The Academy’s Guardians of Free Speech

Intellectual freedom is a fundamental hallmark of education.  Just ask any tenured teacher, asked to justify why she can’t be fired for incompetence.  But when it comes to the American Association of Law Schools, freedom is just another word for women first and foremost, judging from the ideological capture of the Section on Defamation and Privacy.

Chair:  Professor Danielle Keats Citron, University of Maryland

Chair-Elect:  Ann Bartow, University of South Carolina

Any names ring a bell?  Why yes, that would be Cyber Civil Rights advocate Danielle Citron, who argues for the elimination of free speech online in the name of converting online bullying into a women’s rights issue.  And right behind her is Ann Bartow, ringleader of Feminist Law Professors, whose personal brand of “take no prisoners” feminism tolerates no dissent, and has cowed most pedagogues into silence for fear of public excoriation.  I’m not suggesting that they aren’t entitled to their views, but can’t imagine how the rest of the lawprofs allowed such extremists to seize control.

As if to make the point, when Paul Horwitz at PrawfsBlawg posted about his “uneasy feeling” with the stifling of dissent to Danielle Citron’s theories during the Cyber Civil Rights Symposium at Concurring Opinions, a robust discussion followed.  The post was written on April 16th and the discussion continued through April 20th.  Everyone took a deep breath and went back to their corners.

On April 28th, more than a week after the last comment, up shows Danielle Citron, who produced a lengthy, though vapid and entirely self-serving, rationalization of her position, ending with this gem:

I hesitated speaking to this issue as I fear cyber harassment, which I have clearly experienced personally and indeed as Dave notes has included menacing threats of physical harm (which we at CoOp removed).

Thus, we at CoOp feared that this would happen–harassing reputation harming assertions against women in the comments–and it did.

How wonderfully circular her self-serving assertion of victimization.  The problem with questioning, challenging, disagreeing or disputing Citron’s position is that the act of doing so constitutes harassment against women, since harassment has an ever-floating definition of anything that makes Citron feel bad and she is (“clearly”, as she uses to emphasize her secret personal experiences) a woman.  We are awaiting a protest from the Harassment Against People Want to Stop My Free Speech In Favor of Their Free Speech contingent (club in formation).  After Citron left this comment on the 28th, comments were closed.  End of story.

Some might see my chiding the views espoused by Citron and Bartow as harassment.  No doubt many lawprofs will, since I hesitate to use the sweet endearments of the Academy designed to soften the blow of disagreement by obfuscating the message (oops, there I did it again).  But to the extent that the AALS hopes to maintain integrity and carry any suasive force, having people take over a section when their facial agenda is the subjugation of speech to their gender politics smacks of absurdity.  Should their views be expressed and debated:  Absolutely.  Should the AALS lead the charge for the elimination of free speech whenever somebody’s feelings are hurt?  I don’t think so.  If the person whose feelings are hurt is a woman, does that change everything into women’s rights issue?  Not even close. 

Much as I hate to correct a leading feminist, women are people too.  Stuff that happens to the rest of us can happen to women.  That doesn’t change the fact that it happens into a civil rights issue.

What made this perversion of intellectual integrity more ironic was Anne Reed’s latest post at Deliberations about why mean women are so fascinating, based on the New York Times article about bullies in the workplace:

It’s probably no surprise that most of [workplace] bullies are men, as a survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute, an advocacy group, makes clear. But a good 40 percent of bullies are women. And at least the male bullies take an egalitarian approach, mowing down men and women pretty much in equal measure. The women appear to prefer their own kind, choosing other women as targets more than 70 percent of the time.

NO! NO! NO!  Heresy!  Burn her at the stake!  You see, the feminine mystique depends upon men being evil and women being sisters, cowering in fear of the evil men harassing and attacking them by their unwanted gaze.  If women are subject to no greater negative attention from men than persons of the other gender, and are in fact subject to attack by their own far in excess, the whole paradigm falls to crap.  Let’s have the feminists explain that one.  Actually, they can, since there are good women and evil women.  Guess which ones are the good women?

That there are many in the Academy who share the views of Citron (and even a couple who agree with Bartow, though more feign agreement just to avoid being the target of her venom) is absolutely fine.  Everyone is entitled to be wrong.  But that the Academy has elected chairs for whom free speech is a value just one step below herpes calls into question any intellectual authority the AALS might have to either lead the discussion, or in fact participate as the representative of law schools.  It has traded its mission, “as the learned society for law teachers and is legal education’s principal representative to the federal government and to other national higher education organizations and learned societies,” to pander to strident extremists. 

Glad I’m not a lawprof so I can write these things.  I’m sure that my horrible words, coming from a lowly trench lawyer like me, will mean little to the intellectually superior pedagogues who vouchsafe the legal education of our youth, who no doubt will honor, protect and defend the sensibilities of our delicate flowers now that Citron and Bartow are in charge.

3 thoughts on “The Academy’s Guardians of Free Speech

  1. Smith

    I am a adult women and I can’t believe that women or men bullies in the workplace or otherwise want to think that their targets should quit and accept their bullshit. Why doesn’t the bullying boss get fired for abusing their authority and mismanagement. I applaud you and hope that you succeed with this pathetic, sorry ass women.

  2. Pingback: Protecting Her Lies By Calling Others “Liar” | Simple Justice

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