Time 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.
Academic 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:
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” (http://theonlinecitizen.com/2007/10/377a-serves-public-morality-nmp-thio-li-ann). 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
As part of a nationwide tour, Above the Law is coming to the great city of Chicago.
Join preeminent law firm management consultant Bruce MacEwen, Katten Muchin Chicago managing partner Gil Sofer, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. assistant general counsel Jason Shaffer for a panel discussion (sponsored by Pangea3) on the evolutionary and market forces bearing down on the law firm business model. Come on by Thursday, November 20, at 6 p.m., for thought-provoking discussion, food, drink, and networking.
Space is limited and there will be no on-site registration, so please RSVP
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.