[Ilya Somin (guest-blogging), March 30, 2006 at 6:09pm] Trackbacks
The "Yale Taliban" and The Limits of Academic Tolerance:

VC's recent discussion of ideological tolerance on campus naturally leads us to the question of how far such tolerance should extend. This is the key issue raised by the case of former Taliban spokesman Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi , the nondegree Yale student who is now being considered for admission to the undergraduate program.

My own view is that an applicant's political ideology, no matter how odious, should be ignored in academic admissions decisions. In the case of public institutions, such nondiscrimination is required by the First Amendment. For private institutions like Yale, I would argue that it is the right policy, though not legally mandatory. Although schools may have to admit the occasional Nazi, Communist, or radical Islamist, that is better than letting university bureaucrats exclude any applicants whose views they find objectionable.

Hashemi's admission, however, cannot be justified even by my expansive theory of ideological nondiscrimination. This man was not just an ideological sympathizer of the Taliban. He was a paid agent. Being an actual agent of terrorists and oppressors is vastly different from merely having views similar to theirs. Yes, there is always the risk that some admissions office will decide to label the US or Israel or some other democracy a "terrorist" state and ban applicants who once worked for those governments. Practically speaking, however, I highly doubt that any major university would be willing to incur the opprobrium of doing so. Stigmatizing an entire nation (or even just its government) will be much more costly to universities than merely rejecting an individual applicant because the school objects to his views.

Finally, it should be emphasized that Yale was not simply applying ideological neutrality when they decided to accept Hashemi. They actually chose to take him because of his Taliban experience rather than in spite of it. As then-Yale Admissions Dean Richard Shaw admitted, Hashemi was accepted because of his "personal accomplishments that had significant impact" (see above link). Given that Hashemi was in his early twenties at the time and had never done anything else with "significant impact," this is clearly a reference to his time with the Taliban. Even if Yale chooses not to ban applicants who worked for the Taliban, it should at least not count Taliban experience as a point in their favor.

I agree totally. Thne there's the issue that Hashemi apparently hasn't apologized for his past (unless I have missed this during all of this). Wouldn't you want some self-reflection in a student from such an unusual position that you are placing so much hope in?
3.30.2006 7:21pm
Dylanfa (mail) (www):
"My own view is that an applicant's political ideology, no matter how odious, should be ignored in academic admissions decisions. In the case of public institutions, such nondiscrimination is required by the First Amendment."

It is not his ideology that is odious, but his organizational affiliation. Is it obvious that the First Amendment permits the State Department to expel former Nazis, but that a state university could not do so in the absence of statute? Surely not. It is the acts of the organization, not its "speech" that is being disfavored and excluded.
3.30.2006 7:53pm
Dylanfa (mail) (www):
I'm flashing back to first grade: "Dylan, read all of the instructions before you do anything!"

Yes, ma'am.
3.30.2006 7:53pm
David Matthews (mail):
I.S., you are one excellent writer. You had me, in paragraph 2, saying, "yeah, you're right. 'that is better than letting university bureaucrats exclude any applicants whose views they find objectionable.' "

Then, bam!, paragraph 3a: "Being an actual agent of terrorists and oppressors is vastly different from merely having views similar to theirs."

Then, again, 3b: "there is always the risk that some admissions office will decide to label the US or Israel or some other democracy a "terrorist" state and ban applicants who once worked for those governments," so, well, making a perjorative judgement is running a risk, so....

And finally, paragraph 5, you hit the reality of the only argument germane to this situation: "Yale was not simply applying ideological neutrality when they decided to accept Hashemi. They actually chose to take him because of his Taliban experience rather than in spite of it;" game, set, and match.

Amongst the really great thinkers, writers, and apologists that Eugene Volokh assembles, and who gather themselves like sharks, sheep or vultures in the "comments" section; for my money (kinda like the widow in the New Testament, it ain't much, but it's all I've got) you're the best of the bunch.

Thanks for your contributions. I look forward to learning from many more.
3.30.2006 8:01pm
Justin (mail):
I'm pretty sure that he does not qualify for a degree track. Yale has "accepted" him as an experiment, to see if he learns from being surrounded by liberal westerners, and to see how liberal westerners react to him.

