« Annoyances in Education | Main | "An Unmitigated Disaster" »

Orthodoxy (or, Hey guys!)

Professor Bainbridge blogs about how the American Constitution Society is the least necessary organization in legal education. (Well, he doesn't so much blog about it as link to this story.) I'm not sure I'd go that far, although I'm sure it would annoy Professor Dorf. But sometimes I do wonder about the prevailing orthodoxy here at CLS. You can never quite figure out who's supposed to be the oppressed, who's dominant, who's in need of re-education. Take this email that I received today regarding an upcoming event by a student society (not ACS):

Think “You Guys,” “Chairman,” and “Spokesman” are ok to say? Join us for a student-led workshop and discussion about exactly what’s wrong with this language—and how language contributes to oppression of women and people of color. The connections between racist and sexist speech will also be discussed. Pizza and cookies (from Camille’s) will be served!

Note the emphasis: not a discussion on what might be wrong with this language, but what is wrong with it. Whatever the 'discussion' is going to be about, it certainly doesn't seem to be a debate on whether there is something wrong with 'Chairman.' The conclusion to that matter has already been reached.

The email certainly leads me to wonder exactly which students the author was hoping to draw to the event. Presumably those who think that such language isn't acceptable are already well-versed in why they think so, and hardly need a workshop. Which means that--and here my inner-marketer is speaking--a rational announcement should be appealing to those who aren't already true believers. While 'come see how you've been oppressing women and minorities' might be a good pitch to someone who is looking for a bit of self-flagellation, I doubt the audience for re-education sessions is that large. And the language does not seem to be designed to reach to those who disagree but might be willing to be convinced.

Perhaps there's more debate involved than the email suggests, or perhaps the organizations involved have a smaller target audience than I'm assuming. Perhaps I'm reading the email less charitably than it deserves--with exams approaching stress makes me ever more curmudgeonly. Certainly more and more of the mails I've received recently have had an air of, "Now you see the violence inherent in the system!"

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.threeyearsofhell.com/cgi-user/mt/mtPleaseLinktoMe.cgi/475

Comments

Thanks for pointing this out. I recently said "Good Morning, Guys" to the organizers of this workshop. I was promptly reprimanded for my callousnes and my attendance at the workshop was demanded. This behavior has had two results: 1) I will no longer make the mistake of saying good morning 2) I will not be attending the workshop under any circumstances. "You catch more flies with honey" is a cliche for a reason.
:) Ah well. Maybe you and I are simply unreconstructable. Can't teach old Owls new tricks...
I noticed the exact same thing about the e-mail. Clearly the first step to gender equity is removing "you guys" from the common vocabulary.
It's perfectly possible to adopt a more positive approach to things like gender discrimination in language, though. For example, I'm reliably informed that most professional female stars of stage and screen are now 'actors', with 'actress' being deprecated usage in civilized speech. This seems like a harmless enough development to me - if it makes some people feel better then I'm happy to adopt the convention. By contrast, I'm not about to start saying "chairperson" anytime soon. Both unwieldy and unnatural.
Tony, It is about time you stopped reading the student events emails.
A. Ricky:

You write:

Perhaps I'm reading the email less charitably than it deserves--with exams approaching stress makes me ever more curmudgeonly.

You say that like it's a bad thing!

Of course it isn't, Clerk! But it does make one more likely to make errors in charitability. :)
If 'actress' disappears, shouldn't 'waitress', 'mistress', 'adulteress' go the same way? 'Lioness,' 'prophetess,' 'Jewess?' I agree with Fowler that much inconvenience could be solved by introducing 'doctress' into the lexicon. Thank goodness the editors haven't worked 'prosecutrix' out of the opinions just yet. Aside: why use 'gender' when you can use 'sex?'

