March 9, 2019

FREEDOM: University of Chicago defends the academic freedom of constitutional law professor who used n-word in class.

Raban wrote that the anecdote went as follows:

“Professor Stone had asked a Mr. Green (‘who happened to be Black’) what he thought of the fighting words doctrine. Mr. Green had said that he felt the doctrine was no longer relevant. The professor then had asked a white student in an adjacent row what he thought of Green’s argument. The white student had said, ‘That’s the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard, you stupid [N-word].’ Green had then immediately lunged forward, attempting to choke the white student.”

“Upon finishing his story, the professor flashed a grin as he saw many of our shocked faces,” Raban continued. “ … But a professor doesn’t have to use the actual N-word to explain to students why that word could incite violence. We already get it. And any point he tried to make was completely obscured because both his story and act of retelling it were racist.”

The incident also personally impacted Raban’s academic performance, who found that he began to have “trouble focusing and participating in [the] class.”

When asked for a comment, Professor Stone stood firm.

Good for Professor Stone. And if Mr. Raban can’t listen to a story he doesn’t like without losing his ability to function, then he doesn’t belong in law school, since lawyers often have to hear things they don’t like or agree with as a basic part of doing their job. He should probably call his mother and tell her there’s serious doubt he’s going to have a successful legal career.

Related: This piece by Randall Kennedy.

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