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"Diversity Pledge" from the University of Virginia Law School Student Bar Association:

Phi Beta Cons (National Review) reports on this pledge that the Student Bar Association is encouraging students to sign (the ...s are in the pledge itself):

2009 Diversity Pledge

As a community, we believe that....

Every person has worth as an individual. Every person is entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of class, color, disability, gender, nationality, race, or sexual orientation. Thoughts and acts of prejudice have no place in the UVA Law community.

Therefore, we pledge...

To treat all people with dignity and respect, to discourage others' prejudice in all its forms, and to strive to maintain a climate for work and learning based on mutual respect and understanding;

And from this day forward,

Knowing that both the UVA Law community and the world will be a better place because of our efforts, we will incorporate this pledge into our daily lives.

Some, I suppose, will find it threatening; I find it vapid. At some very high level of generality, almost every decent person agrees with the notion that "Every person is entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of class, color, disability, gender, nationality, race, or sexual orientation." For instance, even many people who believe that homosexuality is wrong believe that people who are attracted to members of the same sex are entitled to dignity and respect — they just think that those people shouldn't engage in homosexual conduct.

The trouble is that the dispute is chiefly about what constitutes "prejudice," and what the obligation "[t]o treat all people with dignity and respect" means. If "prejudice in all its forms" means irrational hostility, then again this is banal to the point of irrelevance: Few people support irrational hostility. If "prejudice in all its forms" means all differences in treatment, then few people would condemn such a broad category of behavior; to do so, they'd have to oppose all race- and sex-based affirmative action, all immigration restrictions (since those discriminate based on not being an American national), all exclusions — no matter how justified by the demands of the task — based on disability, and so on. The same would be true if "prejudice in all its forms" covers all generalizations and preconceptions based on the attributes, however tentative. How many rational people would (or should) have no preconceptions about the possible dangerousness of a passerby on a dark street based on whether the passerby is a man or a woman? How many rational people would (or should) have no preconceptions about whether a blind person should drive a school bus? And these are just some of the most obvious examples.

Of course, I suspect that "prejudice in all its forms" means behavior that right-thinking people treat as prejudice. We can guess what the drafters' notion of right-thinking might be, though I suspect that even the drafters, however ideologically similar to each other they might be, wouldn't completely agree on that. And what do the signers mean by that? Beats me.

So this is all a long way of saying that the diversity pledge strikes me as quite empty of any intellectual value — it's a form of political posturing rather than serious engagement with the actual controversies and problems that modern law schools face. And I suspect that it's also quite empty of any political or community norm-setting value, partly for the reasons I mention above and partly because it would so clearly be understood as political posturing.

By the way, I should note that many of these criticisms can also be levied at the Pledge of Allegiance, which likewise lacks deep intellectual meaning. But if the Pledge works, it works precisely because it is aimed at conditioning the minds of small children, and because its message is understood to be empty of specific commitments that would be substantially controversial in modern American society, which may help it function as a broadly uniting national ritual. ("Under God" is probably the most controversial part, and that only mildly so in modern America; and my sense is even many irreligious people deal with the phrase simply by not saying it, usually with the understanding that the exclusion doesn't affect the general meaning.) I would have thought that these defenses would not be available as to a law school "diversity" pledge.

Thanks to John Rosenberg (Discriminations) for the pointer.

Bama 1L:
What about the Prom Promise?
2.9.2009 10:36am
pluribus:
The pledge:

Every person has worth as an individual. Every person is entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of class, color, disability, gender, nationality, race, or sexual orientation.

EV:

Some, I suppose, will find it threatening; I find it vapid

Perhaps I shouldn't be, but I am surprised that you would find this vapid, even more so that anybody might find it threatening. The "intellectual" content, if there must be one, seems to be in the words "regardless of class, color, disability, gender, nationality, race, or sexual orientation." It is one thing to accord dignity and respect to people who are just like we are, quite another to extend it to people who aren't. In the Middle East today, this kind of dignity and respect is denied to many because they are from different groups than we are. However, I find it odd that the pledge doesn't include a classification of religion or creed. Certainly dignity and respect should also be extended to those who don't share our religious beliefs.
2.9.2009 10:43am
Happyshooter:
We affirm that God gave us all our strength,
In order to maintain the life of our people
And defend it. It is therefore our holiest
Duty to fight to our last breath
Anything that threatens or endangers the life
Of our people. God will decide
Whether we live or die.
2.9.2009 10:46am
TA:
"... to discourage others' prejudice in all its forms ..."

Of all the many ways there are for people to make each others lives miserable, why is this one being singled out for special attention? That's what I wonder.
2.9.2009 10:47am
U.Va. Grad:
They've had the pledge for, I believe, three years now.

If you're wondering what was in the minds of the original drafters, then this is worth reading. The diversity pledge was in part a response to this incident:
At Foxfield this past Sunday, two second-year law students were attacked because they are gay. Their attacker, also a law student, asked them if they were gay and if they would "prove it" by kissing. One kissed the other on the cheek. The third student then threw his drink on one and called them both "fags."

Insofar as the diversity pledge is a response to behavior like that, I think it's worth backing.
2.9.2009 10:48am
Monty:
One could also argue over what it means to respect someone. Most logically given the context, what they really mean is 'to not treat people with disrespect...' The term respect is thrown about with many meanings, but one of the schools of thought on the matter is that respect shouldn't be given, but must be earned. Are we to give deference to someone simply because they have not earned our disrespect?

Not that I disagree with the exclusion, but interesting that religion isn't mentioned.
2.9.2009 10:50am
man from mars:
"Thoughts ... of prejudice have no place in the UVA law community."
2.9.2009 10:51am
Thorley Mythtaken (mail):
U. Va. Law Grad:

But doesn't that precisely beg the question?

What if the boorish (and criminal) behavior you describe were prompted by the other students being Northerners, or Cubs fans, or Mormons (I do not see religious affiliation in that list)or pro-life?

Why is it necessary to preen our convictions in this way?
2.9.2009 10:55am
Matthew K:
Thanks to U Va Grad for context.

I agree the that the statement is almost vapid but, given a nasty incident in the background, it is a potentially import statement of community opinion. I am still a little queasy about the inclusion of "thoughts," though.
2.9.2009 10:56am
Wallace:
U.Va. Grad,

Thanks for the context. I'm always impressed with schools like UVA that have a strict honor code: any act of lying, cheating, or stealing--no matter how small--must be punished with expulsion.

Assaulting two students because they're gay? Not a mandatory expulsion, but could require "diversity pledges."
2.9.2009 10:56am
Happyshooter:
ZOMG! Some drunk students were drunk, and one threw his drink and called the other two a name.

Call in the UN international hate crime team. This has never happened in the history of forever. Students getting drunk and horseplaying. What might happen next? Save Matthew Sheppard! Death to the breeders! Gay Marriage now!

If no one had to go the ER, there was no 'attack'. The fact there is a OMG! reaction and now a 'pledge' is, however, a fairly good argument to keep gays out of the university environment (along with the future soccer moms and anyone with a Che shirt they paid more than $40 for).

If you're wondering what was in the minds of the original drafters, then this is worth reading. The diversity pledge was in part a response to this incident:

At Foxfield this past Sunday, two second-year law students were attacked because they are gay. Their attacker, also a law student, asked them if they were gay and if they would "prove it" by kissing. One kissed the other on the cheek. The third student then threw his drink on one and called them both "fags."

Insofar as the diversity pledge is a response to behavior like that, I think it's worth backing.
2.9.2009 10:57am
Ki Ho'alu Kid (mail):
How about age? That's probably an oversight. More pointedly, how about political orientation? Are those who don't accept the "wisdom" of PC entitled to respect and understanding? What about judicial philosophy? If Justices Scalia or Thomas come to campus, will they be treated with respect? Just asking.
2.9.2009 11:00am
Houston Lawyer:
I see from this pledge that prejudice against Jews is not discouraged. How was this left out?
2.9.2009 11:02am
Sarcastro (www):
I think we had better get all worked up. The solution to feel-good wankery is angry internet wankery!
2.9.2009 11:05am
Nifonged:
The guy who threw the drink was a second year student who supposedly knew the other guys. As others mentioned it was more of a boorish action at a drunkfest (for those that don't know, the Foxfield races are a hotbed for loutish, drunken activity unfortunately) than it was a "hate crime."

I agree with EV, the pledge is more vapid than anything else.
2.9.2009 11:06am
TA:
"The third student then threw his drink on one and called them both "fags." "

Throwing a drink on another person is an aggressive act, and should be treated as such. I think it's dangerous to dwell too much on the motive. How do we decide that an act of aggression is more serious when committed against one group than against another?
2.9.2009 11:07am
Oren:

If "prejudice in all its forms" means irrational hostility, then again this is banal to the point of irrelevance: Few people support irrational hostility. If "prejudice in all its forms" means all differences in treatment, then few people would condemn such a broad category of behavior; to do so, they'd have to oppose all race- and sex-based affirmative action, all immigration restrictions (since those discriminate based on not being an American national), all exclusions — no matter how justified by the demands of the task — based on disability, and so on.

Eugene, those are two very uncharitable interpretations of the phrase "prejudice in all its forms". Might I propose the following interpretation: "judgment of others except based on the merits". I would construct that phrase to mean that each member of the community should consider whether the differences in the way he treats others are 'justified by the demands of the task' (to borrow a phrase).

tl;dr version: I see it as a call for a little bit of honest introspection, nothing more.

Of course, that is still a platitude, since no one believes that he discriminates based on immaterial facts but at least in my interpretation (which is, admittedly, charitable to excess), there is real semantic content.
2.9.2009 11:10am
pluribus:
Happyshooter:

If no one had to go the ER, there was no 'attack'.

So unless there is a major threat to life or limb, I guess it's "anything goes." And, of course, this is conducive to the kind of study-inducing atmosphere we need in a law school. Sorry if I don't see it.
2.9.2009 11:12am
Oren:
TA, normative ethics is quite sensitive to purpose. A drink thrown in playful teasing is not the same act as one thrown out of animus. To butcher the old phrase, even a dog knows the difference between being tackled in fun and kicked in anger.
2.9.2009 11:12am
Sk (mail):
Wow. Loyalty oaths are being imposed on an entire institution because one person threw a drink in another person's face two years ago.

Sk
2.9.2009 11:19am
Abdul Abulbul Amir (mail):


To treat all people with dignity and respect, ...


Thats BS. Respect is earned. This should say to treat all people with civility. OTOH, to some minds anything earned is suspect, so lets down grade it by giving it to everyone.
2.9.2009 11:19am
CJColucci:
Revised Oath:
Don't be assholes.
Discuss
2.9.2009 11:23am
Bart (mail):
Does UV grant racial preferences? If so, I imagine a plaintiff filing a racial discrimination suit against the university might want to quote this vapid little pledge not to discriminate.
2.9.2009 11:24am
Joseph Slater (mail):
Sk and some others:

You got the part where signing this isn't required, by the University or otherwise, right?
2.9.2009 11:26am
pluribus:
TA:

Throwing a drink on another person is an aggressive act, and should be treated as such. I think it's dangerous to dwell too much on the motive. How do we decide that an act of aggression is more serious when committed against one group than against another?

I think the question is why he did this? It would appear that he did this because of the sexual oreintation of the other students. It seems to me the idea behind the pledge is to make it clear in the law school community that this is not an acceptable reason for engaging in this kind of conduct. If he had thrown the drink at another student because the other student had first taken a swing at him, it would be ridiculous to have a pledge saying people who take swings at you are entitled to dignity and respect and you shouldn't throw drinks at them and then call them insulting names. Of course not. But people who have a different sexual orientation are not the same as people who take swings at you.
2.9.2009 11:26am
pluribus:
Sk:

Wow. Loyalty oaths are being imposed on an entire institution because one person threw a drink in another person's face two years ago.

Loyalty? To borrow your phrase, wow! What has a (voluntary) pledge to treat others with dignity and respect in the law school community got to do with requiring loyalty?
2.9.2009 11:31am
TA:
Oren:

"TA, normative ethics is quite sensitive to purpose. A drink thrown in playful teasing is not the same act as one thrown out of animus. To butcher the old phrase, even a dog knows the difference between being tackled in fun and kicked in anger."

Sure. It can either be horseplay, or aggressive (it probably wouldn't be difficult to tell the difference, as you suggest).

When it's aggressive it can have a wide variety of motives. The original question remains. Why are some motives worse than others? If I throw a drink at someone because (A) they are gay; or (B) because they said something about politics with which I disagree, which is worse?

I'd say neither, and if this sort of thing is a big problem on campus, I wouldn't introduce pledges, I'd enforce a few simple rules, and then tighten admission standards.
2.9.2009 11:35am
Happyshooter:
So unless there is a major threat to life or limb, I guess it's "anything goes." And, of course, this is conducive to the kind of study-inducing atmosphere we need in a law school. Sorry if I don't see it.

Come on, dude. It was go time when Thursday rolled around. The best part about law school was that I could get hammered on good beer out of glasses instead of bud light from red cups.

I have to think your experiences were real close to mine.
2.9.2009 11:37am
TA:

pluribus:

"It seems to me the idea behind the pledge is to make it clear in the law school community that this is not an acceptable reason for engaging in this kind of conduct."

But there is no acceptable reason for this of any kind (other than self defense, I guess, which is a very different scenario, and an obvious point).

That's the danger. Do we then infer that there is an acceptable reason for throwing a drink at someone?
2.9.2009 11:41am
Fub:
Therefore, we pledge...
to use the colon, not the ellipsis, to herald a list.
2.9.2009 11:44am
Oren:


Therefore, we pledge...

to use the colon, not the ellipsis, to herald a list.

Seconded.
2.9.2009 11:47am
DangerMouse:
Not that I disagree with the exclusion, but interesting that religion isn't mentioned.

