People used to be able to disagree about guns while still operating from a consensus that dead schoolchildren were a bad thing.
Unfortunately, that’s not where we are anymore. Or at least we’re in a world where one side sees no problem mocking the idea of murdered children in the context of a policy argument.
And context is important here. Because “jokes” are one thing, but when you walk into a policy discussion with something like this, it says more about where you’re coming from than you might even consciously realize.
Joe Sonka, who covers Kentucky politics for the Louisville Courier-Journal, noted this post in the wake of the murders.
On the one hand, this is a bizarre self-own. The point of the meme is that the conservative policy stance boils down to holding the lives of all children forfeit when balanced with unfettered access to high-powered machines of death. So… it’s kind of sardonically amusing how wildly they don’t understand basic meme literacy. On the other — more important — hand, the fact that the organization adopts this literal interpretation as though it’s a persuasive point is deeply troubling.
The author behind the Tweet turns out to be, according to his bio, a Chase Law School student. The Federalist Society at it again! He later apologized and took it down, which was obviously the bare minimum required and, hopefully, we can take him at his word that he really understands how insensitive this was and that he wouldn’t have done it if he’d only thought twice.
Wait… what about thinking twice? A since-deleted response on the Kentucky Liberty account said:
So maybe if he’d thought THREE times.
What even is this? The purpose of “all of them” is to “dismiss the evil, deceptive hysterics of the Left”? If by “dismiss” you mean, “take a questionably fair characterization and confirm it” then… yeah, it does that.
Look, this guy has the right to be a horrible person. If law schools didn’t accept horrible people then they’d struggle to fill seats (ZING!). He’s not doing this with the school’s funding or implicit backing — like throwing a racist FedSoc party — or targeting students for direct discrimination on campus. But that doesn’t mean schools should just shrug and act like nothing happened.
But that’s what law schools mostly end up doing anyway. They just turtle up into their shell of platitudes like “well, this is protected political speech” or “part of being a lawyer is accepting both sides to every issue.” Which is all true! Though hardly the end of the inquiry.
The Voltaire quote isn’t “Golly, I’m not going to take any stance on what you say, because of your right to say it.” That’s just moral cowardice. Go ahead and denounce it! Say that the school cannot discipline a student for these beliefs but will unequivocally reject the idea that it’s acceptable, either as a lawyer or a human, to suggest that murder is a good thing. “Defending your right to say it” doesn’t require becoming passively complicit.
And if that’s what law schools think the right to free speech requires, then their interpretation of that concept is also on its way to joining the right to keep and bear arms becoming “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American People by special interest groups that I have seen in my lifetime.”
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.