Law Schools Are No Place For “Social Justice” – Bruce Pardy


Bruce wrote in The Epoch Times just
recently December 18th about peak insanity and the example you use was the
University of Toronto law department where they talked about they wanted to
bring up an indigenous case a real-life indigenous case of alcoholic parents
giving the kids over to a non Aboriginal couple CAS and the couple eventually
wanted to adopt the kids but then the father came back said I’ve got the
alcohol problem licked I’d like my my kids back and they the Law Society were
not the Law Society the department wanted to use that as a real-life case
to instruct students but some students objected can you explain yeah so this
was a report in The Globe and Mail so the details we have to take from the
report but I gather that this was an assignment in their first year legal
research and writing class so it sounds like it wasn’t actually a course on
Aboriginal law it was a course on how to solve legal problems so it could have
been anything but in this case they chose this kind of
a case so as to ask the students to analyze those facts in light of an
Ontario law that directed questions of children’s custody and an adoption and
so on in a certain way and they took the facts for the problem directly from a
real case as you as you say and not only were they taken from a real case but
that real case also reflects a thing that happens quite frequently in the
child welfare area which is Aboriginal children who have parents who run into
difficulty with substance abuse and then the Children’s Aid Society takes takes a
role and and puts them into foster care and in this case the non Aboriginal
family apparently in the problem who had looked after the children for a couple
of years volunteered to adopt them so there you have a faction area and it’s a
real faction area and also based upon a a frequent circumstance in the real
world and yet according to the report some students were offended by the by
the question that so they complained the nature of their offense well I don’t
know exactly what but but the implication is they were offended by the
use of an Aboriginal stereotype that’s certainly what the what the Dean
referred to when he apologized to the students instead of saying to the
students look this is this is a real life this actually happens it’s based
upon a real case you know deal with it because that’s what you’re going to be
asked to deal with his lawyers real problems this the stereotype
the word stereotype is a strange word right because the implication is it’s
based upon an idea of a certain group of people that is unfairly imposed that’s
not really the case in this situation this stereotype if you want to use that
word is based upon something that actually happens it happens a lot non-us
our Aboriginal children are over-represented in the child welfare
system this kind of case happens frequently and so the apology is
peculiar you’re apologizing for what so it’s not just the offense these students
took which I found to be a little peculiar yeah how could they be offended
at the facts right it’s the apology that really gets you yes well you can
understand I suppose in a way I mean there’s a first-year law students and so
they’re trying to find their way and something they find unpalatable I mean
to come complaining to the Dean about a problem is not something that that that
I are my classmates would have ever thought to do in our era of going to law
school but nevertheless if you want to give them the benefit the doubt it
students complained the real strange thing that happened was the apology from
the administration yeah that’s just bizarre I find that very strange
that the the a law school administration would take it upon itself to apologize
for the selection made by the teacher of a course for an assignment that was
derived from an actual case that that that’s very strange and I don’t really
know what they would have expected the teacher to do if they were going to
choose a problem in that area of the law so if you don’t want real facts do you
want fake facts do you want to make up scenario that is is uses a different
kind of stereotype that might not actually be quite in accordance with the
trends that you see in the real world I it’s it’s a it’s a head scratcher it’s
something it gives one pause because you think of some of the case cases where
the the judges have come down the layperson would look at it and going
that’s not right your your case law is being made that doesn’t seem to conform
to the common sense at least it may conform sometimes to the law but not to
a common sense and then you start to think that I think as you pointed out in
your in your article judges come from lawyers lawyers come from law schools
well let’s just talk about law schools just for a minute because I don’t know
what the general public thinks happens there but more and more today law
schools are what I would call social justice institutions there’s a
difference between teaching about the Western system of justice and teaching
about social justice those two things are quite different usually in my
estimation when you put a modifier in front of the word it almost negates the
word social justice means no justice if you meant justice you’d say justice well
perhaps that’s one way of look at that I mean some might make the case that
social justice is not justice at all and I would be inclined to maybe agree with
that one of the main differences between the two ideas is that the way
an idea of justice is based upon the individual so you’re responsible for
what you do and responsible for only what you do so your actions are within
your own hands and we don’t punish people for the actions of their second
