The Legal Beat
Amy Chua Broke The Rules… So Let’s Punish Students. Sounds Like Yale
Posted on Friday July 30, 2021
Oh, we’re going to talk about Amy Chua again. Exciting right!
Well, there is now an anti-backlash that is right here to say this Chua mongering is not deserved! Here it is… but… I like Libby’s cheeky version:
It does feel that way some times. So much so that a former law school dean in a weaker moment decided to misplace the blame: “(I blame this all on @ElieNYC and @DavidLat, but glad to see them taking the higher road these days. Grateful).” I won’t defend the cattiest, most boot-licking eras of this website’s past, but I’m very much going to defend the part where we came in and said, “Hey, maybe enabling a professor that an independent body identified as a sexual predator is bad.”
Call me old-fashioned, but… yeah… you don’t get to harass people. In a world where no one called out this behavior, it went unaddressed and that’s the whole problem.
Anyway, the most recent entry in the Amy Chua tour is this piece in The Atlantic which is actually not about Chua — because Bruenig, like some earlier great journos on this case, senses that the story isn’t really about Chua and cancel culture as much as she might want to concoct it. It’s about students wrapped up in a bad scene and now, because it’s Yale, they’re thinking about punishing the students instead of the grown ass adults.
Not that the Guest had any reason to contemplate any of this when, early in the spring semester of 2021, he decided to step down as an executive editor at the Yale Law Journal. The Guest, who describes himself as half-Korean, had misgivings about the way the journal’s staff had responded to his questions about the lack of racial diversity in its ranks, and his suggestions for addressing it. Still, even after making his decision, the Guest felt uncertain and unsettled. He confided this to the Visitor, who as a Black student at Yale Law had wrestled with similar questions, and she took it upon herself to bring them up with Chua during a Zoom meeting that served in place of the professor’s usual office hours. At that point, the Visitor recalls, Chua casually offered to talk with the two of them about the Journal affair at her home in New Haven, and the Visitor called the Guest to pass the invitation along.
As this scandal brewed, some tipsters urged us to call out the people that Bruenig identifies as Guest and Visitor here, and we didn’t. You know why? Because they didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, I early on noted that the impropriety of her meetings with students has exactly nil to do with whether or not those students were right about how busted the law school may be.
Both things can be true.
Yale Law School is a funny place: Everyone you talk to says they’re there more or less for charity work, but somehow the graduates keep getting rich and famous. While we all contemplate that mystery, the Guest and the Visitor will be contemplating something very different—how to recover from this strange turn of events. The Guest, whose only documented offense was visiting Chua to talk about his run at the Journal, withdrew his application for the Coker fellowship, and applied for no clerkships. The Visitor quietly accepted one fellowship, and likewise declined to seek any clerkships, reasoning along the same lines as the Guest. What else could they have done? It takes an admirable perceptiveness to know when the truth can’t save you anymore.
Not so sure they get rich and famous as much as they topple regimes, but the point remains. You know who should be punished for Amy Chua letting students hang out in her house after her husband got nailed for sexual harassment? NOT THE STUDENTS. Seriously. You may think you’re the unique and special snowflake who can advise them… you might be right!… but this is the point where you do it at fucking Starbucks.
Honestly, I’m not trying to write about these professors all the time. I feel I have to as long as this keeps happening.
The New Moral Code of America’s Elite [The Atlantic]
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.