Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Conservatives and liberals

Quote of the day:
(at the end of class)
[Prof X]: “So you just wasted another hour of your life.”

One of my classes is taught by a very liberal professor who wears his politics and views on his sleeve, and it pervades the entire lecture. There are only a few conservative students in the class, and they always argue with the professor during class discussion and after class. It’s actually pretty interesting listening to these students, since their arguments are torn apart by the professor, not because the professor's arguments are especially foolproof, but that here are 1Ls trying to argue with a professor who has 20+ years of experience over these 1Ls and can pull up tons of cases to destroy the federalist/conservative argument. (I would also assume that a conservative professor will destroy the liberal student views as well)

I’m actually pretty moderate, but I have a problem with the whole conservative argument bemoaning the liberal bias in academia. I don’t doubt the conclusion, since I have definitely found that short of going to BYU or Bob Jones or Liberty , most professors in academia are liberal.

Here's my problem with the conservative argument: No one is stopping conservatives from going into academia. I don’t think that hiring committees are sitting around saying here’s a conservative candidate and we’re not going to hire him and hire a liberal one instead. [Note, Eugene Volokh, conservative/libertarian and legal advisor to Proposition 209 that prohibits the use of race in UC admissions teaches at UCLAW] For some reason of self-selection, conservatives don’t tend to go into academia to the same extent that liberals do, and that’s the reason for the overall liberal bias. Why conservatives don’t go into academia, I don’t know and I won’t venture a guess.

The second argument I hear from conservatives, especially regarding public interest at law school, is that they agree with public interest in theory, but don't agree with "the liberal bulls--t" (as one of them called it) that is associated with public interest. I don’t think that it is because public interest programs are saying “oh, you’re conservative and we’re not going to take you.” Again, simply the proportion of students who go into public interest law is heavily skewed towards the “hippies/socialists/the system is wrong” crowd over the “we should help our fellow brothers because we are all the Lord’s children” crowd. Again, why the self-selection exists, I don’t know.

To say that the system is inherently biased without examining conservatives’ own reasons for not going into academia or public interest is malum in se (see, I’m learning stuff in law school!)


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