Jewish World Review Nov. 26 , 2002 / 21 Kislev, 5763
Training lawyers to be touchy-feely
Harvard Law School is considering a
speech code that would ban what is being called
"harassing offensive language" from classrooms
and maybe even throughout the campus. And
first-year students now get to attend a new
course to help them "manage difficult
WHAT IS going on? This is the way these students
learn about freedom of speech by attempting to sanitize the
discourse on campus? The primary teaching method at
many law schools involves professors challenging students in
I'm certain that many students might feel "harassed" by
those intellectually demanding and sometimes controversial
questions, an effort to help budding lawyers assess where
legal lines should be drawn. Professors there are already
complaining that the discussions have suffered as a result of
this hypersensitivity. Look, being a lawyer often involves
dealing with offensive comments.
If you're not comfortable with controversy, don't go to
law school. This all started with a racial slur in a course
outline posted online by a student and is morphed into a
debate over what students and professors should and
should not be able to say in class.
Racists and bigots should be criticized, even
ostracized, but when it comes to getting the university
involved, it has to be action, more than just speech.
just no objective fair and constitutional way to define what is
acceptable speech and what is not, particularly not at a law
school where they should know better.
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JWR contributor Dan Abrams anchors The Abrams Report, Monday through Friday from 6-7 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV. He also covers legal stories for NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, Today and Dateline NBC. To visit his website, click here. Comment by clicking here.
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