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Author Topic: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students  (Read 1628 times)

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Offline RhapsodyTopic starter

I love this tale.  I simply love it. 

http://www.journalfen.net/community/unfunnybusiness/138317.html#cutid1

TL;DR --

Law Professor Li-Ann Thio is invited by NYU's board to teach courses on Human Rights in Asia and Constitutionalism in Asia.  Two months prior to the board's voting to extend the invite in 2007, she gave a speech to the Singapore Parliament, "forcefully arguing against the decriminialization of consensual sexual acts between men".

Eventually, the speech becomes public knowledge, at least to the NYU students.  Only a handful sign up for her courses.  "Disappointed by the hostility" and the low enrollment, she cancelled her visit, and the Law School dropped the two courses she was slated to teach this fall.

Offline Sabby

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2009, 07:26:26 PM »
Ah, that is touching. Who knew the Leafers were so into men ^^

Offline SuperHans

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2009, 06:03:26 AM »
I strongly disagree with her opinion. Judging by your response, you strongly disagree with her opinion. The students at NYU evidently disagree with her opinion. Isn't that enough? Why make a hostile atmosphere just because she doesn't subscribe to a certain viewpoint? I took the time to actually check out some of the copied responses by Thio talked about by the article and she's really not much of a fanatic at all, and she's dismissed any notion that she'd discriminate against gay students.

Don't get me wrong, as I said I completely disagree with her opinion and find it abhorrent. But like it or not it is an opinion, and should you be discriminated against because you have one? I have a friend, a good friend, that votes for the BNP. I don't agree with his views, but he's entitled to have them and letting ideology get in the way of a good friendship is retarded. Just like NYU; their boycott means they'll have missed out on probably quite a good lecturer.

Offline The Overlord

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2009, 06:26:32 AM »

Good, I hope the door hit her in the ass on the way out.


I find it interesting how she can be "disappointed by the hostility" when she herself is hostile toward a certain group just because of their sexual preferences. Just another self-righteous lecturer too busy jerking themselves to see themselves for what they really are.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2009, 06:35:56 AM »
Yes, but at the same time does she have to publically agree with every popular idea at NYU in order to lecture there?

Offline RhapsodyTopic starter

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2009, 07:28:41 AM »
Yes, but at the same time does she have to publically agree with every popular idea at NYU in order to lecture there?

You don't think that teaching a course on Human Rights in Asia is a little at odds with arguing to keep gay sex illegal in Asia is a little at odds?  Just a little hypocritical?

Personally, I would have loved in university to take a course on Human Rights.  But I would not have liked that course to be taught by someone who believes that homosexuals should not have the liberty -- the human right -- to have consensual sex with each other, and publically declared such. 

she's dismissed any notion that she'd discriminate against gay students.

She already did that by arguing that people like them in Singapore should more or less be considered criminals for their lifestyle. 

Regardless, the students of NYU spoke fairly loudly and clearly, and for that, I commend them.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2009, 07:46:37 AM »
I honestly donít see how her personal opinions have any bearing on human rights.  That very concept was framed by people that probably didnít like homosexuals.  In fact the concept was framed by people that probably believed women belonged in the home and most races were inferior to whites.  Similar to the framers of the Constitution of the United States speaking about equality for all while owning slaves.  Their opinions did not detract from the subject matter.  Human rights have little to do with your sexual preference.  So her bias, no matter how you view it, has no real bearing on the subject material.

Were she to teach a course on homosexuals in society, on gay marriage or anything along those paths than perhaps her bias would have to be taken into account.  Yet she did not elect to do so.  Even if her bias emerged during the course, a young scholar might take that opportunity to debate.  Yet the glorious students of NYU decided not to challenge their ideas by boycotting someone that thinks differently.  What is the point of going to a course to learn and challenge your mind if you want a teacher that agrees with you entirely?

Their boycott might be better placed with our own politicians and businesses if they are so adamant about supporting gay marriage.

Offline RhapsodyTopic starter

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2009, 08:04:56 AM »
Quote
Article 2
    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Second article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Emphasis mine.  Notice that while "sexual orientation" isn't specifically defined, I believe that it qualifies under "other status".

Quote
Article 7
    All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

I find this a little at odds with her views that only homosexual sodomy should be criminalized, because heterosexual sodomy, "while harmful", falls within the "socially acceptable" model of man/woman relationships.

