“It’s Unethical To Be A Weenie,” Part III: Hypersensitive Law Students

[Part I is here; Part II is here]

“Today’s lecture is on WHAT???????”

This belongs in an emerging sub-category: future legal weenies. We have already seen black law students insisting that they be able to defer exams because the Eric Garner death has them too preoccupied to concentrate, and other law students protest an “insensitive” exam question involving the Ferguson riots. This trend does not bode well for the ability of citizens to receive competent representation in years to come. The latest entry was revealed by Harvard law professor Jeannie Suk, who registers her observations  in the New Yorker.  Suk says rape law is becoming impossible to teach and may be dropped from criminal law courses because many students can’t handle the stress of the subject matter. Criminal law professors at several schools confirmed that they are no longer teach rape law because they fear student complaints.  Suk writes, “Many students and teachers appear to be absorbing a cultural signal that real and challenging discussion of sexual misconduct is too risky to undertake—and that the risk is of a traumatic injury analogous to sexual assault itself.”

Infecting law students with weenieism, apparently, are various student organizations that caution law students not to yield to pressure to attend or participate in classes discussing rape, she says. Such student activists  insist that professors give “trigger warnings” before covering subjects that might awaken traumatic memories in one or more students. One student asked a professor not to use the word “violate” in class because the word “triggered” too much trauma. Some students have argued that including rape law questions on final exams unfairly handicaps their performance and harms their grades.

Suk concludes,

“For at least some students the classroom has become a potentially traumatic environment, and they have begun to anticipate the emotional injuries they could suffer or inflict in classroom conversation. They are also more inclined to insist that teachers protect them from causing or experiencing discomfort—and teachers, in turn, are more willing to oblige, because it would be considered injurious for them not to acknowledge a student’s trauma or potential trauma.”

Of course you can see that this is really a triple weenie-fest: future lawyers too weak and delicate to deal with subjects involving violence, trauma and controversy–as in, the subject matter of much of the law; law professors too timid and submissive to tell such weenies that they need to toughen up or seek another career path; and law school administrators willing to inflict incompetent and easily unmoored attorneys on future clients and employers rather than stand up for the integrity of the profession they are entrusted with advancing

For this is the conduct of weenies, and It’s Unethical To Be A Weenie.

UPDATE: You will enjoy this excellent take-down by attorney Keith Lee at Above the Law.

Now that you have read all three parts of this series, please complete this Ethics Alarms poll:

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Pointer and Facts: ABA Journal

22 thoughts on ““It’s Unethical To Be A Weenie,” Part III: Hypersensitive Law Students

  1. About a year ago, I was taking some science courses at CCSU. It was not long after Halloween, and apparently one of the students was still wearing his ninja costume on the way back to his dorm. A weenie called the cops, the cops dispatched a couple hundred shock troops, and we were on lockdown for several hours. The next day, I read in the Banner Web (our website) that trauma counseling would be available at the student center the following day, so I positioned myself at the front door with a cardboard sign that said “trauma counseling here” around my neck. I had about a half-dozen of my kids’ old pacifiers hanging from the sign’s string, and was holding one of my neighbor’s old yellow wiffle ball bats.

  2. So enough young, feminist lawyers would forgo an education in rape law to warrant dropping the class, making good legal council that much harder to obtain for rape victims and making prosecution that much softer on rapists? More women will suffer real harm for the sake of sparing the feelings of law students who should know what they are getting into. Terrific.

    I wonder how many of the lawyers abandoning their posts believe there’s a War on Women to fight.

    • No, the idea is that the trial would be too traumatic for the victim and the attorneys. The accusation of rape needs to be taken at face value and the accused needs to be immediately convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in solitary confinement. Any other action would constitute a war on women. /sarcasm

      • I feel so ashamed for not realizing such an obvious conclusion. I suppose it’s a good thing they’re mostly against the death penalty, then!

  3. I would remove the theater chains from the list. This was an easy call for them and it had nothing to do with North Korea. \

    Consider for a moment being in the audience of The Interview, any given night showing: 1] the maturity and intelligence of the average Seth Rogan fan; 2] the darkened theater; 3] the panic ensuing when flying spinners, poppers, snaps, and roman candles are set off (accompanied by angry “—ng “—ng!” shouts in pseudo-Asian); 4] the damage to the seating when the sprinkling system responds; 5] the 47 injured patrons trampled on the way to the exits; 6] the 49 lawsuits against the theater/chain (including the two perpetrators who will file countersuits from their jail cells declaring they were manhandled by the ushers, one of whom tried to rape them).