Post a comment

NOTICE TO SPAMMERS, COMMENT ROBOTS, TRACKBACK SPAMMERS AND OTHER NON-HUMAN VISITORS: No comment or trackback left via a robot is ever welcome at Three Years of Hell. Your interference imposes significant costs upon me and my legitimate users. The owner, user or affiliate who advertises using non-human visitors and leaves a comment or trackback on this site therefore agrees to the following: (a) they will pay fifty cents (US$0.50) to Anthony Rickey (hereinafter, the "Host") for every spam trackback or comment processed through any blogs hosted on threeyearsofhell.com, morgrave.com or housevirgo.com, irrespective of whether that comment or trackback is actually posted on the publicly-accessible site, such fees to cover Host's costs of hosting and bandwidth, time in tending to your comment or trackback and costs of enforcement; (b) if such comment or trackback is published on the publicly-accessible site, an additional fee of one dollar (US$1.00) per day per URL included in the comment or trackback for every day the comment or trackback remains publicly available, such fee to represent the value of publicity and search-engine placement advantages.

Giving The Devil His Due

Choose Stylesheet

What I'm Reading

cover
D.C. Noir

My city. But darker.
cover
A Clockwork Orange

About time I read this...


Shopping

Projects I've Been Involved With

A Round-the-World Travel Blog: Devil May Care (A new round-the-world travel blog, co-written with my wife)
Parents for Inclusive Education (From my Clinic)

Syndicated from other sites

The Columbia Continuum
Other Blogs by CLS students

De Novo
Theory and Practice
Liberal Federalism?
Good News, No Foolin'


Althouse
Nancy Pelosi covers her head and visits the head of John the Baptist.
Vlogging in from Austin.
Omikase/"American Idol"


Jeremy Blachman's Weblog: 2007
Happy Passover
Looking for Advice re: LA
Google Books


Stay of Execution
What I've Learned From This Blog, or My Yellow Underpants
The End
Mid Thirties


Legal Theory Blog
Program Announcement: Summer Programs on the Constitution at George Washington
Book Announement: Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy by Whittington
Entry Level Hiring Report


The Volokh Conspiracy
Making the Daily Show:
Civil unions pass New Hampshire House:
Profile of Yale Law Dean Harold Koh:


Crescat Sententia
Hillary II
Hillary
Politics and Principal/Agents


Law Dork
Election Approaches
Following Lewis
New Jersey High Court: 'Same Rights and Benefits'


IrishLaw
Homecoming
Surveying the revival
Birds of paradise


Half the Sins of Mankind
Cheney Has Spoken Religious conservatives who may ...
Does Ahmadinejad Know Christianity Better Than MSN...
Borders as Genocide In discussions of climate chan...


pf.org
Progress
For lovers of garden gnomes...and any China-freaks out there
We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming


Ideoblog
Does SOX explain the flight from NY?
More Litvak on SOX effect on cross-listed firms
What did the market learn from internal controls reporting?


The Yin Blog
Iowa City = Riyadh
Jeffrey Rosen's "The Supreme Court"
Geek alert -- who would win between Battlestar Galactica and the U.S.S. Enterprise?


Letters of Marque
Graduation
And there we are
Oil!


BuffaloWings&Vodka
Signing Off


Dark Bilious Vapors
Jim (The Waco Kid): Where you headed, cowboy?
Bart: Nowhere special.
Jim: Nowhere special. I always wanted to go there.
Bart: Come on.
--"Blazing Saddles"

Technical Difficulties... please stand by....
The Onion should have gotten a patent first....


Legal Ethics Forum
Interesting new Expert DQ case
Decency, Due Care, and The Yoo-Delahunty Memorandum
Thinking About the Fired U.S. Attorneys


Ex Post
Student Symposium- Chicago!
More Hmong - Now at Law School
Good Samaritan Laws: Good For America?


Appellate Law & Practice
Those turned over documents
CA1: courts can’t help people acquitted of crimes purge the taint of acquitted conduct
CA1: restrictions on chain liquor stores in Rhode Island are STILL okay


the imbroglio
High schoolers turn in plagiarism screeners for copyright infringement
talisman
Paris to offer 20,600 bikes at 1,450 stations to rent by the end of the year


The Republic of T.
The Secret of the Snack Attack
links for 2007-04-04
Where You Link is What You Get

Distractions for stressed law students

The Other Side: Twisted AnimationsSomething Positive, a truly good webcomic

Syndicate This Site

Sitemeter

Technologies


Stop Spam Harvesters, Join Project Honey Pot