Friday, March 2, 2012

The Realm of Civil Discourse

Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, calling anyone, let alone a student with the temerity to testify in Congress, a "slut" and a "prostitute" for no reason whatsoever - other than your personal disagreement with the subject of the tesimony - goes beyond any semblance of public discourse. … _blog.html

I went to Georgetown Law, as well as to Georgetown for my undergraduate degree. We were always excited by politics on The Hill, a short trip downtown. A lot of students interned there - Republicans as well as Democrats.

Georgetown is a Jesuit institution.  Jebbie priests are all over the campus (not so much at the law school) and many of the theology and philosophy required courses are taught by them - or were, back when I was there.  While Jesuits are committed to excellence in education, as a Catholic institution, Georgetown has certain policies that are annoying or objectionable to many students, and lead to lively discourse among the students and professors.

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh verbally assaulted Sandra Fluke, who is a third-year Georgetown Law student (she's in her final year, and is going to be looking for a job upon graduation thus spring unless she already landed one - Georgetown Law students are luckier than many) as a "slut"  and a "prostitute" merely for testifying on the Hill, before a House Democratic committee (the Republican House committee said her request to testify had come in too late to allow her to testify about Georgetown's restrictive contraception insurance policies). (I wonder what he would have called her if she were a male student... )

I just called the alumnae office at the law school.  They were extremely appreciative of my call, and said they are ensuring that this law student feels safe and supported. And they're protecting her from being bombarded with blasts from the outside as best they can. 

They have assured me in the strongest possible terms - and this is consistent with my experience with Georgetown- that they, as an institution, are proud of all Georgetown students, professors and alums who engage in any form of public service.

Ms. Fluke is being trained to be an advocate. As she proceeds with her law career, there will undoubtedly be times when invectives will fly because of a position she's taken. Lord knows I heard enough of it as a matrimonial lawyer... In a sense, I suppose this is good training for what she may face in the future, in the courtroom or at the negotiating table. Because nobody, at least in my experience, ever attacked me at that level, in such insulting terms, even in the matrimonial field. So if she can handle Rush Limbaugh's garbage, she can handle anything.

But that really begs the question: why should she, or anyone else, have to handle this offensive verbal barrage at all?

I feel better having taken SOME action - a simple phone call, leaving my contact info - to express my support for this student.

But my outrage remains, and it seems the law school is equally outraged at the sexist verbal abuse that's been hurled at one of their students.

As should we all, regardless of our political leanings.

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