November 15, 2007
The Human Stain, Law School Style
In Philip Roth's The Human Stain, Coleman Silk is a classics professor at a small liberal arts college. A black who is passing as an assimilated Jew, Silk retires after being accused of making a racist remark about two black students who were absent from his class and whom he had never seen before. He called them "spooks" — suggesting they were ghosts without considering that spooks is also an old-fashioned epithet for blacks. Trumped by the intellectual bankruptcy of political correctness, Silk's academic career ended on a shameful note, a faculty meeting where no one came to Silk's defense.
Now, the National Jurist is reporting about three law professors being criticized for ethnic-based comments made inside and outside the classroom that apparently offended students. What's the right response in this sort of situation? Check out what Brian Tamanaha has to say. [JH]
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