Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Choir Practices and Paralysis

Pedro lives out of the wilshire hotel
He looks out a window without glass
The walls are made of cardboard, newspapers on his feet
His father beats him cause hes too tired to beg

Give me your hungry, your tired your poor
Ill piss on em
Thats what the statue of bigotry says
Your poor huddled masses, lets club em to death
And get it over with and just dump em on the boulevard

Lou Reed, "Dirty Blvd."

Law School choir people do not care for Lou Reed -- too raw and too much of a reminder that privileged people have no taste for dealing with the truly nasty. How can they? They define what they see through a special lens. It blocks some things, cleans them up and, most importantly, simplifies them. Dissonance is not tolerable.

So much for a law school as a truly progressive factor. So maybe they can be bastions of intellectual diversity -- lots of ideas bouncing around. Interesting theories, philosophies, and discussions. No dice there either. Just like getting dirty, the choir people do not allow it.

On these issues -- the lack of intellectual diversity -- I have no reason to think my school is different from many others. In fact, we could be better than others -- we have one admitted Republican and a couple of others who are suspect. This lack diversity is hard on lefties and the smattering of conservatives who are on a faculty. Who are we supposed to argue with and how do we test our ideas? How do you learn anything if everyone says the same thing? Writing for and talking to the choir is as boring as talking to a rabid pro-lifer about what constitutes a person – there is only one acceptable answer.

Why does the choir have so much power? It is hard to say but here are some possibilities:

1. Their first allegiance is to the choir. (Think "NRA" -- that is the appropriate model.) I see many non choir people vote for candidates for jobs who are likely to be choir people. On the other hand, I rarely see a choir person vote for a candidate who obvious is not a choir person. This includes instances in which the non choir candidate may actually mean additional diversity on the faculty. (In fact, choir people strive for the least diverse diversity.)

2. Choir people are found in the AALS sheets in higher numbers than lefties, conservatives and libertarians. Maybe this as always been true.

3. Many areas of specialization in vogue these day seem to attract choir people.For example, is anyone with the view (not one I have) that a few zillion species are extinct and we have not noticed the difference likely to be attracted to environmental law? (On this read Julian Barnes’ The History of the World in Ten and a Half Chapters, where we learn what many of us had expected all along: that there were two Arks and one was lost in the flood and, for the most part, no one has given it a second thought.)

4. The rest of the faculty. I have covered this in other posts -- one was on the knack of potentially influential faculty to hide from controversy, the other related an experience on my faculty that occurred when the usual log rolling did not work.

Will this change? I do not see why it would.

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