Saturday, December 13, 2014

Delicate Flowers

Is this new, or have university students always been such delicate little flowers?

First I learned that students at Harvard, Georgetown, and Columbia were so "traumatized" by the Ferguson and NYC grand jury decisions that they must have their final exams postponed in order to "process" what happened.   Look at the picture here and tell me if there's not something just a little silly about white students at an expensive, elite university trying to lecture the rest of us on "social justice".

Then comes this story out of UCLA:
Law school exams often present legal conundrums ripped from headlines of the day, but one UCLA law professor is apologizing for basing a test question on what is apparently a taboo subject -- the fallout from the police shooting of a black man in Ferguson, Mo.

Professor Robert Goldstein said the exam question was designed to test students’ ability to analyze the line between free speech and inciting violence. It cited a report about how Michael Brown’s stepfather, Louis Head, shouted, “Burn this bitch down!” after a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.

The question then asked students to imagine that they are lawyers in the St. Louis County Attorney’s office and had been asked to advise the prosecutor “whether to seek an indictment against Head” for inciting violence. The exam reads:

“[As] a recent hire in the office, you are asked to write a memo discussing the relevant First Amendment issues in such a prosecution. Write the memo.”

But students complained, and writer Elie Mystal at the popular legal blog “Above the Law” opined that the test question was “racially insensitive and divisive.”
I don't see "racially insensitive and divisive", I see "real world" and "practical application".   Sometimes you need to, as former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings used to say, "put on your big girl panties" and deal with things.

Some people want to wear the badge of victimhood.  I find it sickening.

I don't see an "epidemic" of white cops killing unarmed black citizens any more than I see an epidemic of black cops killing unarmed white citizens.  I don't see the racial motives that so many others just want to see.  If you want to find problems in the situations above, I posit these two:
1) the racial problem we have in this country is not racism, it's the tremendous amount of crime committed by black citizens in this country relative to their numbers in the population, and
2) the problem we have in law enforcement is not racial, it's power itself.  Law enforcement officers are too often seen, and treated as, above the law rather than the tool through which the state enforces the law.
Both of those are serious problems and need to be addressed.  Silly little "hands up don't shoot" demonstrations, especially in light of all the evidence from Ferguson, create a fake problem while simultaneously ignoring the real problem(s).

One would think that university students in general, and law students in particular, would be smart enough to grasp that fact, but one would be wrong.

Update, 12/16/14:  Beware of the "violent language" used by one professor in refusing to postpone final exams.  I'm not as contemptuous of the student as the author of that article is:
But I don't mean to pick too much on this student, an Oberlin freshman. This is the environment she's inherited and set of social cues she's learned from people who should know far better—like professors and administrators at Ivy League law schools, for a start. 
She's still an idiot.  And a delicate little flower.  One wonders how she'll be able to handle the lawnmower of life.


Jean said...

I'd want to tell them that this is a wonderful opportunity to gain real-world experience in balancing the many different demands we all face in life. I would express my great confidence in their abilities to handle both their feelings and their work at the same time (just like regular, non-superior, non-Harvard adults).

In my grad school program, the thesis requirement consisted of two long papers that were graded pass/fail. They had to be in by 5pm on a particular date--no exceptions at all--and if one or both of your papers failed, you had one more chance in the next semester. If you couldn't produce two passing papers in two semesters, you were out of luck and no degree for you. I was pregnant, and lost the baby two or three weeks before the papers were due. My research was all done and I had started writing, but most of it was yet to do. I wrote the papers, turned them in (still have the receipt in my wallet), and discovered in the process that working really hard is a good way to deal with grief. My alternative was to spend an extra semester in grad school and gamble that I'd pass both papers on my last chance, which seemed like a pretty rotten choice.

PeggyU said...

How would such fragile beings make it as lawyers? Not sure I'd want to hire one who couldn't handle stress!

maxutils said...

Imagine if they were actual lawyers in Ferguson, and their boss had asked them to write such a brief … as I'm sure is actually being done right now...

Jean said...

Now I'm seeing a story in the New Yorker (I think it was?) that some law students are saying it's too traumatizing to study laws and court cases about rape. Because they will never need to know that? Because they never want to help any rape victims? Because things were way better when we just ignored it? o.O