Wokeness: Burning My Bridge With Quinnipiac School of Law.
They say that burning bridges completely is rarely wise. Sooner or later, the time comes when you’ll need to cross the bridges that you’ve burned. I am rarely wise so I have burned plenty of bridges in my day, and, after some reflection this week, I have come to the conclusion that I need to publicly burn another one.
As of today, I am publicly announcing that I want nothing more to do with Quinnipiac University School of Law unless I am fighting it in court. For the past three years, members of its administration and its students have crapped all over me for my beliefs. Others have stood silently by as the more courageous among them have employed Maoist tactics to try to intimidate and publicly shame me. But for the integrity of a few members of its administration who still truly believe in the platitudes that the school still peddles, I may not be practicing law right now.
At the outset, let me clarify that my beef is with the law school’s culture, not its curriculum. The law school did a reasonably good job teaching me the foundational knowledge that every lawyer is expected to know. It also made a good faith effort to teach the practical lawyering skills, which will always be of limited effectiveness in the more knowledge-based environment of law school. In other words, I have no reason to complain about the basic education that I received at the Quinnipiac School of Law.
The law school, however, has a far more serious problem – one that may ultimately lead to a lawsuit when its administration crosses the line and pushes its luck with a student too far. You see, the law school markets itself as teaching students to think like lawyers – a broad definition that encompasses technical legal knowledge, practical considerations, and basic human compassion. Central to this educational aim is the school’s emphasis on encouraging students to bring their backgrounds and values to bear on client problems, and running concurrent to this emphasis is the school’s formal diversity policy welcoming people of all backgrounds and its informal encouragement of value-based problem-solving.
On its face, this sounds ideal. The law school is encouraging students to form value-based worldviews and then work to solve problems for clients with an eye toward achieving the best possible outcome for the clients’ practical concerns and one that benefits society and the rule of law.
Working theories, however, can run into hiccups when applied – particularly when an educational organization creates a homogenous student body whose commitment to its ideals of diversity requires agenda-driven outcomes as a matter of morality instead of the candid exchange of different perspectives. In other words, willing engagement with different perspectives is not enough. As a matter of morality, all ideas must conform to a common outcome or they are evil.
This grassroots paradigm has converted Quinnipiac School of Law’s ideals into an ideological tyranny far worse than a mandated compliance with values that mandate acceptance of agenda-driven outcomes at all times. The latter at least is honest about its heavy-handed designs. The former is sinister, lurking in the shadows ready to destroy anyone who dares to challenge the collective morality.
I had personal experience with it during law school. I still have a draft of a lawsuit against members of Quinnipiac School of Law’s administration and several students from my class and the two classes behind me saved to my computer. For a few days in 2020 – my last year of law school, all that lawsuit lacked was a single sentence to make it final. I ultimately filled in that last sentence, and it took my father and my best friend substantial time to keep me from driving to the New Haven courthouse to file it. I have looked at it countless times over the pandemic – sometimes wondering if I should file it just for the hell of it, but more often remembering the lesson that it taught me: stop playing nice.
My offense that time? I expressed my religious beliefs that all homosexual people stand in danger of eternal damnation and eternal hellfire. More civilized than I am now, I expressed my beliefs in a generalized form, paying particular attention to the words that I used. I even stated that my beliefs frankly gave me much concern for homosexual folks’ souls and that I prayed for them. My beliefs haven’t changed.
Nonetheless, scuttlebutt quickly converted my words into a personal attack on all homosexuals, and a critical case at my law firm clerkship kept me out of the law school as the denizens of morality destroyed my reputation. I ultimately ended up having to explain my words to the law school’s administration while knowing full well that they had ABA Model Rule 8.4(g) charges before the school’s Honor Code committee (a mechanism for kicking students out of the school) at their disposal.
I entered a pandemic embittered at what I had thought I lost: destroyed friendships, a damaged career network, and a feeling that my relationship with the law school could never be one of cordiality again. In retrospect, the lesson I gained in reality far outweighed my wounds.
I had woken up to a woke world where conformity to political and ideological agendas did not respect or tolerate civil discourse. Diversity was the game until it parted ways with the outcomes. To enter that world expecting to play on the faux-civility home turf of a woke lynch mob was akin to walking barefoot across a cactus-strewn desert.
Graduation later that year relieved me, and bar prep only hardened my resolve to begin to play the game with a devil-may-care bluntness. No longer would I mince words or play the game that I had once played as a naive fool.
When I graduated, my parents urged me to sever all ties with Quinnipiac School of Law. They watched me go through hell for beliefs that they spent a lifetime teaching me to reach and live on my own, and they lived a similar emotional hell watching me. I regret, to an extent, not following their urging.
