Pepin Tuma gay lawyer called faggot by police officer.jpgLast month, we wrote about the questionable arrest of a gay Washington lawyer — a controversy we dubbed A Gay Gatesgate, referencing the furor over Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates’s arrest by Cambridge police. We expressed the view that the police sometimes abuse their authority in dealing with outspoken citizens (and it seems that many of you agree with us, based on the results of our opinion poll).
Yesterday the gay lawyer who was arrested in D.C., Pepin Tuma — a former associate at Milbank Tweed and Gibson Dunn, so he’s part of the Biglaw tribe — wrote about his arrest in the Washington Post. After describing the conduct that led to his arrest, which should be familiar to readers of our earlier post, Tuma writes:

I am in fact a gay man. And because I have been involved in civil rights work, I know my rights, and I calmly asserted them [to the arresting officer]. I asked why I was being detained. I explained that, as a lawyer, I knew it was not a crime to offer a public opinion about the police. But the troubling police conduct did not end there. Other officers have acted to bolster Culp’s fabricated version of the incident. One of his superiors attempted to induce witnesses to attest that I resisted arrest when I had not. Another superior falsely wrote to Internal Affairs that I confirmed that Culp had advised me to move along before arresting me; he did not. It appears that officers simply lied over and over to cover up an unconstitutional arrest.

Tuma builds his case, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Gay Gatesgate: Pepin Tuma Speaks”

Pepin Tuma gay lawyer called faggot by police officer.jpgNow that Gatesgate is behind us, capped off by a beer summit at the White House yesterday, what can we get riled up about now?
Well, there’s always something going on with the police. From Arthur Delaney of the Huffington Post:

A lawyer who moments earlier had been complaining to friends about police overreaction in the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., got a taste of the Gates treatment himself after loudly chanting “I hate the police” near a traffic stop in Northwest Washington, D.C.

Pepin Tuma, 33, was walking with two friends along Washington’s hip U Street corridor around midnight Saturday, complaining about how Gates had been rousted from his home for not showing a proper amount of deference to a cop….

Then the group noticed five or six police cruisers surrounding two cars in an apparent traffic stop on the other side of the street. It seemed to Tuma that was more cops than necessary.

“That’s why I hate the police,” Tuma said. He told the Huffington Post that in a loud sing-song voice, he then chanted, “I hate the police, I hate the police.”

Uh-oh. Find out what happened next to Tuma — a former associate at Milbank Tweed and Gibson Dunn, by the way — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Gay Gatesgate? D.C. Lawyer Arrested for Disorderly Conduct, Claims Officer Called Him ‘Fa**ot’”

Thio Li Ann Visiting Professor NYU Law School.jpgAbove the Law’s commitment to bring you all of the latest details about the crazy saga of Dr. Li-ann Thio is unmatched. On Wednesday night, we broke the news that Dr. Thio decided against teaching at NYU Law School this fall.
Now we have Dr. Thio’s official statement explaining her decision to withdraw as a visiting professor. According to the resignation letter she sent to NYU Law Dean Richard Revesz, a lack of tolerance changed Dr. Thio’s mind about NYU Law:

As an Asian woman whose legal training has spanned the finest institutions in both East and West, I believe I would have something of value to offer your students. However, the conditions no longer exist to proceed with the visit, given the animus fuelled by irresponsible misrepresentation/distortions and/or concerted invective from certain parties. Friends and colleagues have also expressed serious concerns about my safety and well-being.

I am convinced that a primary condition for learning and teaching, especially in my chosen fields (which are rife with contested concepts) – human rights and constitutional law – is a tolerant, serene environment where different viewpoints emanating from a variety of worldviews are heard with mutual respect and carefully evaluated, in a civilised fashion. I have always striven to ensure my classroom would exemplify such conditions and had planned to bring this practice to my NYU classroom.

