stop calling it "blackface." Blackface is a very specific type of make up that portrays over-the-top stereotypes of black people.

loudogblog said...

Mimicry is also "in our nature" too. :-)

Amadeus 48 said...

"What sad, timid people."

Let's see. Who is Althouse calling timid and sad? Those who prefer not to speak up and get lambasted by the university administration and the online and in-school SJW contingent? The university administration and the SJWs certainly don't appear to be timid or sad. They appear hearty and full of self-righteous wrath, cocksure and confident. Are they scared, or are they doing justice in their own eyes and the eyes of others who they want to impress?

Here is a thought experiment--would a tenured faculty member at UW Law School risk the flak coming her way to defend a colleague who wore blackface on Martin Luther King Day to deliver at an off-campus event a well-prepared and moving rendition of King's "I have a dream" speech in a misguided attempt to show that the color of one's skin is less important than the content of one's character? That would be a pretty bold UW tenured law professor who would speak up for the right to be foolish and offensive in that case, but I don't think the failure to enter that fray would be either sad or timid. It might well be prudent.

Should Althouse write Michael Schill, the president of OU, and protest OU's treatment of Prof. Shurtz? Will you post the letter here on your blog? Is a failure to do so sad or timid?

Merry Christmas to all.

Douglas B. Levene said...

What's really surprising about this is that the U. Oregon President, Mike Schill, was formerly the dean of the University of Chicago Law School, where you'd think he'd have learned something about free speech.

The left's attacks on the culture of free speech are already coming back to bite the left. See Wisconsin, where some legislators are demanding the firing of some radical professor for teaching a radical class about "whiteness" or some such nonsense. Either everyone has freedom of speech or no one does, and if the latter is the rule, the left, who are heavily outnumbered in state legislatures, have a lot more to lose. There is no possibility that conservative taxpayers and their representatives will accept the Marcusian notion that suppression of conservative speech (including "hate speech") is ok but leftist speech must be protected.

Amadeus 48 said...

I know Michael Schill pretty well. I haven't talked to him about this, but I expect that he is aghast that any of his law faculty would be stupid enough to wear blackface at any time, but certainly at an event to which students are invited. He understands free speech, but he wouldn't take flak to defend this faculty member on this topic, which is essentially a social gaffe of epic proportions.

JAORE said...

What sad, timid people!

I'd love to be able to agree. But watching years of people losing their jobs, being outed and ostracized, having their families targeted, ridiculed and called the vilest names imaginable, and businesses ruined all for the crime of wrong speak.....

Maybe not so timid after all.

These are your people, Ann. I've seen more than a trace of it in you when the subject of gay marriage was the topic of the day. Not the outright hatred, just the WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, hectoring.

Douglas B. Levene said...

Amadeus - A social gaffe is one thing. Being criticized by friends, colleagues, students, et al. for offending them is just part of life. Punishment by the school for being offensive at a private party is a whole different category of enforcement, one that is prohibited by any proper conception of the first amendment.