You're fine with religion being excluded from a statement that treats people with dignity and respect?

So everyone is entitled to dignity and respect, except religious people?

I guess some people are more equal than others.
2.9.2009 11:49am
Thales (mail) (www):
It would be interesting to see what happens if Happyshooter has occasion to be repeatedly assaulted (but just short of an ER visit, so in his view it doesn't count) on the ground of being a senseless bigot, and how long it takes him to conclude that his remarks are stupid.

I think diversity (and nationalistic, and virginity and most other kinds of) pledges are silly, but I think most here are indeed being deliberately uncharitable and overreacting. I'd be (and EV's hypothetical "most decent people" would be) satisfied with a simple unwritten policy of "don't be an asshole," but apparently some of the gay bashers at UVa weren't getting that.

However, I don't think it unreasonable to hold up the views "homosexuality is wrong" and "homosexuality is not wrong" to comparative scrutiny about which is the more reasonable belief to hold, and about which may indeed contain irrational prejudice that erodes common decency.
2.9.2009 11:50am
frankcross (mail):
It is meaningless in terms of practical effect, I'm sure. But isn't it a little surprising that religion was not included as a protected group?
2.9.2009 11:50am
DangerMouse:
frank,

It was intentional.
2.9.2009 11:55am
Matthew K:
I think you're right Thales

We pledge:
To not be assholes in non-work related contexts.* See below for a non-exhaustive list of asshole-ish behaviors to be avoided.

We will incorporate this pledge into our daily lives in the hope that both the UVA Law community and the world will be a better place because of our efforts.

*This is a school for lawyers after all.

Non-exhaustive list:
Gay bashing, see example of (insert date here).
2.9.2009 11:56am
John (mail):
Don't they have it backwards? Isn't the intent that we aren't supposed to be nasty to people because of their race, sex, etc.?

Yet, the promise is not to refrain from disrespect because of X, but rather to respect people notwithstanding X.

Frankly, there are a lot of people I don't respect--for reasons having nothing to do with their race, sex, etc.--and I see no reason to change my views of them.
2.9.2009 11:58am
Fury:
Oh for crying out loud. That pledge reads like something I'd expect to find on the old TV show "Romper Room". What's next, the law school dean looking though his magic mirror at all the little law school boys and girls?

Vapid is right.
2.9.2009 12:00pm
Randy R. (mail):
Considering the constant stream of messages in the media and so-called religious people that we should treat many types of people with disrespect-- even to the point of denying whole groups of people basic rights-- I think it's perfectly grand that an institution of higher learning is asking its students to a higher standard of conduct. Isn't that exactly what universities *should* be teaching? Or am I the only hopeless romantic?

My only quibble is that it should included respect for religions and political preferences. However, even that's not a problem, as the statement clearly says: "Every person has worth as an individual. Every person is entitled to dignity and respect...." Every person means every person, last time I checked.

Apparently, many people think that lower standards of conduct are not only expected, but applauded.
2.9.2009 12:02pm
Anony (mail):
Age discrimination is much more common than most want to admit, although not so much among the law students.

I graduated from a top 10 law school (per US News), with above average grades, when I was 40. Almost none of the law firms were even interested in giving me an interview. A couple that did grant an interview told me flat out that they were not completely comfortable with someone outside the norm of the twenty somethings they typically hire.
2.9.2009 12:05pm
Leland (mail):
Interesting that the first diversity mentioned is class. Now, for a school, that could mean grade level of a student, but I suspect that what was meant was social or financial class, such as rich, poor, middle class. If I were to note such a diversity as class, wouldn't I be promoting a form of prejudice, in that I've determined someone to fit within some stereo-type of a class?

In the US, I can transcend classes in many ways. Although possible in some way, I can understand some inability to change my color, nationality, gender, or race. But class, particularly in the US, is a subjective status that is easily manipulated by preconceived opinions. Indeed, class is typically short for classification, and any classification is a predetermined judgement of how to characterize someone. If I don't want to be prejudicial, then I should avoid classification or any relevant meaning that could come from such classification.
2.9.2009 12:07pm
TA:

The pledge is vapid, and by extension it actually lowers the bar on standards of conduct. What sort of person needs it explained to them that they shouldn't be throwing drinks at people (if, as we're told, that's why the pledge was originally started)?
2.9.2009 12:09pm
sonicfrog (mail) (www):
Sarcastro said:


I think we had better get all worked up. The solution to feel-good wankery is angry internet wankery!


OK. I'm in!
2.9.2009 12:12pm
keypusher64 (mail):
Why is every person entitled to dignity and respect? Why is anyone?
2.9.2009 12:12pm
Monty:
You're fine with religion being excluded from a statement that treats people with dignity and respect?

So everyone is entitled to dignity and respect, except religious people?

I guess some people are more equal than others.


I think religion is different, particularly when your talking about adults, as here. Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Disability (and probably sexual orientation) are all things a person is born with and cannot change. It isn't a choice someone makes. Religion on the other hand, is a belief system a person decides to believe in and follow. By the time your in lawschool, you should have had plenty of time to evaluate your religious beliefs. Furthermore, I can't discriminate against you based on religion unless you tell me what it is, keep it to yourself or be prepared for it to be at issue. Of course, if you are discriminating based on the fact that someone looks jewish etc, your talking about discrimination based on ethnicity, which should not be permissible.
2.9.2009 12:15pm
Happyshooter:
It would be interesting to see what happens if Happyshooter has occasion to be repeatedly assaulted (but just short of an ER visit, so in his view it doesn't count) on the ground of being a senseless bigot, and how long it takes him to conclude that his remarks are stupid.

I am very senseable.

If you are being serious, and never got out in undergrad and law school and pounded a few more than made you drunk...

I am sorry for you.

The college community should do three things for a person. 1. Teach them how to live alone a little at a time. 2. Let them be wild in an environment where the punishment is minor (getting stupid drunk, insulting someone, and getting hit and learning a lesson--girl getting drunk and pulling a train where she also isn't going to get her throat slit or turned out for tricks) 3. Impart some knowledge in them allowing them to make a living.
2.9.2009 12:16pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"... but I am surprised that you would find this vapid, even more so that anybody might find it threatening."

The reason some people find it threatening is they believe the UVLS dictum really doesn't apply to certain groups such as white men or fundamentalist Christians. They believe that "diversity" means racial diversity, not intellectual diversity. They believe "affirmative action" means racial preferences detrimental to the interests of white people and increasingly Asians. In particular some of my friends from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Empire tell me they heard similar rantings while living under Communism and it scares them to hear it in their adopted land. "I thought I was leaving that insane mentality behind" is a common retrain.

Now we can argue about whether these perceptions are valid or not, but the perceptions do exist, and deserve to be addressed by those advancing these kinds of admonishments. Or to adopt a favorite and contemporary liberal buzzward-- they should "engage."
2.9.2009 12:20pm
DangerMouse:
Monty, we're not talking about religions involving human sacrifice. There is no reason to discriminate based on someone's religion in America these days. Whether Baptist, Protestant, Catholic Jewish, Pagan or Muslim, there is absolutely no reason to discriminate against someone because of their religion.

I can't believe you're actually advocating that, in the name of criticizing their beliefs. Nobody says you have to agree with them. Just don't disctiminate against them.

Obviously, you wouldn't hire the most qualified person if they were religious.

I hope your employers are aware of your attitude.
2.9.2009 12:24pm
Yankev (mail):

So everyone is entitled to dignity and respect, except religious people?
Religious people are entitled to dignity and respect except to the extent that they belong to religions that do not --- or are presumed not to -- subscribe to politically acceptable beliefs. If you are Baptist, Evangelical, Mormon, Roman Catholic or (l'hd) Orthodox Jewish, you may be deemed to have forefeited the right to dignity and respect, because you either hold or are presumed to hold beliefs that others find offensive -- which of course turns them from bona fide religious beliefs into invidious and unacceptable prejudices.

I think Tom Leherer said best: "I know there are those who do not love their fellow man, and I hate people like that!"
2.9.2009 12:25pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):

By the way, I should note that many of these criticisms can also be levied at the Pledge of Allegiance, which likewise lacks deep intellectual meaning.
But if the Pledge works, it works precisely because it is aimed at conditioning the minds of small children, and because its message is understood to be
empty of specific commitments that would be substantially controversial in modern American society, which may help it function as a broadly uniting national
ritual. ("Under God" is probably the most controversial part, and that only mildly so in modern America; and my sense is even many irreligious people deal
with the phrase simply by not saying it, usually with the understanding that the exclusion doesn't affect the general meaning.) I would have thought that



Prof. Volokh,

I am actually more troubled by the "to the flag" language. The flag is symbology without specific meaning and thus nearly any meaning can be ascribed to it.

I would have no problem taking an oathn to defend protect and uphold the Constitution, yet I refuse to participate in the pledge for the for that reason.
2.9.2009 12:26pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Disability (and probably sexual orientation) are all things a person is born with and cannot change."

We don't know for sure that someone's sexual orientation is inborn. Indeed some homosexuals claim to have crossed over and become heterosexual. Now I personally believe that homosexuality, or at least a tendency in that direction has a generic basis. If you believe as I do, then please realize the implications. If homosexuality is genetic than why not many other personality traits and behaviors? Indeed author and researcher Steven Pinker claims virtually all personality traits have a firm genetic basis. See his book The Blank Slate.
2.9.2009 12:28pm
pluribus:
TA:

What sort of person needs it explained to them that they shouldn't be throwing drinks at people (if, as we're told, that's why the pledge was originally started)?

In the example given, I believe it was a student at the University of Virginia Law School. That "sort of person."
2.9.2009 12:28pm
Seamus (mail):

My only quibble is that it should included respect for religions and political preferences.



Don't you understand? Christians and Republicans are emphatically *not* entitled to be treated with respect. The very fact that they are Christians or Republicans probably means they are in violation of the pledge the moment they sign it, and deserve to be hounded out of the law school and any other respectable group.
2.9.2009 12:35pm
Seamus (mail):

Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Disability (and probably sexual orientation) are all things a person is born with and cannot change.


Many disabilities are temporary (but still entitle you to get handicapped license plates).

(Please, no replies asking me whether the license plates have disabilities. You know what I mean.)
2.9.2009 12:37pm
Randy R. (mail):
Happyshooter: "The college community should do three things for a person. 1. Teach them how to live alone a little at a time. 2. Let them be wild in an environment where the punishment is minor (getting stupid drunk, insulting someone, and getting hit and learning a lesson--girl getting drunk and pulling a train where she also isn't going to get her throat slit or turned out for tricks) 3. Impart some knowledge in them allowing them to make a living."

I went to a four year university (state school with an undergrad population of 10,000) and then through three years of law school. At both, I was involved in tons of school activities, being president of this, editor of that, and had tons of friends.

Many times, I got drop-down drunk. Not once in my entire life have I ever hit anyone or thrown a drink at them (though I certainly wanted to at times). Moreover, I've never had any friend get into a fight of any kind, nor have I witnessed anyone throwing a drink at anyone. Verbal fights, sure. but physical? None.

Why you should think that throwing a drink at someone for any reason,or getting into fights, is part of the university experience is beyond me. Perhaps that's why we need pledges, to try to teach people like you to control yourselves a little better.
2.9.2009 12:37pm
CJColucci:
There's a lot of speculation, mostly along predictable lines, about why religion was not included in the pledge. Maybe someone could ask someone who knows? (Some of the actual information we've gotten in this thread suggests a possible benign, even dull, explanation.) Or would that spoil all the fun?
2.9.2009 12:43pm
DangerMouse:
Perhaps that's why we need pledges, to try to teach people like you to control yourselves a little better.

I just had a thought: It seems to me that people who support pledges like this are the same sort who mock and deride virginity pledges. Hmmmm....
2.9.2009 12:44pm
Randy R. (mail):
Zarkov: "We don't know for sure that someone's sexual orientation is inborn. Indeed some homosexuals claim to have crossed over and become heterosexual. "

But we do know that sexual orientation is set at least within a short time after birth, and we do know that for the vast majority of people, you cannot change your sexual orientation.

And for that reason, we consider sexual orientation -- for all intents and purposes -- to be innate in some fashion and unchangeable.

Yankev: "Religious people are entitled to dignity and respect except to the extent that they belong to religions that do not."

Although many people might agree with this one, I don't. If we want to set an example for how people *should* act, then we should act that way towards everyone, even people who we don't like. If we ever hope to change religions that disrespect groups of people, it will happen only when we give them no reason to hate anymore.

I know that's tough, and probably impossible. But someone who belongs to a religion that hates someone of another religion, if we can just show them that what they've been taught in religious classes is wrong, that will go a long ways to fostering respect all around.

Zarkov: "In particular some of my friends from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Empire tell me they heard similar rantings while living under Communism and it scares them to hear it in their adopted land. "I thought I was leaving that insane mentality behind" is a common retrain. "

And in communist countries, the full rights of women were enshrined in their constitiions. I'm sure your friends shudder to learn that women have rights in the US?
2.9.2009 12:46pm
TA:

pluribus:

"In the example given, I believe it was a student at the University of Virginia Law School. That "sort of person.""

So, this person didn't know it was wrong to throw a drink at someone, or they did know, but did it anyway?

There will always be people who choose to act outside norms of decency. There is little point in having everyone else pledge not to. We deal with arson by making it illegal, not by making everyone promise not to burn down their neighbor's house.
2.9.2009 12:49pm
Randy R. (mail):
Colucci: "There's a lot of speculation, mostly along predictable lines, about why religion was not included in the pledge. Maybe someone could ask someone who knows?"

Or maybe they just thought that by writing "Every person",normal people would think that it includes 'every person"?

Dangermouse: "It seems to me that people who support pledges like this are the same sort who mock and deride virginity pledges."