Dr. Thio Li-ann appears to be arguing that NYU Law students should respect her beliefs. But some of her beliefs sound pretty disrespectful to gays and lesbians in the NYU Law community. Unless “shoving a straw up your nose to drink” counts as a respectful way of discussing sexual practices.
Of course, since we are dealing with Dr. Thio, the letter goes on. Brevity is not her strong suit. Read more after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “New From ‘Thio-Breaker': Dr. Thio’s Resignation Letter to Dean Revesz”

Thio Su Mien Dr Su Mien Thio Li Ann Thio mother.jpgWe sometimes like to think of the figures we write about in these pages as characters in a novel. Viewed in this way, Dr. Li-ann Thio, the visiting NYU law professor who apparently isn’t a fan of gay rights, is one of the most compelling we’ve come across recently.
We have a weakness for strong, outspoken Asian women — hi Mom! — and this description fits Dr. Thio to a T. Our only disappointment: Dr. Thio was whiny when attacked. (We agree with Professor Brian Leiter — playing the victim card was weak, Dr. Thio.)
Now, meet an even more compelling character — one who wouldn’t have responded to a random IT guy by playing victim, but by treating him like Obama treated that fly. She’s the original Dr. Thio: Li-ann Thio’s mother, Dr. Su Mien Thio (pictured), who taught Thio the Younger everything she knows (e.g., that gay sex is evil).
From a tipster:

It looks like Dr. Thio’s mother — a former judge who inspired Li-ann Thio’s own rise in politics — was involved in some serious anti-gay drama this year, after battling what she saw as a conspiracy to generate a “generation of lesbians.”

It all started with unrest over a screening of Spider Lilies, a lusty Taiwanese movie about an Internet cam girl [Ed. note: A cam girl? Like SexyLexus?] falling in love with another girl. The elder Dr. Thio, filled with the same heroic indignation as her daughter, filled with the same heroic indignation as her daughter, ended up locked out of a building after a failed takeover of a feminist organization.

And the trailer for the movie is totally hot!

Update: Not surprisingly, given her staunch opposition to homosexuality, Dr. Thio Su Mien is also against abortion. A headline from Roll on Friday: “Leading Singaporean lawyer blames abortion for SARS.”
More about the Spider Lilies controversy and Dr. Su Mien Thio’s impressive résumé, after the jump.

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Thio Li Ann Visiting Professor NYU Law School.jpgOr close to nothing. That’s the likely enrollment in Human Rights Law in Asia, the course that Dr. Li-ann Thio, the visiting professor from Singapore with controversial views on gay rights, is scheduled to teach at NYU Law School this fall.

An NYU law student reports:

I think there’s a point everyone is missing about this story, and it is this:

We just had to submit our bids for fall courses. A grand total of five people applied for Dr. Thio’s class. It is totally going to get canceled. In comparison, Kenji Yoshino’s Con Law classes got 230 primary bids PER SECTION. NYU Law voted with its feet.

It’s not clear whether the student is referring to Human Rights Law in Asia (3 credits) or Constitutionalism in Asia (2 credits). Other sources tell us, however, that both courses are severely undersubscribed. NYU Law alumna Jill Filipovic, who over at Feministe expressed the hope that nobody would sign up for Dr. Thio’s classes, must be pleased.

(In case you’re not familiar with him, Kenji Yoshino is the openly gay law professor that NYU hired away from Yale last year. He is a leading scholar of gay rights and queer theory.)

UPDATE: We now have greater clarity, from our original tipster:

She’s teaching 2 courses. Human Rights got 9 bids, 5 primary and 4 alternates, and Constitutionalism got 5 bids, just 1 primary and 4 alternates. The results of bidding will be available next week so we’ll know more about how many people actually end up in the class then. But I think it’s pretty safe to assume NYU is not going to run two seminars with just a handful of people in them.

We contacted the law school, to confirm the registration numbers and to see if Dr. Thio’s classes were in danger of being canceled.

Read their response, plus additional discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dr. Li-ann Thio: Much Ado About Nothing?”

