Author Archives: SHG

Can They All Fail?

Irwin Horwitz had enough, and he wasn’t going to take it anymore. Turley wrote that he became an instant legend in academia because he announced that he was failing the entire class in his strategic management course at Texas A & M Galveston.  He explained via email:

Since teaching this course, I have caught and seen cheating, been told to ‘chill out,’ ‘get out of my space,’ ‘go back and teach,’ [been] called a ‘f****** moron’ to my face, [had] one student cheat by signing in for another, one student not showing up but claiming they did, listened to many hurtful and untrue rumors about myself and others, been caught between fights between students…. 

None of you, in my opinion, given the behavior in this class, deserve to pass, or graduate to become an Aggie, as you do not in any way embody the honor that the university holds graduates should have within their personal character. 

It is thus for these reasons why I am officially walking away from this course. I am frankly and completely disgusted. 

You all lack the honor and maturity to live up to the standards that Texas A&M holds, and the competence and/or desire to do the quality work necessary to pass the course just on a grade level…. I will no longer be teaching the course, and all are being awarded a failing grade.

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The Torque of Social Justice

In a New York Times op-ed, Lina Nilsson bemoans the lack of women in engineering.  This has been a long-standing issue that seems to befuddle so many, given that our society has grown so dependent on scientific endeavors that the lack of adequate representation by gender produces a host of problematic disparities.

As Christina Hoff Sommers notes, one of the underpinnings of the wage gap between men and women is that women chose lower paying occupations, which are then grouped with better paying occupations to create the appearance of a gap.  Engineering pays pretty well. Neither majors in medieval poetry nor critical feminist theory follow a similar pay path in employment.  Go figure.

Nilsson kinda, sorta, offers explanations for the lack of women in engineering:

Why are there so few female engineers? Many reasons have been offered: workplace sexism, a lack of female role models, stereotypes regarding women’s innate technical incompetency, the difficulties of combining tech careers with motherhood. Proposed fixes include mentor programs, student support groups and targeted recruitment efforts.

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Found Facts

At Tempe Criminal Defense, Matt Brown writes of the conviction of Lawrence Owens for the murder of a kid on a bike carrying a bunch of baggies of crack.  Owens was ID’d, first by typical photo array and then by line-up, where Owens was the only person in both.  It was a typical small-town bench trial and conviction back in 1999, before people seriously questioned the validity of such identifications.  Why it was a bench trial is unknown.

At the end, the judge ruled:

I think all of the witnesses skirted the real issue. The issue to me was you have a seventeen year old youth on a bike who is a drug dealer, who Larry Owens knew he was a drug dealer. Larry Owens wanted to knock him off. I think the State’s evidence has proved that fact. Finding of guilty of murder.

Which would have been fine, but for the fact that there was no evidence whatsoever that Larry Owens knew the kid was a drug dealer, was himself involved in drugs or had any motivation to “knock him off” to get his drugs. Continue reading

Heavy On Bitterness

Columbia University’s “Mattress Girl,” Emma Sulkowicz, has simultaneously become the poster girl for rape on campus and been revealed as a sham.  This hasn’t done much to change anyone’s tune about the issue.  True or false, it no longer seems to matter.

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Friday she hopes recent rape hoaxes will put “more of a spotlight on the problem [of rape].” She was asked if the recent highly publicized hoaxes are “helping or hurting” her advocacy relating to stopping sexual assault on university campuses. “Well, I hope it’s just putting more of a spotlight on the problem. My hope is that it’s not undermining our advocacy, because this is important,” Gillibrand said. “These lives of these women and men–young lives that are being destroyed and ruined, because there is no justice if you are a survivor of rape whether it’s the criminal justice system or whether it’s the campus adjudication process.”

This isn’t some wild-eyed radical, blindly lashing out at a hated enemy.  Well, maybe it is, but Kirsten Gillibrand is also a United States Senator from the State of New York, junior to Chuck Schumer, so her irrationality matters a bit more than most.  And if there is any question what her concern is, note her words:

because there is no justice if you are a survivor of rape.

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What Really Bothers You About Free Speech?

A brief post, with a few links, was published at Metafilter on the issue of colleges and universities becoming “non-free speech zones.”

Free speech is so last century. Today’s students want the ‘right to be comfortable’ in British Universities. The New York Times chimes in on this side of the Atlantic. Popehat offers a possible explanation.

It was followed up by a comment about how a debate on abortion at Oxford’s Christ Church was scuttled after feminists vehemently objected to “two human beings ‘who do not have uteruses’” engaging in such a debate:

I was attacked by a swarm of Stepford students this week. On Tuesday, I was supposed to take part in a debate about abortion at Christ Church, Oxford. I was invited by the Oxford Students for Life to put the pro-choice argument against the journalist Timothy Stanley, who is pro-life. But apparently it is forbidden for men to talk about abortion. A mob of furious feministic Oxford students, all robotically uttering the same stuff about feeling offended, set up a Facebook page littered with expletives and demands for the debate to be called off. They said it was outrageous that two human beings ‘who do not have uteruses’ should get to hold forth on abortion

I can’t imagine why people would object to this debate, but the author sure looks like an impartial, objective POV if I ever saw one!