Look up the definiation of saddlebacking. It isn't us who are making mockery of those pledges, but the ones who take them.
2.9.2009 12:50pm
PQuincy1:
Prof. Volokh notes that "even many people who believe that homosexuality is wrong believe that people who are attracted to members of the same sex are entitled to dignity and respect." Fair enough: many such people do. But it is only fair that many others emphatically do not, and express their rejection by incidents as the one described above.

The debate in the comments about whether this was a drunken folly, a prank, an assault, etc., are entirely irrelevant: pressuring your fellow students at a social event about a private issue -- such as their sexuality, but just as well their faith or anything else -- and then throwing your drink at them with a hostile epithet, has nothing to do with dignity and respect.

If more people could be honest libertarians like Prof. Volokh, and separate their judgment of people's behavior in a private matter from their treatment of those people in public, the world would indeed be a better place. But most people are not like him, and the public consequences, ranging from violent bashing to incidents like the one at Virginia, surely find one appropriate response in the kind of general but good-spirited statement like the one that started this discussion. Equally, nitpicking about who is and isn't on the illustrative list of examples -- rather than noting the statements general call for treating others with dignity and respect, seems to show that libertarian high-mindedness is hard to maintain even in comments to a libertarian blog.
2.9.2009 12:55pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Randy R.

"And in communist countries, the full rights of women were enshrined in their constitiions. I'm sure your friends shudder to learn that women have rights in the US?"


Those and other rights existed in a formal sense only. In practice constitutions were ignored. That's why so many of my friends feel threatened-- they know hollow propaganda when they hear it.

"But we do know that sexual orientation is set at least within a short time after birth, and we do know that for the vast majority of people, you cannot change your sexual orientation."

I don't think we do know to a high degree of certainty. If you have very good evidence apart from your personal perceptions, then share it with us. In any case, if you believe homosexuality is genetic, then why not a propensity to crime and violence? Or intelligence?
2.9.2009 1:01pm
Happyshooter:
Perhaps that's why we need pledges, to try to teach people like you to control yourselves a little better.

Q: How is your voluntary pledge going to control my behavior?

A: If it 1) isn't voluntary and 2) you are going to punish me for violating it. Sounds a lot like a law to me.
2.9.2009 1:02pm
kshankar:
Colucci: "There's a lot of speculation, mostly along predictable lines, about why religion was not included in the pledge"

If I were to give them the benefit of the doubt, it could be because they realize when one enumerates these differences, they realize that we have innumerable differences. Just a thought.

Randy R: "Or maybe they just thought that by writing "Every person",normal people would think that it includes 'every person"?"

If thats the case, why bother even listing these anyways? Every person still includes race, which made it onto that list.
2.9.2009 1:05pm
John Rosenberg (mail) (www):
Thanks to Eugene for pointing to my post on this subject (in the HatTip concluding his post). I will not repeat here the comments I made there, other to say that I am surprised that, so far, only one comment here has noted the conflict between this Pledge and UVa's devotion to race preferences in admission. As I noted in my post (I lied misspoke when I said I will not repeat myself):

The practice of rewarding some and penalizing others because of their race or ethnicity is not consistent with the pledge to treat everyone with equal respect regardless of their race or ethnicity.
2.9.2009 1:06pm
Andy C.:
This reminds me somewhat of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer wouldn't wear the AIDS ribbon. Because, you know, only those who wear the ribbon really support a cure for AIDS.
2.9.2009 1:12pm
Yankev (mail):

Christians and Republicans are emphatically *not* entitled to be treated with respect. The very fact that they are Christians or Republicans probably means they are in violation of the pledge the moment they sign it, and deserve to be hounded out of the law school and any other respectable group.
Isn't that redundant? Do you expect me to believe that not all Republicans are Christian? That not all Christians are Republican? That not all sinners are publicans?
2.9.2009 1:13pm
common sense (www):
Evidently there is a feeling that UVa is not very tolerant, and this incident served to increase that feeling. The pledge also included a diversity T-shirt, and a specific day to wear it, so that those who were affected would feel more comfortable at the law school. It is a shame that a vocal minority had managed to make homosexuals feel uncomfortable, and this was a student response. Vapid maybe, but the real question is whether it was effective. Not being one of those students, I can't answer that.
2.9.2009 1:14pm
Yankev (mail):
Randy R,

Although many people might agree with this one, I don't.
Neither do I. My point was that some who profess tolerance also seem to accept the stereotype that no one with a given religious belief could not possibly treat others with respect and dignity if those others do not accept that belief, or act in ways contrary to that belief.
2.9.2009 1:16pm
Oren:

So everyone is entitled to dignity and respect, except religious people?

I don't think you understand the meaning of the word "everyone".

Everyone is entitled to dignity and respect.
2.9.2009 1:18pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Did I miss the part where this is mandatory, a work of the school administration rather than some students? Perhaps someone could explain to the non-lawyers what power the Student Bar Association has? What consequences should a law student reasonably anticipate if he politely declines to sign
2.9.2009 1:22pm
DCP:

Technically speaking, isn't pedophilia a sexual orientation?

I doubt very much that members of that club will ever gain any dignity or respect.
2.9.2009 1:27pm
Happyshooter:
The pledge also included a diversity T-shirt, and a specific day to wear it, so that those who were affected would feel more comfortable at the law school.

I already pasted the Nazi Youth pledge above, early in the thread to get Moore's law out of the way, but this is freaking great.

Not only is there a required pledge, but the students have to wear a shirt on command?

What color is the shirt?

Any torch light rallies?
2.9.2009 1:27pm
Nifonged:
"Evidently there is a feeling that UVa is not very tolerant"

That's a silly sentiment, when I was there 5 out of the 30ish folks in my small section was gay, two of the 3 SBA Presidents were gay (the third was a minority). There wasn't much intolerance that I could see, and I can tell you that a Christian Conservative (whatever that means) would probably have faced more intolerance than a gay person in the classroom.

I wouldn't have felt threatened in the least by this pledge, but I certainly would not have worn a t-shirt to class because of some half-witted notion of solidarity that the SBA came up with. The SBA people I knew were all politicos that cared about themselves, not the student community.
2.9.2009 1:28pm
cathyf:
But we do know that sexual orientation is set at least within a short time after birth, and we do know that for the vast majority of people, you cannot change your sexual orientation.

And for that reason, we consider sexual orientation -- for all intents and purposes -- to be innate in some fashion and unchangeable.
Well, we also know that virtually all pedophiles were sexually abused as children, suggesting that, at least for the subset of victims who later become perpetrators, their sexual attraction towards children is "innate in some fashion and unchangeable." Yet we have no problem whatsoever with being really really prejudiced against pedophiles.

(And, quite frankly, given that pedophiles, cannibalistic serial killers and blind school bus drivers clearly fit into the set "every person", I'm kinda hoping that "every person" does not mean "every person."
2.9.2009 1:28pm
Nifonged:
"early in the thread to get Moore's law out of the way, but this is freaking great. "

I thought this was Godwin's law?
2.9.2009 1:30pm
cathyf:
GodwinMoore's Law: The number of comments it takes to get to the first Hitler reference halves every six months, while the number of blogs doubles every six months.
2.9.2009 1:35pm
Happyshooter:
I thought this was Godwin's law?

My bad, thanks for the catch.

I was chuckling too hard to get it right.
2.9.2009 1:35pm
pintler:
It has not been my experience that people's public affirmations of this sort make much of a difference in how they actually act. That said, since this is UVa, I think Jefferson's is more inclusive:

"I have sworn eternal hostility to all forms of tyranny over the mind of man."
2.9.2009 1:37pm
TA:

Oren:


I don't think you understand the meaning of the word "everyone".

Everyone is entitled to dignity and respect.



The original pledge says: "Every person is entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of class, color, disability, gender, nationality, race, or sexual orientation."

Apparently, the pledge writers themselves feel the need to explain what is meant by "every person". That's the problem.
2.9.2009 1:39pm
John127 (mail):
As a current 1L at UVa Law, I can only tell you about how stunningly idiotic the whole "diversity pledge" business comes off to new students who are unfamiliar with such efforts. I refused to sign the pledge on principle, in so far as pledging to maintain diversity in one's daily life is about as logical as publicly signing a pledge to maintain positivity in the face of adversity — it is strikingly undefined and doesn't seem like anyone's business in the first place. Putting aside the sheer vacuity of the whole affair, I frankly don't believe that there is much distance between a quasi-voluntary pledge like this and a speech code of some kind. It would appear that a pledge like this could be used a pretext for claiming that a "hostile environment" of some kind exists at the University. I'd like to know Prof. Volokh's thoughts on this, if any, as well as if he has ever heard of anything like happening elsewhere.
2.9.2009 1:41pm
Happyshooter:
Speaking of race and school...

I was on the student senate for my school, and there was an issue with people claiming race status to get on law review or a journal. Side note--there were reserved strict goal spots for indian, hispanic, and black.

There were all sorts of fun and games going on. One guy resigned from law review because they refused to include gay quota spots, first guy to resign since vietnam.

The best was when we (LSSS and the school) were trying to come up with a race confirmation policy. It had gotten to the point that I think folks weren't quite telling the truth even under a one drop theory.

I had been stationed near Nuernberg and visited the (anti) Nazi museum a few times. Lots of fun things to do in the city, even without the famous red light district. I had the best brats of my life right off the main square.

I suggested that we send to the museum for the Nazi charts. They had color chips for skin matching, head and arm measurement charts, all kinds of stuff to put people into race classes. I thought we could get things set up fairly quickly and easily.

Instead the school hired an investigator to check high school records to see what race the student claimed there. I think that was a real mistake.
2.9.2009 1:44pm
Oren:

Oren:

I don't think you understand the meaning of the word "everyone".

Everyone is entitled to dignity and respect.


The original pledge says: "Every person is entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of class, color, disability, gender, nationality, race, or sexual orientation."

Apparently, the pledge writers themselves feel the need to explain what is meant by "every person". That's the problem.

So, because they didn't include height, I'm to conclude that short/tall people are being discriminated against?

Of course, no references are made to having a full head of hair, so I'm going to also conclude that's it's OK to have a policy that automatically fails balding folks. Yup.

Is it really that hard to make an effort to read things in the best light? Just try it, once -- read it in the way that you find least objectionable.
2.9.2009 1:44pm
sureyoubet.:
The problem of course is how this pledge gets translated into practice. A pledge to treat people in different groups with dignity and respect quickly becomes a requirement not to criticize behaviors that are not deserving of any respect at all.

For example, if straight students at UVA complain that gay men are having sex in the bathrooms at Clemons Library, it is somehow the complainers that are disrespectful, intolerant and prejudiced, and in need to "diversity training."
2.9.2009 1:47pm
Oren:
syb, what about the straight kids getting their rocks off in the bathroom? Don't discriminate against them!
2.9.2009 1:51pm
Randy R. (mail):
"That's why so many of my friends feel threatened-- they know hollow propaganda when they hear it.:

And I would argue that this pledge is a sincere desire the part of students to raise the level of civility among its members. Note that the pledge did not come from gov't officials, or university officials, but from the Student Bar Association. Surely, such bottom-up sort of action is the very essense of true democracy, and the opposite of facism or communism? If you friends cannot distinguish between hollow propaganda and real values, then it is they who have the problem, not the students.

"In any case, if you believe homosexuality is genetic, then why not a propensity to crime and violence? Or intelligence?"

SExual orientation is not choosen. For that you need only consult with the websites for all the major medical and psychiatric associations. Whether it is genetic or something else, I agree, that part isn't really known. But we do know that it is set. As to the rest of your question, it's off topic, and in any case irrelevant to this discussion. The point is that all people, whether gay or straight, deserve to be treated with respect and dignity at a school. Why this concept meets with such resistance, I really dont' know.

Happyshooter;"Q: How is your voluntary pledge going to control my behavior?

A: If it 1) isn't voluntary and 2) you are going to punish me for violating it. Sounds a lot like a law to me."

I don't know if there are any penalities in this particular pledge for violations. I doubt there are, and I don't suppose there should be. Rather, it is an aspirational pledge. If you want to be a jerk and get into fights and throw drinks, be my guest. But don't hold that up as normal behavior.

DCP:"Technically speaking, isn't pedophilia a sexual orientation?

No.

Cathy: "(And, quite frankly, given that pedophiles, cannibalistic serial killers and blind school bus drivers clearly fit into the set "every person", I'm kinda hoping that "every person" does not mean "every person."

Then perhaps the pledge should be changed to 'every law abiding person.' Even a pedophile deserves respect and dignity, so long as he or she doesn't actually break any laws by having sex with a boy or girl underage. Respect doesn't mean you have to agree with them, or be friends. It just means you treat them civilly.

I really had no idea that the notion of treating one another civilly -- the basic tenet of most every world religion, would meet with such resistence. Any one who claims to be a Christian, for instance, signs on to a such a belief, and yet I don't see anyone saying that these Christian religions are just hollow propaganda, or fascist, or pointless. Indeed, religion is OFTEN held up to be a set of beliefs that will reign in aberrant behavior, and it is often pushed upon the rest of us in an effort to get us to act better.

The SBA is *encouraging* but not forcing anyone to sign this pledge. If you don't like it, if you really want to treat people with disrespect, there is nothing stopping you. You have the freedom to do so. So why should anyone have a problem with those students who choose to sign it, or even wear a T-shirt in support?
2.9.2009 1:54pm
Sarcastro (www):
I respect heterosexuals, and therefore am unable to complain when I see them having sex in bathrooms, on quads, on my computer screen.

Luckily I don't respect gays, so I don't have to see buttsex everywhere.

I also hate Christians, but that isn't going as well as the gay-hating. I complain whenever I see them praying or wearing crosses or going to church. No one listens though. I think it's cause I'm a white male.
2.9.2009 1:57pm
Randy R. (mail):
"If thats the case, why bother even listing these anyways? Every person still includes race, which made it onto that list."