I had fallen for an intellectual challenge though. I maintained significant ties with the law school as I headed up coaching its moot court competition teams during a pandemic. Moot court excites me intellectually. It presents novel legal issues and asks students to simulate briefing and arguing them to the U.S. Supreme Court. Even though I think that the ABA and other law school competitions were intellectually bankrupt in terms of judging and scoring, the challenge and opportunity to study through novel constitutional issues and work with competitors on resolving them was irresistible.
The fact that I had come to respect the work ethic of two of the competitors that I had competed with in my last year of law school also cemented my desire to return as a coach. They would both be having their last dance, and I wanted to help them capture at least some glory before they left law school. When I competed in my last year, the law school had not provided the competition team with a dedicated external coach, nor had it any years previously. Students coached other students with ad-hoc help from professors. They did best that they could, but coaching was largely style-based.
I made a commitment to make virtually every practice for three teams for a three month stretch, and I served as a substantive sounding board for ideas while they wrote their briefs. While I had a self-deprecatory reputation for being one of the worst oral stylists in competition history, I aimed to tighten their substantive arguments to give them the ultimate oral argument edge, and one of the best oral stylists in the school’s competition team history supplemented me when her scheduling permitted.
Going into these practices, I gave the competitors fair warning who I was. I had just completed a joint effort to file a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court defending the use of the term “fucking nigger” toward an African-American parking officer, and I was actively promoting the case at the time. My message to competitors was simple. I have a job to do. If you have a problem with what I need to do, you are free to object to my presence and participation. A single objection would have sufficed to get rid of me. No one objected, and I was actually able to use the case repeatedly as an example in coaching one of the teams.
To an extent, some of my faith in humanity had been restored. Some people at the law school still respected the fact that life and the law do not carry the staid dignity of law school. It is dirty and vulgar, and it requires lawyers comfortable playing in the street.
My newly restored faith did not survive six months though. Several weeks ago, I spoke at a political protest to advocate for the interests of clients and other similarly situated people. I had the following to say about the public health hysteria reigning in the United States and forced vaccine mandates:
“There is something hypocritical about the people in Yale Medical School and Yale New Haven Health encouraging homosexuals to screw each other in the rear end in the middle of an HIV pandemic, but God forbid that they tolerate a two thousand year old Christian belief regarding abortion. Let me be clear. Homosexual relationships are protected under the law as it currently stands, and I agree with that. I don’t think it’s any one’s business about what you do in your personal relationships just like I don’t think it’s any one’s business on whether you get vaccinated or not because of your religious beliefs.”
Less than two weeks later, I received a curt email from the Quinnipiac Moot Court Society terminating its relationship with me because of “homophobic statements” that I made. Despite all of the time that I have given to the Society and my repeated assurances that I would have their backs again this year, no one bothered to contact me for a discussion. Instead, I had trespassed on the morality of a radical, agenda-driven outcome, and it had an obligation to expel me from our association while making sure to tell me that I was evil on my way out.
While the Society has every right to disassociate itself with me under the First Amendment, my non-conformity with an agenda-driven outcome is nothing new, and the same people who reacted with moral outrage over my non-conformity had no problem accommodating me until I touched a personal pet peeve. The knives then came out.
Their reaction exemplifies what I have come to expect from Quinnipiac School of Law students and some of its administrators: a complete unwillingness to accept vigorous and blunt logical debate and conclusions that do not conform to the pre-ordained outcomes of the collective morality. In other words, wokeness has replaced intellectual rigor. Outcomes have replaced the ideals of diversity that the law school sells incoming students on.
While some administrators such as Dean Jennifer Brown and Professor Brad Saxton remain committed to the ideals of civil diversity that they preach, their examples have not taken hold on fellow administrators and the student body, which has committed to diversity by social stigma. To continue to maintain ties with Quinnipiac School of Law is to ask to be stabbed in the back for non-conformity, intellectual independence, and sincere religious beliefs.
In other words, Quinnipiac School of Law as a community cannot provide you intellectual benefits unless you conform. Its community has traded candid, intellectual debate for wokeness.
I will not make such a trade.
I made a few good friends at Quinnipiac Law. I received a serviceable legal education. I learned some very important life lessons. I might be a slow learner, but I am done being stabbed in the back by a woke lynch mob that masquerades as law students and administrators who mask themselves with the cloak of faux tolerance.
Quinnipiac School of Law can count on never hearing from me in any cordial capacity again. To the extent that I still have personal relationships with faculty predicated on mutual respect and intellectual tolerance, I will still maintain those on a personal level. Future students and graduates will have to make my acquaintance and earn my respect elsewhere – a task that will require rebutting a presumption of intellectual infantilism.
In other words, the school can rejoice as I have no intention of darkening its door again or ever formally associating with it again.