Perhaps I'm misreading the Declaration of Human Rights though.  I'm not a law scholar, nor am I particularly educated in all the little intricacies of human-rights laws. 

Offline SuperHans

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2009, 08:11:46 AM »
Quote
She already did that by arguing that people like them in Singapore should more or less be considered criminals for their lifestyle.

She does not believe in the decriminalisation of homosexuality. That's her view. Neither me or Askie said we agreed, and I particularly don't. But it's an opinion she holds, and she's entitled. To suggest that just because she holds this opinion that she would compromise teaching ethics and discriminate against students is quite ignorant on your part.

In fact, in my experience, leftist lecturers are far more discriminatory than right wingers. Doing history and politics at my university my lecturers have been mostly Thatcherite economic liberals (politics) and stuffy social conservatives that think the 1950s was the last time Britain had organised society (history). Not once have I known any of these rightists to deliberately mark down an essay if it's written from a leftist standpoint, such as praising Marx or the Soviet Union. A friend of mine from work went to Goldsmiths though, which is the great London liberal stronghold. Any displays of conservatism in that school is both failed regardless of quality and treated as a permanent black mark. It's similar everywhere.

Offline SuperHans

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2009, 08:15:21 AM »
Quote
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Which would be worth anything, if there was a fear that this teacher would break the strict ethics of a lecturer and discriminate against her students. She has repeatedly said that she would not have.

And when we're on the topic of law, being a Brit I can't claim to understand your constitution, but isn't there something called the First Amendment? And even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights disallows discrimination on the basis of political opinion, right? It's in the extract you highlighted after all.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2009, 08:17:13 AM by SuperHans »

Offline consortium11

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2009, 09:27:42 AM »
You don't think that teaching a course on Human Rights in Asia is a little at odds with arguing to keep gay sex illegal in Asia is a little at odds?  Just a little hypocritical?

Personally, I would have loved in university to take a course on Human Rights.  But I would not have liked that course to be taught by someone who believes that homosexuals should not have the liberty -- the human right -- to have consensual sex with each other, and publically declared such. 

Not at all. Someone teaching about something doesn't necessarily need to agree with it... or any jurisprudence or philosophical ethic course would last about a class and a half. Secondly, if the course itself didn't focus on gay rights then the issue itself would never directly arise. Since 16 I've been lectured on politcs/philosophy/history/economics etc by people who's viewpoints I completely disagree with... sometimes fundamentally so... yet that didn't stop those classes being interesting, engaging, informing and useful. I've been tutored by two different esteemed jurists who completely disagreed with each other... to the stage that they were calling each other stupid if you put forth the other's arguements... yet those classes were brilliant.

It should also be considered that "human rights" isn't a universally accepted term... there are great debates about what consitutes a human right as opposed to some other form of right. That's a very interesting debate in and of itself.

Perhaps I'm biased as a tutor who lectured me for a course is one of the most pronounced homophobes in respected academia... to the extent he went to the US to testify for the state of Colorado in its attempts to exclude homosexuality from anti-discrimination laws. Despite that he's undoubtedly brilliant... a genius when it comes to legal philosophy and anyone who studies anything related to natural law will read his works... and it would have been cutting the nose to spite the face to not attend his lectures. I'd have loved to study under him at a deeper level, even if I find his views on homosexuality (and sexuality in general) abhorant.

Edit: I should point out that I don't object to what the students in this case did. They protested against the tutor in the most effective way. I may think they're being shortsighted, but I can't fault their methods.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2009, 09:38:52 AM by consortium11 »

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2009, 01:51:28 PM »
Other status may indeed cover homosexuals, yet that does not mean their lifestyle is promoted or accepted.  To say that a person cannot be discriminated against does not mean they are looked favorably upon or even that their lifestyle is legally sanctioned and supported.  Homosexuals may not be discriminated against in business practices, seeking healthcare, by legal authorities and so on so forth.  Our government still does not allow gay marriage and the sodomy laws were repealed under the privacy clause, not any sort of anti-discrimination legislation.

The act of sex is not considered a right under Human Rights.  People do not have the right to have sex with whomever they wish and can claim no right to have sex.  Therefore, speaking out against homosexual couplings is not speaking on Human Rights at all.  If she called for homosexuals to be drug out in the street, beaten , tortured and executed I would be appalled that she is wanting to teach a class on Human Rights.  Disagreeing with someoneís lifestyle is not discrimination nor is speaking out against that lifestyle.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2009, 02:38:45 PM »
One of the most talented political science professors I have had was an active politician. You can bet he had his own opinions, and probably strong ones, but I still have no idea to this day what they are.