It's a good point.Either list everything,or nothing,or else you feel like you've been left out. Perhaps it was poorly drafted -- I doubt these students are lawyers. Most people here tend to be lawyers, hence the parsing.
2.9.2009 1:58pm
TA:
Oren:


"Is it really that hard to make an effort to read things in the best light? Just try it, once -- read it in the way that you find least objectionable."

I did that, and ended up wondering why anyone would feel the need to take a pledge promising to be a nice person. I did so in grade two, and it still holds.

If I read it a bit more skeptically, I can't help but suspect the usual ploy to enforce political dogma.

It's not that I'm against respect. It's that I think this pledge has little to do with respect.
2.9.2009 1:59pm
Sarcastro (www):
[I am actually interested in the civility/respect difference I see some people espousing on this thread (i.e. respect must be earned, civility is the default for strangers). It seems to be something of a distinction without a difference to me...]
2.9.2009 1:59pm
Nifonged:
"So why should anyone have a problem with those students who choose to sign it, or even wear a T-shirt in support?"

I wouldn't.

I may have a problem if there is some level of peer pressure to conform with those that chose to make this a public movement, not unlike how I'm concerned about the potential card-check unionization enactment.

We live in interesting times, who woulda thunk that non-conformity would be considered out of vogue among the progressives?
2.9.2009 1:59pm
Nifonged:
"If you don't like it, if you really want to treat people with disrespect, there is nothing stopping you."

Which is my point exactly, would not wearing a t-shirt be prima facie evidence that you "really want to treat people with disrespect", or could it mean something else, like maybe you're an adult in one of the most prestigious institutions in the world and you don't need a freaking dress code?
2.9.2009 2:02pm
Randy R. (mail):
"For example, if straight students at UVA complain that gay men are having sex in the bathrooms at Clemons Library, it is somehow the complainers that are disrespectful, intolerant and prejudiced, and in need to "diversity training."

Yes, of course, because all know the stereotype of homosexuals having ravenous sexual appetites is oh so true.

Sheesh. And then people wonder why gays are made to feel unwelcome....

John127: ". Putting aside the sheer vacuity of the whole affair..."

If vacuity offends you, you should read the founding charters of universities,and the official school songs. Most people don't have problems with this, finding them 'traditional' and fun. Many people even take pride in the aspirational nature of them.

When I was in elementary school (public), we had a school song. It went like this:

Sheridan HIll, our elementary fate.
With us you definataly rate.
Within these walls we strive to succeed,
at this we will succeed.
And as we grow in years to come, your guidance we will need.
Sheridan Hill, Sheridan Hill, fond memories have we all.
You've helped to us to shape our destiny,
And taught us to stand tall.

This was in the mid-60s,mind you. I guess the song was vacuous, and had I had any self-awareness, I should have refused to sing and memorize this song on libertarian principle. I have no idea whether singing this song actually did make me stand tall,either figuratively or metaphorically, but I think i turned out pretty well.

The fact that I never had to get into a drunken fight or throw drinks at a person is perhaps evidence that it worked self into my brian.
2.9.2009 2:08pm
eddie (mail):
What does it mean to bring something to everyone's attention simply to have a vapid "logical" analysis of something that is already been deemed vapid before such discussion?

I guess like a yawn, the response to vapidity is further vapidity dressed up as analysis and insight.
2.9.2009 2:10pm
LN (mail):
This pledge lacks content, is completely wrongheaded, is utterly vapid, and is strongly totalitarian in nature.

It's both a really bad floor wax and a really bad dessert topping.
2.9.2009 2:14pm
Happyshooter:
If you want to be a jerk and get into fights and throw drinks, be my guest. But don't hold that up as normal behavior.

I don't think I am a jerk.

If I am at a game and you are sitting down or talking or laughing during the National Anthem (and not a little kid)...I could kick you, geting into a meaningless discussion with you, or spill my beer on you. I go with number three. I also tell you how sorry I am and give you five bucks 'to help with cleaning'.

When we are out at the bar and you put your hands on my wife, beer spill. 'My gosh dude, I am so sorry. Here, let me buy you another drink.' I haven't had to fight in years. I also don't drink in dive bars, so that helps.

Now, when I was an out of control under 21er, I didn't have the control I do now and did it just to be mean. That was being a jerk. That is what college is, a time to learn control and judgment.
2.9.2009 2:14pm
Doug Sundseth (mail):
"The pledge also included a diversity T-shirt, and a specific day to wear it ...."

Presumably because there is nothing more "diverse" than uniforms. Was this promulgated by the Orthodox Union of Individualists*?

* Motto: We wear black to protest against conformity -- always.
2.9.2009 2:14pm
Nifonged:
Uh, Randy UVA has a song too,

The Good Ole Song of WaHooWah
We Sing it o'er and o'er
It Cheers our Hearts and Warms our Blood
To Hear them Shout and Roar
We Come From 'ole Virginia Where All is Bright and Gay
Let's All Join Hands and Give a Yell for the Dear 'ole UVA

Its a song, nothing more, nothing less, there's nothing about wearing a t-shirt to class to satisfy the whims of the political class at the university.
2.9.2009 2:15pm
Seamus (mail):

The best was when we (LSSS and the school) were trying to come up with a race confirmation policy. It had gotten to the point that I think folks weren't quite telling the truth even under a one drop theory.



Back in the days of apartheid, the South African government had a government office whose entire purpose was to investigate and determine which race certain individuals belonged to. I'm sure those bureaucrats got to be pretty skillful and making those judgments, but the current South African government may not be employing their talents fully. Maybe U.S. colleges and universities could hire them.
2.9.2009 2:17pm
pluribus:
cathyf:

Well, we also know that virtually all pedophiles were sexually abused as children, suggesting that, at least for the subset of victims who later become perpetrators, their sexual attraction towards children is "innate in some fashion and unchangeable." Yet we have no problem whatsoever with being really really prejudiced against pedophiles.

I find it sad that so many people want to analogize gays and pedophiles. Pedophiles have sexual relations with minors. Minors are legally (and emotionally) incapable of consenting to those relations. Thus, pedophilia is criminal conduct. Most pedophiles are heterosexual, not homosexual.

The difference between heterosexuals and homosexuals is not analogous to the distinction between people who have sexual relations with consenting adults and those who have sexual relations with minors. Drawing an analogy between these two disparate groups is just another (and not too subtle) way of saying homosexuality is (or should be) the equivalent of criminal behavior. Yes, it was so regarded up until recent years. Most Americans, I think, approve of the fact that we no longer regard it as such. That this tired analogy is brought up in this discussion proves that, for many, the UV pledge is objectional because it should be perfectly OK to treat gays with prejudice, to call them "fags," and probably also to throw drinks on them.
2.9.2009 2:21pm
Seamus (mail):

So, because they didn't include height, I'm to conclude that short/tall people are being discriminated against?



Height hasn't traditionally been included in those lists of factors on which people are forbidden to discriminate. Religion (or "creed," as in the quaint formulation "race, color, or creed) has, going back to the days of the Fair Employment Practices Commission (1941). When a factor that's always been listed suddenly gets dropped, that tends to raise suspicions that the omission was not inadvertent.
2.9.2009 2:23pm
Nifonged:
"That this tired analogy is brought up in this discussion proves that, for many, the UV pledge is objectional because it should be perfectly OK to treat gays with prejudice, to call them "fags," and probably also to throw drinks on them."

See my post above, I wouldn't go far as to say its objectionable, its simply vapid. I don't kick puppies and/or babies on the street walking to my car to go to work for the day, but I don't need to say a pledge in an organized community environment to remind me not to do that.
2.9.2009 2:24pm
Sarcastro (www):
Sawy what you will, but if more people followed Happyshooter beer-based passive agression, the world would be a much happier (though stickier) place.
2.9.2009 2:24pm
Random UVA student:
Link

UVA is promoting it, too. Check out the free t-shirt of purple silhouetted individuals in favor of diversity. Love the wheelchair silhouette.
2.9.2009 2:26pm
Oren:


I did that, and ended up wondering why anyone would feel the need to take a pledge promising to be a nice person. I did so in grade two, and it still holds.

At least on my reading, the pledge requires more than just being a "nice person". It requires an active commitment to judging people on the merits, a species of self-awareness in evaluating whether our different ways of treating people are justified.
2.9.2009 2:32pm
sureyoubet.:
Randy R....

Not sterotyping at all, and not asserting that it was more than a very small minority of gay students (or perhaps not students) that were engaging in this behavior at Clemons Library. Indeed, it was the sterotype that resulted in complaints being dismissed as examples of intolerance, rather than the legitimate complaints that they were.

You kind of prove my point.
2.9.2009 2:33pm
Randy R. (mail):
It's interesting. I guess, as the Prof. indicated, saying the pledge of alligiance should also get people all riled up, but it doesn't. Isnt' it just as vacuous? Isn't there peer pressure to say it? I recall that I didn't have the option of saying the pledge in school when I grew up. Must mean that I grew up in a communist country, right?

Or take marriage vows. You pledge to 'honor, obey, and cherish' each other. What penalties accrue to you if you don't? Isn't that pledge just as vacuous as this pledge? It's downright fascist, right? Marriage vows are entirely voluntary. Why recite them if there is no point, they are vacuous, entirely meaningless, and just a bunch of PC junk being rammed (volunarily) down your throat?

I would argue that there are many good reasons to recite this pledge when you get married,and I suspect most people here who object to this UVA pledge have no problems with marriage vows. I'd be curious to know why.

Happyshooter: "I don't think I am a jerk."

I'm sure you are not. But when you defended the drink thrower as some sort of 'horseplay' and implied that this is some sort of harmless fun that undergrads engage in all the time. They don't, and part of growing up is learning what is acceptable behavior and what isn't. That some people still need that when they reach their 20s is indicative that they didn't learn it earlier, in which case a pledge might be a good thing.
2.9.2009 2:34pm
John127 (mail):
Randy --

I appreciate your efforts to interpret the Diversity Pledge campaign from a position of good faith, but it is glaringly naive. It is manifestly obvious that the primary purpose of the campaign is not to "raise the level of civility." Although some people who volunteer for it might think so, that does not make it the case. It is a thinly-veiled effort to impose a certain multicultural ethic on the student body here -- one that is superficially appealing to individuals with center-left proclivities (The fact that religion affiliation is not included amongst the protected classifications is not a mistake, and don't be stupid enough to believe it to be). This practice has been a recurring event, in one form or another, amongst insulated academic communities for years now, if not decades. I have no problem embracing nondiscrimination as a moral principle (at least with race, ethnicity, etc), but -- as is the case with a whole host of other moral principles -- I cannot assent to being coerced (however mildly) into publicly professing my allegiance to it. You are unfairly castigating those who dare question why we should feel pressured to pledge ourselves publicly to moral norms that should already be embraced by civilized people, rather than the individuals who feel the need to badger other people into doing so.
2.9.2009 2:34pm
Nifonged:
Thanks for the link Random UVA Student

Very interesting.
2.9.2009 2:34pm
Piano_JAM (mail):
Everyone is entitled to dignity and respect

Isn't respect earned?
2.9.2009 2:36pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Randy R.,

"For example, if straight students at UVA complain that gay men are having sex in the bathrooms at Clemons Library, it is somehow the complainers that are disrespectful, intolerant and prejudiced, and in need to "diversity training."

Yes, of course, because all know the stereotype of homosexuals having ravenous sexual appetites is oh so true.

What have stereotypes about "ravenous sexual appetites" got to do with anything? Is it really necessary to a climate of civility that students tolerate people using the public restrooms for quickies? If students who complain are actually made to undergo "diversity training" in consequence, that's terrible policy. Can anyone confirm?

Sarcastro,

The difference between "civility" and "respect," it seems to me, is between behavior and thought. I needn't "respect" anyone whose opinions or actions I find truly vile, though I ought to do my best, in a private capacity, to understand even while disagreeing. But, publicly speaking, I have a duty to behave civilly to every one. It is not really so terribly difficult to behave with perfect (if frigid) correctness even towards people you loathe. So long as you're sober, at least.
2.9.2009 2:37pm
wfjag:
Fortunately, the U Va Law School is next door to the US Army JAG School, so if you don't want to put up with Romper Room level nonsense, you can just use the law library at the JAG school.

And, to provide context, if someone in the military -- including a student at the JAG school -- throws a drink on someone, or calls others names, the person doing so will be facing proceedings under the UCMJ. (Nothing like an effective response to ensure good order and discipline.)

The U Va. Law School "Diversity Pledge" is one more in a long line of examples showing that the more "civilized" we supposedly are becoming, the less "civil" our society is becoming.
2.9.2009 2:41pm
TA:
"Or take marriage vows. "

The point of a marriage vow is that it is made to a particular person. A real choice is being made.

With a diversity pledge, you promise not to act like a hoodlum.
2.9.2009 2:48pm
Oren:


I appreciate your efforts to interpret the Diversity Pledge campaign from a position of good faith, but it is glaringly naive. It is manifestly obvious that the primary purpose of the campaign is not to "raise the level of civility." Although some people who volunteer for it might think so, that does not make it the case. It is a thinly-veiled effort ....

And we all appreciate your efforts to find the worst in everything and ascribe nasty motives where mere intellectual vacuity will suffice as an adequate explanation.
2.9.2009 2:59pm
Randy R. (mail):
sureyoubet: "Not sterotyping at all, and not asserting that it was more than a very small minority of gay students (or perhaps not students) that were engaging in this behavior at Clemons Library. "

I stand corrected. I only want one standard applied to all -- if sex in the library is prohibited, it should be prohibited for all, gay or straight. If straights get to have sex publicly, then gays should too. One rule for everyone.