If he's committed a crime, the government is free to punish him - but if we're being truly content neutral, I think being a paid spokesperson for an entire country is a pretty impressive feat for an 18 year old. Would I be friends with him? No friggin' way.
3.30.2006 8:06pm
Justin (mail):
Apologies for being redundant. It's late.
3.30.2006 8:06pm
Ray (mail):
Of course, there is a downside to having such a well reasoned position on this. Making it extremely difficult to argue the point will of course cut down on the number comments.
3.30.2006 8:12pm
Justin (mail):
This post doesn't apply to (at least just) you IS, but I do have to wonder:

Now that OK is gone, given civil war in Iraq with all its impact on global affairs and international law, given torture, given wiretapping, given the corruption by Republicans in government, given all the current and relevant stuff happening in public affairs,

Are all posts now limited to the bread and butter topics of anti-conservative discrimination and Denmark?
3.30.2006 8:13pm

not to quibble with you, but it is "their" blog, the authors have the choice of topics (not that I agree with them). If Denmkark and NYU are important to them, then that is what will get.
3.30.2006 8:27pm
David Matthews (mail):
Well, Justin, if recent Fridays are any indication of future Fridays, you can probably post one of your topics (I'd suggest one of your earlier ideas, one that's less diffuse than "current and relevant stuff happening in public affairs," but that's up to you) in the "open comments" thread that I'm guessing will show up.

My personal problem with "torture" and "wiretapping" (as topics) is not that they're less important than they might have been a month ago, but that there doesn't seem to be anything new added to the discussion (at in quite some time (by anybody.)

So I'm hoping to start up some conversation on International War Crimes Tribunals, given the recent arrest of Charles Taylor (confession: I used to live in Liberia, and for almost 20 years was married to a Liberian, and still have more ties to Liberia than to the US.) Questions like, "what laws apply, when, how, where and why?" Or, "why do so many defendants die before the case goes to the jury? Are they just old, or does God lose patience, or is someone poisoning them?"

Or, (and this is actually true), back in 1987 Charles Taylor's nephew borrowed $250 U.S. from me, and I never saw it again. So, can I file a claim against his uncle when he shows up at the Hague? Word is that Charlie had 2 bags @ 50 kilos each of US $100 bills. My guess is that the Nigerian Border Guards found 3....
3.30.2006 8:39pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Justin: You're absolutely right. Henceforth all posts will be on subjects that are of absolutely no interest to you. There really is no reason for you to keep reading and commenting. But the good news is that it's a big Internet out there! Lots of other sites for you to explore.
3.30.2006 9:17pm
"They actually chose to take him because of his Taliban experience rather than in spite of it."

3.30.2006 9:39pm
Bored Lawyer (mail):
"They actually chose to take him because of his Taliban experience rather than in spite of it."

This would be really funny if it weren't so sad. Imagine the scene that day in the admissions office:

Admissions Officer #1: Well let's see, here, I have three class presidents, four varsity athletes and five members of the school band. Yawn! No one thinks of anything original.

Admission Officer #2: Whoa! Look here. This one says, "Spokesman for terrorist band which took over Central Asian nation and exported terrorism worldwide." Now that's one you don't see every day! If his SAT's check out, this one is a keeper!
3.30.2006 10:08pm
"If his SAT's check out,..."

The even sadder thing is you may be giving them too much credit with that statement.
3.30.2006 10:32pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
this brings to mind an incident from a few years back. Norman Mailer much taken with the writting ability of a young convict, got him sprung from a long term for some violent crime.

After a few months of freedom and hanging out with his literary buddies, the young con reverted to type and killed a man.

The Taliban are/were thugs. Their front man was a member of the gang. Its not his ideas. Its his actions.
3.30.2006 10:34pm
The real question is: What will be the end-product of Yale's experiment?

Will granting a western-style education in a liberal environment end the hatred, distrust, and/or skeptisism of Western culture?

