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Friday, August 21, 2020

Koppelman and Inazu on Speech, Teaching, and Journal Policy

A slightly late and (these days) rare intervention to commend to readers two recent pieces. At Balkinization, Andrew Koppelman has this post about the proper response to incidents involving professors whose use of (relevant, if arguably ill-advised) language in the classroom provokes upset or protest in other realms. He also links to a--sorry!--characteristically thoughtful law review response piece by John Inazu, titled "Scholarship, Teaching, and Protest," in which John reaffirms the belief in the importance of racial justice that he has voiced in so many of his writings, but also urges greater clarity and (a word, and a sort of language, that our society can always use more of) "grace" in particular responses.

Leaving aside other issues and leaving open room for agreement or disagreement with the points made in John's piece, I would underscore a point that is made there: Different institutions carry out different functions in different ways, and may perform poorly, or undermine their core and valuable institutional functions, the more they undertake actions that are far removed from or even contrary to their institutional role and competence. We are in a moment in which institutions and their core functions, professionally undertaken, are simultaneously distrusted (not without reason, and not without much of the distrust being self-inflicted in various ways) and necessary. We should always be willing to question and reform them, and always wary about eliminating them altogether or insisting that all institutions ought to do the same things in the same ways. As I wrote a while back, we have witnessed some recent events and decisions that "raise[] some serious institutional questions" for and about particular law reviews "at a minimum, if not more generally for American legal scholarship," as well as other academic and speech institutions. My sense is that many of my colleagues (and no doubt many law students) share my concern; that this concern is indeed institutional and in the service of important intellectual and institutional values, not a concern about the substance of various views; and that many of them are reluctant to publicly acknowledge those concerns. The concerns are important; the reticence about saying that one shares them may be just as important.             

Posted by Paul Horwitz on August 21, 2020 at 01:05 PM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink


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