TA: "The point of a marriage vow is that it is made to a particular person. A real choice is being made. "

I don't see how that is any different. You are not forced to take the pledge, and it applies to particular people -- the very ones you are inclined NOT to treat with civility.
2.9.2009 2:59pm
John127 (mail):
Oren --

The motive to coerce other people to validate one's own views is not necessarily nasty, as much as it is rather unbecoming. Moreover, I don't see how intellectual vacuity cannot be joined at the hip with this impulse. They are the fruit of the same tree...
2.9.2009 3:04pm
Kirk:
Happyshooter,
If no one had to go the ER, there was no 'attack'
I can't speak for VA, but that's certainly not the way assault is defined here in WA.
2.9.2009 3:09pm
Randy R. (mail):
John:" It is a thinly-veiled effort to impose a certain multicultural ethic on the student body here -- "

So what?

I mean, so what if people have an ulterior motive in promoting the pledge? You have no control over what other people might think, or indeed, how they act. You only have control over how you think and act.

" (The fact that religion affiliation is not included amongst the protected classifications is not a mistake, and don't be stupid enough to believe it to be)."

As I said,religion and political preference should be included,or none should be included. Everyone means everyone! But if you are uncomfortable with religion being expressly enumerated, then you have the freedom and the right to lobby the SBA and inform them why those should be included. The purpose of universities is to educate, so go and educate them!

" I have no problem embracing nondiscrimination as a moral principle (at least with race, ethnicity, etc), but -- as is the case with a whole host of other moral principles -- I cannot assent to being coerced (however mildly) into publicly professing my allegiance to it"

Well, I hope that you include sexual orientation in that stew!

But I do understand your objections. First, as is clear, it is completely voluntary, so the coercion is mild. Got a problem with that? Then you will have a tough time in the world. Mild coercion is every place -- every time someone talks to me about their religion, there is mild coercian that I should join up with them. As a gay man, do you have any idea of the mild and not so mild coercion I've had to not be a so "immoral"? There are many religions out there that will 'mildly coerce' you to alter your behavior in ways you find objectionable. Many religions require you to publicly profess your moral principles, and even vote them into law.

That's not to mention that if you work for a large employer or commercial real estate company, you are going to have to publicly embrace nondiscrimination.

"but it is glaringly naive."

It's interesting. In many states, there are nondiscrimination laws, and they specifically state that no one may be discriminated against based on sex, religion, age, disability, race, etc. Usually sexual orientation isn't included. So gay groups and their supporters will try to get sexual orientation included, but often times, conservatives will say, no it doesn't need to be altered because we can discrimiante against "no one", and that automatically includes gays, so why should we include specific language to protect gays?

No, John, we are not that naive....
2.9.2009 3:15pm
cathyf:
pluribus, what I am objecting to is people who claim that we should respect homosexuals because we must respect anything that is innate in a person. As you correctly point out, the difference between homosexuality (between consenting adults) and pedophilia is precisely that it involves consenting adults. Which is a value judgement completely independent of whether homosexuals choose to be homosexual -- it would be true even if homosexuality were not at all innate. If you wish to claim that it is in any way shape or form relevant whether homosexuality is innate or not, then don't complain when people draw analogies between homosexuality and other innate characteristic desires that people might have.

You object to pedophilia because it involves children. Ok, try the person whose sexual preference is necrophilia which follows the torture-murder of the sexual partner. If it turns out that this sexual preference is (even sometimes) due to some innate genetic cause or suseptibility, then your "innate, but with adults" test just got passed, too. (Even my "consenting" clause could concievably be passed -- yes, there are some sick, sick people out there.)

Look, basically the entire history of moral philosophy (including the underpinnings of our legal system) is based upon the notion that the various and sundry desires that we have to do things are innate. Some of those things are evil, some virtuous, most neither -- but all innate. In order to classify those desires into the categories of {good}, {evil} and {neutral}, you have to examine the characteristics that distinguish one from another, not the characteristic that they all have in common.

I don't for a minute think you, or Randy R, or any of the other people making the "but homosexuality is not a choice!" argument believes that the mere fact of being born with any desire excuses the carrying out of that desire. My point is that you don't actually believe that the innateness argument is relevant (because if you did you would be an immoral monster), so you should stop making it.
2.9.2009 3:15pm
cognitis:
A dispute on the meaning of "civil" consists aptly with the blogger's citing of UVA's diversity pledge; Rome's ius civile ruled relations between status disparate and diverse, between plebes and equites or between citizens and aliens among others. "Civil" defines those cogitations or gestures that defer to law in contentions rather than excite animal instincts or violence; laudable then is UVA's attempt to deter or prohibit students from such animal gestures as the beer thrower's (chimps throw food at other chimps in contempt), since in the South until recently relations between various status, such as between Africans and Scotch-Irish, were generally more animal then civil.
2.9.2009 3:18pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Randy R.,

I don't see how that is any different. You are not forced to take the pledge, and it applies to particular people -- the very ones you are inclined NOT to treat with civility.

N, it doesn't. It applies to the groups mentioned, which are not necessarily those the signer is inclined to treat uncivilly. That's the problem.

A general pledge to act civilly in your public interactions with other people would not have this problem. It would also not, I think, be "vapid," even if it boiled down to "I will not act like a jerk in front of anyone but intimate acquaintances." People do need reminding.
2.9.2009 3:19pm
TA:
Randy R.

"You are not forced to take the pledge, and it applies to particular people -- the very ones you are inclined NOT to treat with civility."

There is no one I am "inclined NOT to treat with civility". That's the point. Being generally civil should be considered the norm.

The problem with the pledge is this. A reasonable person might not want to take it because they feel it is childish (which it is). But a reluctance to take the pledge is likely to be interpreted as proof of some form of bigotry (if you're not a bigot, why are you so reluctant to take the pledge?).
2.9.2009 3:23pm
Happyshooter:
And, to provide context, if someone in the military -- including a student at the JAG school -- throws a drink on someone, or calls others names, the person doing so will be facing proceedings under the UCMJ. (Nothing like an effective response to ensure good order and discipline.)

You must not have spent any time in a barracks or BOQ. Don't confuse the student and instructor officers and senior NCOs with the military.
2.9.2009 3:25pm
DangerMouse:
Andy really nailed in: this is about the fricking ribbon:

ORGANIZER: Uh...o.k., you're checked in. Here's your AIDS ribbon.

KRAMER: Uh, no thanks.

ORGANIZER: You don't want to wear an AIDS ribbon?

KRAMER: No.

ORGANIZER: But you have to wear an AIDS ribbon.

KRAMER: I have to?

ORGANIZER: Yes.

KRAMER: See, that's why I don't want to.

ORGANIZER: But everyone wears the ribbon. You must wear the ribbon!

KRAMER: You know what you are? You're a ribbon bully. (Walks away.)

.....

New scene - Kramer in the AIDS walk.

WALKER #1: Hey, where's your ribbon?

KRAMER: Oh, I don't wear the ribbon.

WALKER #2: Oh, you don't wear the ribbon? Aren't you against AIDS?

KRAMER: Yeah, I'm against AIDS. I mean, I'm walking, aren't I? I just don't wear the ribbon.

WALKER #3: Who do you think you are?

WALKER #1: Put the ribbon on!

WALKER #2: Hey, Cedric! Bob! This guy won't wear a ribbon! (Cedric and Bob turn around and glare at Kramer.)

BOB: Who? Who doesn't want to wear the ribbon? (Kramer is frightened.)

...

New scene - Kramer surrounded by Cedric, Bob, and the other walkers.

BOB: So! What's it going to be? Are you going to wear the ribbon?

KRAMER (nervously): No! Never.

BOB: But I am wearing the ribbon. He is wearing the ribbon. We are all wearing the ribbon! So why aren't you going to wear the ribbon!?

KRAMER: This is America! I don't have to wear anything I don't want to wear!

CEDRIC: What are we gonna do with him?

BOB: I guess we are just going to have to teach him to wear the ribbon!

(Kramer tries to climb up a fire escape, but the mob grabs him and pulls him back down. Kramer screams.)
2.9.2009 3:33pm
Real American (mail):
This whole pledge serves go create a groupthink mentality among students at UVA. it's indoctrination. It'll also be a way to weed out the infidels who don't subscribe to groupthink.

Also, if someone "violates" the pledge they'll get in trouble. Remember, the kind of people who come up with these diversity pledges are the same types accusing Prop 8 donors and voter of supporting "hate" which certainly has to be worse than failing to show dignity or respect.

Really, I do wonder how many students actually sign it. I'm sure that if not enough do, that it'll soon become mandatory.
2.9.2009 3:34pm
John127 (mail):
Randy,

I hope you can see, from the suggestion that you put forth re: including religious affiliation/background in the diversity pledge, that the whole concept of having such a pledge creates an ugly scenario where minorities and/or victimized groups compete for their inclusion in such a pledge. My point is that it is so unnecessary. The pledge is ultimately a placebo designed both to assuage the concerns of certain minorities here at UVa Law and to provide good PR for the University. It achieves absolutely NOTHING in the form of concrete measures to prevent hate crimes -- something which distinguishes it from formal nondiscrimination laws, a completely inappropriate analogue. Instead, it needlessly divides classrooms between self-righteous individuals wearing the T-Shirt and those that are not. Such is the fate of all administratively-imposed measures designed to coerce "civility" and "congeniality."
2.9.2009 3:36pm
DCP:

I find it sad that so many people want to analogize gays and pedophiles. Pedophiles have sexual relations with minors. Minors are legally (and emotionally) incapable of consenting to those relations. Thus, pedophilia is criminal conduct. Most pedophiles are heterosexual, not homosexual.


I don't think anybody is comparing the practices/results of the two groups. It's just that "sexual orientation" encompasses every urge, proclivity and habit that has ever been conjured up, whether it is something innocuous like a foot fetish or something deplorable like necrophilia. Either way all of these things are (largely) biological processes.

That's the problem with sexuality. There are just too many variations and ultimately it is a label defined by behaviors and how other people perceive those behaviors.

Everyone is prejudicial towards some form of sexual orientation. They only get bent out of shape when someone else draws the "ick factor" line in a place other than where they personally feels it belongs.
2.9.2009 3:51pm
Oren:


The motive to coerce other people to validate one's own views is not necessarily nasty, as much as it is rather unbecoming. Moreover, I don't see how intellectual vacuity cannot be joined at the hip with this impulse. They are the fruit of the same tree...

(1) The UVA is not requiring anyone to take this pledge, it's voluntary.

(2) The UVA is, itself, an associative institution that students freely chose to join and leave as they please.

(3) Institutions are entitled to endorse the values that they collectively hold. Catholics endorse Trinitarianism and discourage Unitarianism. The Boy Scouts endorse Biblical views of homosexuality and discourage modern, permissive views.

As always, if the People of Virginia find this objectionable, they are free to allocate their tax dollars to other institutions as they see fit.
2.9.2009 3:57pm
Nick056:
Do people really get that het up over whether a diversity pledge is either "threatening" or "vapid?"

It's patently inoffensive and mild, though it does bear the sickly sheen of a pro forma institutional message for something very touchy-feely.

A wild notion: most people who believe that homosexual acts are wrong -- that is, a base perversion of one's own deepest nature -- probably have enormous difficulty seeing homosexuals as persons of dignity. Oh, the scolds may SAY otherwise, but here the word "vapid" is again relevant.
2.9.2009 4:00pm
Nifonged:
UVA Law is more or less a private institution Oren, they rely predominantly on private donors, the Commonwealth provides very little in support.

That said, my donations won't be altered by this one way or the other. Its simply a silly, or to use the word of the day, "vapid" pledge.
2.9.2009 4:02pm
Oren:

Everyone is prejudicial towards some form of sexual orientation. They only get bent out of shape when someone else draws the "ick factor" line in a place other than where they personally feels it belongs.

Most people I know do not allow their displeasure at other's sexual proclivities to interfere with their general assessment of their work on the merits. Unless your coworkers will not take a hint about when to shutup, professionalism requires you to put such irrelevant details out of mind.
2.9.2009 4:05pm
Oren:

UVA Law is more or less a private institution Oren, they rely predominantly on private donors, the Commonwealth provides very little in support.

That said, my donations won't be altered by this one way or the other. Its simply a silly, or to use the word of the day, "vapid" pledge.

Even more reason to analogize them to the BSA or Catholic Church! Private institutions have their own values and seek to express them!
2.9.2009 4:06pm
Happyshooter:
(2) The UVA is, itself, an associative institution that students freely chose to join and leave as they please.

Oren:

Michigan already tried this, along with claiming a first amendment right against the people of the state to keep racial quotas against state law.

It does not fly. If the school is government it is government. All the wishful thinking and law school 'well, isn't it more like' does not change the facts.

I don't want to live in a country where A does not equal A whenever the powerful want to violate the consitution.
2.9.2009 4:06pm
A.C.:
No dwarves on the t-shirt, so I guess discrimination based on height is just fine. Also no one with a walker, so I suppose discrimination against the frail elderly is also acceptable. Why is the wheelchair always the symbol for all disabilities?

Regarding the restroom sex issue and heterosexuals, most public buildings have separate restrooms for men and women. People tend to get in a snit if someone of the wrong sex even walks in, fully clothed. This is a powerful mechanism of social control. But I do agree with the idea that any rule banning sex in the restrooms should be worded neutrally and apply to everyone. Just because something is rare doesn't mean it never happens.
2.9.2009 4:09pm
wooga:
So if I call someone a bigot for supporting Prop 8, am I treating them with dignity and respect?

If someone is disabled and walks with a cane, must I treat them with dignity and respect (even though they earned the came by driving high on cocaine and turning a school bus full of children and puppies into a fiery yellow blob of death)?

[Incidentally, that sort of hypo is what bothers me about the automatic inclusion of "disability" into every discrimination list]
2.9.2009 4:15pm
Spitzer:
"Knowing that both the UVA Law community and the world will be a better place because of our efforts, we will incorporate this pledge into our daily lives."

