StudentLife

Here’s what NOT to do while in law school

65 posts in this topic

How is writing articles about an incident - which is literally just more speech - threatening free speech? This guy wrote stupid stuff. People used their free speech rights to criticize him for it. Isn't that the point of free speech? Or does free speech now mean the right to be rude and offensive and not have people say you're being rude and offensive...?

The issue isn't that an article was critical of the satirical piece, it was that the critique was used to censor the original satire, and now a Spanish inquisition is being held.The authors of the critique falsely equated a rape trial with the satirical piece and called the piece "misogyny". The editors removed the article and prostrated themselves in apology. One editor claimed the experience had "opened his eyes to stereotypes". What's worse is that the Faculty is investigating the "incident" and a town hall meeting is being planned to discuss the incident. All of this over a piece of satire. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The issue isn't that an article was critical of the satirical piece, it was that the critique was used to censor the original satire, and now a Spanish inquisition is being held.The authors of the critique falsely equated a rape trial with the satirical piece and called the piece "misogyny". The editors removed the article and prostrated themselves in apology. One editor claimed the experience had "opened his eyes to stereotypes". What's worse is that the Faculty is investigating the "incident" and a town hall meeting is being planned to discuss the incident. All of this over a piece of satire. 

 

"Falsely equating" and "calling the piece" something = speech. Censorship = government-imposed penalties for certain kinds of speech. People on this website love making fun of "safe spaces" and people who speak out against hate speech. Free speech absolutists generally believe even untrue speech should be permitted because the truth will prevail in the "marketplace of ideas." Why don't those concepts apply here? If the piece shouldn't be equated with a rape trial, other people can say that and argue for a better idea. If the piece isn't misogyny, people can say why it doesn't meet the standard of misogyny. 

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wait, what censorship?

 

The only change made to the piece as far as I can see is the author replaced the word "bitch" with "girl" in a later version.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wait, what censorship?

 

The only change made to the piece as far as I can see is the author replaced the word "bitch" with "girl" in a later version.

 

I think they mean that the piece was removed altogether from the Canons website? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're right. I had in my mind a print piece but it is all online now.

 

(I had thought though that the author apologized and said something to the effect of regretting his decision to publish it in the first place. Can anyone clarify?)

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The issue isn't that an article was critical of the satirical piece, it was that the critique was used to censor the original satire, and now a Spanish inquisition is being held.The authors of the critique falsely equated a rape trial with the satirical piece and called the piece "misogyny". The editors removed the article and prostrated themselves in apology. One editor claimed the experience had "opened his eyes to stereotypes". What's worse is that the Faculty is investigating the "incident" and a town hall meeting is being planned to discuss the incident. All of this over a piece of satire. 

 

But this isn't a Spanish Inquisition, this is how free speech works. Jack says A, Jill says Not-A. If Jack backs down, retracts his statement, apologizes, etc., that's not censorship, that's dialogue. SFX students are also entitled to protest Marie Henein, and I, and many others, yourself included, are entitled to disagree and call them out. If they retracted everything they said about Marie Henein and rape culture, would you say that you censored them? Would you say that you took away their free speech? Would you express concern about a potential 'chilling effect' of your actions by preventing people from speaking out against otherwise well-regarded persons? I doubt it.

 

 

You're right. I had in my mind a print piece but it is all online now.

 

(I had thought though that the author apologized and said something to the effect of regretting his decision to publish it in the first place. Can anyone clarify?)

 

This is what I could find about statements from author and paper. I didn't see anything about author not wanting to publish it, but the paper said so: http://www.canonsonline.com/2016/11/response-to-concerns-regarding-the-november-issue-of-canons/

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was published in print, I believe. The author and cannons apologized. A "town hall" by the Dean was already held.

 

People have the right to criticize writing. Especially bad writing. But elements of the affair did have the feel of a witch hunt. But I suspect that may have as much to do with the nature of law school. Remember that law school is a small community, with no shortage of people nervous about reputation and job prospects. Some socially influential students harshly criticized him, and certain corners connected him with "mysogny" and "rape culture" for that article. I think someone wept at the town hall, mourning that the school is no longer a safe space. It was a short path from there to person non grata - and indeed the author did refrain from even coming to school for a bit because of the intensity of what happened.

 

By all means, hold people accountible for their writing. People have a legal right to free speech. But there is a cultural element to this as well. I've already been warned previously by well-meaning, well-connected students about associating with another particular student because of that person's expressed political views. The implication was that student is person non-grata, won't get a job, and you don't want to be guilty by association. This kind of peer pressure is very powerful and incidious when it reaches a critical mass. But perhaps it's an ever-present issue of working in a public, tight-knit and highly reputational field?

