Paul L. Caron

Monday, October 25, 2021

Backlash Against Media Coverage Of The Yale Law School 'Trap House' Email


My seven previous posts (links below) on the "Trap House" controversy have criticized Yale's treatment of 2L Trent Colbert, a member of the Native American Law Students Association and Federalist Society, who sent the email. Today's post covers the backlash against this media narrative:

Washington Free Beacon, Yale Law School Students to Media: ‘What the Actual F—!’:

Yale Law School's Asian-American student group has a message for the media: "What the actual f—!"

In the wake of widespread coverage of the law school's treatment of Trent Colbert, the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association on Oct. 19 sent a law school-wide email that blasts the "people in the media who chose to write stories painting the Federalist Society — a multi-million dollar organization — as a victim instead of centering the pain experienced by Black students [emphasis original]."

Especially offensive, the email said, was media coverage that compares "[Yale Law School] to Maoist reeducation camps"—a jab at the Washington Post‘s Ruth Marcus, who joked that such camps "have nothing on Yale Law School."

"What the actual f—k!" the email exclaimed. "Not only is this offensively racist in and of itself to [Asian Pacific American Law Student Association] members, especially those of us with direct family who lived through the Cultural Revolution, it also distracts from and misleadingly reframes the core problem as one of ‘free speech.' The problem is not free speech."

The email is the latest in a series of statements by Yale Law School student groups, many of which have condemned Colbert by name. ...

All of the statements have praised Yaseen Eldik, the Yale Law School diversity director who implied that Colbert could have trouble with the bar's "character and fitness" investigations if he didn't apologize. "We especially want to uplift the work that Yaseen Eldik has undertaken to attempt to call Trent into a productive and critical discussion," the Asian-American student group said. During that discussion, Eldik told Colbert his membership in the Federalist Society had "triggered" his peers.

Above the Law, Yale Law School Students Ask ‘What The Actual F***!’ And It’s A Very Good Question:

The media really should be ashamed of themselves for how they've covered this.

After Yale Law’s Federalist Society invited students to a Choose Your Own Racist Adventure party, students rose up to demand some degree of accountability for the student organization using its recognized status within the school as a pulpit to grace the student body with racist stereotypes. And the school responded by… trying to make it all go away with a mealy mouthed apology.

That’s the actual story here: that confronted with a student group breaching the standards of its charter, the school preferred to play footsie in an effort to avoid irking the powerful judges that plan to swell Yale’s clerkship numbers by running down the FedSoc roster based on who most gallingly “triggered the libs.” I mean, they have to have some standard when the school doesn’t have grades, right?

Nonetheless, most of the media (not Above the Law, mind you) found some way to bend over backward and twist this into the First Amendment controversy that it wasn’t in any conceivable way. Frighteningly, it wasn’t just cynical OAN wannabes lining up to twist a student group responsibility question into a constitutional kerfuffle, with folks who really should know better lodging their hot takes about how it’s the targets of discriminatory conduct who must have it wrong.

Amidst all the softball interviews and tongue-clucking over campus free speech, one student group surveyed the mainstream media scene and asked, “What the actual f—k!” and we’re inclined to agree. ...

[T]he WTF moment really hits when discussing a Washington Post piece by Ruth Marcus that opened with, “Maoist reeducation camps have nothing on Yale Law School. If you think this is an exaggeration, okay, it is, but keep reading.” ... Ruth Marcus is confident that she, and not Black or Asian American Yale students, should be the arbiter of what constitutes the real racism.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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