This is a wonderfully quasi-religious fascistic statement. Let's pledge ourselves to the Cause and Fight Everyday! Let's establish that liberal orthodoxy is the only acceptable form of discourse, and punish the Retrograde Right! Death to the Capitalists!

Really, this is part of the effort to do to Virginia what already happened to Chicago: take a great, unique institution and mar it by remaking into a shadow of commonplace orthodixy.

Speaking as an alum, all I can say is Wahoo-Wa.
2.9.2009 4:16pm
Oren:


Michigan already tried this, along with claiming a first amendment right against the people of the state to keep racial quotas against state law.

It does not fly. If the school is government it is government. All the wishful thinking and law school 'well, isn't it more like' does not change the facts.

I don't want to live in a country where A does not equal A whenever the powerful want to violate the consitution.

(1) I never claimed that the UVA has the right to do this in contravention of the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. To the contrary, the UVA must comply with all State laws.

(2) You never claimed that the UVA violated any of VA laws.

(3) As it turns out, the law school is private and emphatically not the government.

(4) No one has alleged that any part of the Constitution is violated here. If there is such a violation, I would like to hear it (and I certainly would not excuse it).
2.9.2009 4:30pm
More importantly . . .:
I was a 2L or a 3L at UVA when the Foxfields incident happened and this pledge thing was ginned up in response.

I don't recall ever even seeing a pledge to sign, and the number of t-shirts worn was minimal at best. Mostly, it seemed like something people included on their facebook accounts and email signatures ("I signed the 2007 UVA Law Diversity Pledge!"). Unless they've gotten a lot more aggressive about this thing, it sounds like a mountain out of a mole hill scenario.
2.9.2009 4:31pm
More importantly . . .:
Oren: w/r/t your (3), the Law School is financially independant, but is in fact part of the University and is very much a public entity.
2.9.2009 4:33pm
JWH (mail):
Throwing a drink on somebody and calling him by what amounts to an epithet. How does that look on the Character and Fitness review?
2.9.2009 4:34pm
Oren:

Oren: w/r/t your (3), the Law School is financially independant, but is in fact part of the University and is very much a public entity.

And, as a public entity, the State can cut it loose, shut it down or impose any other law that the legislature sees fit.

The bottom line is that I don't see the basic element of coercion here -- it's a voluntary pledge in an institution where membership itself is voluntary.
2.9.2009 4:44pm
Nifonged:
"The bottom line is that I don't see the basic element of coercion here"

Probably not total coercion, but ask any UVA Law grad how voluntary the "Graduating Class Gift" (which is usually funds for a minority scholarship) is.
2.9.2009 4:46pm
John127 (mail):
I certainly don't claim that it is unconstitutional (although I surmise that the reason that it takes its current form, and not something more coercive, is that it would be clearly unconstitutional if it were attempted). The argument is that it is bad policy. Those who respond that "It's merely a voluntary pledge" are missing the point. The burden should be on those who want to impose the meaningless, vague, infantilizing pledge to defend themselves and their desire to create a quasi-obligation of their own design for everyone else to follow. And please don't tell me that some "incident" of questionable authenticity from several years ago justifies this counterintuitive nonsense.
2.9.2009 5:01pm
Oren:

The burden should be on those who want to impose the meaningless, vague, infantilizing pledge to defend themselves and their desire to create a quasi-obligation of their own design for everyone else to follow.

The pledge is not being imposed any more than Trinitarianism is being imposed on Catholics at mass.

As I've commented earlier, one can charitably read the pledge in a slightly less vacuous and certainly not infantilizing tone if one is inclined to see the best in people.
2.9.2009 5:05pm
Yankev (mail):

most public buildings have separate restrooms for men and women. People tend to get in a snit if someone of the wrong sex even walks in, fully clothed. This is a powerful mechanism of social control.
A social control that will be a misdemeanor criminalized if Columbus succeeds in adding "transgendered" to the list of protected classifications under its anti-discrimination ordinance, given that -- per hearings on the ordinance -- the term includes cross-dressers, those who "strongly identify" as a member of the opposite sex, and those awaiting surgery to mimic the exterior anatomy of the other sex.
2.9.2009 5:10pm
Yankev (mail):

The Boy Scouts endorse Biblical views of homosexuality and discourage modern, permissive views.
The Boy Scouts endorse Biblical views of homosexuality and discourage modern pre-Biblical, permissive views.

Orin, fixed your quote for you.
2.9.2009 5:12pm
John127 (mail):
Oren,

I have to say that I am failing to follow your analogy to the Catholic Church. Contra your earlier post, UVa Law, as a public institution, is NOT allowed to collectively endorse a viewpoint in the manner that the Catholic Church is allowed to do with Trinitarianism (i.e. by conditioning membership in the community based upon one's assent to the proposition). As it currently stands, the diversity pledge is not a genuine grassroots initiative but rather is a campaign driven forcefully by the Administration and the SBA. In this context, to argue that it is only "voluntary" to sign the pledge is missing the more weighty questions of principle that underlie the whole matter. And, no, I don't believe the charitable intentions of some of those involved in the pledge campaign absolves them of the malign effects of their efforts.
2.9.2009 5:15pm
Seamus (mail):

I stand corrected. I only want one standard applied to all -- if sex in the library is prohibited, it should be prohibited for all, gay or straight. If straights get to have sex publicly, then gays should too. One rule for everyone.



That sounds like a good principle. So sureyoubet can object to homosexual acts being performed in the Clemons Library restroom, without being denounced as "disrespectful, intolerant and prejudiced, and in need to 'diversity training,'" and if you want to object to heterosexual acts being performed in the Clemons Library restroom, you may do so just as freely. sureyoubet might even join you (but somehow I suspect he (assuming its a "he") hasn't found that occurring terribly often).
2.9.2009 5:40pm
U.Va. Grad:
Probably not total coercion, but ask any UVA Law grad how voluntary the "Graduating Class Gift" (which is usually funds for a minority scholarship) is.

The class gift contribution, which is, in fact, wholly voluntary, allows donors to designate how they'd like their pledge spent by the law school. If they choose to let the school do what they want with it and the school spends it in a way they wouldn't have liked, well, they should have specified something.

I told them I wanted my contribution, modest though it was, to go toward endowed professorships so we could retain professors when Harvard comes calling.
2.9.2009 5:40pm
More importantly . . .:
To confirm the above, the class gift is very much voluntary. I chose not to participate, largely because of the annoying manner in which it was pushed, and nobody ever really made an issue of it (though I have since donated to the law school just because I wanted to).
2.9.2009 5:47pm
glangston (mail):
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It still works.
2.9.2009 5:47pm
wooga:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It still works.

In theory, yes. But that's a harsh and cruel rule, so it is banished (along with any other pre-"post-modern" philosophy).

I expect others to mock and ridicule me whenever I do something stupid. I expect to have my religious beliefs challenged, sometimes in a disrespectful way. I am adult, and should be able to defend my beliefs, opinions, and actions accordingly.

Unfortunately, college (and law school) is less about having your beliefs honed by debate and more about having your beliefs either coddled or banished outright. There is no 'debate,' as everything is settled exactly as the administration says it has (this week).
2.9.2009 6:04pm
pluribus:

I don't think anybody is comparing the practices/results of the two groups. It's just that "sexual orientation" encompasses every urge, proclivity and habit that has ever been conjured up, whether it is something innocuous like a foot fetish or something deplorable like necrophilia. Either way all of these things are (largely) biological processes.

This is not true. Sexual orientation does not include rape, pedophila, necrophilia, bestiality, sexual masochism, exhibitionism, fetishism, masturbation, peeping tomism, or other similar practices (some of which are illegal, and for very good reason, because they directly harm non-consenting persons) which are all engaged in by both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Sexual orientation is a term that is used to describe whether a person is sexually attracted to persons of the same or a different gender. You may define it any way you please. I am sure you will please to define it in such a way as to be derogatory of homosexuals, because it is seems that that is your real motive.
2.9.2009 6:40pm
A UVA 3L:
I signed the diversity pledge. I signed it because I support people not acting like jerks and attacking gay people (I was a 1L when the Foxfield incident happened) or anyone else for that matter.

If you don't like the pledge - don't sign it. No one makes you and no one even knows who signed it and who didn't - let alone treats you any differently if you do sign it.
2.9.2009 6:42pm
Oren:



The Boy Scouts endorse Biblical views of homosexuality and discourage modern, permissive views.



The Boy Scouts endorse Biblical views of homosexuality and discourage modern pre-Biblical, permissive views.

Orin, fixed your quote for you.

What's old is new again, eh?

Also, Orin != Oren!
2.9.2009 6:44pm
Oren:


I have to say that I am failing to follow your analogy to the Catholic Church. Contra your earlier post, UVa Law, as a public institution, is NOT allowed to collectively endorse a viewpoint in the manner that the Catholic Church is allowed to do with Trinitarianism (i.e. by conditioning membership in the community based upon one's assent to the proposition). (my emphasis)


I agree. That's why I wouldn't support the pledge if membership in the UVA law school was conditioned upon acceptance. As it happens, the pledge is voluntary.


In this context, to argue that it is only "voluntary" to sign the pledge is missing the more weighty questions of principle that underlie the whole matter.

That an institution with particular beliefs can, as a voluntary matter, ask students to support them? What's the principle here?


And, no, I don't believe the charitable intentions of some of those involved in the pledge campaign absolves them of the malign effects of their efforts.

Your original posts indicated that you considered the motives to be malign. It is quite a different thing to have malign motives than malign effects. Please clarify which you think it is.
2.9.2009 6:50pm
DangerMouse:
Schools are full of it with this diversity crap anyway. They preach diversity like it's a religion. My undergraduate school had several slogans during each year of orientation for the new freshmen. One was "Diversity is our Strength." The year after it was "Our Community is our Unity" or something strange.

Of course, to them, diversity included everyone but white Christians. If you were a white Christian, you weren't diverse. And yes, the school was public. Didn't seem to matter to the cultists promoting this crap. Diversity is just a tool to bash people they think are politically incorrect. It's all politics, it has nothing to do with treating people civily or with respect as fellow students. It is all political brainwashing.

So I'm not inclined to view any of this charitably. In fact, I'll bet that this sort of thing is routinely mocked, just like it was when I was an undergrad.
2.9.2009 7:01pm
ShelbyC:

The Boy Scouts endorse Biblical views of homosexuality and discourage modern pre-Biblical, permissive views.



Do folks honestly believe this? Boy are you poor saps getting fed some propaganda.
2.9.2009 7:04pm
Oren:


Do folks honestly believe this? Boy are you poor saps getting fed some propaganda.

I believe my memory when I recall my Troop Leader saying exactly thus. Maybe he was off the reservation, but that's what the BSA taught me.
2.9.2009 7:35pm
John127 (mail):
Oren,

1. The core of my argument is that it is inappropriate for the administration of a publicly-funded law school to place its institutional weight behind a vague "pledge" filled with nebulous odes to postmodern aphorisms of varying social worth. Even if I were more convinced of the merits of the pledge in question, I still think that this policy would be ill-advised because it **inevitably** creates an atmosphere whereby individuals might feel (and often do) pressured to adopt the position of the majority and/or the administration. Additionally, and as I pointed out before, my belief is that this pledge exists as a half-hearted measure to accomplish what the school knows it cannot do outright -- namely, institute a speech code of some type.

2. To illustrate my above point, I'd ask you to engage in a thought experiment whereby the SBA asked the student body to sign a "sexual modesty" pledge whereby each person pledged to respect each other's intrinsic worth by renouncing premarital sex (and, for the sake of verisimilitude, this was in response to an outbreak of premature pregnancies that forced several female students to drop out of school). This would (justly) be seen by most as an attempt to impose traditional/white/Christian/patriarchal values on the student body. The fact that this suggestion seems laughably unrealistic -- as well as offensive -- to most who read it compared to the current pledge is not "progress" as much as the fact that most people in our society have internalized (to varying degrees) the multicultural value system professed by our political and social elite in the last several decades. This should be more openly acknowledged.

3. I concede that there are many involved in the Diversity Pledge who are good-intentioned people who rightly oppose invidious discrimination. However, all who are involved are indulging an unseemly impulse -- common to most people -- whereby they feel compelled to coerce other people to accept their views. This should be stopped.
2.9.2009 7:45pm
whit:

some of which are illegal, and for very good reason, because they directly harm non-consenting persons)


not to belabor this point, but we have many laws based on morality, including sexual ones, even though they do NOT harm non-consenting person.

incest is one. and same -sex incest has no birth defect issuues. the prohibition is a moral one.

and bestiality. many forms of bestiality, like a woman fellating an animal do not harm anybody, but we still criminalize it because we find it immoral.

just to clarify that not all sexual behavior prohibitions involve crimes that harm a non-consenting individual.
2.9.2009 8:02pm
whit:

This would (justly) be seen by most as an attempt to impose traditional/white/Christian/patriarchal values on the student body.


no, it wouldn't.

not engaging in premarital sex is not exclusively limited to, or even disproportionately emphasized by christians as opposed to muslims or jews, for instance.

and there is nothing patriarchal about a policy that encourages both men AND women to not engage in premarital sex.

a policy that singled out women vs. men, otoh would be.

i'm not even going to address the idea that this is a "white" value. that's your canard.

the part you got right is that it is a traditional value. but it is neither white, nor christian, nor patriarchal. (the former two not exclusively or disproportionately), the latter not at all
2.9.2009 8:06pm
Randy R. (mail):
"So sureyoubet can object to homosexual acts being performed in the Clemons Library restroom, without being denounced as "disrespectful, intolerant and prejudiced, and in need to 'diversity training,'" and if you want to object to heterosexual acts being performed in the Clemons Library restroom, you may do so just as freely. sureyoubet might even join you ."

Depends. Sureyoubet, got a pic to trade?

