UCLA Law Professor Robert Goldstein has apologized for using the Ferguson MO. events to craft an exam question for his class.
According to Fox News:
The question then asked students to imagine that they are lawyers in the St. Louis County Attorney’s office and had been asked to advise the prosecutor “whether to seek an indictment against Head” for inciting violence. The exam reads:
“[As] a recent hire in the office, you are asked to write a memo discussing the relevant First Amendment issues in such a prosecution. Write the memo.”
But students complained, and writer Elie Mystal at the popular legal blog “Above the Law” opined that the test question was “racially insensitive and divisive.” Mystal also incorrectly alleged that the question asked students to “advocate in favor of extremist racists in Ferguson.”
Wait, these are law students? And this is too racially insensitive? Where is Megyn Kelly when you need her?
After his apology, the professor told the students that he wouldn’t grade the answers to that question. He sent an email to his classes which was sent to Foxnews.com by a UCLA spokeswoman.
I clearly underestimated and misjudged the impact of this question on you. I realize now that it was so fraught as to have made this an unnecessarily difficult question to respond to at this time. I am sorry for this. . .
As with many of my exams in this upper-level elective class, questions may be drawn from current legal issues in the news or from recent court reports. This helps make the exam educational and relevant,” he wrote in his email to students . . .
I recognize, though, that the recent disturbing events and subsequent decisions in Ferguson and New York make this subject too raw to make it a useful opportunity.
Not all professors have such little backbone, however.
David Bernstein, a law professor at George Mason University School of Law, told FoxNews.com that Goldstein’s mistake was apologizing for the question under pressure of complaints, not putting it on the exam in the first place. He noted that the exams are timed and that it’s unfair to not count the question as a grade since some students may have wasted more time than others on it.
“If there are some law students who are such delicate flowers that merely being asked to assess whether certain controversial speech that’s been in the news is constitutionally protected, in a class covering the First Amendment of all things, then maybe they should find another profession.”
I couldn’t agree more.
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