cousins once removed or the grandmothers or their neighbors if you do it you you
are responsible if you don’t do it then it’s got nothing to do with you social
justice on the other hand is based upon the idea of groups group responsibility
group victimhood trying to manage and manipulate society so as to make up for
the groups of victims and and and oppressors and so if you’re in an
institution that thinks like that then then it’s not enough simply to to to
present facts because facts themselves I suppose represent a kind of oppression
and you have to massage them so that that oppression doesn’t reproduce itself
it’s a it’s a strange set of propositions and if you take them apart
I don’t think they hold together but nevertheless you have to go there in
order to figure out why what is happening is happening if you try to do
it on the basis of the you know within within the school of thought which is
though the Western principles of justice as we understand them they won’t make
any sense which is one reason why this doesn’t make any sense if you’re if
you’re thinking in a straightforward way I would say the idea of presenting a
real case with real facts represent a real trend and asking students to solve
the problem is not problematic in any way in a school of social justice
there’s a lot of problems with it mmm for the very reason that it’s but it’s
true the basis I guess of the offense an offense is what it’s a feeling and you
have these first-year students coming up saying my feelings
or hurt by your facts what does that say about the level or the quality of the
student these days my perception is that kids now who are in public school are exposed to teaching which suggests that
feelings are the most important thing now I don’t spend my time in public
school classrooms but I gather the the social justice imperative is even
stronger in those environments and than it is a universities and law schools and
it seems to be the case that that university age people these days
consider feelings to be extraordinarily important I in the article I talked
about an experience that I had when I was the associate dean many years ago at
the law school of Queens where a group of students came to me to complain about
their course in negotiation that’s in there to clean the article yes and their
complaint was that their teacher was telling them that their first
responsibility as a lawyer to one of the parties involved in negotiation was to
look out for that party’s best interests make sense it makes a lot of sense and
in fact that that is absolutely correct if you don’t do that then you you are
are not fulfilling your role as counsel for that party but the students found
that offensive they found it adversarial they found it
adversarial if that’s the basis of our system yes but but I think they had the
idea in their head that that that adversarial characteristic was a bad
thing and that negotiation should be used as a way to get around that bad
thing instead of recognizing that the that the essence of negotiation is in
fact that thing itself negotiation is adversarial now if you can find common
ground and find a solution that works for everybody will then great
that’s hopefully the outcome of negotiation
that doesn’t mean you’re not adversarial and it doesn’t mean that your role as a
lawyer changes from representing your client to trying to find a a common good
that exists only in the imagination of various people so anyway the the point
of the story was that they had a emotional reaction to thee and maybe
also intellectual reaction to the lesson that they were being delivered didn’t
like that lesson came to me to complain and I had to tell them that their
teacher knew better than they did about what their responsibilities were and
that they should ignore their feelings and go back to class I wouldn’t imagine
that you’d still be doing what you’re doing if it didn’t find that there’s
some hope and then we have yet to reach peak insanity do you find that there’s
hope we find there’s there’s some students out there oh oh yes oh no
absolutely there listen this is by no means a universal thing there are lots
of students in law school who who well there are there there are students in
law school who thinks in various kinds of ways which is the way it’s supposed
to be there is not a universal philosophy
not everybody is sold on social justice thinking
not everybody is guided by their feelings or their knee-jerk reactions so
there are good they’re good students in law schools and they are good there are
good teachers in law schools there are good professors lots of good professors
not everybody is sold on this but on balance both institutionally and in
terms of the faculty that are at law schools today the the vast majority of
them are inclined to the social justice point of view and without again without
having sat through other people’s classroom classes at length my my best
guess is that a certain kind of message is being delivered inside the law
schools which is very much in in line with
social justice thinking and so when law school when law students graduate they
have that particular idea in their head they carry that through in their careers
as as lawyers and as as we say there they those people sometimes become
judges or legislators and so that philosophy becomes spread through the
legal system and when we look now at the system that we have and I have frequent
occasion to think you know we’re kind of losing our way this is not a good idea
in this respect of that respect I think in many in in in large part we can trace
those problems back to the kinds of lessons that are coming from legal
academia thank you for your time Bruce my pleasure thank you

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