John127: You make many good points. So, if you were SBA Prez, then what would you suggest is the better way to reduce violence towards unpopular groups?

remember: you have to come up with a way that will be legal, non-coercive, does not impinge upon free speech, and is effective. The goal is to get students to refrain from acts that would be viewed as intimidating towards minorities or other groups. It also has to cut both ways, that unpopular groups will not do things to intimidate or be hurtful towards white male Christians.

If you can come up wtih something that satifies all these criteria, I think most of us would hoist you upon our shoulders and erect a statue in your honor.
2.9.2009 8:25pm
John127 (mail):
1. Randy,

As tempting as having a statute erected in my honor might be, the gist of my argument has been that these pledges, codes, etc are superfluous measures that hurt more than they help. I contend that the social opprobrium that would attach itself to someone involved in a hate-motivated incident -- of any kind -- in the current society that we have here at UVa acts as a sufficient disincentive to that type of conduct (for exactly the same reasons as I outlined above). Whatever symbolic value that is achieved by the Diversity Pledge, or anything of its ilk, is far outweighed by its manifest disadvantages. Instead of administrative fiats and cloying PR campaigns, we rely on the decency of the student body and, if that fails, the normal disciplinary system.

2. Whit,

You are probably right that I was a bit too relaxed in my characterization of the hypothetical I constructed. I was talking more about how such a pledge would be perceived than anything else. While I would oppose such a measure, its value could perhaps be the subject of more of a legitimate debate that I initially gave it credit for. I stand firm, however, in predicting that it would be opposed much more vehemently.
2.9.2009 9:22pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Having followed this train wreck to the end, I may as well add my several cents;

CathyF writes: Ok, try the person whose sexual preference is necrophilia which follows the torture-murder of the sexual partner.

....not to belabor this point, but we have many laws based on morality, including sexual ones, even though they do NOT harm non-consenting person.
incest is one. and same -sex incest has no birth defect issuues. the prohibition is a moral one.
and bestiality. many forms of bestiality, like a woman fellating an animal do not harm anybody, but we still criminalize it because we find it immoral.
just to clarify that not all sexual behavior prohibitions involve crimes that harm a non-consenting individual.


Actually, I believe 'necrophilia' just means a desire to have sex with corpses; it does not imply that one obtains the corpses through violence.

And, that we have often permitted legal moralism in our law-making does not constitute an argument that we should do so - either generally or in any particular case.

And then we have ShelbyB writing: The Boy Scouts endorse Biblical views of homosexuality and discourage modern pre-Biblical, permissive views.
Do folks honestly believe this? Boy are you poor saps getting fed some propaganda.


As Oren observes, the BS do preach thusly. And, yes, Greeks and Romans and Egyptians and peoples of many cultures 'before' Judeo-Christianity ruled the world had no qualms at all about homsexuality ... and lots of other sexual activities that shock the post-Judeo-Christian sensibility.

Finally, on the concept of 'respect': ethicists, including legal philosphers such as H. L. A. Hart and Ron Dworkin, use this term in a [neo-]Kantian sense. To respect a person as a person means only to take account of his/her personhood or subjectivity. So, Kant says that executing murderers is the only way to manifest respect for them and their choices. 'Respect' need not mean any more than this. It certainly does not entail treating someone well, or even politely.
2.9.2009 9:24pm
whit:
ChrisTS, you made it look like Cathyf wrote a whole bunch of stuff that i actually wrote. she did the necrophilia thang. the next bunch of stuff is mine.


And, that we have often permitted legal moralism in our law-making does not constitute an argument that we should do so - either generally or in any particular case.



so, then do you believe we SHOULDN'T have laws against incest and bestiality.

like i said, same sex incest or various types of incestual sex that don't risk pregnancy harm NOBODY, yet we ban them.

same for fellating animals.

so, should we or shouldn't we have "permitted legal moralism?"

if not, would you argue that such laws against bestiality and incest should be revoked?

i am just pointing out the fact that many refute (falsely) that we don't "legislate morality"

we DO.
2.9.2009 10:03pm
whit:

You are probably right that I was a bit too relaxed in my characterization of the hypothetical I constructed. I was talking more about how such a pledge would be perceived than anything else.


well, that much is true. because for many in the academic left (mis)perception is reality.

i once quotes thomas sowell to a leftist, who proclaimed that the author was displaying typical white privilege. the irony of course is that sowell is black.

discouragement of premarital sex clearly is a traditional value in numerous cultures, and religions and has no specific relation to "white male patriarchy and christianity", which i guess we agree on.

but i can agree with you that you are correct, that is probably how such a pledge would be perceived in academia.

kind of like how jada pinkett-smith was criticized in academic circles for her "heteronormative" bias, after speaking on campus.
2.9.2009 10:09pm
Danza:


I don't think anybody is comparing the practices/results of the two groups. It's just that "sexual orientation" encompasses every urge, proclivity and habit that has ever been conjured up, whether it is something innocuous like a foot fetish or something deplorable like necrophilia. Either way all of these things are (largely) biological processes.



This is not true. Sexual orientation does not include rape, pedophila, necrophilia, bestiality, sexual masochism, exhibitionism, fetishism, masturbation, peeping tomism, or other similar practices (some of which are illegal, and for very good reason, because they directly harm non-consenting persons) which are all engaged in by both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Sexual orientation is a term that is used to describe whether a person is sexually attracted to persons of the same or a different gender. You may define it any way you please.


Why is it that you insist on such a narrow definition of sexual orientation? I agree that many other examples cited sound awful (rape? no one serious contends that this is an orientation... and I don't think OP said that it was), and others are fetishes that gays, straights, and bisexuals engage in, regardless of the gender(s) they prefer (masturbation, sexual masochism, exhibitionism). But your narrow definition of sexual orientation as a question of "same or different gender" can easily be expanded to include pedophilia, necrophilia, and bestiality, particularly if one's sexual interest/activity is limited to one these categories. And even if an individual's interests are not limited to one of these, isn't bisexuality (which is not a "same or different" distinction) a legitimate category for sexual orientation? I think a broader classification, however distasteful to GLBT individuals, is not unreasonable and more honestly describes the broad spectrum of potential innate sexual preferences.
2.9.2009 10:18pm
Randy R. (mail):
Danza:" But your narrow definition of sexual orientation as a question of "same or different gender" can easily be expanded to include pedophilia, necrophilia, and bestiality, particularly if one's sexual interest/activity is limited to one these categories. "

Pedophilia is not a sexual orientation, because a pedophile can be either gay or striaght. Same with necrophilia and bestiality.

Sexual orientation refers to whether a person is gay, striaght or bisexual, as you correctly point out. On the other hand, sexual fetishes, interests,activities may include pedophilia,bestiality, necrophilia, foot fetishes, S&M, bondage,and all sorts of other practices are not 'orientations'

In other words, a person is orientated either to people of the opposite sex or the same sex, or both. but they are not orientated towards feet, pain, death, or chains.

"I think a broader classification, however distasteful to GLBT individuals.."
If a broader definition is distastegul to GLBT's, it would be equally distateful to straight people as well, right?
2.9.2009 10:29pm
Danza:
Randy R.: It isn't that I don't understand the conventional categorization, I just don't buy the blind adherence to the male-female gender cleavage that it espouses, particularly when it also includes a category for attraction to both genders and what is arguably neither gender (transsexual).

Per your logic: "Gay is not a sexual orientation, because a gay person can be attracted to either adults or to children."


"If a broader definition is distastegul (sic) to GLBT's, it would be equally distateful (sic) to straight people as well, right?"

Not necessarily. Straight remains the supermajoritarian sexual classification under your "same or different" classification system, and it would probably remain as such under a more expansive classification system along the lines of what I suggest. However, the interests of those with minority minority orientations, like gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals, are served by limiting the sexual orientation rubric to only those orientations that can be manifested between consenting adults, and marginalizing others, which may be distasteful/criminal.
2.9.2009 10:56pm
current uva student:
some context, since there seems to be alot of assuming going on for the sake of argument:

- no one is required the sign the pledge and no one is forced to wear the shirt
- however you are expressly asked to sign the honor pledge as a first year
- just about half of the student body chose to sign the pledge
- there is no peer pressure, negative connotation or finger pointing/whispers for the folks who don't wear the shirt
- my understanding is that this is not about an isolated event at foxfields but about fostering an environment that says, the norm is decency and we want to continue "UVA Law's long standing tradition of collegiality." uva is very big on sense of community and being respectful of others--thats why you dont find the book stealing, the non-sharing of notes, the overt competition
-(personal aside) uva is a great school but less than tolerant things happen on a not infrequent basis. pick apart the language (because that's what we do) but the concept has good intentions-what pledge isn't "vapid?"
- uva law receives no financial assistance from the commonwealth of virginia
- i'm not aware (and doubt it's true) that religion was intentionally left from the list and i'm assuming this is the "thank you list problem;" you always leave out someone when you start naming names.
- this is not an act by the administration; it was initiated by Lamda Law following the Foxfield event and was continued in subsequent years by the SBA.
2.10.2009 1:01am
LM (mail):
Sarcastro:

Sawy what you will, but if more people followed Happyshooter beer-based passive agression, the world would be a much happier (though stickier) place.

I actually kind of agree. So does that mean I'm crazy or that your comment should have come from Ernesto? (Assume for now those are mutually exclusive.)
2.10.2009 1:47am
Perseus (mail):
At some very high level of generality, almost every decent person agrees with the notion that "Every person is entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of class, color, disability, gender, nationality, race, or sexual orientation."

I don't agree with that notion at all. No one is entitled to dignity or respect. It must be earned. This pseudo-Kantian blather about the dignity of the individual must stop.
2.10.2009 7:00am
A.C.:
I have no objection to the fact of diversity in the world. Keeps things interesting, even when I disagree with some of the ways people decide to be diverse. However, I do sometimes get sick of Diversity as a slogan or issue.

Among a certain kind of vaguely left-ish people, Diversity tends to mean "I'm morally superior, so I get to boss you around."

The equivalent among vaguely right-ish people is Family Values, which also tends to mean "I'm morally superior, so I get to boss you around."

I don't particularly want to be bossed around by either crew, so I get a bit queasy whenever anyone says EITHER Diversity or Family Values.

I suggest dropping both slogans, because both have been contaminated by the bossy, annoying people. Manners and personal responsibility should cover almost all real conflicts that come up under either category, and the disciplinary and legal systems should be able to deal with the few violations that are serious enough to come to the attention of the authorities.
2.10.2009 9:02am
Seamus (mail):

Sexual orientation refers to whether a person is gay, striaght or bisexual, as you correctly point out. On the other hand, sexual fetishes, interests,activities may include pedophilia,bestiality, necrophilia, foot fetishes, S&M, bondage,and all sorts of other practices are not 'orientations'

In other words, a person is orientated either to people of the opposite sex or the same sex, or both. but they are not orientated towards feet, pain, death, or chains.



Then I guess we ought to raise the question of why sexual orientation should be privileged, but not the broader category of sexual predilection. I mean, why should it be OK to discriminate against me if I like to blow male dogs, but not if I like to blow male humans? Why is the ick factor allowed free reign in one case but not the other? (I'm assuming, of course, that the dog is fully grown and consenting.)
2.10.2009 9:03am
A.C.:
Back to basics for Seamus --

Gay rights are about relationships, not the details of sexual practices. If two women fall in love and set up a household together, make each other next of kin, take care of each other's elderly parents, and so on, how does society treat them? The partnership is a public, social fact, and I strongly believe society should treat such a couple the same way it would treat an opposite-sex married couple.

What they do together in the bedroom with the curtains drawn is nobody's business but their own. And yes, I believe this aspect of the relationship should be private for both gay and straight people. The existence of the relationship is public. The bedroom details are private.

All other bedroom details should be private too, unless they involve living beings who cannot give legal consent. Then the state gets involved to prevent abuse. But the state doesn't need to prevent the abuse of shoes, leather collars, and so on. The state shouldn't be in the business of even noticing what consenting adults do with such things, and neither should the rest of us. Also note that shoes and leather collars do not need health insurance or have property rights, so we don't really need to have a policy position that protects their interests.

As for all of us as individuals, flaunting bedroom details (as opposed to mentioning the existence of relationships) is rude. So is speculating publicly about what other people are up to. Manners can handle the private stuff. It's only the public, legal aspects that we need to debate as policy issues.

Vague statements about diversity and tolerance can't draw distinctions like this. That's another reason to oppose them.
2.10.2009 9:41am
11-B/2O.B4:
No one is entitled to dignity or respect. It must be earned.


Seconded. And while we're at it, can we all agree that drink throwing for any reason is boorish behavior? If this occurred at a party at my house, I don't care why the fellow threw a drink, he'd get tossed out himself. That said, the correct answer is a smart slap to the face, not a diversity pledge and a t-shirt.

Will the pledge change any deeply held prejudices? Will the t-shirts rise as one to prevent injustice? No. And this is my issue with political correctness as a movement. It doesn't work, even when the motives are laudable. Speaking socially (rather than legally), which is more likely to reduce behavior like the abovementioned "assault", a diversity pledge, or the common knowledge on campus that the last guy to publicly insult a homosexual got beaten up by a gay guy? I say this because social conventions are stronger and more inflexible than law, as Mark Twain so aptly pointed out. Gay men don't bother me in the least, but they should remember that "gay" is the adjective, and "man" is the noun. Be a man, and don't let a "diversity pledge" speak for you.
2.10.2009 10:08am
Yankev (mail):
ChrisTS, it was not that long ago that we thought laws should reflect morality. Abandoning this concept may be a sign of social deterioration, not a sign of progress.