She is permitted to have her opinions, and she is permitted to speak on them on her own time. I absolutely agree with the person who wrote that - they had no reason to disinvite her from lecturing, and every academic and ethical reason to keep her. That said, the students have the right to boycott, and good on them... maybe...

Offline consortium11

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2009, 02:45:26 PM »
One of the most talented political science professors I have had was an active politician. You can bet he had his own opinions, and probably strong ones, but I still have no idea to this day what they are.

She is permitted to have her opinions, and she is permitted to speak on them on her own time. I absolutely agree with the person who wrote that - they had no reason to disinvite her from lecturing, and every academic and ethical reason to keep her. That said, the students have the right to boycott, and good on them... maybe...

That's more or less my view. She was invited and shouldn't be disinvited because of outside pressure or protests. However, if enough students voluntarily boycotted the class to make in unfeasable for her to attend the class than all power to them... that's how freedom of speach and protests should work together in (my) theory.

As I said, it may be a poor decision to do so (I learnt a hell of a lot from the guy who lectured me... although he is literally the world's best at this one aspect of jurisprudence, so it may be a special case), but they dealt with the issue well.

Offline Phoenix

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2009, 03:08:15 PM »
I would not attend a lecture on Human rights, or a class on it, given by someone who thinks that homosexuals do not have the right to have their private sexual lives as they see fit. That, IMO, shows me that she doesn't really understand the material she is teaching. If she doesn't understand it, then I have little faith that she would be able to present it properly.

The person who said that people have no right to sex, I would also not attend a lecture or class by. Because IMO they also do not understand the basic nature of "human rights."

Now, say, if someone was teaching a cooking class, and felt that homosexuals (or anyone else) has no right to form consensual partnerships and have sex however they see fit in the privacy of their own home... I would not agree with him or her. But since I am not looking to them to teach me about RIGHTS, I would base my decision upon seeing their course upon whether they are a good cook or not.

Unless they were actively involved in working to prevent others from having their rights. Then I probably would boycott their course simply because I would not be willing to support them financially or "morally" in any way. Then it would be more about their active stance, than their opinion.

Offline consortium11

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2009, 03:15:08 PM »
While this risks taking the discussion very off-topic, sexual rights (as opposed to reproductive rights) are a very grey area... and it's very hard to frame any rights on such a basis.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2009, 03:21:42 PM »
I have a feeling it would be more of an issue if she were lecturing a required course, or if it were in a place where the students were not able to select their own courses.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2009, 03:23:54 PM »
I just believe that the students of NYU did themselves a disservice in boycotting her due to that one issue.  They certainly have the right to do so and as boycotts go their effort is admirable.  Just don't agree with the reason behind the boycott.

Offline Phoenix

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2009, 03:27:46 PM »
While this risks taking the discussion very off-topic, sexual rights (as opposed to reproductive rights) are a very grey area... and it's very hard to frame any rights on such a basis.

Perhaps. But I think that anyone who says that the only human rights we have are the ones that "the establishment" (so to speak) says we do, has missed the point of "human rights." These are basic rights that are intrinsic to humanity, regardless of who pens approval of them or not.

Someone who says that homosexuals should be gainsaid the basic human right to have private, consensual sex as they see fit (assuming age-appropriateness), is telling me that they don't understand human rights. They seem to be saying that they agree with what's written down, and instead of "human rights," they are teaching "human rights according to the government."

As history has proven, these two things are often VERY VERY far apart.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2009, 03:32:54 PM »
That honestly sounds like a catch-22 argument.  Agree with me or youíre a government lackey!  From that is removed all points of the argument being made and reduced to a simplistic, choice of cake or death.  I am not saying that homosexuals have no basic human right to private consensual sex.  I am saying that private consensual sex is not a basic human right at all.  None of us have that right promised to us by the mere fact of us being part of this species.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #20 on: July 31, 2009, 03:35:50 PM »
Boycotts are such dangerous things because they play to herd mentality. It's the same mentality that passed things like the Patriot Acts in the US (which are STILL thought to be overreaching, no matter how patriotic you are) but it also moves people to do some amazing things...