Thio Li Ann Visiting Professor NYU Law School.jpgWhen last we checked in on the saga of Dr. Li-ann Thio, the incoming NYU Law visiting professor who equated anal sex to drinking by shoving a straw up your nose, Dean Richard Revesz was defending the invitation extended to her.
But over the weekend, an information technology professional who works for NYU law (and who is also an NYU student) asked the dean to reconsider. Here’s part of the letter from Malik Graves-Pryor:

While I can understand your position and reasoning in displaying solidarity to the larger NYU School of Law community regarding Hauser Global’s decision to bring in Professor Li-Ann Thio … I must state my strong objection to her appointment and the official NYU Law defense of said appointment.
As an African-American man working in the LawITS department, and simultaneously a student at NYU, I could never imagine the day would come when NYU would allow the appointment of a legal scholar who held the opinion that African-Americans practice acts of “gross indecency”, that African-Americans who strive for diversity should be rebuffed because “diversity is not a license for perversity”, describing the private intimate acts between African-Americans as trying to “shove a straw up your nose to drink”, among other intellectually and morally shallow absurdities.

In response, Dr. Thio unleashed an 18-point defense that she sent to the entire NYU Law faculty. Apparently, she feels unfairly maligned:

1. I am a little tired of the torrent of abuse and defamation that I have been receiving, and blatant emotive misrepresentations of my position. I was going to stay above the fray but given this insidious attack on my academic reputation (aside from many ad hominem insults), I feel I must cast some clarity on certain issues.

More fighting after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dr. Li-ann Thio v. Random NYU Law IT Guy”

Thio Li Ann Visiting Professor NYU Law School.jpgNYU Law gays, consider yourselves warned: Dr. Li-ann Thio is not afraid of you. The outspoken professor, who vehemently opposed decriminalizing gay sex as a member of the Singapore parliament, is ready to rumble:

We can be united in commitment to this principle [of academic freedom], without slavishly bowing to a demanded uniformity or dogma of political correctness set by elite diktat. I cannot say I am impressed by this ugly brand of politicking which I hope is not endemic….

I am disappointed at the intolerant animosity directed at me by strangers who do not know me and have decided to act on their own prejudices, forged from whatever sources, I am nonetheless glad that there are still some at NYU, who uphold a commitment to academic freedom and who entertain dissent with respect. As a recent NYU graduate, a Muslim friend of mine said, one must have courage in the face of bullying.

Dr. Thio can’t be prejudiced. Some of her best friends are Muslim!
Although her defense of the Singaporean statute against gay sex has been dismissed by one prominent American law professor as “dumb” and “embarrassing[],” Dr. Thio is not unaware of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in this area:

[C]ertain Americans have to realize the fact that there are a diversity of views on the subject and it is not a settled matter; there is no universal norm and it is nothing short of moral imperialism to suggest there is. Correct me if I am wrong, but there is no consensus on this even within the U.S. Supreme Court and American society at large, even post Lawrence v. Texas.

Dr. Thio is fighting political correctness with political correctness, accusing LGBT activists of cultural imperialism. Yikes! Find something to bite down on, kids, ’cause she’s not planning to use lube pull her punches.
Meanwhile, the NYU Law School administration has (finally) issued a public statement on L’Affaire Thio.
Read the statement, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dr. Li-ann Thio: The good professor speaks — and so does NYU Law School”

Thio Li Ann Visiting Professor NYU Law School.jpgTime for a quick follow-up on Monday’s post about NYU Law School’s controversial decision to invite Dr. Li-ann Thio, an outspoken proponent of criminalizing gay sex, to teach a course on human rights in the fall. The post generated almost 300 comments, many of them quite thoughtful — like this one:

I am a gay man living in Singapore. I have lived in Asia (including Singapore) for over 15 years. So, I have firsthand knowledge of the discriminatory environment for gay men and lesbians living in Singapore.

I am not sure what the administrators of NYU Law School were thinking when they hired Dr. Thio to teach “human rights” in Asia. Asking a Singaporean tenured at a Singapore government-funded university to teach about human rights in Asia is like asking a Ku Klux Klan grandmaster to teach about racial equality. She will simply be a mouthpiece for the Singapore government’s positions on human rights issues. If Dr. Thio espoused views opposed to the Singapore government’s – trust me – she would not be teaching at the National University of Singapore. As everyone in the international human rights community knows, the Singapore government is not a “model” example for upholding human rights.

