Friday, November 24, 2006

Personally Annoying

Orin writes in response to my turkey awards:

"Jeff, is "privilege protecting" some kind of MoneyLaw code-word for things that you find personally annoying?"

Not exactly, Orin. Just to stress the difference, here are things that I find "personally" annoying but have not included in the list of Top Turkeys:

1. Faculty and students talking on cell phones outside my office door.
2. Faculty who leave the board in the room I am going to teach in covered with their notes.
3. People who gossip carelessly without any thought to the damage caused.
4. Really awful art in law school public places.
5. People who take up two spots in the parking lot.

See, Orin, these are annoying things but they do not seem to me to have all that much impact on the capacity of a law school to give stakeholders a fair deal.

My theory is that being a law professor is a privilege largely enjoyed by children of privilege who have developed a sense of entitlement. This sense of entitlement results in a massive network of norms that have far more to do with protecting their privileged existences -- many of which are in my top ten list to which you responded-- than observing their fiduciary obligations to students, contributors, and the community.

"Annoying" does not quite capture how I feel about those things. It is more like wondering what the distinction is, morally that is, between those privileged faculty and folks doing time for embezzlement.

There is an important qualifier. Even at failing law schools there are many, maybe a majority, of faculty who are not part of the problem in a direct sense. But the informally, but well organized, block sets the norms.

I hope that clears things up for you and others who have not followed the thread.

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