Paul Caron notes that University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax won a prestigious award.
In 2015, Professor Wax received the University of Pennsylvania’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching (only three other Penn law professors have received the award in the past twenty years).
On the one hand, this informs us that she must have been a pretty damn good teacher, which isn’t something one necessarily finds among academics. Ironic, sure, but they’re loved for their scholarship far more than their ability to do the job of teaching students.
On the other hand, so what? Had Amy Wax not won this bourgeois distinguished teaching award, would it then be fine that the students of the Penn law school chapter of the National Lawyers Guild wanted to banish her?
While we do not challenge Professor Wax’s right to express her views, we question whether it is appropriate for her to continue to teach a required first-year course. The Penn Law administration has long been aware that her bigoted views inevitably seep into her words and actions in the classroom and in private conversations with students. We call on the administration to consider more deeply the toll that this takes on students, particularly students of color and members of the LGBTQIA community, and to consider whether it is in the best interests of the school and its students for Professor Wax to continue to teach a required first-year class.
What “toll” does it take to have Wax teach the very controversial first-year class of . . . civ pro? For background, every student takes civil procedure in the first year, and they have no choice to opt out because they don’t want to be taught by a particular prawf. This means that students will be forced, against their will, to learn from this horrible professor. Not horrible in her teaching, apparently, but horrible in her soul. After all, did she not argue that traditional American values were, you know, good? So racist and sexist, and certainly a few other -ists as well.
Exposure to a diversity of viewpoints is an essential and valuable part of any educational experience, but no student should have to be exposed to bigotry or abuse in the classroom.
The Gertruding doesn’t cover the hole in the argument. No one suggests, or has ever suggested, that Wax spouts racism in her civ pro lectures, even if there was an opportunity to do so. Of course, given the breadth of what could be deemed racism, either directly or via the chaos theory of sensitivity, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Can property law prawfs still use Whiteacre and Blackacre, or is this a microaggression?
But when the NLG says “exposed” to bigotry, they mean in the presence of a person they’ve decided is a bigot. It would be traumatic to students to be inside a classroom with Amy Wax. She is the embodiment of bigotry, whose racism rays emanate outward into the hearts of unduly sensitive students.
As for abuse, I got nothing. Are they suggesting she walks the room with a yardstick, being the hands of transgender law students for kicks? Or is it nothing more than the fear that this known bigot who believes that bourgeois values are better than no values might utter a word that could float by their ears and make them ball up in a corner and cry?
There was little doubt after Wax and Larry Alexander wrote their op-ed extolling bourgeois values that they would be burned at the stake for it, all while their inquisitors proclaimed their adoration of free speech. And the Gang of 33 made clear that it would not tolerate a heretic in its midst. But at least the Academy, as well as the NLG kidz, will believe in the right of scholars to present diverse views, right before they’re banished in unwoke disgrace.
Professor Amy Wax is no more, but no less, the scholar and teacher she was before the op-ed. That means nothing in a world where no deviation from orthodoxy is tolerated.