So Dr. Thio may not have been the best person in the galaxy to pick as a visiting professor of human rights. On the other hand, her views — definitely unorthodox in the American legal academy — could generate healthy and informative debate (like what we saw in our comments).
In our reader poll, which attracted over 3,000 votes, over 55 percent of you supported NYU’s decision to host Dr. Li-ann Thio. Not surprisingly, given the freewheeling, irreverent comments on this site, ATL readers are pro-free speech.
And so is the NYU OUTLaw Board, to its credit. In the wake of our coverage, the board issued a statement criticizing Li-ann Thio’s views, but simultaneously observing that it is “best to fight Dr. Thio’s offensive views not by silencing her but by engaging in a respectful and productive dialogue about the boundaries of human rights.”
The full OUTLaw statement — plus an adult-themed reader poll, by popular request — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dr. Li-ann Thio: An Update”

Thio Li Ann Visiting Professor NYU Law School.jpgAcademic freedom is a beautiful thing, essential to our nation’s celebrated system of higher education. And, to borrow the words of Dick Cheney on gay marriage, “freedom means freedom for everyone” — including people whose ideas we might not like, or even find repugnant.
How far should academic freedom extend? That’s an issue being faced right now at NYU Law School. The following message went out to the law student community last week:

Dear Student,

We are writing on behalf of OUTLaw, NYU Law’s LGBT student group, to raise awareness of anti-gay statements made by a NYU visiting professor. Dr. Li-ann Thio, a professor at the National University of Singapore, will be teaching Human Rights Law in Asia during the Fall 2009 semester as a Global Visiting Professor of Law at NYU.

In 2007, the Singaporean Parliament was considering repealing 377A – the statute criminalizing consensual sex between men in Singapore. Dr. Thio, a Nominated Member of Parliament, gave a speech before Parliament arguing against the repeal. In her speech supporting the continued criminalization of “acts of gross indecency” between two males, she made such statements as, “You cannot make a human wrong a human right,” “Diversity is not a license for perversity,” and that anal sex is like “shoving a straw up your nose to drink” ( The efforts to repeal 377A failed, and consensual sex between men is still illegal in Singapore.

While respecting Dr. Thio’s right to her opinion and without questioning her teaching abilities, OUTLaw believes it is important for LGBT students and allies to be aware of her views in order to make fully informed decisions regarding class registration. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the OUTLaw Board at

The NYU OUTLaw Board

Links to videos of her speech to the Parliament: (part 1), (part 2), (part 3)”

The videos are worth checking out (especially if you’re a high school debater wanting to relive your glory days). Dr. Thio speaks persuasively and with conviction, supporting her argument against gay sex with an impressively broad range of sources, from the Bible to Immanuel Kant to contemporary bloggers. One would expect nothing less from someone with her dazzling educational pedigree: a BA from Oxford, an LLM from Harvard Law School, and a PhD from Cambridge. Don’t call her Dr. TTThio!
Additional discussion, plus a reader poll, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “NYU Professor of Human Rights: Not a Fan of Gay Rights?
Also: Is anal sex like ‘shoving a straw up your nose to drink’?

National LGBT Bar Association.jpgLast night we tuned into a very interesting (albeit somewhat depressing) conference call, Staying Competitive During an Economic Downturn, sponsored by the National LGBT Bar Association. Three experts provided their thoughts on the current legal job market and advice for navigating it:

Robert Depew. A Managing Director in Major, Lindsey & Africa’s San Francisco office, Depew helps lawyers evaluate career alternatives and places attorneys at top tier law firms and select in-house positions in the Bay Area.

Christopher LaFon. As director of recruiting at Kelly Law Registry, one of the nation’s largest job placement firms, LaFon builds careers and aids in career transitions for attorneys, paralegals and other legal professionals.

James Leipold. The Executive Director of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), Leipold helms the legal profession’s leading association dedicated to research, education and career development.

When will the legal economy return to normal? What can laid-off lawyers do while they wait for recovery? Is there any hope, for any of us?
Find out the views of the experts, after the jump.

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