    If you don’t think I’m serious, go back and read 1] again.

    • oh, and the perps will finally find a lawyer to defend them against the rape charge, but the judge will have to declare a mistrial when it is discovered that several sensitive jurors had their fingers in the ears during the testimony.

    • Consider for a moment being in the audience of The Interview, any given night showing: 1] the maturity and intelligence of the average Seth Rogan fan; 2] the darkened theater; 3] the panic ensuing when flying spinners, poppers, snaps, and roman candles are set off (accompanied by angry “—ng “—ng!” shouts in pseudo-Asian); 4] the damage to the seating when the sprinkling system responds; 5] the 47 injured patrons trampled on the way to the exits; 6] the 49 lawsuits against the theater/chain (including the two perpetrators who will file countersuits from their jail cells declaring they were manhandled by the ushers, one of whom tried to rape them).
      ****************
      You know what?
      You are right.

  4. I’m torn between the law professors and Sony. The law professors for obvious reasons — you can’t teach the law properly without opening students eyes to the good and evil in this world, and part of being a good lawyer is being calm and thoughtful even when handling terrible or offensive facts. But I’m so angry at Sony right now I can barely breathe. We are in a new age where everything is digital and everything can be hacked — even if you have the best protections around. Although I doubt that The Interview would be a great movie, it will now forever be remembered as the start of letting our fear of other countries dictate our culture. And we let North Korea do this to us? North Korea? Laughable.

  5. All the same weenieism. Why shouldn’t we expect the NRA to go to court to block use of the term “trigger” in the “warnings” to the other weenies? That word sounds menacingly like another word we can’t use anymore. Perhaps Jack should re-word his labels for certain Principles and call them instead “Weenie Principles.”

  6. My vote was for the law professors. The professors are supposed to be in their positions because they have some judgment or at least some basic common sense. Also these are elite universities, training the future leaders of this country. It looks to me like what they are producing a bunch of peevish, aggrieved and unbalanced sociopaths. Are the seemingly unbalanced students of today going to be any better when they are actually in positions of power?
    Also, the older I get the more I understand why the Athenians tried and executed Socrates.

  7. Nah, a weenie is a weenie. If your culture has deteriorated to the point that you no longer defend “to the death” ANYTHING!, then you are doomed to eternal weenie-hood. I fear that, from the evidence, we are already there.

  8. I voted for the law professors as well. Students (as I can attest to, in my 4th year) are serial procrastinators and will look for any advantage they can get out of their instructors. I don’t believe they’re about to fall into fainting couches, I believe they think it’ll work, and their spineless instructors are letting them get away with it. And I’m willing to give SONY a pass, I’m not so concerned about North Korean meddling…. But those theatres that show The Interview also show other movies. Kids movies. And I think parents will be less likely to bring kids to theatres in the light of bomb threats. It was an astute business move. But those sports weenies…. They were my second choice. You have a sport where men violently smash their helmeted faces into the faces of someone else’s helmeted face, and you’re mortified at the way his mouth was moving? Not even what he said, but what your 6 year old lip reader thought he said? Christ.

  9. I went with the students. Assuming at least a few of them legitimately believe they have a grievance, it’s based on their own imaginations. The professors are faced with the possibility of actually being sued if they stick to their guns. They are still weenies, but at least it’s not all in their heads.

  10. The professors. Even if the students ARE fainting at the thought of such horrible things, the professors are being paid to teach them not to be – and failing miserably. I laughed harder than I should have at the professor who simply responded ‘no.’ To the request to postpone.

  11. I have some serious questions about the postponed exams. Don’ the students whose exams WEREN’T postponed have reason to file a complaint? Their classmates were given a competitive advantage by allowing them more time to study. I’m sure Columbia has written policies about when exams can be postponed (with an incomplete, for example) and I doubt “upset with a grand jury decision in Missouri” passes muster. Also, wouldn’t the deferred students have to take a different exam (too much chance of cheating)? Is the deferred exam easier or harder than the one given at the appointed time?

    Beyond the whole ‘weenieism’ thing, these possibly serious problems with deferring such an exam. I would consider such an instance a nightmare.

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