Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Variations on the themes of Miranda and the New York Times

Jeff Lipshaw and Marie Reilly's clarifications of Jeff Harrison's riff on the "New York Times: rule" can be summarized in a form familiar to all Americans, including those blessed to have no legal training at all. In dysfunctional university departments, including law schools, the rules are printed on a card and are routinely communicated to faculty members who can be fired (in effect, junior faculty members and deans):
  1. You have the ability -- indeed, the obligation -- to remain silent.
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you.
  3. You have no right to confide in your colleagues.
  4. Though you cannot confide in a colleague, several will appoint themselves as your putative confidants.
  5. You may assert contrary rights, elsewhere. Good luck finding another job.
The real question is why academics care at all about the New York Times or what gets printed there. Consider my job, one dedicated to "the higher training and useful education of [my state's] aspiring youth." One day I should be so pleased to see this paragraph in any newspaper, of record or otherwise:
Today the University of Louisville graduated its latest class of law students. Every student admitted to the class of 20__ remained in good academic standing throughout her or his law school career and graduated on time. The diploma received by each graduate complemented another document, perhaps less formal but no less important in practical terms: a firm job offer. Ten weeks from now, the Law School expects all of its graduates to pass the bar exam. And although the Law School is proud to deliver many of its finest graduates into law firms, businesses, schools, and public agencies in this community, this year's class has found jobs from Alaska to Delaware. Indeed, one student will be studying as a Fulbright Scholar in Slovakia. Tomorrow as today, a law degree from the University of Louisville will be recognized as an emblem of quality, sea to shining sea and beyond the water's edge.
That, of course, is hardly news worth to print in the eyes of the New York Times, much less in the eyes of that newspaper's most careful readers within the academy. But it is worth doing. And now, having digressed, I must return to that task.


Blogger Jeff Harrison said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/23/2007 10:23 AM  
Blogger Jeff Harrison said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/23/2007 10:24 AM  
Blogger Jeff Harrison said...

(both deletes are mine in an effort to clean up typos)

Jim : I Know you know this but in case someone parachutes into the blog and does not know, my understanding is that no one is writing specifically about the New York Times. As Marie notes, we all should be so lucky. The issue is one of "owning" what you do and say or are there messages and images for one audience that you would prefer not to be available to another audience.

Please continue the experiment many of us watch with great interest: Can an honest person with high standards and goals who is willing to let them be known and expect them of others last as a Dean?

5/24/2007 9:07 AM  

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