Email Scandals, Law Professors, Law Schools

USC Law’s Snitch Patrol: Episode Two

Last week, we covered the apparent epidemic of snitching happening at USC Gould School of Law.

(Yes, at the law school. If this snitching took place at the college, people would be dropping bodies instead of emails to Above the Law.)

As we first heard the story, somebody allegedly ratted out a popular law professor to the administration for his unorthodox teaching techniques. While many students wanted to find the “snitch,” a person who sympathized with the snitch wrote a sarcastic email making fun of those who were outraged by the tattletale:

TO THE PERSON WHO BETRAYED THE SANCTITY OF OUR CLASSROOM: HAVE YOU NO SHAME? I HONESTLY HOPE THAT YOU ARE CAPTURED BY TERRORISTS AND THAT THE RANSOM VIDEO IS LOST IN THE MAIL! AND NOBODY EVER FINDS YOU! I HOPE THAT WHEN YOU GO ON YOUR NEXT JOB INTERVIEW, AN AIDS-INFESTED BABOON TAKES A S**T ON YOUR CHEST!

And he was just warming up. Read on for updates, amusement, and enlightenment….

For the record, in case you missed the original story, here’s the rest of the hilarious email (written in defense of the supposed snitch):

I HOPE YOUR FAMILY’S GAS GETS SHUT OFF!!1!!! I HOPE THE ASTEROID THAT PASSED EARTH YESTERDAY MAKES A F**KING U-TURN AND TAKES A COSMIC S**T ALL OVER YOUR HOUSE!! NEXT TIME YOU HAVE INDIAN FOOD, I HOPE IT GIVES YOU DIARRHEA!!!! YOU MAKE ME F**KING SUCK!!! YOU HAVE TAKEN A S**T ON PROF. LEVINSON AND DIARREAHED ALL OVER THIS UNIVERSITY!!! SHAME!!!!!!!! SHAME!!!!!!! LOUD NOISES!!!!!!!

Lots of commenters were confused by last week’s post because the guy used sarcasm to make his point. I guess sarcasm is hard to pick up if you are just scanning through something on the internet looking for the first opportunity to show off your wit in the comments section (or if you are a literal-minded law student or lawyer).

We now have further clarification from the supposed snitch sympathizer. We’ve also come across the email from the USC law professor, Doug Levinson, that may have started this whole mess. Finally, we’ve heard reports that there actually was no snitch in the first place.

(We don’t have an email from the UCLA faculty making fun of their crosstown rivals, or a letter from the Loyola – L.A. Dean extolling the practical training in real-life snitch defense you’ll get at his school, but I assume those emails exist somewhere. (Yes, that was more sarcasm for you….))

First, here’s the clarification from the person who wrote the all-caps email making fun of his classmates. He sent this message around shortly after his initial all-caps email (not in response to the ATL post about that email):

I would just like to clarify, in case it wasn’t apparent, that my e-mail was a sarcastic response to what I perceived to be self-righteous and sanctimonious hyperbole flooding my inbox. In order to avoid being called a “coward”, I will come out and say that I will be visiting Student Services tomorrow to request that this class be dropped from my record entirely. As much as I disagree with the tone and content of what was said by [Redacted], I disagree more with Prof. Levinson’s manipulative, unprofessional e-mail to all of us that basically egged on and begged this kind of behavior in the first place.

Well, if everybody had impulse control, I wouldn’t have a job. So the intense emailer isn’t the snitch (whom I imagine is like Wallace during the first season of The Wire at this point), and instead just a sympathizer (like D’Angelo).

A couple of other USC law students emailed us over the past few days — and they’re not blaming the unknown snitch or his all-caps champion. Instead, they’re blaming Professor Levinson:

The professor is completely at fault in this situation. He handled the situation very immaturely and unprofessionally. Following his reprimand, he emailed his students and essentially egged students to ostracize the person who complained.

Further the professor acted like a child throwing a temper tantrum the class period following this debacle. Instead of just continuing to teach, minus the offensive stuff, he turned the class into a typical boring Socratic lecture, cold calling and all. Students in the class are upset because this professor is known to be an easy grade for those willing to put up with his nonsense. I think its admirable that someone finally stood up for what is right instead of allowing this to continue. Its a shame that he feels the need to include this inappropriate content because many of the students I know have said that they actually learn a great deal of practical information from his class.

Moreover, there might not even have been a snitch in the first instance. From a USC source:

I am very confident that there was no snitch. The administration was offended by parts of his proposal for his new class and looked at his [past student] evals and told him he needed to tone it down. Pretty much everyone involved in this situation acted like a child and overreacted.

We still have no idea what the “offensive” stuff was in this professor’s curriculum. Was he getting all “Penn State” with students in class?

Absent any knowledge about what the professor was doing that was so offensive, I’d be inclined to beat the crap out of the snitch (assuming any such snitch existed). You had a professor who was an easy grade and not using the Socratic method, and you turned him into a pissed off guy who is cold calling people and will probably take it out on them come exam time. Unless the professor was shoving gerbils up the butt of an in-class gimp, I think I would have let everything slide.

But apparently some USC students want their classroom experiences to be very vanilla, but also exciting. It doesn’t work that way, and students in Professor Levinson’s class are about to find out the hard way that sometimes it’s worth being a little offended to avoid being very, very bored.

We’ve gotten hold of what appears to be Professor Levinson’s email to the entire class after the USC Law administration asked him to tone it down. We also have some of the initial student responses to his email.

So let’s recreate the entire email chain, with our all-caps guy’s initial sarcastic response in proper sequence and context. You can see how one student simply assumed the existence of a snitch, and subsequent emailers took that assumption and ran with it….

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