March 18, 2012

READER MICHAEL BOHL WRITES:

Dear Professor Reynolds,

I just finished reading Douglas Laycock’s Vicious Stereotypes in Polite Society and, after initial indignation about Professor Brown’s anecdote, I came up with a few questions. I don’t actually expect any answers based on the time line but they would be interesting.

After more than 20 years how is this incident remembered by the principals? If it affected her so much that she wrote about it for the Yale Law Journal it must have had a lasting impact. Has she realized that it was an irrational fear based solely on visual cues that she didn’t like but have no real bearing on what she was afraid of? Does she understand that (in her mind anyway) she all but accused someone of a heinous crime when he only tried to help? Has she blown it up in her mind so that she wakes in a cold sweat about her narrow escape from the cast of Deliverance? (Have to stick with the stereotypes.)

Does he even remember it? If he does, does he remember anything more than “Some tree hugging chick* went hiking and left her lights on.”?

I know that I have been (and probably will be again in the future) guilty of exactly that sort of behavior. I have, however, usually been forced after the fact to look at my own beliefs and prejudices to try to see where I was wrong. After slogging through her original article I sort of doubt that she has learned anything.

* ”Chick” used advisedly and deliberately.

I have no idea about any of these questions, but it would be interesting to know the answers.

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