Short Take: A Trap House Grows at YLS

Whether it was a joke in good taste or not is a matter of personal opinion. It’s not a joke I would have made, but then I find a great many things that law students today believe to be funny to be insipid. They are not a particularly witty group. But then, so what? If it had been racist or sexist, that would be one thing since even the most conservative students these days take for granted that most progressives taboos are forbidden. But trap house?

Administrators at Yale Law School spent weeks pressuring a student to apologize for a “triggering” email in which he referred to his apartment as a “trap house,” a slang term for a place where people buy drugs. Part of what made the email “triggering,” the administrators told the student, was his membership in a conservative organization.

The second-year law student, a member of both the Native American Law Students Association and the conservative Federalist Society, had invited classmates to an event cohosted by the two groups. “We will be christening our very own (soon to be) world-renowned NALSA Trap House … by throwing a Constitution Day Bash in collaboration with FedSoc,” he wrote in a Sept. 15 email to the Native American listserv. In keeping with the theme, he said, the mixer would serve “American-themed snacks” like “Popeye’s chicken” and “apple pie.”

Did this cross a line?

Within minutes, the lighthearted invite had been screenshotted and shared to an online forum for all second-year law students, several of whom alleged that the term “trap house” indicated a blackface party.

“I guess celebrating whiteness wasn’t enough,” the president of the Black Law Students Association wrote in the forum. “Y’all had to upgrade to cosplay/black face.” She also objected to the mixer’s affiliation with the Federalist Society, which she said “has historically supported anti-Black rhetoric.”

For the uninitiated, who can stare at these words with a confused look on your faces, the diversity officer at Yale Law School explains what is obvious to the woke.

At a Sept. 16 meeting, which the student recorded and shared with the Washington Free Beacon, associate dean Ellen Cosgrove and diversity director Yaseen Eldik told the student that the word “trap” connotes crack use, hip hop, and blackface. Those “triggering associations,” Eldik said, were “compounded by the fried chicken reference,” which “is often used to undermine arguments that structural and systemic racism has contributed to racial health disparities in the U.S.”

And then there was the inclusion of the dreaded white supremacist terrorist organization, the Federalist Society.

“The email’s association with FedSoc was very triggering for students who already feel like FedSoc belongs to political affiliations that are oppressive to certain communities,” Eldik said. “That of course obviously includes the LGBTQIA community and black communities and immigrant communities.”

These dots, clearly connected to diversity director Eldik, might escape notice to the eye of the oppressor, but were immediately and invariably connected in the feelings of the oppressed. Or as Eldik explains, “of course obviously” as if only a blithering idiot wouldn’t realize how that put every marginalized student in fear of their lives at Yale Law School.

But the good news, YLS explained after being challenged, is the demand that the student issue an apology, gracefully prepared on his behalf, upon threat of his never being admitted to the bar, that this wasn’t an investigation, but a learning experience.

Whether it’s immoral is a question best left to the priests and philosophers. Whether “full stop” makes a point more valid than, “actually” or “period” is a question best answered by others as well. But the fact that a law school used its official clout to try to pound a student into submission, with or without an investigation, is par for the course at Yale.

As David Lat noted, even though this shouldn’t need saying but most assuredly does, “when law students disagree or get offended by other students, they should work it out amongst themselves, without the administration (absent extreme circumstances, e.g., harassment or threats).” One would hope that by the time a young person has matriculated at the very prestigious Yale Law School, it wouldn’t be necessary to run to daddy to cry about your hurt feelings. But then, hope springs eternal.

27 thoughts on “Short Take: A Trap House Grows at YLS

  1. Dan

    “without the administration (absent extreme circumstances, e.g., harassment or threats).”

    It hardly seems worth pointing out that students and administrators can, will, and have, driven a freight train through that exception.

    1. SHG Post author

      I would prefer to think that David meant it in the most serious sense, although I suspect he might have been Gertruding a bit, popularity being what it is.

  2. Keith

    Have we spent so much time telling kids that every problem should be resolved by coming to an adult that we have removed the tools from them to deal with simple issues?

    Have we made reporting so easy that minor issues are reported before the full thought could even be processed on that long walk across the quad to the admin building?

    Is it a combination?

    After seeing this, I tried to imagine what could have caused nine people I went to college with to simultaneously report me, 20 years ago.

    There’s something very rotten.

  3. Paleo

    I guess it’s just my freaking privilege getting in the way again, but I’m still trying to find the racist part. I’ve never heard the phrase “trap house”. And I still don’t understand how blackface got involved here.