Edited by Gaius

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was published in print, I believe. The author and cannons apologized. A "town hall" by the Dean was already held.

 

People have the right to criticize writing. Especially bad writing. But elements of the affair did have the feel of a witch hunt. But I suspect that may have as much to do with the nature of law school. Remember that law school is a small community, with no shortage of people nervous about reputation and job prospects. Some socially influential students harshly criticized him, and certain corners connected him with "mysogny" and "rape culture" for that article. I think someone wept at the town hall, mourning that the school is no longer a safe space. It was a short path from there to person non grata - and indeed the author did refrain from even coming to school for a bit because of the intensity of what happened.

 

By all means, hold people accountible for their writing. People have a legal right to free speech. But there is a cultural element to this as well. I've already been warned previously by well-meaning, well-connected students about associating with another particular student because of that person's expressed political views. The implication was that student is person non-grata, won't get a job, and you don't want to be guilty by association. This kind of peer pressure is very powerful and incidious when it reaches a critical mass. But perhaps it's an ever-present issue of working in a public, tight-knit and highly reputational field?

 

Again, the objectionable thing about witch hunts and the use of persona non grata is not the speech elements. The witch hunts were objectionable because they murdered women accused of witchcraft. We wouldn't use the expression if townsfolk had written articles about how they think a person is a witch and that person was then... made to feel socially awkward. And persona non grata is the expulsion of a person with diplomatic immunity from a country (by force if necessary). I'm being literal because your argument is basically that people shouldn't have to read/hear peaceful reactions from people to the shitty, dumb stuff they publish in a newspaper. If that's not calling for a reduction in free speech, I don't know what is....

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Again, the objectionable thing about witch hunts and the use of persona non grata is not the speech elements. The witch hunts were objectionable because they murdered women accused of witchcraft. We wouldn't use the expression if townsfolk had written articles about how they think a person is a witch and that person was then... made to feel socially awkward. And persona non grata is the expulsion of a person with diplomatic immunity from a country (by force if necessary). I'm being literal because your argument is basically that people shouldn't have to read/hear peaceful reactions from people to the shitty, dumb stuff they publish in a newspaper. If that's not calling for a reduction in free speech, I don't know what is....

 

Generally when people need to resort to language like "prostrated themselves in apology", "spanish inquisition", and "witchhunt" we can take it as a given that they don't really have a strong argument.   At least, that's how we operate in our day jobs. 

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm being literal because your argument is basically that people shouldn't have to read/hear peaceful reactions from people to the shitty, dumb stuff they publish in a newspaper. If that's not calling for a reduction in free speech, I don't know what is....

No, I made no such claim. My argument was that regardless of the reasonable opinions and arguments made over the issue, there is an unsettlingly strong social ostracisation aspect to how this unfolded. I noted twice that this perhaps may be features of the social conditions present in law school. At this point I am agnostic over how to address it, but I certainly would not endorse the above proposal of limiting people's speech.

 

I stand by the non-literal use of terminology.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Generally when people need to resort to language like "prostrated themselves in apology", "spanish inquisition", and "witchhunt" we can take it as a given that they don't really have a strong argument. At least, that's how we operate in our day jobs.

It could also refer to how an ideologically errant member of a community is brought into line, regardless of their degree of fault, or how strong a party's argument is.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It could also refer to how an ideologically errant member of a community is brought into line, regardless of their degree of fault, or how strong a party's argument is.

 

Yeah, no.  You are trying to make an emotional appeal by drawing implicit analogies to much worse situations.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, no. You are trying to make an emotional appeal by drawing implicit analogies to much worse situations.

I can see how you could come to such an interpretation, but this is not my intent. I used the term as, an example, it is described in the Oxford dictionary, that is, "A campaign directed against a person or group holding unorthodox or unpopular views."

 

While I don't think there was a campaign per say, elements of what happened on campus were reminicint of that definition. However, if "witch-hunt" is too inflammatory, I'm happy to use something along the lines of "sociological phenomena of group ostracisation due to unorthodoxy" or something like that.

Edited by Gaius

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(Just because we are talking language and because I see this a lot on the forum generally, it's "per se".)

 

I think Gaius has a point. It's along the lines of what I wrote earlier - how other people continue to react will reflect on them as well. The pendulum can swing too far into a permanent "gotcha" attitude. Adults tend to let things go - mistake made, addressed, let's move on...

