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“The Neoracism in the Suspension of a Law Professor for Nothing Whatsoever at the University of Illinois in Chicago”

That’s from a John McWhorter column on the Kilborn controversy, which came out in late January but which I somehow missed; here’s the introduction:

Law professor Jason Kilborn cited the N-word (and the B-word) on an exam thusly: n****, b****. It was in a question about an employment discrimination case. He has done so for years previously to no comment – as all reading this but a sliver would expect.

But this year, a group of black students initiated a protest against him for harming them in exposing them to this expurgated rendition of the N-word. That is, in a class training them in litigation in the real world.

One black student claimed that they experienced heart palpitations upon reading the words. During an hours-long Zoom talk with a black student representing the protesters, Kilborn made a flippant remark to the effect that the law school dean may suppose that he is some kind of “homicidal maniac” – upon which the student reported to the dean that Kilborn indeed may be one. Kilborn is no longer teaching the class, is relieved of his administrative duties, and because of the possible physical threat he poses to black students because of the Hyde-like tendency he referred to, he is barred from campus.

No, this is not an SNL parody or a heightened storyline on a show like The Good Wife or Law and Order. This has actually happened, to and with and by real human beings here and now….

(For a relatively new version of Randy Kennedy’s and my draft article on this general subject, see here.)


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Eugene Volokh

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