Can our educational system open "hearts &minds" more efficiently than our millitary system? Will integration be more sucessful than isolation? How will we train the leadership class of this country we have so recently conquered?
3.30.2006 10:43pm
Ilya Somin:
First, thanks for the various friendly comments.

Second, in response to Justin and others:

Since I've been on this blog I've done 3 posts on democracy promotion in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, 2 on the Israeli election and its implications for democratic theory, and only 2 on free speech/campus politics issues. If these are not the issues you want to read about, that's perfectly fine, but I can hardly be accused of ignoring the wider world out there.

Eugene Volokh and David Bernstein are leading experts on freedom of speech. It makes sense for them to post on that issue; just as it makes sense for me to do posts on democracy - one of my own areas of expertise. Would it really be better if we spent more of our time posting on issues we know little about?
3.30.2006 11:22pm
gr (www):

The real question is: What will be the end-product of Yale's experiment?

My guess is he'll get a job in consulting, liason type work with a multinational in central asia
3.30.2006 11:52pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Even when they leave Yale, they can't seem to get things right for everybody - I saw ex-Dean (Yale), now President (Duke) Broadhead get the third on the news today, even though I thought his unilateral suspension of the top 10 varsity sports program was quite an aggressive response.

Sure, they took him because he's Taliban. So what? Yale takes a lot of people "because" of certain ideological/racial/ethnic/religious attributes, and it's as much to expose them to "Yale" as it is to expose "Yale" to them. While people are so busy Yale-bashing, they forget that the university - whatever the perception - does not always bend over backwards to accommodate atavistic thinking once the students are there. People conveniently forget how Yale fought against the Hasidic Jews demanding special treatment by living in gender segregated dorms.

It's not a one-way street. The degree to which "Yale" and western ideas generally will be affected also bears a direct relationship to how western ideas will affect the student.
3.31.2006 12:09am
Too bad John Walker Lindh is locked up--he'd be the perfect roommate.
3.31.2006 12:19am
llamasex (mail) (www):
That poor student, he really should have went somewhere that isn't so biased against his conservative values.
3.31.2006 12:36am
The Duke story is interesting in itself. The Duke prez has been hammered for... doing what, exactly? I've heard cries of an "independent investigation." Do you really want the Dean of Students heading up a rape investigation that's just begun?
3.31.2006 2:46am
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):

So what that he's a member of the Taliban? I don't quite understand your point. It seems as though that's a major minus. And you can't compare shilling for a murderous regime to say, living for a year in the Andes and helping the locals install running water in the village. Seriously now.


Yes, it is true that Yale did not take him as a degree student. They are, however, considering him for full-student status at the end of this year. Typically, this is routine for so-called special students. They do two years at Yale, get a 3.0 or something decent like that and then get admitted for degree status. That is what Shaw had originally planned. So it's not like they admitted him on a limited engagement basis only with no expectation of him ever getting a degree.

Another question to ask is, given that Yale declined to participate in a program that would allow qualified Afghani women to be educated at American colleges and universities, what does it say that they purposely admitted a guy like Hashemi because of his work for the Taliban. In some sense, they seem to be implying that surviving and having some semblance of talent in a society which denigrated you and considered you property is not something we want to honor and try to build on, but being a pimp for murderous thugs is.

I loved my time at Yale. I definitely learned a whole lot from my fellow classmates of all sorts of backgrounds. But at some point, we have to say that learning from people with exotic and interesting backgrounds is not the only or even most important goal of a liberal education. Sure, it would probably be quite fascinating to sit in a classroom with Albert Speer. I'm sure he'd have lots of great stories and perspectives on such ideas like the relationship between man and the state. Jeffrey Dalmer would also have been an interesting catch. Again, diversity of perspective does not trump all. There were plenty of equally interesting opportunities (e.g. the Afghan women) to help out on the campus diversification project.

