Thursday, March 01, 2007

I Stand Corrected on the Leonard Kaplan Case

First of all, I would like to thank the people who posted on the comments page of my original post on L'Affaire Kaplan. Though they vigorously disagreed, they expressed themselves with civility and made some good points. One person, writing anonymously, said something I think I should put in the foreground by featuring it here. The reason is that it requires that I qualify or take back some of the things I said. Here is what anonymous said.

FYI, the students did not first go public with their complaints. They sent a letter to the Dean. The Dean asked their permission to share the letter with Professor Kaplan, which they granted. Once shown the letter, Kaplan then spoke with the students but, in that exchange, appears to have left them more upset rather than less upset. It was only after these events took place that the students chose to organize a Wednesday night meeting, which is the first time that this matter went public. It seems a shame that the private conversation between Professor Kaplan and the students was not managed in a way that led to this being settled at that time. Even with all of that, the students have never called for censorship or discipline of Professor Kaplan. They have consistently sought a venue to teach the law school community about today's Hmong community.
In "Thing Two" in my original post, I said that KaShia Moua (and by implication the other students who initiated this public discussion) should have figured (as I did and do) that there must be some sort of misunderstanding here. Now of course it appears that they did talk to Prof. Kaplan and for whatever reason were not satisfied with what he said to them. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, (for me, at the moment) to second-guess what they did in going public with the "racism" charge. If they did some checking and still believed what they said, it's pretty hard to say that they shouldn't have acted on it.

It also makes me a good deal less sure (Things Four and Five) that Dean Davis failed to handle this well. He did try to start a productive dialogue, and I applaud that. I just wish he had said something publicly about the importance of freedom of speech and academic freedom at some point.

I am tempted to go back to my original statements and silently revise them, but that would be a little too George Orwell, wouldn't it? (Down the memory hole! Never happened!) I hope this correction is good enough.

There is a meeting at the Law School about this incident this evening at 7:00. I will attend at least part of it and try to find time to blog about it afterward.

Written later: I later heard that this meeting would just be another meeting between university representatives and students, this time to arrange some sort of meeting with the Hmong community outside the university. Figuring that this would not be an informational meeting, I missed it. (Actually, I went home, exhausted after the work I'd done for a talk by Lawrence Harrison, fell asleep, woke up at midnight to get ready for class, ... it was a busy day is what I'm saying.) But now it sounds, from one of the comments on this post (see below), like some new information might have come out at this meeting after all.
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