June 7, 2021

"He thrives on the understanding of the classroom as an eroticized place, where there’s this kind of thrill of engaging in risky exploration about ideas that’s continuous with risky exploration of all kinds of boundary transgressions."

Says an unnamed Yale Law School colleague of Jed Rubenfeld's, quoted in "The Tiger Mom and the Hornet’s Nest/For two decades, Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld were Yale Law power brokers. A new generation wants to see them exiled" (NY Magazine).

ADDED: The NYT is running a story today too: "Gripped by ‘Dinner Party-gate,’ Yale Law Confronts a Venomous Divide A dispute centering on the celebrity professor Amy Chua exposes a culture pitting student against student, professor against professor."

I've read both articles, and I can't take a position. It's too complicated and there are too many unreliable narrators.


Ann Althouse said...

Walter writes:

“'Unnamed colleague'... A real profile in courage at the Yale Law School."

Ann Althouse said...

Owen writes:

I read this whole thing. It wasn’t easy. What struck me most was what a hothouse Yale Law School is. I was there decades before this trainwreck and maybe I was just oblivious to the palace intrigues but I saw and heard nothing like this. My guess is, it has become poisoned by estrogen: the women in this gossipy excuse for investigative reporting seem to be hysterical children. The only policy point I would suggest is, nobody applying for a clerkship should be able to use recommendations from his or her professors. Because obviously the professors are all predators and will trade a good word for a hot date. Or at least the students seem to think so, and that right there is completely disqualifying.

This proposal may destroy much of the credential value of a place like YLS, but it’s important to protect these children from any pressures, even those self-induced from private fantasies.

Ann Althouse said...

Zack writes:

I rarely ever comment though I’ve been reading your blog since about 2010.

I’m reading Plato’s Phaedrus for a summer reading group. “He thrives on the understanding of the classroom as an eroticized place, where there’s this kind of thrill of engaging in risky exploration about ideas” reminded me of Socrates saying “I myself am certainly a lover, Phaedrus, of these processes of division and collection, so that I may have the ability to speak and think.” The footnote for this passage, translated by Stephen Scully, says “Socrates’ language here is particularly dense and playful. By calling himself a lover just before he addresses Phaedrus by name, Socrates suggests, as he has repeatedly throughout the dialogue, that he’s in love with Phaedrus and wishes to seduce him … Socrates is more truly in love with the art of speech-making than the boy in front of him.” Socrates’ subject of inquiry in Phaedrus is very similar to Rubenfeld’s subject in the article. Perhaps certain people are drawn to academia, or a life of inquiry in Socrates’ case, due to a lust for knowledge. And, in Rubenfeld’s case, revealing that lust for knowledge opened him up to charges of sexual harassment.

Or maybe he did all those things his accusers are saying. Who knows? As you said, it’s too complicated.