Finally re: him learning from our wonderful Western ways, I have a couple of things to offer. First, he does not seem particularly repentful for what he has done. Not sure why Yale thought that he would be. Second, he already had a US-wide tour pre-9/11 in which he got to see our greatness. That apparently did not enlighten him about our ways, as he continued in his position. Third, just because there is a small or even moderate possibility of him learning from our great enlightened liberalism, that again does not seem to be a sufficiently strong consideration. Simply because people who engage in despicable acts can be reformed by attending a place like Yale does not mean that Yale should admit them. Presumably, the 18 year-old "generals" who led murderous hordes in Rwanda could also benefit from enlightenment values.

Finally, let's not forget that Yale did not just admit him, they gave the foundation who is paying his tab a 40% discount on the tuition bill.
3.31.2006 3:30am
Public_Defender (mail):
"Being an actual agent of terrorists and oppressors is vastly different from merely having views similar to theirs."
This sounds like a good distinction, as long as universities don't give the US government the last word on who's a terrorist.

Remember Ronald Reagan's great shame in calling the African National Congress "terrorist" while he tried to cuddle up with the racist South African government?

And yes, the Taliban counts as "terrorist."
3.31.2006 6:02am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
This post is a good piece of moral indignation (not sarcastic) and I found myself agreeing with it as I went along but analyzed in a more distant, logical fashion I don't think your conclusion stands up.

First of all just as a factual point the Taliban did run a fairly large country for a fair amount of time. While most of the Taliban may have been little more than thugs with guns surely some people joined it just because they felt working through the government rather than making war was the best path to reform. You might think that no benefits this man could have brought to the people of his country by serving as ambassador could outweigh the harm defending the Taliban's brutal, intolerant regime but this is a fairly subtle policy question and surely the oppossing belief is reasonable. Yet surely it would be wrong to keep people out of college because they had a reasonable belief what they were doing was going to help people and I don't think we even know this guy's motivations.

Even if he did defend the Taliban's actions out of real genuine conviction I don't see how his status as a paid ambassador makes him worthy of any special punishment. Supposing he didn't directly participate in any of the nasty acts what makes him any different than an unpaid protestor who defended the Taliban for free? The harm (depending on how influential/compelling you are) can be just as large in either case but an ambassador might only partially or unenthusiastically support these views and be primarily focused on protecting islam's good name in the world or other arguably noble goal. A hypothetical unpaid protestor in the US who had publicly championed the Taliban's acts and deemed them good leaves us with no doubt about the degree of his moral degeneration. Besides, every principled defender of a government or type of action should be willing to support/defend/join it if they have the courage to stand up for what they believe is right. The only difference between someone who enthusiastically defended the Taliban as an ambassador and someone who cheered them on from the sidelines is that we know the ambassador isn't a hypocrite about it and had the ability/skill/luck to get offered the job. I simply can't see what the justification is for punishing someone who gets the paid job over the unpaid supporter when the former is just the later plus some genuine virtues and the right circumstance.

Additionally such a policy would also seem to rule out any chance of reform or repentance for past bad acts. The school can't demand an apology or admission of fault as it would then be discriminating based on exactly the attitudes you say it can't (do you support these actions). Not to mention the fact that it seems strange to hold an Afghan ambassador morally culpable for defending his countries bad acts but don't view US ambassador's as personally culpable if they defend our rendition or other questionable practices.

On a moral level the case for a harsher policy toward actual employees than to mere supporters seems unconvincing so what about on a policy question? Well for starters I suspect any deterrance effect private university admissions offices are going to have on employment is sketchy third world regimes is going to be insignificant. Even if it was significant it is unclear if it would be a good thing. Quite possibly discouraging the likely smarter, better educated, more international types who are likely to be interested in admission to Yale from joining sketchy regimes would just push them farther to extremism.

Additionally it seems likely that the best thing one can do short of milatary action to improve life under these despotic regimes is to encourage the class of people who run the country to come to the US for four years, absorb our values and get an education that will help them question the assumptions and practices of their government. In fact, the very best people to admit may be enthusiastic employees of the regime. It is exactly these people on whom the exposure to a liberal society can most change and whose change is most likely to make a difference.

