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Here’s what NOT to do while in law school


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#51 Gaius

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 08:05 AM

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.
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#52 Adrian

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 08:29 AM

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.  



#53 Gaius

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 08:59 AM

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, 10 January 2017 - 09:00 AM.


#54 Hegdis

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 09:17 AM

(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...
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#55 Mountebank

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 12:27 PM

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).


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#56 Adrian

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 01:41 PM

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

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 03:07 PM

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.



#58 pzabbythesecond

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 03:32 PM

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, 14 January 2017 - 03:34 PM.

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#59 Yogurt Baron

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 04:05 PM

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, 14 January 2017 - 04:08 PM.

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#60 utmguy

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 10:01 AM

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. 


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#61 Jaggers

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 10:08 AM

There are very few anonymous message boards that are like this one. Most of them are cesspools where the worst of humanity is displayed.
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#62 Diplock

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 12:47 PM

There are very few anonymous message boards that are like this one. Most of them are cesspools where the worst of humanity is displayed.

 

RIP, LawBuzz.



#63 Yogurt Baron

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 04:20 PM

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? 

 

 

You're too smart to think that this argument holds together.

 

We've got here four situations that are fundamentally identical---the three you mentioned (one race being superior to another, homophobia, anti-miscegenation) and the one that's the topic of this thread (a slightly subtler, but not much less toxic, vein of sexism). All of them were once completely acceptable---indeed, encouraged---in polite society. All of them gradually fell into disrepute in the mainstream, and the open practice of all eventually came to bear social stigma. The average person isn't yet at the point where slut-shaming women is as offensive as dropping the n-word, but mainstream discourse is slowly moving in that direction (it's certainly come to be much less widely accepted than it used to be, right?)

In the three cases you mentioned, "progressives" won. To quote some Aaron Sorkin movie, progress always wins. If four things are fundamentally the same and three of them work like X, it's only logical to assume that the fourth works like X too. It's intellectually dishonest to pretend that in these identical formulations:
A: "Minority group fought bigotry; they were the good guys and they made progress."
B: "Minority group fought bigotry; they were the good guys and they made progress."
C: "Minority group fought bigotry; they were the good guys and they made progress."
D: "Minority group fought bigotry; outcome TBA."

somehow, the minority groups in A, B, and C are all on the side of the angels and the bigots are on the side of the devils, but then in D, it's somehow flipped for absolutely no reason whatsoever. If you're thinking that circa-1960 black people's fight against the KKK and the government is somehow analogous to...circa-2016 white men's fight against human rights tribunals to get to say whatever the hell they want with no consequences, well, no. 


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#64 drankcoffee

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 06:20 PM

I don't get it. It's not a funny article. Someone fill me in if I'm missing something. In fact, it left me a little agitated knowing that someone probably told the author of that article that his writing was poignant and funny, and he probably walked away feeling witty and satisfied.

 

...or is me writing this post going to hurt his feelings and stifle his free speech? How troubling.


Edited by drankcoffee, 15 January 2017 - 06:27 PM.

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#65 Mountebank

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 03:17 PM

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?

 

I think what you say here is more or less true. I agree that conservatives (and others, for that matter) will often improperly (if not hypocritically) invoke "free speech" in order to fend off the criticisms of others, when it would be much more genuine, useful, and intellectually productive to engage in dialogue with the criticisms. But I think what you say ignores what I would imagine is the main concern of people who would invoke "free speech" in defense of people like the article's author (though the following comments don't necessarily pertain to this case); namely, that mere judgement/criticism and punishment by the state are not the only potential reactions to speech. While it's true that all speech is and should be subject to judgement and criticism and certainly some speech should be prohibited by law (advocating violence, fraudulent communications, etc.), sometimes speech is also curtailed as a result of the mass response to it. It is one thing for a student group to pen a letter denouncing the writings of another, or for an employer to choose not to hire a person on the basis of past writings. It is quite another thing altogether for a group of students to organize a rally with the aim of preventing a speaker from attending a scheduled talk, just as it is another thing to attempt to have a person removed from school (which, in some cases, will have the effect of ending their professional career) on the basis of their speech. These things do have a chilling effect and they do nothing to promote freedom of expression, or any other freedom for that matter. Yet, they are also justified as being exercises in free speech. Clearly, this is an equally hypocritical response.

 

The reason why these responses are so concerning to those worried about freedom of expression, I suppose, is that they have the effect of, a) punishing a minority opinion based on its popularity, and b) encouraging only that speech which conforms with the views of the majority. This is evident when you look at cases like the "racist party" recently at Queen's University. The fact of the university investigating the event had nothing to do with higher ideals of equality and tolerance. It was entirely because of the negative publicity that surrounded the event (and the reason we know this is because the party was an annual tradition of which the university had always been aware and had even previously supported. If it cared about the apparent racism, it would have done something before the press was contacted.). In my opinion, it isn't proper that speech (or expression generally) should be curtailed merely on the basis that it is unpopular. Whether or not that unpopular speech has the potential to be useful or accepted in the future (which no one can ever know) is irrelevant. The fact that it is speech is enough to protect it and to suggest that it is improper to oppose reactions to lawful speech that would extend so far as to end a person's career or threaten their ability to even be heard (assuming they make reasonable efforts to actually engage in dialogue with their criticizers) does, in my opinion, nothing but limit the willingness of people in the future to voice their opinions, engage in dialogue, and maybe even reform their views.

 

tl;dr - Inciting mass outrage to prevent someone from taking the podium, get them kicked out of school, or fired from their job does in fact have a chilling effect and should be distinguished from mere criticism and judgement.


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