If you want to discuss who acts as the arbiter of morality and how, I would argue that the majority of the people through their elected representatives have been designated by our constitution to make those judgments, subject only to court review as to whether the law embodies is repugnant to the constitution. But I know of nothing in the constitution to support the view that any law reflecting someone's moral principles is ipso facto invalid.
2.10.2009 10:51am
Randy R. (mail):
danza: "Straight remains the supermajoritarian sexual classification under your "same or different" classification system, and it would probably remain as such under a more expansive classification system along the lines of what I suggest. However, the interests of those with minority minority orientations, like gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals, are served by limiting the sexual orientation rubric to only those orientations that can be manifested between consenting adults, and marginalizing others, which may be distasteful/criminal."

Nope. Our interests are, as AC eloquently explained, is to be left alone and not be discriminated against for our sexual orientation. We believe that no one should be discriminated against based on their orientation, which means that a straight person can't be fired by a gay boss. Furthemore, we are NOT marginilizing others -- there are many gay and straight people who share foot fetishes, S&M, leather, etc. More power to them, and they are not marginlized, but in fact are celebrated within the GLBT community.

What is not celebrated, and indeed is marginilized, is pedophilia. I have never heard of anyone engaging in necrophilia or bestiaility, but i"m sure it happens, but it is certainly not celebrated by thte GLBT community. But you should agree that pedophilia, necrophilia and bestiaility are practiced far more often by straight people than gays, because of their greater numbers. In any case, these criminal and distasteful practices have nothing to do with gay people, any more than they have to do with straight people.

What I suspect you are really trying to do is lump sexual orientation into two groups -- straight, normal people, and all the rest. Sorry, but if that is your goal, it's wrong. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Seamus: "Then I guess we ought to raise the question of why sexual orientation should be privileged, but not the broader category of sexual predilection. I mean, why should it be OK to discriminate against me if I like to blow male dogs, but not if I like to blow male humans? "

Straw man. When you can find instances of men who blow dogs who are discriminated against, then we can talk.
2.10.2009 10:58am
Yankev (mail):

What's old is new again, eh?
Yep, see Bereishis Rabbah, among other sources, that at the time of the flood, men were writing out marriage documents to marry other men. For those who do not believe in the Torah, there are also records of the acceptance of polyamory and homosexuality in pre-Biblical civilizations. I agee with what was posted above regarding the Greeks and Romans, but of course Rome and much of Greece was post-Biblical.


Also, Orin != Oren!
I apologize, Oren. It seems that I have been confused about that for some time, as you have doubtless noticed.
2.10.2009 11:00am
Randy R. (mail):
Perseus: "No one is entitled to dignity or respect. It must be earned."

Well, yes and no. I was taught to treat all people with respect and dignity whenever I meet them. In otherwords, if they are fat, don't call attention to that, if they are ugle or stupid, don't make fun. That sort of thing.

Some people l lose my respect for them. I lost any respect I have for Bush long time ago, and if I ever met the guy, I would refuse to shake his hand.

I don't think, Perseus, you are saying you spit on everyone you meet until they meet your standards for respect and dignity, but I think that you nonetheless treat most everyone you meet civillay anyway. What you privately think of them you save for yourself unless and until that person acts boorish.

TRUE respect and dignity has to be earned, I agree. That's where you look up to the person as a role model of some sorts.

So I think we are talking about two different things, no?

AC: "I suggest dropping both slogans, because both have been contaminated by the bossy, annoying people."

Totally agree. Let's drop diversity and family values -- too much baggage, and they are used to beat people over the head. I'm for both , as everyone with a brain should be, but not as they are used in today's discourse.
2.10.2009 11:05am
Ki Ho'alu Kid (mail):
A.C.'s last two posts nailed it!
2.10.2009 11:08am
C. Tigrin (mail):
The case is rather simple actually:

1) spilling any kind of liquid or solid (or even blowing air) on someone is WRONG and should be be given a commensurate punishment - like $20 fine or something.

2) being against homosexuality is PERFECTLY OK as long as criminal statues and code of good behavior are kept intact.

3) Any kind of pledge equating disapproval of homosexuality with wrong behavior is WRONG and anti-American. It is a constitutional right to disagree with homosexuality, to organize anti-gay parades,etc. Exactly in the same way as it is a constitutional right to uphold homosexuality, organize gay-parades, etc.

Conclusion: The fact that someone spilled a drink in defense of his cause does NOT invalidate the cause in any way. That should be easy to grasp, right? Then the pledge in question is nothing more than one sided, surreptitious, political manipulation.
2.10.2009 11:52am
John127 (mail):
current uva law student,

1. You are correct that UVa Law does not directly receive public funds, but it does receive in-state tuition subsidies (hence the mandate that each incoming class have 40% VA residents). I think this is sufficient to establish state action in any potential free speech case.

2. Students are appropriately forced to sign the Honor pledge because it represents a commitment not to engage in concrete actions that would directly damage the trust and collegiality of the academic community at the law school -- lying, cheating, and stealing. These, unlike viewpoints regarding discrimination, are legitimate reasons to condition membership in the student body.

3. The honor code -- as well as existing socialized norms regarding invidious bias and prejudice -- are more than sufficient to maintain "UVa's long standing tradition of collegiality." The Diversity Pledge, on the other hand, is meaningless posturing dressed up as multicultural solidarity. There is no comparison.

4. The Diversity Pledge, while originally a venture of the Lambda Law Alliance and currently one headed by the SBA, enjoys the full support and encouragement of the administration. In fact, the administration loudly publicizes it on the website and elsewhere so as to enjoy whatever PR points it can possible get.

5. The "Thank You List Problem" is an incredibly strong argument against having such a pledge and can itself cause more division than that which the pledge is nominally constructed to prevent.

6. The Pledge is not only vapid but counterproductive and (possibly) dangerous, in that it lays the foundation for a possible speech code of some sort. I articulated this above.
2.10.2009 12:52pm
Perseus (mail):
So I think we are talking about two different things, no?

We are talking about different things, but the diversity crowd's use, or more accurately, misuse of the words "dignity" and "respect" is no coincidence. It reflects a specific political agenda that seeks to proscribe both thoughts and acts of "prejudice" (as they define them of course).
2.10.2009 1:16pm
ChrisTS (mail):
WHIT and YANKEV:

Whit, I am so sorry to have attributed your words to Cathyf; I'm sure you can understand my error.

Let's practice a bit of logic:

I wrote, And, that we have often permitted legal moralism in our law-making does not constitute an argument that we should do so - either generally or in any particular case.

To which you responded, so, then do you believe we SHOULDN'T have laws against incest and bestiality.

What system of inference are you employing, here? Boil it down a bit: "That we have done X does not constitute an argument that we should do X, either generally or in a particular case," does not entail "Therefore, we should not do X in particular cases A and B."

On the merits, no, I cannot think of a good reason to proscribe same-sex relations between siblings; there may be non-moral concerns about incest between parents and offspring, of course. As for performing fellatinio on horses or other non-human animals - well, I suspect you are trying to win an argument by shocking your listeners. Another logical failure. Actually, aside from the fact that sex between a human and a non-human animal raises issues of both consent and possible harm, I see no reason to use the criminal law to prohibit that, either.

But, my original point, of course, was one I would repeat to you and to Yankev - who argues that 'we' used to think legal moralism was just fine (poor J.S. Mill):

that we do accept or have accepted a practice does not make it either a wise or correct practice.

Thus, your [somewhat confusing] remark that you are just pointing out the fact that many refute (falsely) that we don't "legislate morality" is not to the point. I did not deny we have ever legislated morality. I denied that having done so is an argument for doing so.
2.10.2009 2:21pm
ChrisTS (mail):
oops: fellatio
2.10.2009 2:22pm
DCP:

Pedophilia is not a sexual orientation, because a pedophile can be either gay or striaght. Same with necrophilia and bestiality.


You're just choosing to define a term in a very narrow fashion to the exclusion of other orientations you (rightfully) find distasteful.

That's tantamount to me saying "professional athletes" refers to members of the Atlanta Braves but not the New York Yankees, because the latter are a bunch of spoiled, crybaby steroid users. Oh, and by the way I happen to be a Braves fan.

There is no logical reason to do this. I'm a meat and potatoes heterosexual, but I'm willing to acknowledge that the biochemical, psychological and sociological tapestry that causes my sexual desires is the same machine that operates within pedophiles and others.


Sexual orientation refers to whether a person is gay, striaght or bisexual, as you correctly point out. On the other hand, sexual fetishes, interests,activities may include pedophilia,bestiality, necrophilia, foot fetishes, S&M, bondage,and all sorts of other practices are not 'orientations'


Why not? Because YOU don't like them? Because they make YOUR stomach turn?


In other words, a person is orientated either to people of the opposite sex or the same sex, or both. but they are not orientated towards feet, pain, death, or chains.


Again, they are...to varing degrees. Sexuality is just too complex and variable to pigeonhole people into an A, B or C categorization. Some people dabble or experiment in things like homosexuality, S&M, group sex, fetishesism, bestiality, etc whereas some people embrace them so strongly that "traditional" sexual lifestyles are completely unappealing. It's just a very broad spectrum. I think Gore Vidal had the best reasoning on this - there are only sexual acts for classification purposes, not sexual individuals.

Maybe a better solution is to come up with new terminology. Instead of "sexual orientation", how about "gender preference" or something? I suppose that would leave out asexuals, who have zero interest in any sexual activity, regardless of gender.
2.10.2009 3:51pm
Yankev (mail):
ChrisTS, perhaps I expressed myself poorly. I was not saying that you disputed whether we have at times legislated morality, nor did I mean to argue that the fact that we had done so was reason to continue. In fact, I realize (and realized) that you were admitting that we had at times dones so, and were positing that precedent was not justification for having done so.

My point was that there is nothing wrong with legislating morality. A society that does not base its laws on morality is, quite simply, an immoral society. A law that, for example, gives the poor license to steal from the rich because they need the money, or that gives the rich license to steal from the poor because they can, is immoral.

Would JS Mill argue that society cannot by law ban a person from walking down the stret naked because he is harming no one except himself? I would argue that he does harm society by coarsening the social standards, and that society has the right to protect itself from that coarsening -- not to protect the actor from himself, but to protect the rest of us.
2.10.2009 5:12pm
Yankev (mail):

a person is orientated
No, he or she is oriented, for the same reason that people to not administrate, cohabitate or fulminatate.

If a person were orientated, we would have to discuss the meaning of sexual orientatation. Sadly, the schools no longer educatate their students, and instead graduatate people who fail to recognize how they degradate the English language.

/end rant
2.10.2009 5:17pm
Yankev (mail):

Sadly, the schools no longer educatate their students, and instead graduatate people who fail to recognize how they degradate the English language.
As well as people who type sloppily and fail to adequately proofread their work before clicking "post comment". Sorry for degradating the thread with my typos.
2.10.2009 5:20pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Yankev: Thanks for the clarification.

You write, My point was that there is nothing wrong with legislating morality. A society that does not base its laws on morality is, quite simply, an immoral society. A law that, for example, gives the poor license to steal from the rich because they need the money, or that gives the rich license to steal from the poor because they can, is immoral.

I gather you are not a fan of legal positivism.

But look, all systems have basic rules against harms such as stealing another's property - something which libertarians and J.S. Mill and everyone else accept. True, harming others absent justification is immoral, but that is not the only reason for having laws against such conduct. To paraphrase H.L.A. Hart, no society can get off the ground if its people can injure one another with impunity. So, we might say that laws against clearly harmful conduct are both practically necessary and morally valuable.

This is not the case with pure legally moralistic legislation. By definition, a moralistic law seeks to prevent or punish immorality 'as such' - i.e., absent any harm.

You do well to call out Mill on the 'gross public indecency' question. To the sorrow of many purists, he admits that we need not put up with such behavior. However, there are several subtleties that make this a less fatal admission on Mill's part:

1) PUBLIC conduct of an unharmful nature may, nonetheless, be so offensive as to merit control, particularly if others have no adequate warning to avoid being exposed to the conduct;
2) although most libertarians and Mill himself, at times, seem to prefer a strict 'material damage' conception of 'harm,' many of us recognize that sufficient shock can be harmful in a perfectly ordniary sense.

Now let's think about your second example: someone walking naked down a street. It seems to me that this might well be exceptionally shocking to most people (today; times change) and difficult to avoid. We accept the existence of public nude beaches precisely because those who would be shocked can avoid them [assuming they can read the signs]. Furthermore, it is the public nature of the conduct that is offensive, I assume. We do not prohibit people from walking nude in their own homes, for example; I like to think we never would.

Of course, the last point most fully illustrates the flaw in your analogy between public nudity and homosexuality: almost no one reallly thinks ALL nudity is immoral. But some people do think homosexuality is immoral. And, they think it is immoral whether made public or kept in private.

So, if one advocates laws prohibiting homosexuality, one is not adovcating anything like laws against public nudity. Rather, one is simply appealing to one's own moral sense and seeking to use the law to prohibit/punish conduct - public or private - one does not like. There is no real concern about gross public indecency or harm, in the narrower sense.
2.10.2009 6:20pm
Yankev (mail):
ChrisTS, all points well taken, and with which I would agree. For what it is worth, I did favor the decriminalization of homosexuality. Given the demands for recognition of SSM and the tarring and feathering of anyone who dares opine that there is a moral component to homosexuality, or that there are fundamental differences between homosexual and heterosexual relationships, I find myself often wondering whether that was a mistake.


I gather you are not a fan of legal positivism.
No, but I am often accused of excessive negativism. I have never found a theory of law that especially appealed to me, which is why I stopped looking a few years after law school. I do confess that Kant's theory of retribution appeals to me, at least as Prof. Barry Feld summarized it for us in Crim. Law.
2.10.2009 8:54pm
Cal:
It strikes me that it is vapid to comment at such legnth on something vapid.

It is ironic that soemthing vapid, has caused so many to comment, at all.
2.11.2009 9:50am
Jim Walker:
Does "every person" in this pledge include Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Sheikh Muhammad?
2.12.2009 12:23pm

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