Also, colleges don't admit students just to reward the students or because these are the best applicants but also to benefit the other students. I don't find all those arguments trotted out for diversity plausible when we are talking about skin color or gender they do seem reasonale when we are talking about ideas and experience in major world affairs. Dislike this guy all you want but going to school with someone like him might have given Bush a much better intuition into how the movers and shakers in that region/culture think.

Finally the biggest problem with your conclusion is that, as you note, there is no good way to turn it into a clear policy. What counts as being a member of the organization in question? Does driving Osama around make you a member and co-guilty of his crimes or just a chauffer/taxi driver reservered by one guy? Does working for the Chinese government which oppresses its people with censorship disqualify you? What about distributing charity and aid for Hamas but never getting involved in terrorism? The rule is just deeply and horribly vague and unclear and unfortunatly such rules generally get implemented inconsistantly and applied for emotional and ideological reasons.

The harm in letting a 'bad' person in to your school if it exists seems small compared to the chance that you might exclude representatives of some valid and noble cause because of the prejudices of your day and age. For instance a rule like you seem to have in mind might have kept out those 'terrorists' who staged raids against slavery (John Brown?) if they had hypothetically choosen to go back to university afterwards.
3.31.2006 7:50am
davod (mail):
The idea that Taliban man will abosrb the good of America and take it back to Afghanistan flies in the face of recent experience.

The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood came to the USA and went back more angry at the US. He was later executed by the Egyptians.

The 9/11 hijackers studied in Europe. They became more radicalised.

Yale and the State Department screwed up. Yale, because it looked upon him as a marketing excercise. State, because they either didn't have him on a watch list or didn't pass the requst up the line for approval.
3.31.2006 8:06am
SenatorX (mail):
I am really enjoying IS's blogs. I hope he stays on as a permanent member.

The topics lately are decent for the reasons commented on. I wouldn't take complaints about the topics as anything other than compliments. People are interested in a variety of your opinions on subjects that are not necessarily your expertise. You all make a living sharpening your minds while some of us have to do that in our "free time".

Since you have a comments section and respond to them it is clear "we" have some sort of influence. Whether or not we can sway you to covering topics you wouldn't necessarily cover if left to your own devices has yet to be determined.

Personally I would like more open comments here and there, more libertarian perspectives, and I am still waiting for a good $cientology blog (with comments…).
3.31.2006 9:43am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Britain's 7-7 bombers weren't terrorist thugs let into the country by morons. They were born in Britain. And the British cops looking into this and related issues report resistance from a substantial part of the Muslim community, most of whom were born in Britain.
Assimilation apparently doesn't fare well when the people in question are going to a mosque and listening to subsidized hate sermons.

However, it might be useful if you could get young Muslim women into the US and separate them from the local Muslim community, to see what freedom for them looks like. That might be a seed that would sprout back in the Old Country
3.31.2006 9:52am
logicnazi (mail) (www):

I hardly think a couple instances of people getting recruited into Al Qaeda in european universities count as compelling evidence that educating them in the west makes them more moderate. Of course some muslims in US universities are going to end up more radicalized just as some flat earthers or creationists are going to be more convinced after going to college but it hardly means education about evolution isn't an effective tactic or that way more people start to believe in evolution in college than who become more hard core creationists.

Sure many of the terrorists we see on the news were recruited in western colleges. Well probably those people who have been the most effective in advancing the creationist goals are disproportionatly likely to have become committed to their causes in college. This proves nothing but that that the people who get admitted/make it to prestigous universities are better equiped to succeed in their tasks and that 18-25 is when most people's independent political/religious beliefs crystalize.

There are tons of people who come to the US or Europe for school and incalcate the liberal values they see there. They just don't blow themselves up in dramatic ways so you don't hear about them much. Sure I suspect that the very hard core edge of the extremists may be so filled with unreasoning hatred that they are just more enraged (though they would probably prefer school in europe) but the vast majority of muslims educated here are probably moderated.

Maybe it's prejudice but I tend to think the sort of person who is controlled, polite, thoughtfull and sophisticated enough to handle themselves as an ambassador even of the Taliban isn't likely to be so much of a raging fanatic that they don't make more moderate friends and be inclined to moderate their own views.