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But For Video: Very Professional Edition

During most of the encounter, Round Rock Officer Ben Johnson was calm and under control.  There were no overt signs of anger or frustration, and he was, indeed, the very model of a police officer doing his job. Which is why it’s all the more incomprehensible that he suddenly threw 27-year-old Viviana Keith down on the pavement.

The video is bad enough from the side, but the dash cam video reveals . . . nothing. A bit of mouthing and maybe a little pulling of the arms, which were already behind her back, but nothing remotely suggesting force or threat. So down he takes her. Continue reading

The Dialogue About Dialogue, Or Why It Makes You Feel “Unsafe” (Update)

At Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein asked a good question:

Where and when did this “makes me feel unsafe” thing start?

Sorry for being so loud about it, but like asking for clear definitions of misused words, it’s a question that needs asking.

But it’s such a common complaint that one hears it from across the political spectrum these days, in a loud chorus of whining victimhood, from gay students who object to proponents of traditional marriage, and from Christian students who object to nondiscrimination rules meant to protect gays; from Muslim students objecting to pro-Israel speakers, and from Jewish students objecting to anti-Israel posters. Just today I learned (via Hans Bader) that Oberlin, supposedly one of the great liberal arts colleges in the world, has been in a tizzy because of a speech by the rather mainstream conservative feminist Christina Hoff Summers, which supposedly made students feel “unsafe” well in advance. And so on.

In no examples that I have seen has there been any actual threat or prospect of violence against the students complaining that they feel “unsafe.”

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The Underbelly of Legal “Technicalities”

There was fury, outrage and anger. It proved every nutjob’s conspiracy theory true, and the emptiness of the American legal system.  Sharpen your pitchforks and light your torches, as this was the final straw.  But then Ken White, hero of the great unwashed, sucked the air out of the room:

[T]hey are very upset about a Supreme Court of Connecticut decision overturning a rape conviction. The case is Fourtin v. Connecticut. Fourtin was convicted of sexually assaulting a profoundly mentally and physically handicapped woman, a woman who clearly had no capacity to consent. If you read and relied upon “progressive” sources — like the Huffington Post or Think Progress or BoingBoing — you’d conclude that the Supreme Court of Connecticut held that Fourtin wasn’t guilty of rape because the evidence suggested that the victim could have resisted but didn’t.

The problem is that Think Progress, Huffington Post, and BoingBoing are full of shit.

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The Long And Winding Answer

The jury found Barry Bonds’ non-responsive answer to a question put to him in the grand jury to be obstructionist, and convicted him under 18 U.S.C. § 1503 for Obstruction of Justice.  In a brief per curiam opinion, the Ninth Circuit, en banc, reversed.

During a grand jury proceeding, defendant gave a rambling, non-responsive answer to a simple question. Because there is insufficient evidence that Statement C was material, defendant’s conviction for obstruction of justice in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1503 is not supported by the record. Whatever section 1503’s scope may be in other circumstances, defendant’s conviction here must be reversed.

Boringo.*  But wait! Judge Alex Kozinski to the rescue in his concurrence.  And as usual, Judge Kozinski hits it out of the park.** Continue reading

The Pointed Gun And Mens Rea

It was the first time a cop had been prosecuted for a homicide in Chicago in 15 years, according to Think Progress, and that was bad enough.  But what happened, a trial order of acquittal, went over the top.

Late Monday, a Cook County judge acquitted Chicago police officer Dante Servin of several homicide-related charges for the fatal shooting of an unarmed woman standing outside with some friends near his home. It was the first time in 15 years that a police officer had been charged in Chicago for a fatal shooting. And the courtroom attendees exploded in outrage as Judge Dennis Porter announced Servin was not guilty on all charges for killing 22-year-old Rekia Boyd.

But Porter’s ruling was particularly confounding because of bizarre reasoning that some legal experts are calling “incredible.”

Servin’s acquittal of involuntary manslaughter was stunning, but raised intricate issues of the mens rea distinguishing murder from manslaughter. Continue reading

Vanity, Thy Name Is Blawger

In the continuing symposium on lawprof ennui at PrawfsBlawg, Dave Hoffman adds to the academic angst with a list:

Why, I wondered, has the energy left the building?

  1. Because there are fewer fans.  This is most of it.  Prawfs started in the seven years of hiring plenty, and we’re now deep in the middle of the seven years of drought.  There are many fewer young law professors than there were in 2005, and those few that remain are well-advised to keep their heads down and do what’s necessary to survive increasingly difficult internal climbs to tenure. Prawfs’ and like blogs’ rise  had many parents, but a hiring glut has to take place of pride.
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