Also, keep in mind that this isn't really a discussion on gay rights so much as student rights, at this point. Gay rights just happens to be a bystander.

Offline RhapsodyTopic starter

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #21 on: July 31, 2009, 06:15:00 PM »
I would like to point out, in case there's any confusion, that NYU did not retract their invitation to Prof. Thio at any point.  When faced with the low enrollment and general "hostility" of the student base to her views on homosexuality -- and I have no idea as to the extent of this "hostility"; it could just be the boycott itself, or blogged opinions about it, or even hate mail to her, I don't know -- she chose to cancel her visit. 

Instead of scrambling to find another, last-minute instructor for classes that only had a handful of students enrolled anyway, the school dropped the courses entirely from the fall curriculum.  Then they sent out the email I linked in my initial post to the law school community at large, addressing the issue.

I think, myself, that any student body who finds such ideas as suggesting that gays are not a protected minority because they can be cured, that they're public health risks and that their behaviour is unworthy and immoral to be abhorrent to their own paradigms has the absolute right to protest the inclusion of an instructor with such views in their school teaching courses to the extent of their own human rights. 

Professor Thio's opinions may be protected by the universal human rights under freedom of opinion and expression, but so are the students'.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2009, 06:24:39 PM by Rhapsody »

Offline Phoenix

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #22 on: July 31, 2009, 07:13:37 PM »
That honestly sounds like a catch-22 argument.  Agree with me or youíre a government lackey!  From that is removed all points of the argument being made and reduced to a simplistic, choice of cake or death.  I am not saying that homosexuals have no basic human right to private consensual sex.  I am saying that private consensual sex is not a basic human right at all.  None of us have that right promised to us by the mere fact of us being part of this species.

Well, really, there are no rights whatsoever that are promised to us by the mere fact of being part of the species. This, again, has been proven repeatedly throughout history. If someone can take away our "rights," and get away with it, they often do.

However, my opinion is that there ARE basic human rights, which sometimes get taken away by those who have the power to do so. One of them is as I have already outlined regarding sex.

It's my opinion that governments are NOT the ones that endow humans with our basic rights. So you can state that however you like. But at the end of the day, it's my RIGHT to feel that someone who tries to teach me that governments bestow human rights, is someone who does not understand human rights at all.

In fact, history shows that it's most often governments themselves which take away human rights. Simply by virtue of the fact that they have the power to do so. And then people must fight to restore their human rights, and civil wars begin. In the good cases... in the rest of cases, the governments continue with their violation of human rights fairly indiscriminately.

So if someone wants to teach me about human rights, it's my opinion that if they teach me that human rights are bestowed by any document or government, they do not understand the concept.

Now, nowhere in there did I say they are a government patsy. I just said that I don't believe they really understand the true concept of Human Rights.

Because there's no document giving people the basic human right to have privacy and have sexual relations with other adults in whatever consensual manner they decide... doesn't mean that's not a basic human right. That just means that it's a basic human right that governments like to take away, IMO.

The track record of governments wanting to control people's sexual lives is pretty clearly established. Pretty much all of them try to do it. This, however, does NOT make it right. They ARE taking away a basic human right, and they are doing so only because they have the power to do so.

If the government came to you and told you who you were going to reproduce with and have sex with, and in what position you could do it, you would be incensed. Rightfully so. Anyone would... yet when it's homosexuals, people suddenly don't understand WHY they are incensed by it.

I would boycott the woman as well. She clearly doesn't understand the basic concept of human rights, or she would not be lobbying to make/keep laws curtailing one of them!

Offline consortium11

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #23 on: July 31, 2009, 07:33:12 PM »
I'd actually be quite interested in a discussion on human rights and whether a "right to sex" is one of them... but I think that's a discussion for another thread.

Offline RhapsodyTopic starter

Re: Professor Slated to Teach Human Rights Course Boycotted By Students
« Reply #24 on: July 31, 2009, 07:38:17 PM »
Because there's no document giving people the basic human right to have privacy and have sexual relations with other adults in whatever consensual manner they decide... doesn't mean that's not a basic human right. That just means that it's a basic human right that governments like to take away, IMO.

Quick semi-correction, sweetie... privacy, home, correspondence, honor, reputation and family (granted, as the basic unit of society, it's often viewed as one man, one woman, and children, but still, family) is guaranteed as a basic human right under Article 12 - "No one should be subject to arbitrary interference with..."

Lots of room for loopholes in that article, though.