anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

Intellectual poverty, an unwanted pedesetal, and, simply put, stupid people.

Tong called me last night to tell me about the leaked sex pictures involving someone from law school (two years my junior. No one I know personally). Today I did some Googling out of curiosity, though by no means for the leaked pictures which I have no interest in seeing.

That I think the bastard who leaked the pictures is an asshole and should probably be castrated is a given, and so I won't go on about it. What I WILL talk about, if only briefly, is the fact that I keep reading comments online, apparently from non-law people, that genuinely seem to think that a law student should be smart enough not to let this happen to her.

That begs the question: Am I really that different from you? Do you really think I'm different from you? My law degree does not make me any less susceptible to love, to doing stupid things in a relationship, to trusting someone enough to do said stupid things in a relationship, to the lure of raging hormones and the consequences that flow from it.

Simply put, my law degree does not make me any less human than the rest of you. I'm sorry - even though I'm really not - but saying "she should be smarter than that" is absolutely useless and a waste of space on the Internet, and if you're not going to say anything constructive or smart, please don't say anything at all. Anyone should be smarter than that, and there is no reason why a law student should especially be so.

Sometimes people really can't seem to make up their minds. On the one hand, they complain endlessly about how law students and lawyers form their own elitist clusters that don't let anyone else in; on the other hand, the comments they make about law students and lawyers suggest that they themselves put them (okay, fine - us) on a pedestal, thereby enabling the alleged elitism. At times like that, I can't be bothered to apologise for my degree and the elitism that seems to be associated with it. I don't see why I have to apologise for something that is immediately thrust upon me, whether I asked for it or not, based solely on the perception, valid or otherwise, that the general public-at-large has of my field of study, and my apparent line of work.

I wasn't lying when I said that I didn't think my degree should set me apart from the rest of the world. But if the rest of the world chooses to set me apart, solely by virtue of my degree, then I'll have to be honest and say that it makes me less inclined to try at all to stop believing in my own hype. Being surrounded by it for four years, and continuing to be surrounded by it, and basically mixing with the same people who believe the same thing for as long as I have, after a while you're lulled into a false sese of security, false sense of truth - that this is real, that what you think of yourself is true, even though it's really just bullshit, and you're really not as important and smart as you think you are.

But I swear, when I read stupid comments about how a law student should know better, how law student should be smarter than that, it makes me want to say "fuck it" to this whole crap and get back on the pedestal that the rest of the world has apparently reserved for me. Because, really - why? We're normal what. Fuck you.

Okay, done ranting. Back to stupid drafting tutorial.


Wait, before that:

I've been wanting to talk about this for a while now, but either forgot or didn't have time to really delve into it. I don't exactly have a lot of time now, but whatever.

The uproar over TLA teaching Human Rights in Asia at NYU Law School is a clear manifestation, in my mind, of the intellectually-bankrupt tendencies of Americans to make a big production over something minor, to querulously champion for rights without actually knowing what they're talking about, and, yes, to bully and insult someone whose views they don't agree with, instead of engaging with them civilly and intellectually. I skimmed through a few articles online about her appointment and the accompanying comments, and to say that they are disrespectful would be a huge understatement.

I must admit that I'm viewing this from a very biased standpoint. Despite vehemently disagreeing with her view on s. 377A and homosexuality, I respect TLA greatly as a professor. Her Public Law lectures were stimulating, her Administrative Law tutorials actually made sense (try understanding Wensbury unreasonableness, an error on a face of the record - what the fuck, right? I know), and I loved her Human Rights in Asia classes - and not just because she gave me an A+. She believes in the universality of human rights, and the ability of the human rights regime to bring about positive changes in the world. Maybe I'm just sentimental, but in a world rampant with critics and cynics and naysayers and doomsday prophecies, in a world where it's fashionable to be cynical, fashionable to laugh at ideals, fashionable to dismiss human rights without actually knowing what the fuck you're dismissing, it's altogether rare, and welcoming, to have someone unabashedly championing something which I believe - whole-heartedly - is inherently good.

Whether or not you agree with her views on homosexuality is immaterial. Her personal views on a controversial subject does not take away from her ability to teach, her ability to provoke thought, and constantly citing her Parliament speech about s. 377A, without also citing the numerous articles she's written about the illiberal tendencies and practices of our government (I still remember her article on the PAP's very clever tactics to subtly control elections that we were tasked to read in Year 2) and the articles she's written in favour - to put it mildly - of human rights in Asia, is simultaneously unfair and dishonest. Have I also mentioned the vast intellectual poverty in the "discourse" about her NYU Law School appointment? Name-calling is extremely childish. So are bad attempts at sarcasm.

I'm sorry, but if this is the way NYU Law School chooses to deal with controversial, diverging opinions, then I don't think much of it as an institution for intellectually-stimulating academic debates. What is the point of only listening to people whose views you agree with? I can't think of how it's possibly stimulating at all to keep saying to each other, "Oh yes, I agree with that. Spot on!"

Above all else, it's hilarious to me how TLA's critics deride her for undermining gay rights, and yet, at the same time, deny her the right that she has to freedom of expression. Tris has expressed his problem with the gay rights movement a few times, and now I finally understand what he means. In trying to advance their own agenda, one which in my opinion is entirely letigimate, they're simultaneously curtailing the rights of those with whom they disagree to express their opinions. You can't have it both ways: You can't claim to be entitled to a set of rights, and at the same time, attempt to take away another person's right to say something with which you don't agree. In so doing, you're doing exactly what that person is doing, you're doing exactly what you're championing against.

Civil society, not just in Singapore, but the whole world over, clearly has a long way to go. In the meantime, I'm just extremely sorry TLA had to go through that barrage of abuses and insults. She was right when she said in her I forgot how many points reply that she went through it two years ago. I mean, really. Time to keep up. Find some new materials to attack her on, at the very least. Talk about outdated.

Lastly, my problem with Americans, at least based on my limited experiences with them in the classrom, is that they think one way and they expect the rest of the world to think like them. It just doesn't work that way. And most of the time, if you really listen to what they say, it's quite obvious half of it is bullshit. Of course, I greatly generalise; but I have half an hour to finish 3 more drafting crap and I don't have time to be politically-correct.

Okay, back to the tutorial, for real now.

(PS. Yes, this entry is slightly provoked by Tris' latest entry. Dude should blog more, methinks.)

Tags: current affairs, law school, legal profession

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