Rather all it proves is those extremists who did go to school in the west
3.31.2006 9:57am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Llamasex writes:

That poor student, he really should have went somewhere that isn't so biased against his conservative values.
Except that by American standards, they aren't "conservative values." But how typical--to equate a Taliban ambassador to American conservatives--even though the Taliban would have executed American conservatives.
3.31.2006 11:55am
Kovarsky (mail):

I'm not a big fan or reasoning anecdotally. There's a number of leaders in the Islamic world (E.g., King Hussein of Jordan) that went to school in the states. Whatever your disagreement with the politics of their regimes (and it is as great as mine, you find much of it an outrage), the idea that these people do not transmit an altered set of values back to their cultures is without evidentiary backing.
3.31.2006 12:16pm
Mark F. (mail):
Of course anyone who worked for the Taliban is/was a thug. But so, in my opinion, is someone who worked for the United States DEA.
3.31.2006 1:23pm
unhyphenatedconservative (mail):
"Will granting a western-style education in a liberal environment end the hatred, distrust, and/or skeptisism of Western culture?"

Ask Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood how much American education makes us love them.
3.31.2006 2:11pm
Kovarsky (mail):

i believe that was the point of my "anecdotal evidence" remark, as someone made that remark upthread.

i think reasoning from the educational experience of the muslim brotherhood is a little silly. we're talking about averages here and, on average, i think it's fairly clear that the long term benefits inuring to america from having unsavory foreign leaders go to school here, rather than THERE.
3.31.2006 3:03pm
Public_Defender (mail):
SMU law school has Jane Dolkart, an unrepentant violent felon in a tenured position. She still hasn't been removed nearly two years after the she committed her felony and nearly one year after the conviction.

As of the end of last year, the SMU student paper reported that, "SMU has not released an official statement regarding Dolkart's status within the university." Is this really that difficult of a call?

Why haven't law professors raised a stink about Ms. Dolkart? Or does the law school academic community just have really low expectations of SMU faculty?
3.31.2006 5:27pm
Unnamed Co-Conspirator:
Yale's experiment seems to be uncontrolled. I would suggest that another Ivy League school pick up the slack. Bring in one average Joe from Afghanistan who actually suffered under the Taliban and was glad to see us kick them out (how do you say Joe in Afghan?), give the average Joe the educational opportunity (while we're at it, we can give the unsuccessful applicant whose Taliban credentials didn't play so well at our control group school the cell at Guantanamo he undoubtedly deserves). Then see which school, Yale, or our "control group" gets more bang for its hearts and minds buck.
3.31.2006 5:48pm
Average Joe (mail):
I checked Public Defender's claims about Jane Dolkart and they are, indeed, correct. Specifically,

On Wednesday, June 8, testimony began in the case of Dedman School of Law professor Jane L. Dolkart, accused of hitting a bicyclist with her car in May 2004.Less than a week later, a Dallas jury found Dolkart guilty of aggravated assault but decided not to sentence her to jail time, opting instead for a penance of five years of probation and two years of community service. SMU has not released an official statement regarding Dolkart's status within the university.

Note, however, that

even the victims in the case believed it was an accident. Mr. Oliphant, himself a triathlete who trains at the lake, told the jury that probation was appropriate for the lake incident.

These quotes are from the links provided by Public Defender. Apparently, Public Defender believes that law professors should raise "a stink" about another law professor accidentally hitting a bicycle with her car. Of course, when someone says "unrepentant violent felon" all of you immediately think of someone who accidently hit a bicycle with her car, right? Otherwise, Public Defender's post might be considered correct but deceitfully misleading.
3.31.2006 9:43pm
bertram (mail):
Average Joe,

Check the article again. The victims, who believed they were struck by accident, were hit in December 2003 in a different incident unrelated to the May 2004 incident for which Jane was convicted of aggravated assault. If all that happened was that Jane accidentally hit somebody she wouldn't have been convicted of aggravated assult.
4.1.2006 12:59am
Public_Defender (mail):
Ms. Dolkart was covicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for intentionally ramming the cyclist with her car. Intentionally ramming someone with a car is a violent felony just as if she used a knife.