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Uh...pretty sure you can use the term "witch hunt" without actually referring to murdering women. Likewise, you don't have to compare it to an equally horrible event in order to draw a proper analogy. On the contrary, if this were somehow a requirement, then the use of analogies in speech and writing would be limited, since the contrast is often just as illuminating as the comparison. Also, the idea that a mere reference to witch hunts is too inflammatory to be written is odd. I mean, it being the 21st century, I think you can go ahead and say that enough time has passed.

 

That said, I don't care for the expression because it relies on the premise that witches are fake (it's also why I avert my gaze from every old woman I come across and NEVER accept strange apples as gifts).

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey you can write analogies all you want. You want to convince a bunch of lawyers drop the hyperbole.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not that the analogy is inflammatory. It's that the analogy...isn't analogous. If I say something, and then you say that I'm an asshole for saying it, not only is this not a violation of freedom of speech on par with killing people, it's not a violation of freedom of speech at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the argument goes like this, and is why it's absurd:

 

You disagreeing with the utter rancid discourse I want to say has a chilling effect on future rancid discourse, because I'm afraid of confrontation. So instead of dealing with the confrontation, I'm going to twist around what you're doing and call it a violation of my freedom of speech by saying it's having a chilling effect on my freedom of speech. As a way to fix this, I put forth the argument that you're speech should be limited, so mine won't be (in reality, not what they actually claim).

 

Of course, there are radicals on the left who say you shouldn't even say the rancid discourse (and they group reasonable discourse with rancid discourse because it disagrees with their idealogical motivations). They're wrong too.

 

The radical right though, as reaction to this radical left, strawmans the entire left to be the same as those radicals - and the polarization ensues, snapping up more and more reasonable people caught in the cross fire of partisan politics.

Edited by pzabbythesecond
4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed, pzabby.

I think most people would agree: there are some things you can do or say that should have social and economic consequences. Say a 3L phoned every single lawyer in Canada and gave a customized 15-minute speech about how that lawyer is ugly and dumb, interspersed with racial slurs that applied to that lawyer, followed by graphic comments about sexual acts they'd like to perform upon that lawyer's prepubescent children, followed by a listing of where said children attend elementary school and what sort of candy the 3L would use to lure them into his van. If, then, nobody wanted to hire that guy, nobody would be calling for "free speech" and insisting that his victims hire him. If we accept the principle that some stuff isn't okay to say, then it just becomes a matter of what stuff.

Accepting that some things are bad to say, the two completely unrelated questions are, "What things are so bad to say that people can put you in jail for saying them?", and, "What things can you say that people can make judgments of you for having said them?" And the answer to the latter is, "Anything. Anything you say or do, people can feel how they want to feel about it." If some group thought this article was excellent and wanted to give the author $10,000 for writing it, I bet he'd take the money. I bet he has no objection to people judging what he says, if their judgment is positive. And once you've opened that door, you've got to accept that sometimes people are going to like what you say and act accordingly, and sometimes people are going to dislike what you say and act accordingly. If I become a lawyer in 2070 or so, there are lawyers here who wouldn't dream of hiring me---10% because I don't share their politics, 90% because I'm an asshole about it. If you say stuff, people are going to form opinions about what you say. That's life.
 

When you call for "free speech" for a Jordan Peterson or for whoever "wrote" this "article", you're not actually talking about "free speech"---you're talking about "speech free of social consequences". All you're saying is that the speech of people like me, who find that speech heinous and want to express that, should be limited. For me, never mind the content of the article---I wouldn't hire someone who wrote as poorly as the original article was written to do anything, ever. Neither should anyone else. Nothing that poorly written has gone out under my name since I was seven years old, and based on the article, I don't think the writer is qualified for the third grade, never mind a law job. Am I allowed to think that? If I'm allowed to draw negative conclusions about someone based on how they write and whether it strikes me as appropriate for a professional job (or the third grade), why am I not allowed to draw negative conclusions about someone based on what they write and whether it strikes me as appropriate for a professional job? The only answer I see from some of the more right-wing folks on this board is, "I don't personally have a problem with someone saying such-and-such, so therefore it's okay, and other opinions aren't necessary." Who's limiting whose speech?

Edited by Yogurt Baron
9 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's life.

It is life.  But is it good or just?

 

Less than 500 years ago, you would have faced severe social consequences for suggesting the Earth moved around the sun.

 

Less than 100 years ago, you would have faced severe social consequences for suggesting that miscegenation was okay.

 

Less than 50 years ago, you would have faced severe social consequences for suggesting that gay marriage was okay. 

 

How do we balance the need to shame people who voice heretical opinions (ie: blacks are inferior to whites) with the need to acknowledge that a small fraction of the time, some of these heretical opinions might turn out to be good ideas? 

 

I happen to strongly believe that anonymous message boards such as this one are the solution to this dilemma. 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.