Deaths, Law School Deans, Law Schools

Nelson Mandela Did Not Die — Someone Please Tell This Law School

Nelson Mandela

Forget vultures, Nelson Mandela should be afraid of turtles circling.

Nelson Mandela is not dead. At least not yet, and there is hope that the ailing former president of South Africa is on the mend.

When the famed civil rights leader passes away someday down the road, there will be no end of tributes, including law school symposia celebrating his contributions.

But one law school decided it was tired of waiting for the hospital-bound former president. The school went ahead and wrote his obituary, using it as an opportunity to pimp their connections with South Africa….

(Please note the UPDATE at the end of the post.)

The University of Maryland Law School put up a post declaring “Civil Rights Leader and Revolutionary Nelson Mandela Dies at Age 94,” which was news to Nelson Mandela.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Mandela,” said Dean Phoebe Haddon. “His legacy, however, will continue to inspire us, even in death.”

He SHOULD already be inspiring you not to give PR flacks publishing rights on your website.

But there’s not much reason why you’d automatically connect Nelson Mandela with the University of Maryland. Perhaps they saw him wearing this outfit:

Nelson Mandela

And then figured he shared their fashion sense:

The post was clearly not supposed to go live on the Interwebs yet, since it begins:

Former South African President and anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela passed away in Pretoria June XX after battling a lung infection for several weeks

Leaving the date of Mandela’s death blank.

Maryland touts the list of South African legal aficionados who have visited Maryland’s campus and all the ties the school has made with South Africa. It’s well known that major media outlets keep obituaries prepared and in the can to bust out at a moment’s notice, but that’s because everyone expects the New York Times to provide instant analysis. When Nelson Mandela ultimately passes, no one is going to be saying, “Damn, I wonder what Maryland Law has to say about this!”

And that’s the worst part of this: this wasn’t put together early so it can detail the deep and complicated legal legacy of Nelson Mandela — there’s only about 120 words, comprising about one-third of the post, devoted to Mandela — it’s just a commercial for the school’s South African legal connections, shoehorned into an obituary. I’m not saying the folks over at Maryland don’t honestly respect Nelson Mandela, but this obituary is kind of crass.

Want to read the whole thing? Of course you do! It’s reproduced on the next page….

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