Bertram and Average Joe are right--this was not the first time in recent memory that Ms. Dolkart hit someone with her car. But, as Bertram points out, she was never charged for hitting the pedestrians in the earlier case, even though the police doubted her story.

It would have been interesting to know what pleas (if any) were offered and rejected.

Can someone with law school faculty experience explain how a conviction for a violent felony does not disqualify you to teach at a school that wants to be respectable?
4.1.2006 3:56am
Federal Dog:
Apropos of Public Defender's question, while you're at it, please explain Bernardine Dohrn's presence at Northwestern too.
4.1.2006 7:20am
Federal Dog:
Apropos of Public Defender's question, while you're at it, please explain Bernardine Dohrn's presence at Northwestern too.
4.1.2006 7:20am
Average Joe (mail):
You are correct. I was commenting after a couple of glasses of wine, so I made the mistake of conflating the two incidents. For those who have not clicked the links in the original post, here a relevant couple of paragraphs:

He [the prosecutor] said before making his punishment recommendation that he also weighed the fact that the jury had been split over whether Ms. Dolkart was guilty of the felony charge or a less-serious misdemeanor.

Mr. Thomas, a Dallas civil attorney, said he's pleased with the felony conviction, although he added that probation in this case was appropriate. The cyclist said he feared for his life as he was dragged under Ms. Dolkart's car.

"There was no doubt in my mind when I heard the yelling and the car accelerated that she had intended to hit me," he said after the trial Tuesday. "I hope that motorists here in Dallas would treat cyclists better from now on."

Court testimony showed that after Mr. Thomas got up from under her car, Ms. Dolkart told him that he had been in her way and drove off as he was calling police. A police officer testified that when he spoke to her where she was waiting at a nearby parking lot, she became angry and told an officer that she had only intended to "tap" Mr. Thomas.

In trial, Ms. Dolkart denied intentionally striking the cyclist and said the collision occurred because Mr. Thomas suddenly slowed down in front of her.

Mr. Thomas testified that Ms. Dolkart was following closely as he rode beside a median on West Lawther Drive, gesturing, honking the horn of her car and yelling. Ms. Dolkart followed as he made a U-turn, then accelerated and struck the rear wheel of his bike, pushing him under the car and dragging him for several feet, he said.

Jurors were initially split on whether Ms. Dolkart was guilty of the second-degree felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon or a less-serious misdemeanor assault charge. They were apparently swayed by the seriousness of the allegation, said Ms. Dolkart's attorney, Mike Gibson.
None the less, I still think that the original post of Public Defender would have been more honest and informative if it had been more specific about the exact nature of the violent felony. Also, remember that

In any case, Federal Dog's example of Bernardine Dohrn at Northwestern seems much more clear cut and I suspect much more related to the topic of the post. Dohrn was a leader of a terrorist group (The Weathermen) and additionally is, I believe, unrepentant.
4.1.2006 9:45am
Public_Defender (mail):
<blockquote> None the less, I still think that the original post of Public Defender would have been more honest and informative if it had been more specific about the exact nature of the violent felony. </blockquote>
Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is a violent felony, and I provided a direct link to the details. What was less than "honest" about that?

Just because she was a law professor and she rammed someone with a car doesn't mean she should be treated differently than if she had been unemployed and had slashed someone with a knife.

Back to the thread topic, the ex-Weathermen professor, Jane Dolkart, and the Taliban student are interesting cases to ask just what standards we should apply when excluding people from academia, either as students or professors, at elite and non-elite schools.

How far back do we go? How serious a "crime" can we forgive and under what conditions? And how much remorse do we demand?
4.1.2006 10:18am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
None of these so-called bad actors have been accused of voting republican, have they?

I mean, there are limits.
4.1.2006 6:31pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
Would that universities had the same respect for mainstream conservatives that they have for Islamofascists.

I hate to pimp for a blog that I'm involved with but there's a good discussion of the idea of Conservative Studies departments over at
4.2.2006 3:35pm