Thursday, May 27, 2004

Psst...Professor Yoo, you're at Berkeley. Play the race card!

Juan Non-Volokh calls attention to a campaign by Berkeley law students calling for the resignation of Professor John Yoo, arguing that his articulation of arguments that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to ununiformed insurgents blending into civilian populations (in the Afghanistan war, mind you) led to Abu Ghraib.

Michael Anderson, a newly minted Berkeley JD, has been defending the petition both in periodicals and on his own blog.

[W]e aren't asking the school to fire him. We're calling directly on Prof. Yoo to act on his own behalf. But we have absolutely no power to enforce this request or impose any conditions on him. It's entirely his decision to make! He has total freedom to ignore our demands completely and stick to his position (exactly as he is doing). So how, exactly, is his freedom actually being infringed? Those who claim we are "intimidating" Prof. Yoo either don't know him, or are simply being disingenuous.
You give the man an ultimatum of "Recant or resign" and you come up with a way to avoid calling that intimidation. Damn, you are a bunch of lawyers.

If any institution of higher education in the United States curtails speech that creates a "hostile environment," it would be Berkeley. If I didn't believe in free speech for all, I would suggest to Professor Yoo that he request that those restrictions be invoked. If this isn't a "hostile environment," then nothing is.
By the way, several of us are presently planning to put together a panel discussion at which we will invite Prof. Yoo to defend his position.
Which begs the question, Why didn't the students who took exception to Professor Yoo's opinions do this in the first place before demanding that he either "recant or resign"?