    If a college administration can’t shut down one of these that is this silly and stupid, I suppose it’s never going to happen, is it?

      1. Guitardave

        I realize your question here is mostly rhetorical, but…here’s how.

        “A person who has been spiritually defective since childhood can even develop in himself a special mental structure, which, if superficially observed, can be mistaken for “character”, and special viewpoints that are then mistaken for “beliefs”.

        In fact, he being unprincipled and spineless, remains always a slave to his bad passions, a prisoner of elaborate mental mechanisms that possess him and reign all-powerful in his life, .devoid of spiritual dimension and [defining] the contours of his disgusting behavior. He does not resist[, and perceives] his evil obsession as “will”, his instinctive scheming as “the mind”, the impulses of his evil passions as “feelings”.

        Wrapping himself in anti-spiritual passions, he pronounces his nature in a corresponding anti-spiritual “ideology”, in which radical and comprehensiveness godlessness merges with his own excruciating sickness of the heart and complete moral idiocy.

        Naturally, spiritually healthy people cause such a person only irritation and anger, and foment in him a sick love for power, in the manifestations of which flashes of megalomania inevitably alternate with outbursts of maniacal persecution.”

        Ivan Ilyin on Democracy and Evil
        From Chapter 2. On Non-Resistance to Evil

          1. Guitardave

            IMO, it describes the interior landscape of the woke mind better than anything I’ve run across lately. Humanity has suffered the consequences of these kind of minds taking power in the past. And yet, we allow it to repeat.

            In spite of their ubiquitous presence in learning institutions and the media, they are not the majority. There’s nothing at all ‘democratic’ in the way their voices have drowned out so many others.

            But, of course, this is only my opinion, and I love the fact that we both live in a place where we can still (?) freely state said opinions.

            So, with the utmost respect, I disagree it’s over the line. GD

            1. SHG Post author

              What makes you think I was talking about you? I read it and, frankly, had no idea what it was trying to say and then my eyes started to bleed and I saw visions of two people licking the visitors room screen in prison while kissing and then I had to take a nap.

            2. Guitardave

              I suppose the answer to that is, like most human beings, I suffer from a common affliction called narcissism. I try to keep it at bay, but, like the line between genius and crazy, the line between rugged individualist and narcissist is pretty damn blurry. Sorry about the assumption.

              PS; I was hoping that vid in the other post didn’t trigger you…but i didn’t think about the high probability of you possibly witnessing that kind of shit IRL. Eww.
              …but I did warn you.

            1. David Landers

              Finally! Someone else has leveled up to gain video privileges. Congratulations PGP!

              Or is this an example of the incident not setting the precedent?

  4. tk

    And here I thought “trap house” was a little building that fires clay pigeons for folks shooting trap. Guess I’m behind the times. So I looked up the definition on multiple websites: They all talk abut a place to buy drugs. None of them say anything about blackface. Guess they’re behind the times, too.

  5. Jake

    What if the grownups just decide to ignore the kids and let them sort it out, like we did before the internet turned every youthful transgression into national news?

    1. SHG Post author

      You missed the part about the YLS diversity director, which preceded anyone on the internet or national news taking note. Details.

    2. Rengit

      Letting the kids sort it out supposedly led to bullying, teenage suicide, and even Columbine, so now adults need to be involved whenever students get into disagreements with each other. Anti-bullying, zero tolerance. What’s relatively new is that in the past seven or eight years this approach migrated from secondary education to higher education. It makes some sense, though, because once you’re done with college and get a job, isn’t any friction with coworkers usually sorted out by HR?

  6. Richard Parker

    The point is to crush and humiliate white males (even part native-American ones). Frees up more money and positions for the non-white and non-makes.

    Many young white males know that fix is in by the time they graduate high school. Hence declining white male college enrollment rates,

    Vladimir Illyich: “Who, Whom”

    Other than my own personal survival and comfort, I don’t care if this country survives at all,

  7. Dan J

    >“trap” connotes crack use, hip hop, and blackface.

    I can’t wait until they google “trap” and “anime.”

  8. Vincent Morrone

    So I know you really can’t answer this, but now this story has developed where the young man’s name is out there. Yale has backed off because they look really bad, and are of course saying they never pressured him or abused their power. Now there’s a petition to have him removed as a 2L student representative. If this happens, can’t a case be made that the damage that is done (I don’t know how damaging that would be) is a result of Yale’s actions here? I mean, I’d never heard of a trap house before any of this. How many people signing that letter heard of the incident beforehand or only because of the backlash? And now that his name is out, can’t that in effect cause damage to his ability to pass the bar character evaluation?

Comments are closed.