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.
“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:
Pointer and Facts: ABA Journal